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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Welcome, Police State!

A frightening bill is now being debated in the Senate.  Quoting this article:  
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Defense Authorization Act will allow the U.S. military to declare national territory part of the "battlefield" in the “War on Terror.”

Authored by U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, and Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the act would “permit the federal government to indefinitely detain American citizens on American soil, without charge or trial, at the discretion of the President...”
Fortunately, Senator Rand Paul has been a front line opponent of the bill.  From The Hill:
Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and John McCain (Ariz.) battled on the Senate floor Tuesday over a proposed amendment to the pending defense authorization bill that could allow American citizens who are suspected of terrorism to be denied a civilian trial. 
The video of the debate and a transcript of Paul's remarks can be found here. The text of the bill can be found here

Note this particularly misleading passage in the bill Section 1032 (4) (b):  
APPLICABILITY TO UNITED STATES CITIZENS AND LAWFUL RESIDENT ALIENS.— (1) UNITED STATES CITIZENS.—The requirement to detain a person in military custody under this section does not extend to citizens of the United States.
Therefore, under this provision, the government is simply not "required" to detain a US citizen under the law. But you can be detained.  In other words, it does not say that US citizens can not be detained indefinitely and held in a military prison without due process, only that it is not a "requirement" that they be detained (as opposed to a non-US citizen who would have to be detained).  As you can observe in the linked video above, when Senator Paul asked Senator McCain the direct question of whether American citizens could be held indefinitely without due process, McCain, without answering directly, essentially says "yes." 

As I stated before in my ongoing attempt to chronicle attempts to usurp individual rights, rather than directly identifying and proving these direct threats to the United States and confronting them:

[T]he United States is constructing a vast police state, an "alternative geography", to monitor and control the flow of ideas within our own borders. At what point will any criticism of the government be regarded as "hate speech" or a potential "terrorist" threat which provokes government investigations and censorship?
While the threat to Americans from terrorism may be real, I agree with Paul when he says:
“Should we err today and remove some of the most important checks on state power in the name of fighting terrorism, well then the terrorists have won,"...[D]etaining American citizens without a court trial is not American."
Uh, yeah!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Best Presidential Candidate

Gary Johnson is by far the best presidential candidate:  @GovGaryJohnson ....

Go check him out.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ever wondered what an amusement park might look like under a communist dictatorship?

Look no further than Mangyongdae.

"If you don’t want to have a near death experience on the few rides that actually work there are a few alternatives. One of them is to pay your money and take your chances at the shooting gallery where you can have a go at shooting an imperialist aggressor...."

Monday, October 31, 2011

Armstrong vs. The Ivy League: "The Justice of Income Inequality Under Capitalism"

I very much enjoyed Ari Armstrong's blog post on The Objective Standard titled "The Justice of Income Inequality Under Capitalism."

He makes a crucial distinction not between the rich and poor or the "1% and 99%" but between "producers and looters."  That is, he distinguishes between those who work hard and produce or earn their wealth and those who do not, i.e., those who attempt to steal or seize other people's wealth.

This critical difference allows him to support OWS protesters and others who oppose forcible transfers of wealth between say taxpayers and banks, but also, for the same reason, it allows him to oppose forcible transfers of wealth between productive individuals and those seeking handouts from taxpayers for everything from housing, to student loans, to mortgage support.     

In this great formulation he writes:
Looters win (in their own short-sighted view) at the expense of others. Producers win as they help others win. At worst, a looter takes your life; at best, he steals what you produce. At worse, a producer leaves you alone; at best—and most typically—he greatly enriches and expands our lives.
His post is a great example of why objectively defining and analyzing concepts is so critical to fundamentally understanding reality - a principle completely lost on modern intellectuals. 

Contrast Ari's post with this video debate between two prominent Ivy League professors, Jeffrey Sachs (left) and Niall Ferguson (right).  Neither reason nor argue in terms of essentials so the debate is utterly devoid of any meaningful insight as the premise of the morality of income equality is taken for granted by both.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

This is Amazing - Hospital Bill From 1960

One of my favorite bloggers, Dr. Paul Hsieh (We Stand Firm), posts a Hospital Bill From 1960 saying: "One of my friends just sent me this copy of a hospital bill from 1960. This was for a relative of hers who had delivered a baby..." It shows that delivering a baby in 1960 cost $230. 

This example demonstrates the devastating effects of general dollar inflation combined with medical inflation due to government intervention in the health care market. Dollar inflation is due to the massive creation of dollars not backed by hard assets like gold and silver and raises the price of everything more than otherwise.  Medical inflation, which has outpaced even dollar inflation, is due to government intervention in the health care market which takes many forms. For example, the government creates incentives and mandates for employers to sponsor heavily regulated and uneconomical third party payer programs.

His website is a great resource for advocates of free market health care or anyone trying to understand the causes and solutions to the government caused health care crisis.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reisman: How a Highly Productive and Provident One Percent Provides the Standard of Living of a Largely Ignorant and Ungrateful Ninety-Nine Percent

Great post by Dr. George Reisman in which explains "how all of us, one hundred percent of us, benefit from the wealth of the hated capitalists. We benefit without ourselves being capitalists, or being capitalists to any great extent. The protesters are literally kept alive on the foundation of the wealth of the capitalists they hate.." He concludes:
Thus, however ironic it may be, it turns out that virtually all of the problems the Occupy Wall Street protesters complain about are the result of the enactment of policies that they support and in which they fervently believe. It is their mentality, the Marxism that permeates it, and the government policies that are the result, that are responsible for what they complain about. The protesters are, in effect, in the position of being unwitting flagellants. They are beating themselves left and right and as balm for their wounds they demand more whips and chains. They do not see this, because they have not learned to make the connection that in violating the freedom of businessmen and capitalists and seizing and consuming their wealth, i.e., using weapons of pain and suffering against this small hated group, they are destroying the basis of their own well being.

