Audio Clips

26 January 2012

What is Human Dignity?

Many statists argue that they want government action to preserve human dignity.  But human dignity is allowing independence of the individual.  It is allowing the individual to live a life that they define with a minimum of government intervention.  What statists propose does not respect human dignity, it looks down on it.

The Wealthy Aren't Paying Their Fair Share...Oh, Wait

18 January 2012

Man Tortured, Murdered by Police, No Criminal Charges

This man was tortured and murdered by police while in jail and 2 1/2 years later no officer has been charged and the department has been cleared of wrongdoing so there will be no criminal charges. Outrageous!

17 January 2012

The Truth About Rich vs. Poor

Veronique de Rugy recently wrote an article highlighting the problem with the Occupy argument that the wealthiest 1% are getting richer at the expense of the 99% of the rest of us.  The problem with that argument is that the 1% is a group that is constantly in flux.  It's not the same people year to year and decade to decade.  I recently listened to an interview with Niall Ferguson, a history professor at Harvard, in which he said that he was much more concerned about income mobility that income inequality.  As long as society allows for people to make advances through hard work and perseverence, income inequality is just a temporary and meaningless measure.  Here are a couple of the highlights from the article.

But even if the top 1 percent were still pulling down one-fifth of national income, this doesn’t mean that the remaining 99 percent are worse off, contrary to popular belief. Rather, as Kaplan correctly observed, “Income is not a zero-sum game. Somebody else’s income does not come at your expense. It could…but in general these numbers don’t have automatic implications for the 99 percent.” These kinds of comparisons don’t tell us anything about the absolute conditions of lower income earners.
For instance, even though the lower earners have a smaller share of income today than they did in 1990, their absolute income is higher. A smaller share of a larger national pie can still mean more income than the bigger slice of a smaller pie. This is true even after you consider growth in population.  According to IRS statistics, in 1990, the bottom 50 percent of income earners reported 15 percent of real adjusted gross income, some $517 billion in pre-tax income. In 2007, they reported only 12 percent of AGI, but this percentage amounted to more absolute dollars—some $1.1 trillion in pre-tax income.

But even these figures miss a more fundamental point. The top 1 percent in 1990 are not necessarily the same people as the top 1 percent in 2012. Data describing comparative income performance generally do not take into account the movement of individual households through time. There is no accurate assessment of the income gap without accounting for income mobility. The more the mobility, the less the significance of widening income disparities.

So what does that mobility look like? Take the top earners in America. Using IRS data, the Tax Foundation has shown that of the 675,000 taxpayers who reported $1 million in pre-tax income at some point between 1999 and 2007, only about half remained millionaires just one year later (see figure). A tiny 6 percent, or 38,000 people, retained their millionaire status for all nine years. In other words, most top earners are likely to lose their membership in the millionaires club.

And things look rosier at the bottom of income distribution, too. The same Tax Foundation analysis showed that about 60 percent of households that were in the lowest income quintile in 1999 had moved to a higher quintile by 2007. And about one-third of those in the lowest quintile moved to the middle quintile or higher. While it may be difficult to rise literally from rags to riches, there is still plenty of opportunity for Americans to climb up the income ladder.

15 January 2012

What If...

Andrew Napolitano went off about the lack of difference between the two political parties and the media snubbing of Ron Paul.

14 January 2012

Court Rebukes Police Tactics

Tim Lynch at the Cato Institute posted this story a little while back.

It does not happen in the suburbs, but in the city, the police will sometimes just pounce on people who are not doing anything wrong and if you complain or ‘mouth off,’ things can get much worse.  Here is an excerpt from a ruling handed down today in DC.
What is most disturbing about this case is the result: a young man in the community . . . who was engaged in peaceful activities (mowing the lawn, smoking a cigarette) and who the police knew at the time they stopped him was not doing anything unlawful, is approached by aggressive officers engaged in aggressive unconstitutional patrols, and this young man ends up being punched in the face with such force that he receives a black eye, kicked numerous times in the back, thrown on the ground, sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray, and finally, he receives two convictions on his record for assault on a police officer. . . . But for this unconstitutional police policy, appellant Crossland would not have suffered a physical attack on his person and would not have had these convictions on his record. Instead, he would have had a rather ordinary day in his community mowing the lawn and smoking a cigarette, a day he probably wouldn’t even have cause to remember, and it is very disturbing that the police in this case are essentially being rewarded for their unconstitutional behavior and aggressive unconstitutional police policy which was the direct cause of a highly volatile situation which led to this young man’s eventual convictions for assaulting them.
The full opinion can be found here [pdf].  One judge says he hopes the police will be admonished for violating the rights of individuals–aggressively confronting people who are not doing anything wrong–and wonders whether he is being naive and unrealistic.  Sorry to say that he is being naive and that’s part of the problem.  If the young man had gone along with the illegal stop and frisk and the officer left the scene after ten minutes, there would have been no real legal remedy available and that’s why these tactics are used over and over again.

