Archive for Finance and money

Poverty in many forms

Mark A. Hewitt: What African Airports Taught Me about Obamacare – “During a 2010 Corporate Council on Africa convention in Washington, D.C., I delivered a 15-minute presentation on what it took to take Roberts Field, an airport that had been effectively dismantled and shut down, to a post-war “functional and safe” airport” and learned about poverty and racism.

In Zimbabwe, the government led a racially driven land grab solely for redistribution to blacks. The South African black-majority government will also lead a racially driven land grab solely for redistribution to blacks. In America, Obama led a racially driven insurance grab solely for redistribution to minorities and illegals.

Republicans in Congress should vigorously reject this racist-motivated law and repeal it with extreme prejudice.

Well, No, But I Did Fly Over It Once – “Princeton economics professor emeritus and Nobel laureate Angus Deaton has been running around making an extraordinary claim: “Being really poor in America is in some ways worse than being really poor in India or Africa,”

This claim was qualified—Deaton is referring to those who live in extreme poverty. But The Scrapbook did once spend two months following around economists from the U.S. Agency for International Development in the slums of Asia, and we can say with near-scientific certitude that Deaton’s claim is so idiotic it could only have been uttered by a Nobel Prize winner.

And if you’re still confused about how Donald Trump got elected, the patronizing ignorance of Ivy League professors about life between the coasts offers a clue.

Andrew Malcom says What’s important about Trump’s budget is not what you think – “For years Washington budget bees on both sides have hoodwinked Americans by announcing annual budget “cuts” that were not real cuts at all.” Trump has shifted the paradigm and the usual referents for discussion are no longer a solid base for prognostication and analysis.

Trump’s budget is only important for its political messaging. Which is still very important but has nothing to do with actual spending.

His budget sets out his goals and priorities. It tells Americans – supporters and opponents alike – that the new chief executive actually intends to follow through on major campaign promises – to rebuild the depleted military, to reduce foreign aid giveaways with dubious results, to launch a major infrastructure rebuild, to steer considerable authority back to states. It sets bargaining parameters with Congress.

Thomas Lifson: Oops! CNN accidentally confirms story that Brit intell passed along Trump communications to Obama admin – “Courtesy of Grabien, here is a disastrous interview in which the guest, Larry Johnson, confirmed the story that Judge Andrew Napolitano told on-air about British intelligence passing along surveillance data involving the Trump administration.” The general rule is that the more upset the Left gets about some Trump statement, the more likely it is that Trump was substantially correct.

Roger Kimball has a bit of a slog in describing A Government of Laws, Not Men but the conclusion is worthy of note.

Thus we see another way in which the principle of “a government of laws not men” can be violated. It used to be that we were on the lookout for individuals arrogating to themselves the power of the law. Now we find individuals denying our lawfully elected representatives the legitimacy to exercise their rightful authority.

We know from history that the first sort of violation is an invitation to tyranny. Some otherwise intelligent people seem not to appreciate how the latter is an invitation to anarchy and mob rule.

It is too early, I think, to say how this will end. Perhaps, as I hope, the odor of insurrection will dissipate and President Trump can go about the nation’s business with the presumption of legitimacy he deserves. But that may not happen. In which case, this observation from Alexander Bickel’s The Least Dangerous Branch: The Supreme Court at the Bar of Politics (1962) is pertinent: “Enforcement crises must be resolved by the use of the minimum force necessary, but above all decisively and promptly, so that the futility of resistance is never in the slightest doubt. Those who pass from litigation and political obstruction to overt insurrection must not be led to expect that will be negotiated with.”

An invitation to tyranny” is something to worry about. That is what leads to poverty.

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3/0/2017: The Lynch Mob

Luboš Motl breaks the barrier this morning with his post on The climate lynch mob at MIT. He sets the scene with the Murray Middlebury fracas.

Jay Parini and other professors at that college realize that some basic rules of Free Speech 101 were grossly neglected. However, the wild young people keep on calling themselves “college students” and they are basically dictating the atmosphere – and what is possible and what is impossible – on that college.

A zoo would be a much more appropriate place to keep these young people than a college. Let me emphasize that I recommend this habitat to the participants of that protest regardless of their race, gender, or ethnic background.

Sadly, not just gangs of politically radicalized young people may be described as marginally brain-dead inhabitants of the U.S. universities these days. Whole faculties sometimes behave in nearly equivalent ways.

Two weeks ago, Richard Lindzen – a retired MIT professor of atmospheric physics – penned a letter to Donald Trump that urged him to withdraw from the UNFCCC … Note that the petition hasn’t attacked anyone at all … Unfortunately, a “counter-letter” authored by Lindzen’s MIT climate colleagues was different in character.

22 signatories of this “counter-letter” include full professors … Needless to say, the fact that 10 members of the faculty at that program refused to sign wasn’t mentioned by anybody, surely not by the left-wing press that promoted the counter-letter. Another “detail” that no one mentioned is that none of these people is impartial.

It’s ludicrous for them to pretend that they are giving an independent testimony about some external problems. They’re not witnesses. Obviously, they are the defendants now.

They are denying this fact – and their extreme left-wing comrades in the media are denying, too

Those of us who have read the communist propaganda press (and those of us who are somewhat familiar with 100 Authors Against Einstein) recognize the style.

