Tuesday, June 29, 2010


US Senate Resolution 570 passed the senate today. To summarize:
"Calling for continued support for and an increased effort by the Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Central Asian countries to effectively monitor and regulate the manufacture, sale, transport, and use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in order to prevent the transport of ammonium nitrate into Afghanistan where the ammonium nitrate is used in improvised explosive devices."

This is noteworthy for no other reason then the following line:
"Whereas it is illegal to manufacture, own, or use ammonium nitrate fertilizer in Afghanistan since a ban was instituted by Afghan President Hamid Karzai in January 2010;"

Wait. Stop.
It is illegal to use Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer in Afghanistan, since the start of this year?

Empirically, what has the effect been?

April 8, 2010: "The number of IEDs in Afghanistan climbed from 429 in March 2009 to 989 in March 2010."

The success of this program is on par with Mr. Wood's marriage.

You're asking right now, who cares. Ammonium Nitrate, Miracle Grow... its all a wash in the end and the ban is trying to save lives. But there are reasons Ammonium Nitrate is a oft used substance.

Slate: "For starters, ammonium nitrate is inexpensive to manufacture. The process involves nothing more complicated than mixing together ammonia and nitric acid; the first batch of the stuff was synthesized way back in 1659 by German chemist Johann R. Glauber. A ton of ammonium nitrate fertilizer costs, on average, about $100 less than a ton of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer, one of the best alternatives.
It's not only farmers who prize ammonium nitrate, however. A low-density powder containing the chemical is vital to the construction industry, which considers it preferable to dynamite. Ironically, one of ammonium nitrate's attributes is its stability—it won't explode unless it comes in contact with both a hydrocarbon (such as fuel oil) and a detonation source.

It's cheaper to grow food with, and its safer for mining. Both of which are done in Afghanistan.

At the risk of sounding cliche,
When you outlaw fertilizer, then only outlaws will have fertilizer.

Human Hubris

“The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

-F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit

Monday, June 28, 2010

Keynesian Failure

WSJ.com: "The larger lesson here is about policy. The original sin—and it was nearly global—was to revive the Keynesian economic model that had last cracked up in the 1970s, while forgetting the lessons of the long prosperity from 1982 through 2007. The Reagan and Clinton-Gingrich booms were fostered by a policy environment for most of that era of lower taxes, spending restraint and sound money. The spending restraint began to end in the late 1990s, sound money vanished earlier this decade, and now Democrats are promising a series of enormous tax increases."

Outstanding column on the failure of our past decade of operational economic theory by the US National Government.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Stanley McChystal

"Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing," McChrystal says, citing an oft-repeated maxim that you can't kill your way out of Afghanistan. "The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn't work."

"I'm not saying go out and kill everybody, sir," the soldier persists. "You say we've stopped the momentum of the insurgency. I don't believe that's true in this area. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it's getting."

"I agree with you," McChrystal says. "In this area, we've not made progress, probably. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. What I'm telling you is, fire costs you. What do you want to do? You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?"

Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies

Friday, June 25, 2010

Dodd-Frank Financial Bill Passes

Washington Post: "Key House and Senate lawmakers agreed on far-reaching new financial rules early Friday after weeks of division, delay and frantic last-minute deal making. The dawn compromise set up a potential vote in both houses of Congress next week that could send the landmark legislation to President Obama by July 4.

Lawmakers pulled an all-nighter, wrapping up their work at 5:39 a.m. -- more than 20 messy, mind-numbing, exhaustive hours after they began Thursday morning.

"It's a great moment. I'm proud to have been here," said a teary-eyed Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), who as chairman of the Senate Banking Committee led the effort in the Senate. "No one will know until this is actually in place how it works. But we believe we've done something that has been needed for a long time. It took a crisis to bring us to the point where we could actually get this job done."
"We've put in the hands of the president a very powerful set of tools for him to reassert American leadership in the world," Frank said.

One of the last motions Friday was to name the bill after the two chairmen, who had shepherded the legislation through the House and the Senate over the past year. At 5:07 a.m., they agreed unanimously that it would be known as the Dodd-Frank bill, and the sound of applause echoed down the empty hallways."