A Couple of Quotes About Debt

I heard both of these quotes recently and liked them.

Debt signifies that tomorrow's spending was done yesterday, and we must spend less sometime in the future. - Arnab Chakrabarti, Barron's, Jan 2, 2012

If you live above your means today, at some point you'll have to live under them. - Tom McClintock, US Congressman

13 January 2012

Outrageous Abuse of Government

Tim Sandefur of the Pacific Legal Foundation is one of my favorite legal-meisters.  He did an interview with Armstrong and Getty about the case at the Supreme Court right now about a couple who has been so blatantly abused by the EPA that the justices have made disparaging comments about it during the questioning.  This is a VERY interesting interview.  Take your blood pressure medication before you listen.

David Deming: Why I Deny Global Warming

Lew Rockwell recently posted this article by David Deming regarding the anti-scientific, faith-based behavior of global warming advocates.  I thought it was a great article and so I'm reprinting it here.

Why I Deny Global Warming

Recently by David Deming: Doubting Darwin
I'm a denier for several reasons. There is no substantive evidence that the planet has warmed significantly or that any significant warming will occur in the future. If any warming does occur, it likely will be concentrated at higher latitudes and therefore be beneficial. Climate research has largely degenerated into pathological science, and the coverage of global warming in the media is tendentious to the point of being fraudulent. Anyone who is an honest and competent scientist must be a denier.
Have you ever considered how difficult it is to take the temperature of the planet Earth? What temperature will you measure? The air? The surface of the Earth absorbs more than twice as much incident heat from the Sun than the air. But if you measure the temperature of the surface, what surface are you going to measure? The solid Earth or the oceans? There is twice as much water as land on Earth. If you decide to measure water temperature, at what depth will you take the measurements? How will the time scale on which the deep ocean mixes with the shallow affect your measurements? And how, pray tell, will you determine what the average water temperature was for the South Pacific Ocean a hundred years ago? How will you combine air, land, and sea temperature measurements? Even if you use only meteorological measurements of air temperature, how will you compensate for changes in latitude, elevation, and land use?
Determining a mean planetary temperature is not straightforward, but an extremely complicated problem. Even the best data are suspect. Anthony Watts and his colleagues have surveyed 82.5 percent of stations in the U.S. Historical Climatology Network. They have found – shockingly – that over 70 percent of these stations are likely to be contaminated by errors greater than 2 deg C [3.6 deg F]. Of the remaining stations, 21.5 percent have inherent errors greater than 1 deg C. The alleged degree of global warming over the past 150 years is less than 1 deg C. Yet even in a technologically advanced country like the US, the inherent error in over 90 percent of the surveyed meteorological stations is greater than the putative signal. And these errors are not random, but systematically reflect a warming bias related to urbanization. Watts has documented countless instances of air temperature sensors located next to air conditioning vents or in the middle of asphalt parking lots. A typical scenario is that a temperature sensor that was in the middle of a pasture a hundred years ago is now surrounded by a concrete jungle. Urbanization has been a unidirectional process. It is entirely plausible – even likely – that all of the temperature rise that has been inferred from the data is an artifact that reflects the growth of urban heat islands.
The "denier" is portrayed as a person who refuses to accept the plain evidence of his senses. But in fact it is the alarmist who doesn't know what they are talking about. The temperature of the Earth and how it has varied over the past 150 years is poorly constrained. The person who thinks otherwise does so largely because they have no comprehension of the science. Most of these people have never done science or thought about the inherent difficulties and uncertainties involved.
And what is "global warming" anyway? As long ago as the fifth century BC, Socrates pointed out that intelligible definitions are a necessary precursor to meaningful discussions. The definition of the term "global warming" shifts with the context of the discussion. If you deny global warming, then you have denied the existence of the greenhouse effect, a reproducible phenomenon that can be studied analytically in the laboratory. But if you oppose political action, then global warming metamorphoses into a nightmarish and speculative planetary catastrophe. Coastal cities sink beneath a rising sea, species suffer from wholesale extinctions, and green pastures are turned into deserts of choking hot sand.