However much the protesters might deserve to suffer as the result of the injury caused by the enactment of their very own ideas, it would be far better, if they woke up to the modern world and came to understand the actual nature of capitalism, and then directed their ire at the targets that deserve it. In that case, they might make some real contribution to economic well being, including their own.

I highly recommend his post and all of his other work.   

Monday, October 17, 2011

OWS: Dogs Chasing Cars

“Do I really look like a guy with a plan? You know what I am? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do with one if I caught it. You know, I just… do things”

I thought of the Joker's nihilistic ramblings while reflecting on some news related to the Occupy Wall Street protests. What did Obama’s utterly vacuous campaign slogan “change we can believe in” actually mean? Or, recall Pelosi urging the electorate to pass Obamacare "in order to find out what’s in it." Or, for a more innocuous example, recall Cameron Diaz causing a furor in Peru by sporting a Maoist-themed bag.  In other words, it seems the left is very good at wearing revolutionary accessories, fighting the police, and just doing things, but, when pressed, they are very cagey about what they actually want. Well now we have the ultimate manifestation of this phenomenon - a global movement supposedly comprised of hundreds of thousands of protesters who openly brag about having no demands “something Legba Carrefour, a participant in the Occupy D.C. protest, found comforting on Sunday.”
"When movements come up with specific demands, they cease to be movements and transform into political campaign rallies," said Carrefour, who works as a coat check attendant despite holding a master's degree in cultural studies. "It's compelling a lot of people to come out for their own reasons rather than the reasons that someone else has given to them."
So, can there be a movement for the sake of a movement with no demands and no political aspirations - a movement in which people "come out for their own reasons?" In reality, the fact that some of its participants are either too ignorant or too evasive to acknowledge it, this movement certainly does have a political agenda (aspects of which I blogged about here).  So why not acknowledge this agenda, define it, and proudly advocate for it?

Uh, that's where things get a little tricky. 

The inability and unwillingness for the left to argue critically for its agenda is a recurring theme that I have blogged about for years. Clearly, a sheer unanimity of angst exists among them related to perceived societal injustices, yet the vaguest sense of cause and effect, context, or solutions does not. The corollary is that they rarely understand or even acknowledge the implications of their own positions.  For example, socialism necessitates the initiation of force against innocent people - that is the point of the redistribution of wealth and the abrogation of property rights. However, most will become angry, switch topics or even deny the reality of that logic to the point of denying the facts of history.    

The left chooses not to acknowledge or clarify their demands because it brings into focus the actual political policies necessary to achieve them.  And why would that be bad? Because, at root, socialism necessitates the violent transfer of wealth from one group to another group, a rather frightening position to explicitly advocate. Such a program is not only highly impractical, since it leads to stagnation, poverty and misery, but is profoundly immoral as it treats the productive as slaves authorizing the state to perpetrate acts of escalating violence against innocent individuals who want to own the products of their labor.   

The important point is that once someone names "socialism" or any policy as a specific concrete demand, someone can come along and logically analyze it by reference to political and  economic principles in the context of actual history.  Socialism can not withstand such an analysis since it is a immoral in principle and literally a bloody disaster in practice.     

So why would it be bad for them to understand the logical implications of their own ideas, and what keeps motivating these people to protest if they have no concrete political demands?

On a basic level, human beings are attracted to the sense of moral idealism. The reality of a particular “ideal” is a whole other story. Since the protesters barely bother to analyze their own moral premises they accept them by default.  And what is the default morality of our culture?  The morality of self-sacrifice or self-abnegation, i.e., altruism.  Those that seek profit, whether through voluntary trade and cooperation or through government favors and pull peddling, are regarded by the left as equally evil.  No effort is ever made to disentangle the two, although in reality, this is precisely what is necessary in the context of a mixed economy (an economy that combines elements of capitalism with elements of socialism). In the socialist world view, owning the "means of production" or owning capital is necessarily exploitative and the job of the state is to rectify this supposed injustice.

On the other hand, the morality of egoism which upholds the right of the individual to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing for others nor sacrificing others to himself, recognizes the difference, in principle, between two types of individuals, the parasitic businessman who feeds off government favors or pull and the honest businessman who succeeds through productivity and effort. That is the root of free market advocates' call for less government power to enable honest individuals to voluntarily cooperate in the market based on their own independent judgment free from government coercion - free from government favors - free from welfare for the rich and the poor. 

In short, this is why socialism is properly associated with sacrifice and why true laissez faire capitalism is rightly associated with egoism. The dominant morality of our culture and the universities is the former and what explains the attraction of so many to socialist politics. The implicit logic for them is as follows: profit is evil, businessmen seek profit, businessmen are evil, person X is a businessman, person X is evil, therefore, let's go to businessman X's home and threaten to kill him unless he gives back (to us) his ill gotten gains. 

The important point is that this implicit train of logic stems from certain moral premises. By evading specific political policies and staying in the realm of the "protest,"  they can continue to bask in a gushy, idealistic love fest , i.e., they can continue to FEEL good about what they are doing while avoiding both the need to examine their own premises and the messy stuff of intellectual debate over principles, and political policies which further entails knowledge of economics, history, and maybe even arithmetic, subjects with which they are uncomfortable or ignorant. 