A bill that tallys over 2000 pages in length and creates a new agency, independent of Congressional authority, to monitor the economy and repossess and repurpose various financial functions to suit the needs it sees fit.
It occours to me yet again, that these nests of serpents have no regard for reality, and only for the power of those who have corrupted this government.

May heaven help us, as even those who claim authorship have no idea what this will do to the real world.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Atheism is No Requirement

"...Parenthetically, I am getting tired of the offhanded smearing of religion that has long been endemic to the libertarian movement. Religion is generally dismissed as imbecilic at best, inherently evil at worst.
The greatest and most creative minds in the history of mankind have been deeply and profoundly religious, most of them Christian. It is not necessary to be religious to come to grips with that fact. Speaking in Mr. Water's pragmatic bailiwick, we libertarians will never win the hearts and minds of Americans or of the rest of the world if we persist in wrongly identifying libertarianism with atheism.
If even Stalin couldn't stamp out religion, libertarians are not going to succeed with a few Randian syllogisms."
-Murry N. Rothbard

This just made me chuckle, so I figured it was worth reposting.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good News from the Gulf

Bloomberg: (hat tip to openmarket.org)"A New Orleans federal judge lifted the six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed by President Barack Obama following the largest oil spill in U.S. history. ...
Obama temporarily halted all drilling in waters deeper than 500 feet on May 27 to give a presidential commission time to study improvements in the safety of offshore operations. More than a dozen Louisiana offshore service and supply companies sued U.S. regulators to lift the ban. The U.S. said it will appeal the decision.
“The court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium,” Feldman said in his 22-page decision. “The blanket moratorium, with no parameters, seems to assume that because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger.”

“The court cannot substitute its judgment for that of the agency, but the agency must ‘cogently explain why it has exercised its discretion in a given manner,’” Feldman said, citing a previous ruling. “It has not done so.”

We will yet again see the curious spectre of a supposedly free nation, through its government, attempting to punish the oil industry that has been problem free in the gulf, by blinding reaching to shut down production. The age of Jefferson this is not.

I think the administration seeks to exacerbate the crisis to drive Cap and Trade legislation through, regardless of the consequences to Americans now, or in the future.
Similarly, the moratorium was enacted as an act of political grandstanding, one to appease the meandering populace who occasionally glance up as the tides of tyranny wash upon their shores. At least the courts have done the job right this time, curbing the excess of the executive branch.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Shared Content

When I'm reading news articles, there are a lot that find interesting, but I don't have the time to make a full post on.

Many of those, I'll click 'share', and add to this box at the top of the page. Just good links to click on and read.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Worst Case Scenario


Oil Gusher Map

This is a really cool interactive graphic USA Today put together to show the oil gusher's progress over time.
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Oil Spill. Big Ones.

This is of coursed, based on the official numbers. Which may be bogus, underestimating the reality by more then 70%. EDIT: Simmons, the man making larger leak claims, has a vested interest in oceanic alternative energies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fixing Education

Weekly Standard: "As of 2006—of course the numbers are out of date—4,615,000 people were employed full-time by some 13,000 school districts (although if school districts used the same definition of “full-time” as the rest of us the number we’re talking about would be zero). Of these 4,615,000 there are 300,000 “clerical and secretarial staff” filling out No Child Left Behind paperwork and wondering why 64,000 “officials, administrators” aren’t doing it themselves, which they aren’t because they’re busy doing the jobs that 125,000 “principals and assistant principals” can’t because they’re supervising 383,000 “other professional staff” who are flirting with the 483,000 “teachers’ aides” who are spilling trail mix and low-fat yogurt in the teacher’s lounge making a mess for the 726,000 “service workers” to clean up, never mind that the students should be pushing the brooms and swinging the Johnny mops so at least they’d come home with a practical skill and clean the bathroom instead of sitting around comprehending 29 percent of their iPhone text messages and staying awake all night because they can only count 31 percent of sheep."

In what may be the highest laughs per run-on-sentence column I've ever seen, O'Rourke issues forth with a scathing rebuttal of our taxpayer funded compulsory education system.

Utilizing the latest available numbers from the US Dept of Education, the US Census, and various think tanks, this is a well deserved condemnation of the status kwo.
The reality of the situation is this: There is no reason we should be spending more money per semester of basic education per student then it costs for a semester of university education.