I am telling you, Kerry Emanuel and other 21 members of the MIT climate lynch mob. You are violating the rules of decent interactions between the scientists. It is getting out of control, many people are watching what’s happening, and because of your similarity to the immature leftists at the Middlebury College I have started with, the opinion is strengthening that the problem of your presence at scholarly institutions deserves a vigorous solution.

The Coyote picks up on the same theme: Global Warming is Killing Environmentalism – “I have written many times that someday we will look back on the early 21st century and decide that the obsessive focus on Co2 and global warming gutted the environmental movements effectiveness for a generation.”

Twenty years ago, the clean air and water acts enjoyed tremendous public support, even grudgingly among Republicans. No one, even in the Left-hated Reagan Administration, ever made a serious effort to impinge on them. However, over the last 20 years, environmentalists have overreached themselves. Their obsession on climate and other crazy overreaches (like the Waters of the United States rules) have caused a lot of people to starting thinking all environmentalism is bullsh*t. Yet another way the global warming obsession is undermining the environmental movement.

Mark Perry: Wednesday evening links, all charts and map edition – pictures (graphs) can make a point. The Map of the Day shows the relative sizes of stock market capitalization, Trade freedom is compared to GDP per capita, exports are compared to imports, the newspaper jobs history graph shows a remarkable reversal, college costs have risen much faster than inflation, and gender differences in colleges have also flipped.

Just wondering though, with all of that admirable and demonstrated success at dominating academically in higher education, do we really still need thousands of women’s centers and commissions across the country at almost every college and university? Perhaps they were necessary before 1980 to help women succeed in college, but their superiority over men in earning college degrees for more than three decades might suggest they don’t need any special or extra help today that isn’t also available and offered to men?

The 60/40 flip in colleges favoring women seems to be correlated with the overwhelming bias and activism on campus. This might be something to examine. Medical school graduates are now close to gender parity but still do not show the overall campus feminine bias. Might this have something to do with the hard STEM emphasis in medicine?

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3/7/2017: A bonfire built by the Left

Ed Feulner: Eradicating election fraud – “It’s common sense that voters should show an ID.”

Efforts to enact even the simplest reforms of voter laws — not only in New Hampshire, but elsewhere nationwide — are met with bitter opposition from liberals. Every proposal is greeted with hysterical and baseless accusations of racism and disenfranchisement.

Indeed, Ms. Young notes, liberals try to compound the problem. They “open the door to more fraud by championing changes to the process like mandatory voter registration, all mail-in voting, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and not requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration.” You almost expect every box of cereal to carry a voter-registration form these days.

President Trump has wisely called for an investigation into voter fraud: “You have people that are registered who are dead, who are illegals, who are in two states. You have people registered in two states. They vote twice.”

Richard Berman: Minimum wage resistance – “Localities are fighting back to save collapsing businesses.”

The stories of job loss and business closures caused by big wage hikes are a far more powerful check on policymakers considering starter wage increases than basic economic logic. Personal stories tap into the anger and sadness — emotions necessary to change perspectives — whereas another economic study usually doesn’t register.

With that in mind, I’ve decided to share some recent stories of minimum wage harm with the hope of convincing policymakers to join the resistance. Sadly, I don’t have enough room to highlight all the recent consequences. What I have chosen to illustrate are examples of the recent fallout in only two states — Arizona and Washington. (For a more complete list of stories, visit Facesof15.com.)

And these lost jobs (as well as those that will not be created) are opportunities that go beyond the loss of a paycheck. They cut off the valuable first rung of the employment ladder that propel people with low skills toward careers and away from government dependency and violent crimes.

It’s often said you’re either part of the problem or part of the solution. If you want to be part of the latter, forward this article to your friends and peers. Only with a more informed electorate can we expect rational economics to be the political default option.

Andrew Follett notes that New York Won’t Allow Cost Of Green Energy Mandates To Appear On Power Bills – “New York regulators shot down plans to list on utility bills how much extra customers will pay under the state’s new Clean Energy Standard (CES).”

Green energy subsidies in New York are worth more than double existing federal subsidies. Federal green energy tax credits are worth $23 per megawatt-hour of power, while state subsidies are valued at up to $47.24 per megawatt-hour.

New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the state’s power grid regulator, sharply criticized Cuomo’s plan to boost state green energy use, saying it could cause blackouts and would make it hard to ensure reliable electricity.

Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil and natural gas for the comparative amount of energy generated, according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. Green energy in the U.S. got $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for conventional sources and $1.7 billion for nuclear energy according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Kelly Riddell: Five reasons why Trump’s wiretapping claims aren’t crazy – “There are many reasons to question Mr. Trump’s charges, but still, there are many reasons to take them seriously. Below is a list of why some Republicans are wary at the Democratic response so far, and why Mr. Trump may have a point.” Richard Fernandez has an interesting analogy for Trump’s tactics in a story of Long Knives – “The most singular thing about Donald Trump’s wiretap accusation against Barack Obama is how he’s refusing to play the game of extremities…”

The story illustrates how in a sword fight, as in politics, the combatants often attack each other’s extremities (sword hand, extended foot, arm) first before venturing into body strike range. To get into killing range you must often risk being killed yourself. So sword fighters usually wait for their foes to weaken or an opening to develop. … Trump’s gone right past Schumer, ignored the surrogates and gone straight for the former president himself.

