Monday, August 30, 2010

Anchor Babies

In Shreds: "Now, on the subject of mojaditos, and a Supreme Court challenge: do we really want to go there?

Anybody who tells me they want to deny status to these children must first explain how the hell they can take a kid who spends his whole life living in Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago or Topeka ... and then say he is not a part of our national community?
And if he's discovered by I.C.E., what are they gonna do with him? Deport him to a country that he's never been in, or a part of?

This is America. We don't penalize kids for the misdeeds of their parents, and the 14th Amendment not only did some justice for Blacks, it also says, if indirectly, that one's social caste is not fixed at birth."

Frequent reader of this blog and my co-blogger on Grumpy Old Men, Gino, chimes in with a typically scintillating and fiery piece. Directed at the 'Anchor babies' debate, its worth reading to think about, and then to laugh. Then comment, because happy blogs need comments. 

Wisdom to be Found on Facebook 2

"The necessity of government intervention is a commonly held view, because it's the easiest way to address some issues like this. Not the best way, mind you, just easy."
-Allen Grammar

You can actually find more of Allen as a Co-Host on The Outpost podcast with yours truly. If you like independent minded young men thinking, this is something for you)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

War is the Health of the State

The moment war is declared, however, the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves. They then, with the exception of a few malcontents, proceed to allow themselves to be regimented, coerced, deranged in all the environments of their lives, and turned into a solid manufactory of destruction toward whatever other people may have, in the appointed scheme of things, come within the range of the Government's disapprobation. The citizen throws off his contempt and indifference to Government, identifies himself with its purposes, revives all his military memories and symbols, and the State once more walks, an august presence, through the imaginations of men. Patriotism becomes the dominant feeling, and produces immediately that intense and hopeless confusion between the relations which the individual bears and should bear toward the society of which he is a part.
-War is the Health of the State by Randolph Bourne, 1918

Friday, August 27, 2010

"You're Not Going to Get the Privacy."

CNN: "Drug Enforcement Administration agents in Oregon in 2007 surreptitiously attached a GPS to the silver Jeep owned by Juan Pineda-Moreno, whom they suspected of growing marijuana, according to court papers.
When Pineda-Moreno was arrested and charged, one piece of evidence was the GPS data, including the longitude and latitude of where the Jeep was driven, and how long it stayed. Prosecutors asserted the Jeep had been driven several times to remote rural locations where agents discovered marijuana being grown, court documents show.
"The vast majority of the 60 million people living in the Ninth Circuit will see their privacy materially diminished by the panel's ruling," Kozinksi wrote in his dissent.
He [David Rivkin] says that a person cannot automatically expect privacy just because something is on private property.
"You have to take measures -- to build a fence, to put the car in the garage" or post a no-trespassing sign, he said. "If you don't do that, you're not going to get the privacy."

The key component here? That a police officer can put a gps tracker on your vehicle without a warrant, which means without limit. The case on trial here set precedent with Federal Agents putting the tracker on the Jeep while it was in his driveway.
Such trackers would hardly be limited to parked vehicles, it is not at all hard to imagine that a part of routine traffic stops in the future would be the placement, suppripitous or not, of a tracker on the vehicle, if only for the department to, in newspeak, create a comprehensive map of traffic flows and personal travel within the city, for the safety of the residents.
This is nothing but a blatant information grab by governments, in an attempt to make it easier to track the people they are supposed to work for. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tax Hikes ahoy!

The Washington Post has an excellent infographic showing how much extra money will be taken fleeced from Americans in the next year, with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts. Sample below: (h/t Flowing Data)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

9 Principles of Economics

From the Mises Institute Blog:
"1. People Act. People choose goals (ends), and they choose ways to achieve those goals (means). One of your goals, presumably, is to obtain a well-rounded liberal education. Taking econ 100 is one of the means you have chosen to that end. This also implies subsidiary means-ends relationships. Suppose one of your goals is “pass econ 100.” Reading the textbook, doing the assignments, coming to class, visiting office hours, and visiting the peer tutor are means to that end.