For a more balanced and intellectual approach to this issue, here is a sample of a column by Gary North:
The establishment of churches funded by tax money has been common in most societies throughout history. I contend that it is basic to the modern world, too. The modern priesthood is the educational establishment in each nation. Tax funding goes to those institutions that have been certified as reputable by the priesthood.
The transfer of tax money from the churches to the schools replaced the older system of established religion. The underlying principles of tax funding have not changed. The underlying presuppositions of the benefits of this funding have not changed. The difference is this: there were a lot of Baptists in the early 1800s, and there were a lot more of them by 1890. They had the votes. They opposed tax-funded churches. They had been on the receiving end of that tyranny for too long. Unfortunately, they adopted the religion of public education with the same fervor that other denominations did in the nineteenth century.

From an old lion of the right, one who's Basic Economics Handbook was my high school textbook (Yep, I'm Homeschooled) on economics comes this thoughtful and easily digested piece:
"It was once the proud declaration of many educators that "We are here to teach you how to think, not what to think." But far too many of our teachers and professors today are teaching their students what to think, about everything from global warming to the new trinity of "race, class and gender."

Even if all the conclusions with which they indoctrinate their students were 100 percent correct, that would still not be equipping students with the mental skills to weigh opposing views for themselves, in order to be prepared for new and unforeseeable issues that will arise over their lifetimes, after they leave the schools and colleges

Sunday, June 13, 2010


American Conservative: The Marxism of the Right is a column a friend asked me to look at, and if I so choose, to rebuttal. I would recommend reading the column first, but its not necessary.

"If Marxism is the delusion that one can run society purely on altruism and collectivism, then libertarianism is the mirror-image delusion that one can run it purely on selfishness and individualism."

The root problem with Marxism is that it is fundamentally opposed to human nature. Human beings are selfish creations bent on our own benefit, with a lesser regard to others then to ourselves.

From a christian point of view, it is why we are
commanded by Christ to love one another. It is against our nature, and it is something that has to be taught by society around us. We do not have to teach children to do wrong, because they are remarkably adept at doing wrong on their own. We do have to teach children to do right, because it is necessary for a properly functioning citizen in society to behave in such a manner. Therefore, we teach the golden rule to our young, not exclusively but as an essential cornerstone of behavior.
Because it is impossible to fully follow this command, we will always be in sin. Fortunately, our salvation is also offered by the King, but no we will return to the governance of men in our earthly dealings.

Where Marxism rejects the nature of man and attempts to forcefully substitute it's own, a libertarian philosophy embrace the reality of Man's existence.
All men are created equal, each as an individual autonomous from all others. His actions and thoughts are his own, and he bears responsibility for them.

The assertion that people can benefit from each others selfishness is one frequently made by all manner of philosophies proclaiming liberty, and justifiably so. When I buy a coconut at the supermarket, I do so because I want one more then i want the $2 in my wallet. The supermarket has the coconut on the shelf because they figure that someone like me will want it more then their $2, and the supermarket values the $2 as a higher value then the product. Likewise, the farmer who sells the coconuts to the retailer values the money he receives more then he does his coconuts.
In this cycle, everyone is acting out of selfish interest, receiving what they want in exchange for something they value less. This is not altruism, but selfish action. In short, human selfishness has been harnessed by the market to benefit all.

"The most fundamental problem with libertarianism is very simple: freedom, though a good thing, is simply not the only good thing in life. "

While freedom may not be the only good thing in life, it is the ground from which all other good things grow. As adults, we are free to choose and responsible for our own actions. What we value most are the things we have chosen, such as friends, family, and faith. We choose to live, to eat, to breath, and to sleep. We may not like the consequences of our chooses and actions, but they remain our choices and actions.
While things exist in nature that are inherently good for us, we still must choose to partake in them.

The proper role of government remains this: To protect the lives and property of individuals from damage and encroachment by other people. This is a simple concept, and one that is more simply executed then any other government man has tried to devise. Still, questions must be answered.

"What if a free society needed to draft its citizens in order to remain free?"