In fact, so-called "deniers" are not "deniers" but skeptics. Skeptics do not deny the existence of the greenhouse effect. Holding all other factors constant, the mean planetary air temperature ought to rise as the atmosphere accumulates more anthropogenic CO2. Christopher Monckton recently reviewed the pertinent science and concluded that a doubling of CO2 should result in a temperature increase of about 1 deg C. If this temperature increase mirrors those in the geologic past, most of it will occur at high latitudes. These areas will become more habitable for man, plants, and other animals. Biodiversity will increase. Growing seasons will lengthen. Why is this a bad thing?
Any temperature increase over 1 deg C for a doubling of CO2 must come from a positive feedback from water vapor. Water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas in Earth's atmosphere, and warm air holds more water than cold air. The theory is that an increased concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere will lead to a positive feedback that amplifies the warming from CO2 by as much as a factor of three to five. But this is nothing more that speculation. Water vapor also leads to cloud formation. Clouds have a cooling effect. At the current time, no one knows if the feedback from water vapor will be positive or negative.
Global warming predictions cannot be tested with mathematical models. It is impossible to validate computer models of complex natural systems. The only way to corroborate such models is to compare model predictions with what will happen in a hundred years. And one such result by itself won't be significant because of the possible compounding effects of other variables in the climate system. The experiment will have to repeated over several one-hundred year cycles. In other words, the theory of catastrophic global warming cannot be tested or empirically corroborated in a human time frame.
It is hardly conclusive to argue that models are correct because they have reproduced past temperatures. I'm sure they have. General circulation models have so many degrees of freedom that it is possible to endlessly tweak them until the desired result is obtained. Hindsight is always 20-20. This tells us exactly nothing about a model's ability to accurately predict what will happen in the future.
The entire field of climate science and its coverage in the media is tendentious to the point of being outright fraudulent. Why is it that every media report on CO2 – an invisible gas – is invariably accompanied by a photograph of a smokestack emitting particulate matter? Even the cover of Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, shows a smokestack. Could it be that its difficult to get people worked up about an invisible, odorless gas that is an integral component of the photosynthetic cycle? A gas that is essential to most animal and plant life on Earth? A gas that is emitted by their own bodies through respiration? So you have to deliberately mislead people by showing pictures of smoke to them. Showing one thing when you're talking about another is fraud. If the case for global warming alarmism is so settled, so conclusive, so irrefutable...why is it necessary to repeatedly resort to fraud?
A few years ago it was widely reported that the increased concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere would cause poison ivy to grow faster. But of course carbon dioxide causes almost all plants to grow faster. And nearly all of these plants have beneficial human uses. Carbon dioxide fertilizes hundreds or thousands of human food sources. More CO2 means trees grow faster. So carbon dioxide promotes reforestation and biodiversity. Its good for the environment. But none of this was reported. Instead, the media only reported that global warming makes poison ivy grow faster. And this is but one example of hundreds or thousands of such misleading reports. If sea ice in the Arctic diminishes, it is cited as irrefutable proof of global warming. But if sea ice in the Antarctic increases, it is ignored. Even cold weather events are commonly invoked as evidence for global warming. People living in the future will look back and wonder how we could have been so delusional.
For the past few years I have remained silent concerning the Climategate emails. But what they revealed is what many of us already knew was going on: global warming research has largely degenerated into what is known as pathological science, a "process of wishful data interpretation." When I testified before the US Senate in 2006, I stated that a major climate researcher told me in 1995 that "we have to get rid of the Medieval Warm Period." The existence and global nature of the Medieval Warm Period had been substantiated by literally hundreds of research articles published over decades. But it had to be erased from history for ideological reasons. A few years later the infamous "hockey stick" appeared. The "hockey stick" was a revisionist attempt to rewrite the temperature history of the last thousand years. It has been discredited as being deeply flawed.