2. Every Action Has a Cost. When you do one thing, you give up the opportunity to do another. For example, you have an almost limitless range of options right now. You could be eating, sleeping, working, or chatting with your friends, but you have chosen instead to read this assignment. Your next best alternative is the cost you have incurred in order to read the assignment. If preparing for the first class takes five hours and your next best alternative is working for $8 per hour, then preparing for class has cost you the opportunity to earn $40 (we will shorten this periodically and say that “preparing for class” cost you $40). You will also hear people say “there is no such thing as a free lunch,” and indeed, free stuff isn’t free. If you spend thirty minutes in line waiting for a slice of free pizza and your next best alternative would be working for $8 per hour, then that slice of pizza has cost you the opportunity to earn $4.

3. People Respond to Incentives. Incentives motivate people to action. People will do more of something as the cost falls, and they will do less of it as the cost rises (the law of demand). Similarly, they will try to supply more of something that gets more remunerative and less of something that gets less remunerative (the law of supply). Prices are some of the most important incentives in economics. The price is the number of dollars that have to be traded for something ($2 for a cup of coffee, for example). Market prices emerge from the interactions of buyers and sellers.

The remainder is Here.
Sharp and succinct.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Take It to the Bank!

(...what bank?)

More Color

Is what this blog needs right now.

This is Only the Beginning

Army Times: "Compared with the 49,000 soldiers in Iraq, there are close to 67,000 in Afghanistan and another 9,700 in Kuwait, according to the latest Army chart on global commitments dated Aug. 17. Under an agreement with the Iraqi government, all U.S. troops must be out of Iraq by Dec. 31, 2011.

There are seven Advise and Assist Brigades in Iraq, as well as two additional National Guard infantry brigades “for security,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Ratcliff.

Last year, the Army decided that rather than devote permanent force structure to the growing security force assistance mission, it would modify and augment existing brigades.

The Army has three different standard brigade combat teams: infantry, Stryker and heavy. To build an Advise and Assist Brigade, the Army selects one of these three and puts it through special training before deploying."

We've left Iraq?
Not even remotely. Don't let this newspeakin' Ministry of Truth tell you otherwise. 
This news, correlated with the fact that we can only account for 7% of reconstruction funds provided for Iraq, are worth remembering. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

TSA Abuses Liberty

Daniel Rueben: ""Everything in my purse was out, including my wallet and my checkbook. I had two prescriptions in there. One was diet pills. This was embarrassing. A TSA officer said, 'Hey, I've always been curious about these. Do they work?'
"I was just so taken aback, I said, 'Yeah.' "
What happened next, she says, was more than embarrassing. It was infuriating.
That same screener started emptying her wallet. "He was taking out the receipts and looking at them," she said.
"I understand that TSA is tasked with strengthening national security but [it] surely does not need to know what I purchased at Kohl's or Wal-Mart," she wrote in her complaint, which she sent me last week.
She says she asked what he was looking for and he replied, "Razor blades." She wondered, "Wouldn't that have shown up on the metal detector?"
In a side pocket she had tucked a deposit slip and seven checks made out to her and her husband, worth about $8,000
Her thought: "Oh, my God, this is none of his business."
Two Philadelphia police officers joined at least four TSA officers who had gathered around her. After conferring with the TSA screeners, one of the Philadelphia officers told her he was there because her checks were numbered sequentially, which she says they were not.
"It's an indication you've embezzled these checks," she says the police officer told her. He also told her she appeared nervous. She hadn't before that moment, she says.
She protested when the officer started to walk away with the checks. "That's my money," she remembers saying. The officer's reply? "It's not your money.""

Yet another miserable story in the ever growing chronicles of Department of Homeland (when did we start calling it the Homeland?) Security's Transportation Security Administration, a tale woefully full of abuse of power against the very American's it was created to protect.

Or maybe it wasn't. It is but security theater, the delicate dance of pretending to protect people from imaginary fears to propel the bureaucracy and the power of the establishment well into the future. If we were really intended to be safe in the air from threats that actually exist, we would clear out this entire sham and put police on board flights.
Better yet, let the airlines and insurance handle their own security. Competition provides innovation, efficiency, happy customers, and better solutions. Before you complain about the current state of the Airline industry, consider how much of what is wrong is the result of Government intervention, particularly since the events of 9/11. Then ask, 'Could the airlines have handled this any worse if they had wanted to?'