This escalation represents a real threat to Obama. Suddenly everything is out of control. Nobody would have minded much if Trump had gone after one of Obama’s henchmen — which is probably what was expected — but none can foresee how an exchange of blades between principals will end. It is safe to say, however, that unless the combatants disengage, someone will get hurt. It will be a terrible moment for American political civility when a king lies on the political floor. The whole point of a peaceful transition of power is to prevent a clash between kings. Yet the very tragedy the electoral process is intended to prevent is happening before our eyes.

VDH has more in this vein on The Ancient Laws of Unintended Consequences – “Eight years of a fawning press have made the Left reckless.” It is an important, if rather lengthy summary, of the leadup to a bonfire built by the Left.

Something like hubris incurring Nemesis is now following the frenzied progressive effort to nullify the Trump presidency.

“Fake news” was a term the Left invented to describe the ancient practice of propaganda

Thus “fake news” seemed a proper if belated summation and clarification of years of liberal bias in the media that were supposed to be our custodian of the truth.

Is “fake news” also the proper description for nonfactual accounts of “hate crimes,” an increasingly percentage of which prove to be pure inventions (at the University of Louisiana, in North Carolina, in Santa Monica, etc.) fabricated to accord the “victim” media attention, compensation, or sympathy?

Illegal immigration offers another Nemesis moment. Media outrage now surrounds almost every effort by ICE authorities to detain an illegal alien on deportation lists compiled during the Obama administration. Activists, Democratic politicians, and Mexico itself allege that the Trump administration is hounding the blameless, as if there were neither immigration law nor a concept of deportation for violations of it.

the subject of election-time courting of Russia suddenly reopened the question of past Democratic electioneering gymnastics with foreign powers,

But Nemesis was not done. It is now reported that the Obama administration during the campaign went to a FISA court to tap the communications of Trump-campaign officials and unofficial supporters.

But then Nemesis again appeared. It turned out that almost everyone in Washington — especially Sessions’s Democratic accusers — had met with the Russians

Finally, after Democrats, Obama officials, and the media massaged the leaks from surveillance of Team Trump, in Samson-like fashion, Trump pulled down the temple on everyone — by tweeting groundbreaking but unsupported accusations that a sitting president of the United States and his team were the catalysts for such unlawful tapping.

We are learning that Trump is inexact and clumsy but often prescient; his opponents, usually deliberate and precise but disingenuous.

Behind the collapse of the ‘Russia Hacking’ narrative, is panic spreading in the Obama camp? by Thomas Lifson – “Make no mistake: the Saturday morning tweet sent out by President Trump alleging tapping of phones in Trump Tower has changed the political calculus on both sides.”

The mainstream media obsessively calls his charge “unsupported” by evidence, and denigrates it as imprecise and incomplete. Yet, as Andrew McCarthy – a former Assistant US Attorney – explains in National Review, “While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat–Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed.”

By his tweet, President Trump forced the purveyors of this narrative to fiercely deny that any wiretapping took place at the Trump Tower. It is a no-win situation for the president’s enemies: either they repudiate their narrative of the last several months about Russia, or they admit that under President Obama, a spying effort was launched against the candidate of the opposition party.

Once again, Donald Trump is playing Road Runner to the Dem-media establishment’s Wile E. Coyote. His “rash”and “unsupported” tweet has decisively changed the game.

Lifson also thinks “that a trap has just sprung on the Democrats, and they need a fall guy.”

Now, the investigation will include the Watergate-like probability that conversations of Trump campaign officials were being listened to and the conversations leaked to the media. There is criminal liability to consider, and the need to pin responsibility on someone. All skillful criminals (the ones that stay out of jail for the big crimes) understand the need for a fall guy.

Which brings me to something truly extraordinary: an attorney general, just weeks out of office, posted a video calling for “marching”, “blood” and “death.”

It is still too early to have a lot of confidence in this reading of the murky waters of the Democrats’ internal power plays, but it does fit the pieces together pretty well.

Don’t bypass A.C. McCarthy: While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat–Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed – “That supposed FBI investigation of collusion with the Russians? Never mind …

But still, the media and Democrats have always had a serious vulnerability here — one they’ve never acknowledged because they’ve been too swept away by the political success of the fantasy narrative. It is this: At a certain point, if compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election did not materialize, the much more interesting question becomes “How did the government obtain all this information that has been leaked to the media to prop up the story?” The most plausible answer to that question: The Obama administration, through the Justice Department and the FBI, was investigating the associates of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, and perhaps even the nominee himself, during the campaign. Otherwise, what explanation can there be for all of the investigative information — much of it classified, and thus illegal to disclose — that has been funneled to the press?

Ace is the ‘must read’ for the morning titled Charles Murray and the Flight 93 Election. “How far along the decline do you imagine we are? How close to the Point of No Return are we? … Because I guarantee you, your answer to this question largely determines your answer to the Great Trump Question.” He gets into the poles of the debate, the difficulties of the debate, and even “Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs.”

