Aug 242011
 

Last night, Twitter was abuzz with something said by a Google+ user purporting to be economist Paul Krugman.

“People on twitter might be joking, but in all seriousness, we would see a bigger boost in spending and hence economic growth if the earthquake had done more damage.”

It turned out to be a hoax, though. Krugman’s initial reaction is here. Dave Weigel’s cleanup is here. Krugman’s further comments are here.

It certainly seemed like something Krugman would say. After all, he has made similar comments in the past, as the unrepentant imposter (troll?) points out in his confession. Predictably (and disappointingly), the comments list was overrun with drive-by “Broken Window Fallacy, dumbass!” comments and immature grunts of the sophistication of “Hayek’s cool. Krugman drools.” It’s no wonder Krugman’s supporters have been having a hearty laugh at his detractors’ expense. We were duped.

Here’s what’s not being said, though. His supporters were duped, too. Evidence can be found in the state of the comment stream as of 3:30AM. (Yes, I did post comments. I was indeed duped. In my defense, though, my contributions were directed at pro-Krugman/Keynes commenters and not the hoax remark itself.)

It only seems fair to me that if Team Mises/Hayek loses points for attacking a straw man, Team Keynes/Krugman should lose points for trying to defend the fake remark as though it were a reasonable and substantive argument. So why haven’t I seen anyone else make this point? Are they out there, and I just haven’t seen them, or is this a case of the pot calling the kettle black (and hiding his can of black paint)?

Apr 182011
 

The PLCB (Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board) has a monopoly on the sale of wine and spirits in the state.

“A monopoly is a grant of special privilege by the State, reserving a certain area of production to one particular individual or group.” – Ludwig von Mises Institute

Consequently, the following line from an article about PLCB’s plans to “modernize” laughably stupid.

“They also want lawmakers to let them create so-called ‘loyalty clubs,’ to offer customers discounts.”

How the hell can customers be loyal when there’s no competition?! Is this a case of Orwellian political newspeak or further evidence that the PA government is dominated by economic ignoramuses?

This nonsense has to stop. Abolish the PLCB!

Apr 012011
 

No legislation without representation!

The following text is borrowed from Downsize DC, and I agree with it. I’d like to add to it, though. Let’s make it a constitutional amendment! Downsize DC suggests an amendment as a response to a court challenge of the act. I say skip the BS and go straight for the good stuff. What do you think?

Help us pass the “Read the Bills Act” (RTBA)

Part 1: What RTBA does and why

Most Congressmen are lawyers, and many others are businessmen. They know what “fiduciary responsibility” is. For Members of Congress, fiduciary responsibility means reading each word of every bill before they vote.

But Congress has not met this duty for a long time. Instead . . .

  • They carelessly pass mammoth bills that none of them have read. Sometimes printed copies aren’t even available when they vote!
  • Often no one knows what these bills contain, or what they really do, or what they will really cost.
  • Additions and deletions are made at the last minute, in secrecy.
  • They combine unpopular proposals with popular measures that few in Congress want to oppose. (This practice is called “log-rolling.”)
  • And votes are held with little debate or public notice.
  • Oh, and once these bills are passed, and one of these unpopular proposals comes to light, they pretend to be shocked. “How did that get in there?” they say.

There’s a basic principle at stake here. America was founded on the slogan, “No taxation without representation.” A similar slogan applies to this situation:

“No LEGISLATION without representation.”

We hold this truth to be self-evident, that those in Congress who vote on legislation they have not read, have not represented their constituents. They have misrepresented them.

And since Congress has repeatedly committed “legislation without representation,” strong measures to prohibit these Congressional misrepresentations are both justified and required.

To this end we have created the “Read the Bills Act (RTBA).” RTBA requires that . . .

  • Each bill, and every amendment, must be read in its entirety before a quorum in both the House and Senate.
  • Every member of the House and Senate who plans to vote in the affirmative – to vote for tax increases, for spending bills, for the retention or creation of programs, in support of laws and regulations – must sign a sworn affidavit, under penalty of perjury, that he or she has attentively either personally read, or heard read, the complete bill to be voted on.
  • Every old law coming up for renewal under the sunset provisions must also be read according to the same rules that apply to new bills.
  • Every bill to be voted on must be published on the Internet at least 7 days before a vote, and Congress must give public notice of the date when a vote will be held on that bill.
  • Passage of a bill that does not abide by these provisions will render the measure null and void, and establish grounds for the law to be challenged in court.
  • Congress cannot waive these requirements.

The effects of these provisions will be profound . . .

  • Congress will have to slow down. This means the pace of government growth will also slow.
  • Bills will shrink, be less complicated, and contain fewer subjects, so that Congress will be able to endure hearing them read.
  • Fewer bad proposals will be passed due to “log-rolling.”
  • No more secret clauses will be inserted into bills at the last moment.
  • Government should shrink as old laws reach their sunset date, and have to be read for the first time before they can be renewed.

And all of these things will enable a larger DownsizeDC.org to more effectively lobby Congress for small government.

Part 2: Our Strategy for passing RTBA

Our plan for passing this legislation is simple, but powerful.

  • We have submitted a copy of RTBA to every member of Congress.
  • We are asking every member of the House and Senate to sponsor this legislation and work for its passage.
  • We are mounting a campaign to recruit thousands, and perhaps millions of Americans to lobby Congress to support RTBA.
  • We are promoting this campaign with a variety of tactics, from Internet networking, to media interviews, to whatever it takes.
  • We will run targeted radio ads, letting citizens know that their Congressman is failing to support this badly needed reform.

