Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Redistribution and Times of Tempest

In a nation racing towards insolvency at the speed of a falling falcon, the state of Pennsylvania is worth a look. But first, some reality.

The redistribution of wealth by government entities has two consequences which are seldom discussed. First, the wealth must be removed from the hands of citizens who possess it. In our national system this means taxing people with income and profitable investments. Second, the confiscated wealth is utilized to encourage individuals without income or profitable investments to retain such vocations. In our rational world, we punish that which is productive and reward that which is not. Even bypassing the moral arguments against theft of wealth by the power of guns, this is a miserable set up and provides negative incentives to both parties of the transactions. 

Take note of the following graphs from the Department of Public Welfare of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the American Enterprise Institute. 

Exhibit A: The income curve of a Pennsylvania family of a single mother and two children. The red line indicates the level of earnings. Blue bars indicate net earnings and are representative of take home pay and benefits following Federal and State taxes. Notice that while a progressive tax rate is active, it is in all cases better to increase earnings. 

Exhibit B: The income curve of a Pennsylvania family of a single mother and two children. Note the remaining red income line and the blue area of net income. Note also the stark level of redistributed wealth. The dashed horizontal line is important, as this individual earning $29,000 per year will rationally refuse any increase in income, unless such income were to exceed $69,000 per year.

Exhibit C: The outcome of increased redistribution of wealth. The programs we collectively call welfare are not the only source of redistributed income, wealth producers are subject to an additional form of exploitation.  Government employees are paid from this same pool of forcibly collected wealth. At this very hour there are only five privately employed wage producers for every 4 individuals collecting from this sour pool of redistributed wealth. For a look at the growth of government employment in comparison to the growth in private employment, look at slide 14

Clearly there is room for disagreement on the role of government and the level of employment under the banner of the government system, but there ought be no dispute that every dollar used to pay the wages of government employees is that which stems from taxation or excise. My umbrage is not with the individuals who have rationally chosen work within the government apparatus, but with the apparatus as it exists and from where the resources for it's existence are derived. 

Can it happen here? Will the motor continue to turn? Have we passed the event horizon

Big questions with no easy answer, and the sky continues to darken uncomfortably. It was without error when Romney declared 47% of the electorate would be firmly opposed to a candidate who even pretended to rearrange this acrimonious construct. We may be watching as that 47% swiftly surpasses the 50% mark over the coming two years. The political firepower simply does not exist on a national level* to reduce the spending on these any policy. The rational and expected action of an elected official at this time is to encourage redistribution of wealth just as Senators of Rome pursued headlong the panem et circenses politics of the republics latter days. 

The time is past and present to remedy this insult to human dignity. We must no longer sanction the punishment of the productive on behalf of the collective society. Equally important is to restore the hope that comes when an individual is capable of improving themselves. It is implausible to believe that a single mother with receive a promotion from $29,000 a year to $70,000 a year. Short of that pay rate, she is told that her most valuable place in society and for her children is to earn less then $30,000 year. In the desire to provide for a low income family at the expense of others, we have managed to strip away hope and pride and desire for personal and professional improvement. 

Irrevocably and predictably our solution falls once again upon the shoulders of the individuals who make the teeming mass of people we call Americans. Will the hearts and minds of the people change to alter the course we are set on? Human history is rife with societies who have quibbled over the gold on a sinking ship, but of equal abundance are ships righted in times of tempest. May God be with us.

*(Ryan, Gowdy and Paul notwithstanding)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to Watch Netflix

You have Netflix. You have an Instant Queue sitting full of shows and movies yet unwatched. The time has come to stop scrolling past these artifacts of interests past and watch something new with an eye for learning.

Introducing  Food, Inc, a 2008 documentary by Robert Keener on the state of food in these United States. The promotional tag line goes, “An unflattering look inside America's corporate controlled food industry.” At 94 minutes, it is an easy and informative watch. It earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary, along with other critical accolades.  

Food, Inc is compelling and engaging. Keener clearly had an agenda when putting this film together. However, he does not cloud the delivery of his message: the food we consume is far from what we imagine it to be. As we drift farther away from an agricultural lifestyle, people no longer understand what food is, where it comes from, and how it is processed.  Keener faults the handful of multinational corporations creating and delivering the food supply. These are the consequence of the fast food industry’s titanic purchasing power, as driven by consumer demand for cheap, fast, and filling food, regardless of nutrition provided. The result is a food industry sacrificing safety for the sake of cutting costs with little advocacy on behalf of the consumer.