This also explains the ferocity of the protesters even in the face of facts and rational economic principles.  Motivated by the morality of sacrifice, the modern left is the secular equivalent of religious fanatics. It is why they routinely advocate for government censorship of their enemies in the same way that right wing religious fanatics or Islamists try to censor whatever they deem inappropriate.  It is only natural that individuals motivated not by reason but by the emotional frenzy that follows from unchecked moral premises would gather in this form. In a previous post I wrote:      
When an individual rejects the efficacy of his own mind, like an animal, he must turn to a group for guidance, protection, and a sense of pseudo-self worth. The subjectivist left regards people, not as individuals, but as members of collectives whose identities are determined by the attributes of their group. Accordingly, they do not evaluate an idea in terms of truth or falsehood. That is too "simplistic." According to the left, people are conditioned by their circumstances, their "environment", or their race, socio-economic class, or gender. Therefore, it is not necessary to reason or offer a policy that is logically consistent with abstract principles pertaining to individual rights or the laws of economics. One must condition the opposition or "penetrate the message war" by finding some non-cognitive form of appeal, i.e., by offering warm and fuzzy platitudes or demonizing the opposition.

Accordingly, the left must view ideas as the arbitrary products of warring mobs.
I guess now they are getting to the warring mobs part. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

OWS Protesters Want Things Because They Want Them

As the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations have made abundantly clear, the modern left is a motley collection of intellectually bankrupt factions loosely united by their allegiance to vague, incoherent platitudes concerning a multitude of eh, well, concerns.  Evidently, these concerns range all the way from  “greed” (it’s bad - unless you are a movie star or a rapper) to warm weather in the year 2099 (trust me, it’s horrendously bad).  Judging by their signs, chants, and effigies of bloodied businessmen with hatchets through their heads, their remedy for such perceived injustice appears to range from higher taxes to re-education camps to guillotines. However, if there is a uniting motive that can be ascertained I believe it is this: the desire to transfer unlimited power to federal bureaucrats to seize and transfer the earnings of productive individuals to non-productive individuals. 

In other words, when you step back from the hand drums, chanting and public defecation, this throng of idealists' sole motive appears to be granting the state the unlimited power to confiscate the property of others, i.e., turn the productive into sacrificial serfs of the all powerful State - a system which necessarily entails the initiation of force against innocent individuals all for the sinister crime of voluntarily producing and exchanging goods and services - goods and services which, ironically, seem to be in great demand amongst the protesters.     

Fortunately, the ultimate goal of these protests is not something many of the protesters have even bothered to consider.  In a post titled "OWS Protester Wants College Paid for Because That Is What He Wants," Charles C.W. Cooke interviews many of the protesters, and this video interview serves as a fantastic example to support my point.  He writes:
...nothing had prepared me for meeting this gentleman, who wants his college paid for because, well . . . that’s what he wants. He has perfectly articulated a sentiment I have heard repeatedly but was struggling to distill with anything like the clarity he achieved: That being that if there is something someone doesn’t like about their life, someone else somewhere should change it. And if they don’t, well then, the American Dream is dead:
The "at least your honest" award goes to this protester who rightly observes that "violence will be necessary to achieve their goals." While some may bristle at his suggestion, they should realize that he is merely stating the simple truth.  Socialism necessitates violence as it involves the seizure and control of other people's property.  Controlling the usage and disposable of other's property is tantamount to theft and a profound usurpation of individual rights whether sanctioned by "majority vote" or not - just as censorship is an infringement of individual rights whether sanctioned by "majority vote" or not. As uncomfortable as this may be for some of these protesters, they should realize that socialism is nothing more than the organized initiation of force by the state against innocent individuals.  

Although many of the protesters do explicitly understand their motives and proudly call for the state to perpetrate violence against the productive, others are justifiably unhappy simply because of the state of the economy or the injustice of government handouts. However, the latter should realize that the root cause of this economic malaise and the injustice of pull peddling are inherent to the very policies that the majority of the protesters advocate! 

In other words, the essence of socialism and its less extreme cousin, Western welfare statism, is government intervention in the economy on behalf of politicians motivated by special interest groups, all of which claim to represent the "public good." What they need to realize is that their Marxist protesting brethren are not concerned with the injustice of government favors or pull peddling per se, they are merely concerned with the current recipients of these favors and pull peddling.  They don't care that the state robs some people for the unearned benefit of others as a matter of justice, they just want the state to rob the appropriate people, which to the Marxist are the businessmen, and transfer the proceeds to the "lower class" or the earth or some other to be defined class. 

If there are honest individuals among these protesters, they should advocate for the protection of individual rights, i.e., a system in which the state protects all equally from the initiation of force and does not seek to sacrifice one group to any other group.  This system, laissez faire capitalism, most closely approximated at America's founding, does not exist, but it is the ideal.

As for the rest of the protesters, I am not concerned.  Collectivism, defined by Ayn Rand as "the subjugation of the individual to the group" for the benefit of the "common good," is a dead end.  As this bizarre and frightening video demonstrates, I don't think this group is going to take over anything anytime soon - although, if you become a "block," it appears they will do a "mic check."  

Monday, October 10, 2011

Frezza on How Government Intervention is Causing Medicine Shortages

How is that businesses left free of government interference manage to create an abundance of products in every type of industry (can you say i-pad, wide screen tv's, barbecues, etc.) yet, in sectors dominated by government regulation we virtually always see poorer quality products, rationing and shortages (public education, public housing, collectivized farming, etc.)?