Stated as offensively and provocatively as possible (and I’m cribbing this from a cynical friend): Morality is a luxury good. Rich, prosperous countries breed a value of life. Desperately impoverished people will murder people for a meal.

To have one’s most elemental political needs satisfied and thus be free to think only about our Estonia policy is also a luxury good.

And not everyone has that luxury.

And even without anyone convincing anyone of anything at all, maybe just talking about this fundamental disagreement rationally instead of talking about each other could at least ease the frenzy of the fight.

Ace notes the tendency towards the ad hominem but fails to note that much of what he is describing is behavior. It is a critical distinction to make between behavior and the person. When he looks for dialog, he is looking for people who can discuss their behavior, not people who take any observation about their behavior as a personal affront. This gets into effective discipline and leadership and it also gets into correction of destructive personal behavior such as alcoholism or other drug dependencies. Both the Middlebury Murray fracas and Flight 93 were important because of behaviors, not the people. The Muslim racism charge – assuming Trump is blaming terrorism on Muslims rather than noting the behavior is overwhelming committed by a group with certain beliefs – is another example of failing to distinguish behavior from the person. This gets into the argument about profiling which, from a law enforcement perspective, is looking for specific behaviors while the Left insists it is discriminating against the person. The Voter ID argument falls into similar lines.

A bonfire has been built and it is burning. What will it consume?

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Two views of economics

In looking at the question of air fares over time, two articles popped up that provided an interesting compare and contrast in how different people see the same thing.

How Airline Ticket Prices Fell 50% in 30 Years (and Why Nobody Noticed) by Derek Thompson 2/28/2013. — “ there was simple reason why flying was absurdly expensive. That was the law.”

Don’t believe the airfare spin: Cost to travel is sky high by Joe Brancatelli 5/8/2014 — “The real price of flying has risen sharply since the dawn of deregulation and far outpaces the inflation rate of the last 40 years.”

That makes it clear that the divergence of views is about markets and regulation. There are clues about this in the titles used and empty claims, insinuations, and innuendo that drip out of one of the views. Brancatelli starts with “don’t believe the spin” which is an assertion that anyone who doesn’t share his view is lying. More in this vein is “we expect nothing less than obfuscation from Airlines for America” (the ‘evil corporation’ thesis) and “fool flyers into thinking that the lobbying group is anything but a front (the ‘stupid and ignorant consumer’ thesis).” A significant indicator is his “The “fare” you pay today isn’t an accurate reflection of your true cost of flying” which assumes price is somehow related to “true cost” which is an assumption that is grossly ignorant of economics. So how does Brancatelli support his thesis? Look at the conditions and qualifications he puts on his price comparisons in order to provide a supposedly even and fair comparison. It’s what is missing in his presentation that is the core of the argument.

In contrast, Thompson points out that managing cost and price is a matter of profitability and Brancatelli’s conditions and qualifications are matters of consumer choice that the airlines can use to find the sweet spot in what the customer values.

What Brancatelli says is that, if you want to fly now like you flew than, the actual price might be a bit higher. What Thompson says is that when you fly now, you have tools and choices at your disposal to balance the price you pay with the service that best suits what you want. 

The core issue? Who makes your purchasing decisions for you and to what extent? This is the same issue at play with Obamacare where the government decides what you must buy and you have no choice about whether to buy or not. The regulation tends to raise prices and that then generates a demand for price controls and that is a deadly spiral into the sort of depths we see in Venezuela right now.

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Watch California and learn what not to do

In the brouhaha about the electoral college, one observer reported that taking LA and NYC out of the election would have put the popular vote and the electoral college in sync. A more common observation just notes that the tilt in California would handle the difference. That means the electoral college procedure worked as intended for who wants LA and NYC or just California to govern the rest of us? A case in point is the pension panic in Loyalton, CA. See Californians See Their First Pension Cut. — “For years, we’ve been warning this day was coming: California pensioners in the small town of Loyalton have just been told that their benefits will be cut in 2017.”

Three years ago, Loyalton pulled out of CalPERS for current employees after being told that its accounts were only 40 percent funded even though the city had reliably paid its dues to the system. Now, CalPERS openly admits it’s punishing current Loyalton retirees for that decision.

This is just the beginning. CalPERS is only 65 percent funded overall, after failing to realize its expected 7.5 percent return.

The pension problem is much more than just a California problem, of course. It is even at the core of the Social Security solvency worries. California is just at the head of the pack and showing how ugly the situation can get. Somebody is going to pay. The state determined it is to be the pensioners in Loyalton right now. This might be a pity ploy to try to get the federal government – you and I – to pay. As can be seen in places like Cuba and Venezuela and many other socialist governments, there comes a point where you run out of other people’s money. 

There is another path, it is to grow more money rather than to print more money. That, coupled with improvements in management and governance, might reduce the pain. The problem is that the Left’s understanding of growing more money is a skewed and misplaces as their understanding of many other issues such as gun control and climate change. 

There are many lessons from history and California is providing such lessons much closer to home. Watch California and learn how to avoid their mistakes.

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Pipeline report: modern ‘social’ protest

The Survival Blog has a report based on information from one of the riot participants.

In talking to one of the “protesters”, he is paid $1500 per week with legal and medical costs covered. In addition, he receives a bonus each time he is arrested. Their encampment receives supplies and propane for free with multiple deliveries each week. He looks on it as a job, and this is not his first protest.