The need for this reform is so self-evident that nearly every person in America should support it, and few oppose it. We see no reason why we should not be able to overwhelm Congress with calls to pass this legislation.

  • We dare Congress not to pass it. The more they resist, the larger and stronger we will grow.
  • We dare anyone to challenge it in Court. The more the lobbyists attempt to defeat this reform, the larger and stronger we will grow.
  • We dare the Courts to declare it un-Constitutional. If they do, we will grow larger and stronger as a result — probably big enough to begin a campaign to amend the Constitution to forbid “LEGISLATION without representation.”

There is simply no reason that any normal, tax-paying American should oppose RTBA. And the more the “powers that be” resist these reforms, the larger and stronger we will grow.

We win either way. And thus, we believe, we will win in the end.

Part 3: A Call to Action

To send your message to Congress in support of RTBA click here.

Feb 162011
 

“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis

Earlier today I wrote a post about the Catholic Church’s teachings with respect to the bearing and raising of children, specifically as expressed by Pope Piux XI in his encyclical Casti Conubii. In the course to applying my amateur skills to parsing the text into more widely accessible terms, I found myself disagreeing with the Holy Father on several points related to the relationship between Church and State.

My ideals with respect to Church-State relations flow primarily from the maxim, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity”. What I regard as essentials are introduced in broad strokes via the Philosophy of Liberty. However, while the State arrogates to itself matters proper to the Church or the individual, a faithful member of the Church has a moral obligation to use civic means to prevent the State from participating in or protecting evil. Just how to go about doing that is the subject of much debate, however.

Rather than clutter up my post on family planning with digressions about politics, I’ve decided to write a separate post here. In order to better understand the context of these remarks, the reader is encouraged to read my other post, or at least the full text of the encyclical itself.

All emphases in the quoted text below are mine.

“37. …what the families and individuals are, so also is the State, for a body is determined by its parts. Wherefore, both for the private good of husband, wife and children, as likewise for the public good of human society, they indeed deserve well who strenuously defend the inviolable stability of matrimony.”

This is a rather pernicious conflation of State and society. Lincoln’s paean to a government allegedly “of the people, by the people, and for the people” notwithstanding, the State is not an organic extension of its citizens. It is not an emergent phenomenon generated by natural processes. It is not the product of voluntary society. It is law, and law entails force. That force is negative, not in the sense of a moral evil, but in that its proper scope it inhibits behavior.

Frederic Bastiat describes it this way in The Law:

“What, then, is law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense.

“Each of us has a natural right — from God — to defend his person, his liberty, and his property. These are the three basic requirements of life, and the preservation of any one of them is completely dependent upon the preservation of the other two. For what are our faculties but the extension of our individuality? And what is property but an extension of our faculties? If every person has the right to defend even by force — his person, his liberty, and his property, then it follows that a group of men have the right to organize and support a common force to protect these rights constantly. Thus the principle of collective right — its reason for existing, its lawfulness — is based on individual right. And the common force that protects this collective right cannot logically have any other purpose or any other mission than that for which it acts as a substitute. Thus, since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force — for the same reason — cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individuals or groups.

“Such a perversion of force would be, in both cases, contrary to our premise. Force has been given to us to defend our own individual rights. Who will dare to say that force has been given to us to destroy the equal rights of our brothers? Since no individual acting separately can lawfully use force to destroy the rights of others, does it not logically follow that the same principle also applies to the common force that is nothing more than the organized combination of the individual forces?

“If this is true, then nothing can be more evident than this: The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.

“Can the law — which necessarily requires the use of force — rationally be used for anything except protecting the rights of everyone? I defy anyone to extend it beyond this purpose without perverting it and, consequently, turning might against right. This is the most fatal and most illogical social perversion that can possibly be imagined. It must be admitted that the true solution — so long searched for in the area of social relationships — is contained in these simple words: Law is organized justice.

“Now this must be said: When justice is organized by law — that is, by force — this excludes the idea of using law (force) to organize any human activity whatever, whether it be labor, charity, agriculture, commerce, industry, education, art, or religion. The organizing by law of any one of these would inevitably destroy the essential organization — justice. For truly, how can we imagine force being used against the liberty of citizens without it also being used against justice, and thus acting against its proper purpose?”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. Since Bastiat so eloquently states ideas near to my own, I shall rely on him heavily for the remainder of this article.

Getting back to the relationship between the Church and the State with respect to marriage let’s see what Pius XI says.

Continue reading »

Jan 212011
 

The Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh is closing next year. Normally, this wouldn’t really phase me much, as I don’t have any interest in attending culinary school. I like to cook, but I’m more of a weekend warrior in that regard. I am, however, generally interested in local Pittsburgh news, so I read the Post-Gazette’s analysis of the closing.

Pretty standard fare, until you get to the bottom, which caused all of my hair to promptly fall out.

“As a for-profit institution, CEC has faced increasing pressure from the Obama administration and Senate Democrats in the past year. A proposed “gainful employment” rule from the Department of Education would deny federal funding to schools with graduates facing high proportions of debt related to their expected salaries. In 2010 a two-year associate’s degree from Pittsburgh’s Le Cordon Bleu cost $42,660. According to financial aid data for the 2008-09 school year, 47 percent of all students received federal student loans, worth more than $6.5 million to the school. Mr. Miller cited the “gainful employment” rule as a major factor in CEC’s decision to close the Pittsburgh school, and he predicted that it would soon affect other for-profit schools in the area.”

Let that sink in a moment. The school is closing because of pressure directly from the Obama administration.

Continue reading »

Get Adobe Flash player