Bill Frezza, writing for Forbes, applies this knowledge to the recent shortages in medicine. He writes:
Congress has held hearings to determine what additional authority should be given to the FDA or other federal agencies, in order to give them more power over manufacturers. The paucity of attempts to understand the root cause of the problem reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of that approach.
Indeed, has Congress ever determined the root cause of anything especially when the root cause of the problem is Congress? 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hsieh: Don't Blame Capitalism for High Health Insurance Costs

Great op-ed by Paul Hsieh on how government causes high health insurance costs, not the free market. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mr. Schiff Goes to Washington

Congressional testimony by Peter Schiff that Zerohedge calls "one of the most memorable such Congressional hearings on the topic to date." Hear, hear. 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bernie Marcus: Obama is Choking the Economy

Straight talk interview with Bernie Marcus, who co-founded Home Depot in 1978, in which he discusses how the regulations pouring out of Washington are choking the American economy:
Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling. 
Perhaps, even more frightening is the tactics of the Obama administration.  Marcus answers why more businessnes aren't speaking out:
They are frightened to death — frightened that they will have the IRS or SEC on them. In my 50 years in business, I have never seen executives of major companies who were more intimidated by an administration.
His message to the business community:
It's time to stand up and fight. These people in Washington are out there making your life difficult, and many of you won't survive. Why aren't you doing something about it? The free enterprise system made this country what it is today, and we've got to keep it alive. We are on the edge of the abyss.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Human Beings Must Work In Order to Survive

If you were stranded on a deserted island and decided to lay on the beach 24 hours a day, within a few days, you would die.  From this observation, we can induce a simple principle: for an individual to survive, work must be done.  In other words, the fact that an individual must work to survive is not a choice or societal convention - it is a law of nature.   

In an advanced society, this simple principle often gets disregarded since the chain of causation, so obvious on a deserted island, can often be blurred.  But the principle is still true.  For example, if someone has saved a lot of money (or inherited savings from others), they can appear to not be working.  In reality, they voluntarily lent their savings to others at interest (or in exchange for equity in a business).  Their savings represents previous production and the choice to save, rather than consume, was a choice to defer present consumption for future consumption.  In reality, the saver may appear to be doing nothing this minute, but in reality, a large chain of causation can be shown, in complete congruence with our simple principle that one must work to survive.

I thought of this while following the total implosion of Greece.  Greece's socialist government has borrowed money - a lot of money.  They have borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars from banks, i.e., from the pooled savings of individuals all over the world.  (I wrote about this in detail in a previous post, Greece aka Dysfunctionalopolis.)  Naturally, the government has squandered this money, and has little ability or intention of ever paying it back.  Since many European banks own this debt, officials are worried that a default by Greece will in turn lead to the impairment or bankruptcy of these banks, a process presently being dubbed "contagion." 

Greece could try and pay the money back, but, evidently, that is not considered a realistic option.  The other option, favored by most governments and modern intellectuals, is to pay back debt holders with counterfeit money created by a treasury.  However, since Greece owes investors interest and principle denominated in euro currency, they can not simply print counterfeit money as countries like the United States are able to do.  They must urge the European Central Bank (ECB) to print the euros for them. Since other European governments, party to the Eurozone, are balking at either lending Greece more money or printing money, the situation is at a boiling point. 

As I watch Greek citizens rioting in the streets over so-called "austerity measures", i.e., attempts to cut their government's budget deficits, I couldn't help but think of the simple principle above.  What are the rioters hoping will happen?  Evidently, they don't want the budget to be cut, but they don't want to work or pay taxes either. So, they want others to work and lend their savings to them so that they can do what? The answer is: not work as hard. It is literally this simple. 

The people of Greece are not rioting against the government, they are rioting against the nature of reality which does not allow one to have his cake and eat it too.  I will end with a quote from my previous post linked above:  
However, if investors and intellectuals only take away the obvious, albeit not unimportant, question "Will Greece default?," they will miss the forest for the trees. That is because I believe Greece is a microcosm of the problems that are destroying the world. Greece, as a living (or dying) symbol of welfare statism and its underlying philosophy of collectivism, is a window into America's future if present trends continue - a future marked by chaotic stagnation and a culture of malevolence.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Will: The Dreamliner Nightmare

I recommend George Will's recent op-ed pertaining to the Obama administration's attack on Boeing, yet another example of the left's general attack on the productive. He writes:
Just as uncompetitive companies try to become wards of the government (beneficiaries of subsidies, tariffs, import quotas), unions unable to compete for workers’ allegiance solicit government compulsion to fill their ranks. The NLRB’s reckless attempt to break a great corporation, and by extension all businesses, to government’s saddle — never mind the collateral damage to the economy — is emblematic of the Obama administration’s willingness to sacrifice the economy on the altar of politics.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Obama Administration Forcing Sub-Prime Lending (Again)

Remember what happened when the government forced banks to lend to people who couldn't afford mortgages (sub-prime lending) via the Community Reinvestment Act? Remember what happened when the government underwrote the loans through government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) such as Fannie and Freddie thus encouraging any and every bank and financial institution to directly and indirectly make mortgage loans to anyone with a pulse?  Remember what happened when the Fed kept interest rates too low by inflating the money supply which help caused home prices to explode thus fueling the illusion that homes were risk free "investments" that could only go up in price rather than a depreciating consumer good?  In short, remember how government intervention in the economy caused the housing crisis, a horrendous distorted mess that has wrought untold suffering and brought our economy to the brink of collapse? 