American Revolution. War of 1812. Mexican-American War. Spanish-American War.
These are wars America triumphed in without a draft. It the War between the states that first required a draft, and the blatantly interventionist wars of the 20th century that perpetuated them in recent memory. But as shown by the current US military, a volunteer force is far more then sufficient to defend freedom. If the need arises yet again for free men to defend a free nation. To quote a president in the 1980s,
Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today's world do not have. "

"What if it needed to limit oil imports to protect the economic freedom of its citizens from unfriendly foreigners?"

To phrase the question another way, 'What if we needed to cut the water supply to a patient because it comes from the wrong tap?'
It is beyond absurd to suggest that limiting any commodity from another location is in any way beneficial to a nation. We seek to buy from beyond our borders because it is less expensive, and allows us to allocate our time to other projects that the people of this nation prefer to, as is their choice.

"What if it needed to force its citizens to become sufficiently educated to sustain a free society?"

True education cannot be forced. Learning requires willingness, and such willingness is compulsory when compelled by the force of arms. If it is truly beneficial for citizens to be educated, then education will take place. If education is harmful, then why would we wish for it to be compulsory?
The literacy rate in colonial America was
astounding, some historians placing it at 95%. Today, with compulsory education, we may be around 85% literacy.
When people are free to choose an education, they value what they learn more.

"What if it needed to deprive landowners of the freedom to refuse to sell their property as a precondition for giving everyone freedom of movement on highways?"

This is the fallacy of supposing you can replace the fundamental freedom of one man with the minor freedom of many, with the use of force as the compulsory factor.
A fundamental responsibility of government is to defend the rights of men against those who prey on them, including the right to own property. When a government betrays this responsibility to take land from the men it represents, it is nothing more then a legalized mafia, a thief of little distinction but to have been put in place by the people, be it by choice or by acquiescence. Highways were constructed, turnpikes were cleared and railroads were laid in America before the first government transportation project ever took place. Where a government construction project is by its nature a bloated gas bag of corruption and delay, private road makers were put out of business only by a government monopoly moving into the market. Early US history is rife with such discussions, notably involving Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.
If the right incentive is offered to property owners, they will trade their property for something else. But there is no justification for the mafia style governance that would compel a property owner to vacate his property by force.

"What if it needed to deprive citizens of the freedom to import cheap foreign labor in order to keep out poor foreigners who would vote for socialistic wealth redistribution?"

The assumption that the poor who come here to work would vote themselves into socialism is despicable, each man is responsible for his vote. Immigrant workers are not a monolithic voting block, and so let us not treat this as so.

" Freedom without judgment is dangerous at best, useless at worst. Yet libertarianism is philosophically incapable of evolving a theory of how to use freedom well because of its root dogma that all free choices are equal, which it cannot abandon except at the cost of admitting that there are other goods than freedom."

In our world, we interact with other people. These people develop their own thoughts on other people, and how to deal with them. To draw a simplistic analogy, who would you rather buy your cell phone from a boy scout or from a politician?
The point of this analogy is to show that the marketplace, when free of government intervention rewards honest and trustworthy businesses, and encourages good moral behavior between men and women. Liberty is the ground from which all other good things grow, and should be cultivated and protected to the best of our abilities. While their are other good things in this world, none can exist without freedom. The historical record of mankind shows that the more the freedom of the individual to choose and to act is preserved and allowed, the more prosperous society becomes.

The freedom of one is to the benefit of all, and the freedom of all is to the benefit of one. This is the essence of the Libertarian.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

The Road to Serfdom and the Beck effect

The Beck Bomb: "Glenn Beck’s show on Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom featuring Mises Institute Senior Fellows Yuri Maltsev and Tom Woods:

— crashed Hayek’s Wikipedia entry.

— sent the GOOGLE search phrase “The Road to Serfdom” to “volcanic” status and #1 on Google Trends.

— rocketed the audio version of The Road to Serfdom to #2 on iTunes.

— launched The Road to Serfdom to #1 on Amazon, where it still stands. (Buy it from the Mises store here.)"

This has been fun to watch.

F.A. Hayek wrote the 'The Road to Serfdom' as a rebuttal to the growing academic and political acquiescence to fascist rule in the UK following WWII. Based upon his studies of Republics collapsing into tyrannical governments, he lays out how a nation falls from freedom to serfdom.