Most of the documentary discusses problems which are well identified, but they are only symptoms. It is apparent to a viewer who watches and thinks about what is being said that the root cause tying all of the symptoms together is that of agricultural subsidies. Corn, wheat, and soybean crops are heavily subsidized by the US Federal Government. The way this works is a price floor, where there is always an absolute minimum price that a farming corporation can sell his grain for to the US government. The cost of production has diminished from where this price floor is set that farming corporations have incentives at all times to increase the production of corn.

Suddenly, the supply of corn vastly outstrips traditional demand and prices fall. When these prices are low enough, livestock producers begin to purchase corn to feed animals not designed to subsist on corn. Eventually this leads to health issues in the livestock, but it is still cost effective to medicate the livestock with antibiotics and maintain the corn based diet.

All of the problems identified in Food, Inc can be traced back to the root issue of subsidized cereal grains, this American Hydra of unintended consequences. So long as this economic reality exists, the Sisyphean task of providing government oversight to ensure food safety will be unsuccessful. Keener actually does a fine job demonstrating how powerless the FDA is in the food industry, and inadvertently showcases why a trust in government to protect people is a vain faith.

Go on, use your Netflix and Amazon Prime for good tonight.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Christmas Gift List for Leaders Of Liberty

Christmas Gift List for Leaders Of Liberty

Look at it
Christmas is coming, and you have people to give to. Some of those people are even politically oriented, with a penchant for the liberalism of the enlightenment.
This list is for you, for them. I have personal experience with each item on this list, and not a bad apple in the bunch. (No, this is not the list for myself)


The Road to Serfdom: Text and Documents--The Definitive Edition 
 F. A. Hayek, a man under appreciated in economics and political theory. Sure to be loved.

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World
How individuals trading across borders made life better and worse, and why the world is as rich as it is today on account of increased trade.

 Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
Ron Paul, an man under appreciated in political theory and the Republican party. If you are like myself in 2008, you are unable to fathom why there are so many who love this man's principles so dearly. This book will help illuminate why. (Then when you finish with it, it makes a great Christmas gift for someone who is already oriented to liberty)

On Liberty
John Stuart Mill, a man possibly over appreciated in economics and in political academics. Nevertheless, this is a classic of the genre, a rational exposition of liberty which should be read at least once.

The Tyrannicide Brief: The Story of the Man Who Sent Charles I to the Scaffold
Liberty and revolutions against tyranny are no mere american function. This is the story of John Cooke, a lawyer tasked by the revolution of 1649 to lead the prosecution of King Charles the I. It was the first time that a king would be tried in a court of law for Tyrannicide, the crime of killing those whom he was tasked by God to defend. It is also notable that John Cooke was a devout christian, and this story pulls no punches in acknowledging his faith, and the role of the christian faith in the establishment of the short lived English Republic.

Generation Kill
Evan Wright, an embedded reporter with a US Marines Recon battalion in the first months of the Gulf War in 2003, unparalleled look into the faces on the ground. Not for children. To run a simile  think Band of Brothers but for this generation.

End the Fed
Ron Paul again, with a book that will make any one interest in the expansion of liberty sit up and think.

The ESV Study Bible
There is no man who has done more for the cause of the individual then Jesus Christ. This is the definitive book about him, and rife with notes and maps and cross references to help with study. I use this myself.

Atlas Shrugged
Ayn Rand, this is a book both fascinating and controversial. It will find a permanent place in a home, but is also not child friendly.

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel
It is no secret that this book is adored by this blogger. Of all the prominent dystopian novels. Bradbury crafted the best, an onrushing torrent of wit and verve and wisdom packed inside of a story which has become cliche due to the numerous and frail derivatives of it we must deal with today.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
The moon is communist. The moon wants freedom. The computer achieves intelligence. Let the revolution begin, and forget not: There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Firefly - The Complete Series "Firefly! I love Firefly!...Although that is one thing we will probably not let our kids watch until they are eighteen." - Jenny. Don't fret, its the best network TV series. Ever. Science Fiction and western and libertarian thought all rolled into one marvelously scripted bundle of joy.

Other Goodies: 

Silver Dollar coins. this was given to me by my Oklahoma Uncle when I earned the Eagle Scout award, and it has been on a key ring ever since. Ironic that 6 years later I would be pining for a return to a metallic currency and a cessation of the fiat currency.

Cold Steel GI Tanto Knife with Secure-Ex Sheath
Because men who value liberty also value knives. This one is fun to hold, fun to use, fun to throw, durable and a great value.

 Leatherman 831206 Style? Cs Keychain Multi-Tool
It's not TSA compliant, and it sure is handy to have on a key ring. Jenny carries it everyday and is quite happy with it, particularly the scissors.

  Panasonic RPHJE120K In-Ear Headphone, Black
To listen to Dvorak and MacMaster and these here listed podcasts.

These are free. These have no commercials. These are informative. These will make you smarter if you listen. Do so while you have some free time this December.