Well, the Fed is exploding the money supply - check. Fannie and Freddie are still underwrting loans (although standards have tightened) - check. And now, this news: the Obama administration is "cracking down" on banks in order to force them to lend to people who cannot afford loans - check. 

Yeah, that should work.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Minimum Wage Laws are Devastating (to Those Who Want to Work)

Bill Frezza explains how minimum wage laws lead to massive unemployment (by discouraging employers from hiring people!). I recommend reading his article.  Here is an excerpt. 
The question minimum wage advocates never answer is; how are these unskilled youths supposed to climb the economic ladder if you pass laws that prevent them from getting their first job? How are they supposed to demonstrate their fitness for more responsibility by doing simple things like buying an alarm clock and showing up for work on time every morning?

The only thing less attractive to an employer than a 16-year-old with a crummy education, no experience and underdeveloped work habits is a 24-year-old with a crummy education, no experience and underdeveloped work habits. If the law isn't changed to give these kids some hope, the former will turn into the latter sure as night follows day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Unpresident

Well, I'm back. I have temporarily emerged from my self-imposed blog exile to address a series of actions that are so egregious I could no longer resist. I am referring to a series of actions that threaten America's security and represent the essence of what is tearing this country apart.

Whatever the actual facts, Osama bid Laden is held to be the mastermind behind 9/11 as well as other terrorist actions. Whatever his practical and financial role recently, he is still widely regarded as the symbol of totalitarian Islam and is a hero to radical terrorists throughout the world. Killing someone of his stature is an act of justice and serves as a stark warning to America's enemies.

Whatever actually happened, let's assume that there was a military operation that killed bin Laden. I don't take this assumption lightly as I have not seen any physical evidence that proves this assertion. But for the purpose of this post, it doesn't really matter.

How should this have been handled?

First, to fully take advantage of the intelligence supposedly obtained at the site, you would wait to announce.

Second, you would make one of two choices. You either release photos or you don't. Which you choose doesn't matter, as long as you choose and stick by your decision. For example, say you choose not to release photos, you could make a statement such as this:

"Two weeks ago, American armed forces completed a mission in which Osama bin Laden was killed. In order to protect our personnel and further our interests, details of this mission will remain classified. I have shared the details of this operation with leaders of the appropriate Congressional committees and the identity of the assailants have been established beyond a reasonable doubt. I do not care if anyone believes this. My job is to protect Americans. I am satisfied and the military is satisfied that he is dead, and so if you want to find him, go for it. In the meantime, we will continue to our efforts to crush the opposition, etc."

Or, let's say you wanted to release the photos, you could say:

"...I have decided to release photos in order to remove any doubt about the identity of the assailant as well as to serve notice to all of America's enemies that this is the fate that awaits you if you threaten or kill Americans..."

Note that the decision doesn't really matter. What matters is that a firm decision is made and the appropriate message sent.

So what did Obama actually do?

As soon as the announcement was made, rational skepticism abounded in public. This is not surprising given the president's track record of policies that can only be characterized (conservatively) as anti-American as well as the fact that his own history and evidently, even the location of his birth, is shrouded in mystery. The administration publicly groused about the likely torrent of "conspiracy theories" as leaks surfaced about the internal debate between Pannetta who favored release and Clinton and Gates who opposed it.

And what were the reasons given for these concerns? First, they expressed concern that releasing the photos would incite more terrorism. If this were true, then the local police should keep courts, jails, and the death penalty a secret. After all, if they announced that perpetrators of crimes would be punished, it might incite criminals to perpetrate more crimes, right?! Evidently, when terrorists think we are really nice guys that won't defend ourselves or attack them, they will be way less likely to attack us, right?! This line of thinking is so preposterous, it's hard to believe it warrants any serious consideration.

The second concern seemed to relate to offending Muslim sensibilities, or something like that. Let me submit that if the news of bin Laden's gruesome execution provokes a feeling of anything less than unadulterated joy then not only do you deserve to be offended, you should be investigated by the government and a team of psychiatrists! Anyone that regards bin Laden as someone to be idolized or revered and thus likely to be offended by news of his death, deserves to be offended and a lot more!

There are legitimate military reasons not to release the photos. Fine, see my statement above. But to flounder on the basis of such inane and morally contradictory premises as the above is outrageous, cowardly, and completely antithetical to the goal of defeating the enemy.

There have been other revelations. Apparently, when presented with the intelligence and opportunity to act, Obama decided to "sleep on it" before deciding. Okay, I was not privy to the details, but it strikes me that anyone who took more time than it takes for the brain's electric signal to trigger vocal chords to say "go" should be impeached. Second, while other members of the administration adhered to protocol related to secrecy, his own Vice President outed the Navy seals and named the admiral in charge in a public forum!

Public hand wringing and dissent within the administration, intelligence gaffes, and cowardly appeasement has turned a potentially monumental victory into an ignominious defeat. Rather than appearing confident and in control, the president appeared to be conflicted, presiding over a divided administration with no firm idea of how to proceed. Rather than appearing as the Commander-in-Chief shrewdly leading the greatest military in the world, he appeared like a lottery winner from a trailer park.

So what is the essential flaw animating Obama's approach to the world versus an approach that is coherent, shrewd, and idealistic?