The Indians aren’t too happy but the State is kicking in to make sure that these rioters don’t freeze with on site support. One LEO thinks the state should provide bus service to a nice warm jail instead. 

A question not asked: Who is paying and why? 

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The worst. Except for all the others

Jon Evans has been around as a columnist for TechCrunch. What he sees lead him to suggest Three cheers for Valley capitalism.

It’s easy to be critical of the tech industry, and even easier to be critical of capitalism itself. Let us all continue to do so; criticism is valuable. But let’s remember that we do so because they are so important. Capitalism is still what lifts the world’s least fortunate out of poverty, and technology increasingly feels like the last, best hope of a world otherwise dead set on ruining itself.

I frequently complain about the industry myself in this space, but not this week, because I spent much of it in Havana … which basically felt like a picturesque disaster area, still under the thumb of oppressive one-party rule. It’s hard not to strongly approve of capitalism and free markets, for all of their flaws when left unchecked, after you see people excitedly queueing to buy tomatoes on one of the world’s most fertile islands.

For all of its obvious failings and its copious waste, the flywheel that is Silicon Valley and its outposts — spinning out startup after startup to test and experiment with new technology, absorbing their remains if they fail, accumulating their burgeoning energy if they succeed — remains an engine of change and progress unlike any other on the planet, with the possible exception of Shenzhen’s hardware ecosystem.

So let us not cease in our criticism. Let us remember that capitalism is only our least bad alternative, rather than one which is actively good; let’s keep a wise eye out for something better. Let us lambaste the tech industry when it sins, which is often.

But let’s remember to do so with a grudging respect, because there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot else out there offering much in the way of alternatives to various flavors of dystopia.

It appears that he can’t quite come to grips with the big picture. Silicon Valley (and Shenzhen) are only small components of something much larger. He has no clue as to what “actively good” might be and how the capitalism in his favored environment handles “its obvious failings and its copious waste.” He misses the feedback mechanisms and the factors that corrupt them and how the “flaws” are indeed checked and corrected.

There are lessons to be learned and there are examples out there (and in history) to provide this learning. It can be difficult. A grudging acceptance is one step in the right direction.

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The Malthusians and Feynman

Professor Motl was prompted by a Stephen Hawking left wing Malthusian assertion to cite a ‘been there, done that’ of another theoretical physicist who made more sense. Feynman vs Hawking on inequality in the world:

Feynman knew why this stuff was and still is garbage. Poverty is the default state of affairs and on the contrary, it’s growing wealth that is exceptional and requires some conditions to be fulfilled. Most importantly, the growing countries require the concentration of the capital which allows the appropriate people to invest into technology and education which create systems and facilities that are capable of producing the wealth and those are more important than the wealth itself!

So the inequality in the wealth is just a symptom of the actual, much deeper inequality in something else – the infrastructure, the concentration of the capital in the past, a free capitalist system that encourages the work that improves the society, education, and, even more deeply, people’s skills and will to educate themselves and do things that are useful for humans in their environment (e.g. their consumers) and/or mankind as a whole. Most of the mankind’s wealth didn’t exist to start with, wasn’t created by a theft from other humans, and it cannot be produced by redistribution. Redistribution is just a zero-sum game. Well, too much redistribution is really a negative-sum game because it discourages the people from working hard and creating new wealth.

You may see that Feynman has praised the machinery that produces the wealth and the #1 precondition for this machinery is the concentration of capital. But the concentration of capital is basically synonymous with inequality, something that both the Jewish leftist at Feynman’s conference as well as Stephen Hawking present as the #1 illness! So the leftists’ #1 culprit is basically the same as the sensible people’s #1 hero responsible for the progress in the world.

The inequality thing is a bogus construct for social warriors – people who need propaganda rather than substance. Those pushing it are thinking of the great physical discoveries of the archaeologists such as the pyramids and other great works of kings that concentrated capital and flaunted wealth and power but built nothing to improve the human condition. Compare and contrast to the concentration of capital in Western Cultures, especially in the U.S. Wealth was from the voluntary concentration of capital that built and created new wealth. People contributed to create a concentration of capital by choosing the people and their ideas that they thought would return a share of created wealth back to them. 

There is a glimmer of understanding of these concepts that has been prompted by the president elect’s nationalism and focus on the creation of manufacturing jobs in the U.S.A. The problem is that of negativity. For instance, the reduction in the workforce in agriculture coupled with the increase in output – a classic case of capital concentration creating a wealth that all people share in terms of nutrition – is seen as a reduction in labor and not as an increase in productivity. The result of productivity is seen as a zero sum game: if you produce all that is ‘needed’ then that is the total fixed sum. You’d think everything from cell phones to the gourmet craze to the organic infatuation would be enough to provide a clue otherwise but, no, Malthusian influence is strong with these folk. (see Malthusian Trap and Zero Sum Game on Wikipedia). 