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wisdom to be Found on Facebook

"Somewhere along the line, someone forgot that the "Ground Zero Mosque" is neither a mosque nor on Ground Zero."
-Teo Soares 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

American Tolerance

Reason: "It is possible that the center is really an elaborate ruse for some sinister anti-American agenda—just as it is possible that America's next president could be a Manchurian candidate installed by the Chinese. But to suspect such an agenda in the face of massive evidence to the contrary testifies to just how deep-seated the suspicion against Muslims is in this country.
But this is precisely why it is all the more remarkable that this resentment hasn't boiled over into active persecution—something that would hardly be possible any place else in the world. To be sure, this controversy has triggered a backlash against other proposed mosques in the country, with opponents holding protest rallies with dogs in tow to taunt Muslims who regard dogs as napaak, or impure. And Republicans in some races have turned this controversy into something of a rallying cry to energize their base.
But that's about the worst of it.
The point is not to pick on any country. The point is that it is not easy, even for liberal democracies, to rein in the tyranny of the majority. That in America no majority can forcibly evict the imam and his family against his will is not nothing. Nor is the fact that if anyone tried to, they would have to contend with the full force of the law, in contrast to India where the perpetrators of the Sikh and Muslim massacres have still not been brought to justice. No people anywhere has yet found a way to rationally examine its hatreds before venting them. But at least America's commitment to property rights and religious liberties runs deep enough that it can contain that hatred.
America, in short, represents not just how far humanity has yet to travel on the road to complete civility, but how far humanity has already traveled. For now, if the rest of the world just caught up with America, it would be a huge leap forward for the cause of toleration."

This flare up regarding the Cordoba House is distressing to me because of the slippery slope we find ourselves on. 
The hatred spawned by fear of the unknown that is searing across the right wing of this nation is in diametrically opposed to what so many Americans have fought and died for. In order to have  the liberty to discern between truth and deceit, we must have both options presented in all their glorious array. As Churchill said, the Truth must be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies. 

If we as Christians are convinced that Jesus Christ of the Gospels is, in fact, the foundational truth this world rests upon, then we should have no fear in the face of darkness. Nothing suits truth better then boldness, communicated with reason and love. 
What we have here and now from the vocal leaders of declamation is not the outpouring of love with the scalpel of truth, but a basketball being dribbled up court once again for a political jump shot in time for elections. 
Yet, amidst all this hubris of outcry, there has been little to no violence against Muslims in America, and like Shikha Dalima pointed out, that may be one of the best signs we've seen in many moons. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stout Formula for Endless Deficits

"Two combined forces yield a stout formula for endless deficits. To keep their jobs, politicians want to bring home the bacon to their constituents. This means they will almost always prefer increased spending to spending reductions. And to get (and keep) their jobs, politicians always promise not to raise taxes. The result is systematic deficits.Without constraints, the body politic will always tend to increase spending while avoiding the pain of raising taxes."
-Bruce Yandle
Everyman's Deficit: Spending Beyond our Means

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Failure of Hyperbole

From the Dallas Federal Reserve:
"The key proviso is this: what might have been. Simply put, there’s no way to know how badly the economy would have performed in the absence of fiscal stimulus and no way to prove how many jobs would have existed without stimulus.

Conventional models with standard multipliers generally peg the stimulus plan’s impact in the range specified by the council. But this is not true of all models. Some recent research finds that fiscal stimulus is especially effective when the federal funds rate is near zero, as it has been in recent times, suggesting that economic conditions might have been very bad without the stimulus plan.[3] Other research finds that fiscal stimulus has little impact even at near-zero rates because individuals understand that deficit-financed government spending will cost them later.[4]

While the overall weight of the evidence suggests the stimulus plan has provided a short-term boost, it’s unclear exactly how large this boost has been. What is clear is that stimulus funds have exacerbated near-term fiscal imbalances.

The deficit is now expected to spike to $1.4 trillion in 2009–10 and remain above $500 billion annually for the next decade, raising concerns that private-sector borrowing may be crowded out to some degree and future tax burdens may grow. Painful choices—among them, withdrawing fiscal stimulus over time—will be necessary as the economy recovers if these imbalances are to be corrected."