Russ Roberts, professor or economics and a guest discuss a given topic for roughly an hour a week. Recently discussed are the topics of Healthcare, Economics Price Gouging, John Locke, Public Pensions, Geographic distribution of voting, Education and the Internet. All personally recommended.

No Agenda
Crackpot and Buzzkill, media assassins. No formal political training required, these are two men who have a conversation about the news, the media, and the smoke and mirrors we call the news. It's twice a week, roughly 2 hours each, and no commercials. Unique in that it is listener supported, enough so that it provides full time income for both me. No Agenda just passed the 5 year mark, and I have been a follower for that entire time. Recommended, but bear in mind it is considered PG-13.

Hardcore History
This man produces stellar historical narratives that can take 40 minutes to complete, or 5 2 hour shows. I have never once listened to an episode of Hardcore History over the past 4 years and felt like it was a waste of time. The common sentiment upon reaching the end of the show is: "WAIT!! DAN, THERE IS MORE TO COVER! DON'T STOP NOW!!"
Dan Carlin doesn't stop, he just comes back with another episode worthy of your attention.
The current series is on Genghis Khan and his conquests, other topics include the Fall of Rome, the Eastern front of WWII, and the effect of hysterical fear on the courses of history. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Inflation Blues

Pandora does, on occasion, bring forth wonderful music specifically for my ear.
Behold, BB King and the Inflation Blues

Now you take that paper dollarIt’s only that in nameThe way that buck has shrunkIt’s a lowdown dirty shame
That’s why I got the bluesGot those inflation blues'Cause I have
Mr. President, please cut the price of sugarI wanna make my coffee sweetI wanna smear some butter on my breadAnd I just got to have my meat
When you start rationingYou really played the gameAnd things are going up and up and up and upAnd my check remains the same

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Elections 2012, or "Was That the Event Horizon?"

Following the 2008 election I posted the following, ripe with all the wisdom contained in the mind of a first time voter:
"I attribute this election lost to a lack of conservative energy, and rightly so. The GOP betrayed its principles, and is paying a heavy price for it."
While there is some truth to this, I am sickened by the reality that GOP betrayed few of its principles. With the exception of the Reagan anomaly, the Republican Party has long held for an expansionary government role in the lives of Americans. 

There is despair in the camp of classical liberals.  The results of this election drive home a point seldom acknowledged. Our people no longer desire opportunity, but handouts. Our people no longer desire responsibility, but to be coddled. Our people no longer care for accomplishment of the difficult, but for the contrived comfort of welfare. 

Yesterday was a reflection of two voices trumpeting near identical ideologies. The increase of scope and magnitude of the federal government is only celebrated and never disparaged.
Absent are the days of Cleveland: "Though the people support the government; the government should not support the people.”
Coolidge's maxim lies cast aside: "Collecting more taxes then is absolutely necessary is nothing more then legalized robbery".
Kennedy is lionized yet ignored: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

How have we come to this?

The answer lies in a concept I have not yet fully developed, but I will proceed to venture forth with it due to the hour we are in. The expansion and regression of the recognition of individual human liberty is directly correlated with the level of individual worship of Jesus Christ. The state ought not present God to a people, nor should the state attempt to be God to a people. Faith and a relationship with the creator is an individual choice, independent of the collective. The eloquent consequence is an increased understanding that the individual is primary on earth, for man will not be held to account for the sins and righteousness of his brothers, but for the heart and actions. Individual responsibility is the keystone, and no amount of control, distortion or substitution by the state can alter this fundamental reality. 

This mindset has escaped the greater part of our citizenry over the past century. More work is needed to locate the roots, but my hunch is that it lies in a partial combination of a failure of Christians to love and in the malignant structure that is public education. Scriptures were cited and frequent references to the Almighty were a feature of so recent a president as JFK in his inaugural address. Such a speech would be decried today as excessively Christian, bleeding over the separation of church and state. We have come so far from a communal understanding of a Christian faith that it is now terrorizing to the nation to hear it spoken. This is beyond politics and the rhetoric of the parties; this is an issue of historical import centuries in the making. A people can change greatly in a short period of time, as a Jonathan Edwards should remind us.

Mankind has a proclivity to seek answers larger then ourselves, and if the answers are not sought by faith, they tend to resolve as a demand of the state. It was not on the behalf of God that the contemporaries of Samuel demanded Saul.
Our contemporaries who vote have done likewise, further demanding the rise of what will rightly be called socialism in the pursuit of a false deity to answer their needs.

The placement of trust and hope in the actions of men will lead to despair, so let us not put our trust for the future in men, for men perform miserably. 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Election Night Websites

Interesting splash screens on the four major networks as of 6:46pm CST

Abc, what is wrong with you?