Inequality is not a result but a symptom or indicator. “So the inequality in the wealth is just a symptom of the actual, much deeper inequality in something else. Wealth in aggregate becomes a measure of culture that encompasses the vigor of the people and their motivation to succeed, build, create, and grow. It is the difference between impoverished neighborhoods that are well kept and those that are decrepit. It is the difference between the animal (nonthinking, reactive, selfish) view of humanity of the Malthusians and others on the left and the humanitarian view that respects people and their abilities to behave in a way to improve not only themselves but their community as well.

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Free Range Kids so why not Free Market Medical?

The idea has been under attack much like Uber and Lyft but good ideas are hard to keep down. Taylor Millard provides his take on Changing the medical equation — “An Oklahoma doctor brings the market back to medicine.”

“We thought, ‘let’s just open our own place and get away from these lunatics and not deal with the federal government,’” Dr. Smith said, as he recounted the discussions prior to the center’s opening. “We decided we were going to be honest and fair with our pricing and not deal with the feds. And that was our mission.”

“Dealing with them was the easiest thing in the world,” patient Michelle Ray said. “I called to verify that the price listed on the website was inclusive and accurate. I made an appointment and they told me everything I would need before, during, and after surgery.”

In 2014 he helped launch the Free Market Medical Association, which hooks up patients with like-minded doctors. FMMA holds conferences to show doctors how to make a cash-only system work.

Let the market work!

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Trump keeps coming up right.

An IBD editorial wonders: Clinton Foundation Scandal: A Justice Department Cover-Up Exposed?. Of course, it is Trump’s money that has been subject to allegation but also, as usual, investigation in that direction does not find anything. Looking the other direction is a different matter. The State Propaganda Machine spends more time lambasting Trump’s crude and vulgar and ugly and demeaning and so on comments about the election being rigged or the Russian influence or the other problems he sees that everyone with eyeballs can see too.

One report has it that there are at least five FBI investigations into Clinton related corruption. One of them is has roots going back to the Holder decision to not worry about Black Panthers guarding a voting station. It is about the corruption in the DoJ itself.

Now it appears that Justice has successfully sidelined a critical investigation into the corrupt Clinton Foundation purely for political reasons. If so, then the Justice Department itself is guilty of obstructing justice.

This is the very definition of a “rigged system.”

There is a mad scrambling to defend against the light of day. Trump is getting more of those ‘he was right about that’ judgments as more see that he was talking about the shape of the forest and his detractors are trying to put his comments as talking about individual insect eaten leaves. That only goes so far. Maybe.

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Influence peddling

Instapundit posts a note

The Clintons don’t produce any desirable consumer products, or perform any traditionally useful services like accounting or dry cleaning. They have built no factories, dug no mines, nor worked any farms. They hold no patents and have developed no real estate. They are not medical doctors of rare skill. They haven’t starred in any hit movies or sung any popular songs. They have (allegedly) written and sold some books, but not the kind of bestsellers that get turned into TV shows and make real money.

And yet they have grown rich “beyond the dreams of avarice” since Bill left office nearly 16 years ago, and even richer since Hillary entered international politics just eight years ago.

How?

By peddling influence — an activity which generates great wealth only in a corrupt and overly bureaucratic society.

That’s the swamp that needs to be drained, and it runs much deeper and wider than most anyone realizes.

This cites Clinton Foundation’s Fundraisers Pressed Donors to Steer Business to Former President by James V. Grimaldi and Anupreeta Das at the The Wall Street Journal.

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Chasing El Dorado and burning bridges

An IBT Editorial: Apple Now, Google, Amazon Next? Why EU Hates Successful U.S. Firms.

Taxes: The European Union’s laughably misnamed “competition commission” has slapped a $15 billion penalty on Apple for supposed back payments of taxes. This is nothing more than a cash grab by money-hunrgy Eurocrats, and is Exhibit A in why the EU is failing.

We’ll spare you all the dry technicalities of Apple’s case because, in fact, the EU is going after a whole slew of mainly U.S. companies that do business there — including Google, Amazon, Starbucks and McDonald’s. The reasons in each instance are as varied as the companies themselves.

In the meantime, the EU has investigations going on just about every major successful U.S. company doing business there. But companies will only take so much abuse. Sadly, the EU’s socialist-leaning rulers show no signs that they get it.

It is the quest for gold and burning the bridges on the path to wealth. It is the appeal of socialism. It is the idea that money is found and discovered and must be taken from those that have it. The problem is that wealth is created and taking it from those that have it destroys the machinery that creates more of it. 

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Using the courts as a political weapon

A unanimous SCOTUS ruled on The McDonnell Case: Another Study in Criminal Law as Democratic Partisan Warfare. Clarice Feldman explains.

It’s common for those unhappy with a decision to criticize the partisanship of the judges involved, but the weakness of the case, which was evident when it was argued in the Supreme Court (and during the trial itself), and the fact that it was reversed unanimously warrants a raised eyebrow. It comes on the heels of the reversed prosecutions of then-Senator Ted Stevens, Governor Rick Perry, House Majority leader Tom DeLay, the IRS war on Obama’s opponents in the tea party and other conservative groups, and the outrageous trampling the rights of those who worked for and supported Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. This case and those matters lead to an inescapable conclusion: With the endorsement of partisan juries and/or judges, the Democratic Party seeks to and will use the power of the prosecution to destroy Republican political leaders and anyone who supports them.