Imagine that the Founding Fathers, faced with overwhelming odds of defeating the mighty British Empire, regarded the British King, not as an evil despot, but as a misguided extremist who had hijacked an otherwise reasonable philosophy, the Divine Right of Kings? Throughout history, how is it that any small group was able to defeat a much larger, more advanced adversary? In ten years since 9/11, and 30 years since the Iranian Revolution, why is it that America has not defeated the Islamic radicals?

The reason is that America's leaders lack the courage that follows from moral certainty. A morally certain individual better offend his enemies! On the other hand, Obama is not so sure. Yeah, he killed bin Laden, but he doesn't believe in "extreme" notions of good and evil. To the philosophical pragmatist, it is more important to exude passivity and openness to compromise, no matter what the situation. To such a mind, the only sin is to project confidence, moral confidence. That is why Obama has failed and why our leaders have been unable to define, much less defeat, our enemy.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Obama's "State Run Media"

Previously, I have documented Obama's Soviet style Department of Agitprop (whitehouse.gov) which does an "end-run" around traditional press coverage. Today, ABC's Devin Dwyer further documents this frightening trend in an excellent article titled Obama's Media Machine: State Run Media 2.0?. He writes:
"The administration has narrowed access by the mainstream media to an unprecedented extent," said ABC News White House correspondent Ann Compton, who has covered seven administrations. "Access here has shriveled."
Although every politician tries to filter coverage, Dwyer observes that the Obama administration has taken this to a disturbing level:
But some say the current dynamic is different, and dangerous.

"They're opening the door to kicking the press out of historic events, and opening the door to having a very filtered format for which they give the American public information that doesn't have any criticism allowed," said University of Minnesota journalism professor and political communication analyst Heather LaMarre.
Of course, this attempt to strictly filter media coverage is the M.O. of every socialist dictator and is part and parcel of the left's more general assault on freedom of the press and freedom of speech, which I have documented continuously. It is the quintessential example of the principle that faith and force are corollaries, i.e., that one who abandons reason and rational persuasion, must turn to force.   

Monday, January 31, 2011

Obamacare Ruled Unconstitutional! Administration Baffled by Principled Ruling

One of the most absurd policies within Obamacare is the provision that forces insurance companies to cover those with pre-existing conditions.  As I posted previously, the notion of forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions obliterates the concept of insurance.  That is because no one would ever buy insurance if he knew he could simply buy it once something went wrong!  Denying insurance to those with pre-existing conditions is the essence of insurance.  If insurance companies wrote policies to those ready to file claims under the policy, the insurance company should be shut down and the owners thrown in jail for negligence. Of course, Obamacare advocates understand that, and the logic of this provision necessarily leads to the linchpin of this entire statist welfare scheme: legally requiring that individuals purchase insurance under threats of fines or imprisonment.      

About a year ago, I posted about a state lawsuit seeking to strike down Obamacare on constitutional grounds.  The primary argument is that the federal government may be able to regulate commerce but it cannot force one to engage in commerce, namely, by forcing the purchase of a particular product such as insurance. Consequently, I'm thrilled by the news that a federal judge in Florida has struck down Obamacare as unconstitutional.  Of course, the fed's are appealing the ruling, but I was particularly impressed by the principled ruling issued by Judge Roger Vinson. I found it humorous that the judge cited a prominent politician to support his ruling: Obama!      
“I note that in 2008, then-Senator Obama supported a health care reform proposal that did not include an individual mandate because he was at that time strongly opposed to the idea, stating that, ‘If a mandate was the solution, we can try that to solve homelessness by mandating everybody to buy a house,’” Judge Vinson wrote in a footnote toward the end of his 78-page ruling Monday.
It's not surprising that Obama opposes his own bill, as evidenced by his adminstration's issuance of more than 700 waivers to political supporters, i.e., those that paid bribes! More importantly, Vinson actually discussed the principle and logically extrapolated the consequences of allowing such a precedent:
Much of Judge Vinson‘s ruling was a discussion of how the Founding Fathers, including James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, saw the limits on congressional power. Judge Vinson hypothesized that, under the Obama administration‘s legal theory, the government could mandate that all citizens eat broccoli.
In other words, if the federal government can force you to buy insurance, they could force you to do anything they deem vital by their standards, such as eating broccoli.  How would you expect the administration's pathologically unprincipled pragmatists to react to this simple logic?
“There’s something thoroughly odd and unconventional about the analysis,” said a White House official who briefed reporters late Monday afternoon, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Indeed, thinking in principle is thorougly "unconventional" in today's intellectual environment.  Kudos to Judge Vinson for giving us a glimpse of objective law.

Internet "Kill Switch" Legislation: It's Back

This article reports:
The legislation, which would grant US President Barack Obama powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet, would soon be reintroduced to a senate committee, Wired.com reported.
I previously posted about this issue here, and I have posted about the broader war on free speech here.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Note to Obama: It's Not Your Money

You can grasp a crucial premise underlying Obama's ideology by considering this little nugget from the state of the union:
And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

It's not a matter of punishing their success. It's about promoting America's success.
Let's put aside the fact that this statement is highly misleading since the department of education represents only 1.3 cents of every dollar of federal spending and the top 5% of taxpayers pay 57% of all taxes (and the bottom 50% pay 3.3%), and consider the more important philosophical premises implied by this statement. 