It's haunting how a book written 60 years ago to warn of the descent into despotism applies ever more strongly today then in the past. I read it a year ago, and it is a very understandable and accurate analysis.

War forces central economic planning, people become complacent and secure in their government jobs, 'what is good in war is good in peace. Those doing the planning promise an impossible utopia, but are unable to grapple with reality and the lack of a common enemy to form a cohesive plan.
The citizens naturally disagree with the new government economy, but have no recourse. In response, the government crafts propaganda to win the populace over, a propaganda machine that will be useful for many government purposes.
Many buy this Orwellian Newspeak, but as time goes on and the economy falls to shambles, the populace once again is rife with agitation.
To maintain power amidst the growing unrest, the central planners cede more power to the militaristic branches of the government, and as they cross this Rubicon drag the rest of the nation with them into serfdom at the hands of power. In this environment, as is planned by the state.

Far fetched? Hardly. Ask the russians.

I recommend this, and it makes me happy to see this book as the #1 on Amazon. If you haven't read it, and are looking for a classic historical and economic book that altered the world around it, this is it.

If fiction is more your speed, try some of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the ideals of liberty are far from overcome, there is a heart of freedom that still beats strong in this nation.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Thats a Hole in the Ground!

"They should build one of those for Congress. That way they could shovel in a few trillion and go on vacation without wasting so much time and effort." -W.B. Picklesworth

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Working for the Government

This is a short video by the Taxpayers Alliance in the UK, and its a pretty keen look at how the typical Englishman will pay for his taxes during the course of the day.
Mournfully, the US is none to far from this scenario, and will be rapidly approaching Eurozone tax levels in the coming years.
...That, or we just print our way into a lower deficit, with the devastating inflation that follows as a hidden tax.

GDP to US Debt Parity

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Internet Makes Us Smarter

WSJ.com: "To take a famous example, the essential insight of the scientific revolution was peer review, the idea that science was a collaborative effort that included the feedback and participation of others. Peer review was a cultural institution that took the printing press for granted as a means of distributing research quickly and widely, but added the kind of cultural constraints that made it valuable.

We are living through a similar explosion of publishing capability today, where digital media link over a billion people into the same network. This linking together in turn lets us tap our cognitive surplus, the trillion hours a year of free time the educated population of the planet has to spend doing things they care about. In the 20th century, the bulk of that time was spent watching television, but our cognitive surplus is so enormous that diverting even a tiny fraction of time from consumption to participation can create enormous positive effects.

Wikipedia took the idea of peer review and applied it to volunteers on a global scale, becoming the most important English reference work in less than 10 years. Yet the cumulative time devoted to creating Wikipedia, something like 100 million hours of human thought, is expended by Americans every weekend, just watching ads. It only takes a fractional shift in the direction of participation to create remarkable new educational resources.

Individuals working together on an individual level without the constraints of distance and travel time is a revolution in human history.
Like the automobile, the telephone and the printing press, the Internet has empowered the individual to maximize his or her abilities.
When the power of individuals in unleashed, each and every one of us benefits. Not just because we are more free then before, but because we reap the splendid harvest of human actions by those around us.

The future is still bright, not because of any hope offered government, but because people are more capable then ever before of using their God-Given abilities to the greatest extent possible.

95% of New Employment from Census

American Thinker: "Payrolls rose by 431,000 last month. That may sound good on the surface, but is far less than the median forecast of 536,000 jobs. But it gets worse: of the 431,000 jobs, 411,000 of them were census workers. Those are government jobs, not private sector jobs -- and are temporary. That means the private sector hired a mere 41,000 more workers in the past month.
Of course, this figure again illustrates (as all unemployment figures have over the last 16 months) that the drop in unemployment we were promised by Barack Obama and the Democrats (to 8%) when TARP was rushed into being has been a broken promise.

Just another cheerful bit of news.

This is what happens when a government no longer rules by the people, it distorts truth and fakes reality to substantiate its own existence.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

DHS Security Checkpoint

Video recorded on November 28th in Arizona on a East-West highway, located 40 miles north of the Mexican-American Border, on a highway that never intersects with the border.

So while the driver is not being detained, he is also not free to continue his travel along the highway. Thank you Bush for setting up this wonderful department.