The law was thus rather well settled on this point, and neither the prosecution nor the trial and appellate courts gave it the required deference nor exercised any reasonable (or fair) judgment on the salient issue.

In the meantime, McDonnell’s political career, finances and family have suffered greatly by this strained reading of the law to cover conduct which the Supreme Court and ordinary common sense supports was not criminal , but rather ordinary and perfectly proper official conduct.

What I would bet on is that Democrats will continue to stretch the criminal law for partisan advantage, and that, if elected; Hillary will appoint prosecutors and judges willing to continue to mount such legal warfare.

“Warrants a raised eyebrow?” That seems to be a bit of understatement, especially in light of the previous post about a cohort of partisan AG’s going after the First Amendment for the cause. The Left, and the Democrats, loose many and suffer many casualties but they keep going, keep at it, knowing that there will be an occasional victory and another small push forward in the cause.

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Another unnecessary cost for those who can least afford it

Nicole Raz reports that Nevada has a trash problem — but in reverse.

Throwing trash into a landfill is so cheap in Nevada that it’s posing a challenge for the state to beef up more eco-friendly waste management programs.

In most other states, where the cost of land is higher than Nevada’s, there is an economic incentive to divert waste from landfills and look to other means of more eco-friendly waste management, like composting.

Noack said it largely comes down to demand.

“And there is demand, and we see it even with tourists,” he said, adding that he will get complaints from people about a lack of recycling bins on the Strip.

“Something should be done in that regard, but the way we have made inroads with some of these casinos is through green events, green buildings, zero waste. They themselves want to be LEED Platinum to get an award,” Noack said. “If we can get one going, then you can shame the others into also becoming green properties.”

He added that demand from residents is limited because people don’t want to pay more for their monthly garbage bill.

People seem to forget that landfills are also recycling, just slower (and more natural!). Nevada is getting hit on a lot of these expensive PC fronts these days. Consider the effort to subsidize solar and the response at solar energy fairness.

It Nevada it used to be ‘leave me alone’ but these days it seems that there are those who can’t leave anybody alone and want others to pay for their fantasies.

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Believe it or not (and, no, this isn’t Ripley)

Mark Perry put up another map comparing U.S. state economies to that of foreign countries to try to illustrate just how massive the U.S. economy really is. The comparisons of GDP is only part of the story. There is another, more stunning, statistic about the power of the U.S. IBT comments Just How Crazy Big Is The U.S. Economy?

Economist and IBD contributor Mark Perry recently put together a map of the U.S., with the state names replaced with countries that have comparably sized economies. It is eye-opening.

New York’s economy, for example, is equal in size to all of Canada. California’s is as big as France. New Jersey and Saudi Arabia have comparable GDPs.

Perry’s map doesn’t show this, but you’d only have to combine Texas, Florida and Indiana to have a GDP that’s bigger than all of the U.K.
Overall, he notes, the U.S. produces 24.5% of the world’s economic output, but with less than 5% of its population.

There’s a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth at how much the U.S. consumes and a lot of this is in the zero sum game paradigm where what one has was taken from somebody who now doesn’t have. As with nearly every such manufactured crisis about how the world is going to run out of something, the paradigm is palpably wrong.

Perry points out that wealth is created and the U.S. does a better job of this creation than nearly another other country on the planet and by usually quite a large margin. Despite the numbers, many citizens don’t believe it. This may be because they are too close and cannot gain a broad perspective of just how good they have it. That provides opportunity for politicians. Sanders wants to emulate one poor producing country and Trump wants to protect against those who can’t compete.

Believe it or not, the U.S. is a big country in very many ways.

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Cowperthwaite and Hong Kong

Every now and then there is a civil servant who makes a difference. The Most Powerful Wealth Generator There Is is the story of one such colonial administrator.

At some point during our first conversation I managed to irk him by suggesting that he was chiefly known “for doing nothing.” In fact, he pointed out, keeping the British political busy-bodies from interfering in Hong Kong’s economic affairs took up a large portion of his time. Throughout Sir John’s tenure in office, the British political elite tried to impose its own ailing socialist economic model on Britain’s colonies, including Hong Kong. Sir John managed to quash all such attempts and Hong Kong benefited as a result.

The answer to growth is as simple as that. Liberty, the ability to own your own property, make your own mistakes and chart your own destiny is the key to growth for everybody. When you are free to pursue wealth, wealth happens. That’s because when people make free exchanges, both sides benefit from the exchange. When that happens, business and civilization thrive and grow.

and then there’s Venezuela…

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When you tax something more you get less of it: CT v GE … and SB

It’s in the news. GE is moving its headquarters from Connecticut to Boston. Lawrence Kudlow calls this A Sad Marker Is Set As GE Quits Connecticut in Wake of Tax Hikes.

Who suffers from anti-business tax and regulatory policies? Middle-class families.

One of the key points in the Connecticut disaster is that while big corporations can get $100 million in tax credits, the woman running a small struggling business in Naugatuck gets nothing. But she’s paying for GE’s tax credit.

Connecticut’s high-tax policies do not soak the rich. The rich leave. Meanwhile, exorbitant tax and regulatory burdens slam the middle-class wage earners who have been losing take-home pay for years.