Note that he says we can't "afford" a tax cut.  Let's say you have been borrowing money from a friend to pay rent or better yet, say a friend has simply been generously giving you money, and this has been going on for a long time.  Finally, your friend says, "dude, I can't give you any more money."  Would your response ever be: "I can't afford to allow you to stop giving me money"?  In fact, isn't it the case that you can't afford to pay your own rent?  Would you be mad at your friend for not giving you more money?  And, if you were mad, rather than grateful for the past and eager to pay your own way, shouldn't you be considered a scoundrel at best?

How is it different ethically when we apply this principle to the government?

Whether its for schools or public television or turtle tunnels, all the government does, through taxation, is act as a middleman to expropriate the earnings of some for the unearned benefit of others.  Because an individual recipient doesn't ask or see the people whose earnings he has taken, it doesn't change the fact that the money he is spending is not his own.   

But, Obama has completely inverted this logic.

In his view, one does not own his wealth or income.  He is a mere steward awaiting orders from Washington on how much the central planners deem is acceptable for him to keep.  To those who argue that taxing wealth and income at higher rates the more you make punishes success, Obama's answer is that it is not punishment.  By seizing the money you have earned and redistributing it to others whom he and his colleagues have deemed worthy, he is promoting "America's success."  Evidently, individuals do not know how to properly invest, spend, or donate their own wealth and income.  If left to their own devices, they will dispose of this wealth in a way that is not appropriate.  Only central planners in Washington can see to it that the money is spent "wisely", i.e., in such a way that America's success can be guaranteed. 

You should be thanking him!     

At root, Obama rejects the idea that an individual owns his property and therefore his life.  Under this view, the government's function is not to secure rights, i.e., protect an individual's right to pursue his life and happiness free from coercion, but instead, the government's function is to redistribute the earnings of some for the unearned benefit of others.  Under Obama's view, man is not an individual, he is an appendage of a greater collective whose duty is to altruistically serve the interests of whatever he and the Washington central planners define as the "common good."  Essentially, this collectivist view represents a complete repudiation of individualism and the principles upon which America was founded. 

Advocates of freedom and capitalism must understand that the difference between them and Obama and his ilk is not the minutia of the latest budget but the principle of individualism versus collectivsm.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

State of the Union: Horrible

Obama's state of the union address was a bloated mess of logical contradictions and inane platitudes.  He paid lip service to free enterprise while advocating massive government intervention in the economy.  He spoke of coping with the nation's catastrophic budget deficit while the members cheered his promise to save and preserve Leviathan's most egregious offender: social security and medicare/medicaid.  He proposed spending cuts of $400 billion over 5 years which is less than 1/3 of the federal budget deficit THIS YEAR.  At one point, he promised to veto any bill containing so-called earmarks to the smug guffaws of the gluttonous House members.  He showed no grasp of the government's role in causing and sustaining the economic crisis nor does he have any sense of the magnitude of the catastrophe being wrought by the Federal Reserve's system's inflation of the money supply.  His foreign policy rhetoric remains, as Niall Ferguson once described it: "a Facebook entry."   

In short, nothing has changed. 

I went to Wikipeida and looked up a pie chart of the federal government budget.  By  my 30 seconds of reckoning, you could cut the budget by about 75% in one day by limiting the government to its proper function, the protection of individual rights.  The Department of Defense is 19% of the budget, the Department of Justice is 1.5%, and the interest on the national debt is 5%.  Ok, 74.5%. 

Problem solved.     

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Epstein: The 6 Myths about Oil

Here is an excellent op-ed by Alex Epstein titled "The 6 Myths about Oil."  Also, Epstein discusses this op-ed on Front Page with Allen Barton at PJTV.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Incitement vs. Determinism

I recently wrote a post (and linked to another) debunking the left's claim that the ideology and rhetoric of the Tea Party, talk radio et al. are to blame for fomenting a "culture of hate" which necessarily leads to violence, i.e., I argued against the idea that the right's vehement opposition to the explosion of government power and debt constitutes incitement to violence. This idea, propounded by liberal pundits and politicians, underlies the various Democratic proposals in support of regulating the Internet, censoring talk radio (excuse me, imposing a "fairness doctrine" on broadcasters), banning so-called "hate speech", and regulating or prohibiting gun ownership.  In fact, I argued, it is the left's political goals, viz. confiscatory taxation, regulation, and the nationalization of major industries, which necessitates the initiation of force against innocent people. 

Another crucial legal and philosophical issue involves the relationship of the legal concept of incitement to the philosophical concepts of determinism and free will.

Determinism is a philosophy which holds that "man is a product of factors outside of his control." In previous posts [1] [2], I analyzed in detail how determinism underlies liberal politics. According to the left, people are conditioned by their circumstances, their "environment", or their race, socio-economic class, or gender. Given this philosophy, it's not hard to grasp the origin of the wild accusations, made in the wake of the Tuscon massacre, that held various politicians, intellectuals, and talk radio hosts to be accessories to murder. The left simply makes a logical connection. If one is conditioned by outside factors (particularly the satanic Fox News Channel), and there is a popular opposition to the government's policies, one will be conditioned to oppose the government. If a democratic politician gets shot, then it is not the fault of the one who pulled the trigger - it is the fault of the ideas which conditioned him and, ultimately, the purveyors of those ideas. Liberal solution: use government force to prevent those propounding such ideas from speaking. Simple, eh?