In one Climategate email, a supposed climate scientist admitted to "hiding the decline." In other words, hiding data that tended to disprove his ideological agenda. Another email described how alarmists would try to keep critical manuscripts from being published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature. One of them wrote, we'll "keep them out somehow – even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!" Gee. If the climate science that validates global warming is so unequivocal, why is it necessary to work behind the scenes to suppress dissent? You "doth protest too much."
As described in my book, Science and Technology in World History: The Ancient World and Classical Civilization, systematic science began with the invocation of naturalism by Greek philosophers and Hippocratic physicians c. 600-400 BC. But the critical attitude adopted by the Greeks was as important as naturalism. Students were not only allowed to criticize their teachers, but were encouraged to do so. From its beginnings in Greek natural philosophy, science has been an idealistic and dispassionate search for truth. As Plato explained, anyone who could point out a mistake "shall carry off the palm, not as an enemy, but as a friend." This is one reason that scientists enjoy so much respect. The public assumes that a scientist's pursuit of truth is unencumbered by political agendas.
But science does not come easy to men. "Science," George Sarton reminded us, "is a joykiller." The proper conduct of science requires a high degree of intellectual discipline and rigor. Scientists are supposed to use multiple working hypotheses and sort through these by the processes of corroboration and falsification. The most valuable evidence is that which tends to falsify or disprove a theory. A scientist, by the very definition of his activity, must be skeptical. A scientist engaged in a dispassionate search for truth elevates the critical – he does not suppress it. Knowledge begins with skepticism and ends with conceit.
Finally, I'm happy to be known as a "denier" because the label of "denier" says nothing about me, but everything about the person making the charge. Scientific theories are never denied or believed, they are only corroborated or falsified. Scientific knowledge, by its very nature, is provisional and subject to revision. The provisional nature of scientific knowledge is a necessary consequence of the epistemological basis of science. Science is based on observation. We never have all the data. As our body of data grows, our theories and ideas must necessarily evolve. Anyone who thinks scientific knowledge is final and complete must necessarily endorse as a corollary the absurd proposition that the process of history has stopped.
A scientific theory cannot be "denied." Only a belief can be denied. The person who uses the word "denier" thus reveals that they hold global warming as a belief, not a scientific theory. Beliefs are the basis of revealed religion. Revelations cannot be corroborated or studied in the laboratory, so religions are based on dogmatic beliefs conservatively held. Religions tend to be closed systems of belief that reject criticism. But the sciences are open systems of knowledge that welcome criticism. I'm a scientist, and therefore I must happily confess to being a denier.
October 19, 2011
David Deming [send him mail] is a geophysicist, associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma, and author of the books Science and Technology in World History, Vols. 1 & 2.
Copyright © 2011 by Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

12 January 2012

The Welfare States Creates Hoarders

Jack is absolutely right in this clip.  This kind of thing simply couldn't happen outside of a welfare state.

10 January 2012

A&G Interview Niall Ferguson

This was a really interesting interview with Niall Ferguson about his book on civilization.  I found it fascinating that he said he is much more interested in social mobility than in income inequality.  If your society allows people who work hard to get ahead then income inequality doesn't really matter.

08 January 2012

Corporations Don't Pay Taxes: Round 2

One of my first posts on this blog 4 years ago was about the fact that corporations don't pay any taxes.  Only people pay taxes.  One of my favorite economists, Walter Williams, backs me up on this.

07 January 2012

Walter Williams at Hillsdale College

Ideas Matter had this on their website.  The whole thing is really good, but I particularly enjoyed the first 4 minutes or so when he explained money as "certificates of performance."  Great explanation and it highlights the immorality of government income redistribution.

04 January 2012

Millionaires Willing to Make Other Millionaires Pay Higher Taxes

I thought this was a clever bit of ambush journalism.  They went around and spoke to some of the millionaires who say that their taxes should be raised and asked them if they would make a donation to the US Treasury (which you can do right on the Treasury website).  I'll let you imagine their hypocrisy answer.