Nevada is following suit. Tesla and Amazon have been lured in with the promise of massive tax breaks but business taxes, license fees, sales taxes, and bureaucratic burdens are increasing and it is the little guy, the small business, taking up the brunt of the burden. 

The effort to get the money for all the government goodies is a big issue in campaigns. The effort is to get the needed money from someone else. Successes in that area are what lead to the observation about socialism being a good thing until you run out of other people’s money (e.g. Soviet Union, Cuba, Venezuela, etc). For the left, the underlying presumption is that wealth is stolen, not created and that there is a fixed amount of wealth that should be dispersed equally. That rather ignores the lessons of history that those closest to the money flow tend to tap more of it. That is why socialist dictators tend to get rich and good salesmen get high wages.

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Perfect storm for solar

David Bergeron explaines: Why I’m Still Not a Member of the Solar Energy Industries Association even though he runs a solar oriented business in Arizona.

The more I learned about this new artificial solar industry, the more disturbing I found it to be. On-grid solar is nowhere near a break-even economic proposition. It is a very expensive and futile means of reducing CO2. Its job-creation argument is hollow in terms of opportunity cost given that there is no free lunch in the real world of economic scarcity.

Solar is a great field. Many hardworking entrepreneurs have and will continue to strive in free markets to make products that meet real needs. My own company is on a high-growth mode from niche off-grid applications; we have no rooftop business that will inevitably go through a boom/bust cycle according to political favors or a retrenchment thereof.

On-grid solar is a perfect storm for taxpayers: concentrated benefits for the industry, diffuse cost for ratepayers and taxpayers, and, yet, a strong positive public sentiment for solar created by energy Malthusians.

The fact is, when you figure out the total cost of a typical residential on-grid solar plant before subsidies, rebates, incentives and other ‘crony capitalist’ artifacts, the rate of return on the money spent usually exceeds the normal power bills. And that doesn’t include maintenance and repair costs over the lifetime of the solar plant.

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Get a life. Think about pros and cons. Consider the context. How unusual an idea!

Jon Evans has an interesting post on a modern delemma: Is Uber The Root Of All Evil? There is a lot of nuance in the ride share business ranging from ideas about employment and workers to impacts of technology to the encrusted regulation as a means to protect business classes to matters of relativism and choice making based on evaluation of risk versus benefit.

Allow me to humbly propose that the pendulum has perhaps swung too far into backlash. Allow me to suggest that “Uber is evil / represents the worst of capitalism!” is not just wrong, but actually dangerous. Allow me to submit that perhaps Uber is the lesser of two evils.

It may be too soon to say that “the full-time job is dead,” but I think it’s clear that a growing fraction of workers will find themselves working a fragmented panoply of gigs and contracts, rather than pursuing a full-time career with benefits. Yes, this isn’t near as stable and secure. Yes, many-to-most of these people may find themselves living in the precariat for much of their lives, barring the hoped-for eventual introduction of a basic income.

Consider the concern for Uber’s “exploited” drivers today; will we be quite as concerned for them when they are no longer being exploited, because they have been replaced by self-driving cars? Somehow I doubt it.

Whenever defenders of the status quo object to a new idea on the hallowed grounds of security, you can be pretty confident that they are lying. So it is with Uber.

Does Uber knowingly violate local law in cities they enter? They sure do. Is knowingly violating the law always an evil thing to do? …No. Not if the law itself is manipulative, exploitative, and written only to benefit a small class of rentiers — which, alas, is all too often the case.
,,,
But just because Uber’s evils are front, center, and spotlit, doesn’t mean that they are the worst of all possible alternatives. I still counsel to ride Lyft instead, when you can. But when your choice is between Uber and the local taxi cartels, please think at least twice, hard, about which is actually the lesser evil. The answer may not be as obvious as it seems.

Think about the context? What a novel idea in this era of absolute ideologies that ban and even deny anything not in line with desires and fantasies! Note how much the propaganda machine has infiltrated the language and biased the discussion. precariat, renters, exploited, — where’s Marx when you need him?

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Income Inequality Insight

A request from a student doing research for an assignment got Patricia L. Dickson thinking: Liberals’ income inequality concerns built on false premise. The conclusion should not be surprising considering where all the noise about the issue is sourced.

I now realize that the issue of income inequality is based on a false premise. A premise is a proposition upon which an argument is based or from which a conclusion is drawn. A false premise is an incorrect proposition that forms the basis of an argument – since the premise (proposition or assumption) is not correct, the conclusion drawn may be in error.

The false premise behind income inequality complaints is that income is distributed instead of earned.

In other words, employment and income is something like an entitlement such as a poverty program provides to the left. Income inequality allegations are really just about the idea that some people are cheating the system. Instead of looking to the government for their ‘income’ they use their own skills, education, and capabilities to get their own income and that is what is considered cheating by the left because the government has no control over what they get.

Another perspective on this is that the state of Nevada has now decided that fantasy football is gambling despite a federal court ruling. That means the state wants to control the income anyone might get by being sharp in building a fantasy football team. The battle that Uber and Lyft are fighting is also about government control over income. 

A false premise is a straw man and, it seems, easy to dress up so as to disappear in the background. Building an argument based on such a foundation lacks intellectual integrity and will result in collapse when the weight of the issue gets to be too much for the straw man to bear.

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