Marvelous. Even according to the bastion of inflationary statist 'stimulous' policies, the Federal Reserve, we are worse off due to the Obushma actions, regardless of the deficit. 
With the deficit, its hardly a stretch to say that in the chronicles of the United States, there are but 2 presidents who have done more damage to the sinews of America then current administration. 
As for congress, the record low approval numbers are generous at best. 

Monday, August 09, 2010

Freakonomics Drug Legalization Q&A

The guys over at the Freakonomics blog are host to an interesting Question and Answer with their readers providing queries, and Daniel Okrent, the author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition providing answers. Here's an answer, but the entire engaging piece is over at the blog

A:The obvious parallel between Prohibition and the war on drugs is their shared futility, establishing that you just can’t legislate against human appetites. There’s also the consequent enrichment of those who would try to satisfy those appetites outside the law: the bootleggers of the 1920’s and the drug syndicates of today.

But the common aspect that suggests, to me, that our drug laws will be changing radically over the next few years is the government’s inability to derive revenue from the sale of liquor then, drugs today. No factor played a larger role in the repeal of Prohibition than the government’s desperate need for revenue as the country fell into the grip of the Depression. Before Prohibition’s advent, a substantial amount of federal revenue came from the excise tax on alcohol. As the collection of income taxes and capital gains taxes plummeted between 1930 and 1933, politicians realized that the return of liquor and beer could help shore up federal finances. In fact, in the first post-repeal year, 1934, fully nine percent of federal revenue came from the revived alcohol tax.

In today’s political climate, where no one seems to be willing to raise income-tax rates, both state and federal governments are turning increasingly to excise taxes, use taxes and other levies that could easily be applied to marijuana. Californians will be voting on such a measure — it’s actually called the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act” – this November.

Hot Sauce

If it interests you, here's an enlightening rundown from Gino at Shreds. 

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

American Energy Consumption

Visual Economics

Dietary Guidelines

City Journal: Egg on Their Faces: "More and more, the history of dietary guidelines that our public-health authorities promulgate resembles the Woody Allen comedy Sleeper, in which the main character, awaking from a centuries-long slumber, learns that every food we once thought bad for us is actually good, starting with steak and chocolate. But you wouldn’t know that from government experts’ increasing efforts to nudge us into their approved diets. In 2006, New York City passed the nation’s first ban on the use of trans fats by restaurants, and other cities followed suit, though trans fats constitute just 2 percent of Americans’ caloric intake. Now the Bloomberg administration is trying to push food manufacturers nationwide to reduce their use of salt—and the nutrition panel advising the FDA on the new guidelines similarly recommends reducing salt intake to a maximum of 1,500 milligrams daily (down from 2,300 a day previously). Yet Dr. Michael Alderman, a hypertension specialist at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, observed in the New York Times that because sodium is an essential component of our diets, the city’s effort amounts to a giant uncontrolled experiment with the public’s health that could have unintended consequences. And in 2006, Harvard Medical School professor Norman Hollenberg concluded that while some people benefit from reduced salt intake, the evidence “is too inconsistent and generally too small to mandate policy decisions at the community level.”"

Traveling from eggs and cholesterol intake to the saturated fat fears of recent years, the next station in the distance is salt. With the blanket assumption that sodium is bad for the body, we are going to have the sad state of affairs where our government attempts to tailor our dietary behaviors.

Yes, its been going on for years. That doesn't make it right, nor healthy. This piece is a great showcase of how overly aggressive comprehensive government policy has been damaging to the health of the nation over years past.

Sunday, August 01, 2010


Yes, my shirt is all wet. Freeing a van stuck in mud will do that.
Well, I'm back from the nation of castanets, which is good. 

This being my 11th trip to the same location, I figured I was invincible to the onslaught of pestilence in the area. 

Boy was I wrong. Thursday night/Friday morning saw me in the ER in McAllen, hooked up to antibiotics and saline solution to rehydrate me and knock the bug out of my system. I'm doing better now, but I think next time I'l skip out on eating the cream filled pastry from the bakery next door to the church in the 'Colonia'.

Besides that, the trip was a raging success, and our first endeavor at a medical clinic was rewarded, and we'll be sure to do it again in the future.