Audio Clips

31 May 2012

Four Ways to Spend Money

How we decide to economize the money we handle and the value we seek is completely dependent on where the money came from and who we're spending it on.

30 May 2012

The Universality of Protectionism

Haiti receives millions of items of used clothes from America every year.  They call this clothing "pepe".  Pepe comes mostly from Haitian-Americans who buy it at second-hand stores and then ship it to Haiti for sale.  Some people in Haiti want to ban pepe because it has made it harder for tailors, textile companies and others to make a living because people prefer to buy the pepe.  It never ceases to amaze me that there exists in some people an impulse to deny liberty to their neighbors.

If my neighbor wants to buy used clothes and that results in the local tailor having problems making a living, then the tailor needs to evaluate his career choice.  I shouldn't put a gun to my neighbor's head and force him to buy from the tailor, and yet that is the first impulse of many people.  Of course, they don't view it as compulsion.  They just view it as preventing a particular transaction from happening, because, it's obviously the wrong kind of transaction!  Naturally, they know better than us what we should do with our money and efforts and, by golly, they're going to show us how right they are by forcing us into their utopian vision.

29 May 2012

Book Review: First Principles by John Taylor

First Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's ProsperityFirst Principles: Five Keys to Restoring America's Prosperity by John B. Taylor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

John Taylor, a Stanford economics professor, outlines five core economic principles that have been the core of American success in the past.  The five principles: predictable policy framework, rule of law, strong incentives, reliance on markets, and clearly limited role for government have also been key to the rise in many of the emerging markets in recent years.  I found Mr. Taylor's historical anecdotes to be compelling, although I would imagine there are plenty who would view his interpretation as biased by his philosophy, but that is the nature of policy prescription.  You have to try to make the most persuasive case for your ideas and using historical events to support your case will always be criticized by those who view history differently.  I don't know that there is really any way around that.

My own philosophy biases heavily toward human liberty and so I found Mr. Taylor's book compelling and the five principles as great guidepost to policy decisions.  I have a less favorable opinion of the role of the Federal Reserve than Mr. Taylor does, but that is a difference of opinion I can live with.

View all my reviews

Why the Worst Get On Top

This was a great post by David Boaz recently.

Susan Stamberg reports on Martha Gellhorn, “one of the first great female war correspondents,” whose marriage to Ernest Hemingway is being dramatized by HBO next week. Gellhorn had a healthy skepticism toward power:
In 1983, a British TV interviewer posed this loaded question to Gellhorn, then 75 and still gorgeous: “I.F. Stone once described governments as comprised entirely of liars and nothing they say should ever be believed.”
The response was a typical no-holds-barred Gellhorn opinion: “Quite right. And Tolstoy once said governments are a collection of men who do violence to the rest of us. Between Izzy Stone and Tolstoy, you’ve got it about right.”

28 May 2012

The Economics of Jobs

Ben Powell does a great job of talking about some of the problems with most government jobs programs

22 May 2012

Hal Rogers: Emblem of Cronyism

I first mentioned Hal Rogers in a blog post back in 2010.  He was appointed by the newly-empowered Republican House as the Chair of the House Appropriations committee.  He is a notorious porker.  He slushes money like crazy to his district to ensure he can maintain his power.  With his local constituents contentedly intoxicated on government money (rather than Sudafed), he gets re-elected year after year, decade after decade.  Here is another perfect example, brought to you by Ted DeHaven at the Cato Institute.

House Appropriations Chairman Behind Military Pork

After the Republicans took back control of the House following the November 2010 elections, the GOP leadership went with Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers—a.k.a. “The Prince of Pork”—to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee. I wrote at the time that “The support for Rogers from House Republican leaders is a slap in the face of voters who demanded change in Washington.”
I haven’t changed my mind.
A recent article in the New York Times offers up another reminder that the 30-year House veteran’s priority is to funnel taxpayer money back to his district—not downsize the federal government:
In the 1980s, the military had its infamous $800 toilet seat. Today, it has a $17,000 drip pan. Thanks to a powerful Kentucky congressman who has steered tens of millions of federal dollars to his district, the Army has bought about $6.5 million worth of the “leakproof” drip pans in the last three years to catch transmission fluid on Black Hawk helicopters. And it might want more from the Kentucky company that makes the pans, even though a similar pan from another company costs a small fraction of the price: about $2,500…The Kentucky company, Phoenix Products, got the job to produce the pans after Representative Harold Rogers, a Republican who is now the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, added an earmark to a 2009 spending bill. While the earmark came before restrictions were placed on such provisions for for-profit companies, its outlays have continued for the last three years.
According to the Times, Phoenix Products’ president and his wife have been “frequent contributors” to Rogers’s political committee and the company has spent at least $600k on a DC lobbying firm since 2005. Those efforts apparently haven’t gone unrewarded as Rogers “has directed more than $17 million in work orders for Phoenix Products since 2000.”
Readers should keep this story in mind the next time a Republican member of Congress calls for a Balanced Budget Amendment, complains about the growth in government under Obama, and then argues against “dangerous defense cuts.” The bedtime story that Americans often hear is that the federal government must spend gobs of money on defense in order to “keep us safe from our enemies.” I once believed that story—and then I spent some time in the U.S. Senate watching policymakers treat military spending like any other pot of taxpayer money.

Stossel: Why I Became a Libertarian

18 May 2012

17 May 2012

Update on Kelly Thomas

I originally posted on the Kelly Thomas beating death by cops last September.  The Fullerton community's outrage is still palpable in this update.  Don't be afraid to video tape cops in the line of duty.  It is protection.

15 May 2012

14 May 2012

13 May 2012

Indictments Against Capitalism

This is a great point made recently by Shikha Dalmia:

Any indictment of capitalism worth its salt has to show not just that the rich are getting richer, but that they do so by making the poor poorer. There is no evidence of that. Facebook recently floated an IPO making Mark Zuckerberg the richest 27-year-old in America. I didn’t notice my bank balance dip…

12 May 2012

Feds and Audubon v. Hatteras Islanders. Guess Who Wins.

This is a longer video, but it is a perfect illustration of the problems of government abuse.  Because the abuse typically happens to small, localized groups there is little defense against it and it is hard to rally support for the abused.  That's why, as a general rule, we need to reject further consolidation of power to the centralized, Federal government.  Government should be done on the most local level possible.

08 May 2012

Anderson Cooper Bulldogs Talking Head

I don't really watch Anderson Cooper, but I saw this clip today and thought, "Wow!  He's really going after this guy for hypocrisy."  Way to go, Anderson.

05 May 2012

Why Am I Libertarian?

I lean libertarian because it resonates with my view of the world.  John Tomasi in this clip echos my feelings.  Except he speaks more better than me.  :-)

01 May 2012

Great Interview with Matt Ridley

Kennedy takes Mr. Ridley from rational optimism about the future, global warming and the benefits of trade.  Great interview.