In contrast, free will is the idea that human beings "have the freedom to think or not think" and that it is "this choice which controls all other choices." Quoting Ayn Rand:

A process of thought is not automatic nor “instinctive” nor involuntary—nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. He has to discover how to tell what is true or false and how to correct his own errors; he has to discover how to validate his concepts, his conclusions, his knowledge; he has to discover the rules of thought, the laws of logic, to direct his thinking. Nature gives him no automatic guarantee of the efficacy of his mental effort.
That doesn't mean that people can not be influenced, encouraged, or impeded by their surroundings. Of course, they can, but these factors can not fundamentally force someone to think or not. Free will means that individuals are accountable for their own actions, legally and morally.

Even if you reject the liberal claim, based on determinism, that their opponents' ideology and rhetoric is incitement to violence, can a proponent of free will ever accept the legal concept of "incitement to violence" as being a criminal act? After all, one could ask, if an individual is responsible to think or not to think, how could it ever be crime to incite violence, since the one committing violence could have chosen not to act?  Isn't it always solely the fault of the individual committing the violence and never the individual who incites?

Consider the U.S. Supreme Court's standard for what constitutes incitement under the First Amendment.  Quoting an article from a previous post:
"The imminence requirement [set by the US Supreme Court] sets a high hurdle. Mere advocacy of violence, terrorism or the overthrow of the government is not enough; the words must be meant to, and be likely to, produce violence or lawlessness right away. A fiery speech urging an angry racist mob immediately to assault a black man in its midst probably qualifies as incitement under the First Amendment. A magazine article - or any publication -aimed at stirring up racial hatred surely does not."
This is a valid standard since it recognizes the nature of cognition. Even if it is true that an individual has the ability to think and control his choices, the nature of cognition is such that properly compiling and weighing evidence takes time - time that is not available in the context of incitement. If someone in a crowd arbitrarily yells "that man has a bomb, kill him" he is attempting to convey an immediate threat to others. This claim is part of the action and is meant to produce violence right away against a specific person for no reason. Given the immediacy of the threat, others would be justified in taking action, and if the innocent man was injured, the person who yelled (incited violence) would be culpable. Note that there is a great chasm of difference between one who is directly and imminently plotting murder or inciting a mob to violence and one whose speech is merely critical or even hateful.

If the imminence requirement is not set and the left had their way, logically, no political speech would be allowed since criticism of anything could indirectly lead to violence. If one criticizes the government, it may lead another to not like the government, or may even lead ultimately to one acting violently against the government. So, what exactly could we talk about?

Of course, the First Amendment was not designed to protect people's right to discuss the weather. It was specifically meant to protect the right to express controversial and extreme ideas. The dividing line politically as always should be based on the principle that the government's function is to protect individuals from the initiation of physical force and/or fraud. In this way, the US Supreme Court's standard is eminently reasonable while the unconstitutional and dangerous standard implied by leftist intellectuals is not.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Who are the Real Advocates of Non-Violence?

A running theme on this blog for several years [1] [2], particularly during the recent elections and rise of the Tea Party movement, has been the nature of the left's attempts to smear their opposition as "hate mongers", "extremists", or racists.  Another related theme has been attempts by the left to restrict freedom of speech, for instance, by equating their opponents' rhetoric to hate speech, using the FCC to regulate popular talk radio stations, or restricting certain unfavored constituencies from speaking out.  Consequently, it was only natural, when I heard that a psychopath had opened fire in a crowd, tragically killing six people and wounding a democratic congresswoman, that I instantly predicted the left would seize the opportunity to trot out these arguments and use them to justify the usual litany of liberal usurpation's of individual rights, including restrictions on speech and gun ownership.    

The right has justifiably reacted with outrage as the liberal MSM jumped on this narrative without bothering to check the facts or recognize that the shooter was simply a psychopath who worshipped skulls, attributed his actions to the devil, and, in fact, was described by friends as a "left wing pothead." He appears to be the type of person that in the past, as George Will points out, we would have "executed, not explained."  Keep in mind, this is the same liberal MSM who hypocritically admonished us not to jump to conclusions after a Muslim, who collaborated with a radical mosque leader, shouted "Allahu Akbar!" before gunning down 13 people at Ft. Hood in 2009!

What the conservative pundits don't realize is that in pushing this unwarranted narrative, the left is not "playing politics" or lashing out in a "momentary fit of anger" over the recent elections, as I heard one commentator declare. To the left, standing on principle, particularly on moral principle, is an act of "extremism" tantamount to insanity. This philosophical orientation is what underlies their hatred of the Tea Party movement, a movement which seeks to ground its platform in the founding principles of the United States, the principles of individual freedom and limited government. This orientation is what underlies the liberals' persistent call for compromise and their denigration of so-called "partisan ideologues," i.e., anyone who opposes their socialist programs or stands firm on principle.  Under this view, to affiliate with a movement that proudly asserts the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is to be a "right wing nut job."  Consequently, the left does literally regard the right to be nothing more than a psychopathic mob of deranged fanatics and would be killers.

Let's put aside this unspeakable tragedy and ask a more fundamental question.  Which side in this debate actually advocates the initiation of force or violence against innocent people?

The nascent Tea Party movement was spawned in reaction to a massive upsurge in federal government power as the previous Republican administration and the subsequent Democratic congress and president, in the wake of a depression created by their own policies, spent hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail out banks and large corporations, spent hundreds of billion more on stimulus and clunkers, rammed through a monstrous government takeover of medicine despite popular opposition, and threatened a massive energy tax in the name of climate change, just to name a few. The Tea Party movement rests on a platform which calls for limiting government power by restricting the power of the president and the congress to the powers enumerated by the Constitution.  The Tea Party seeks a reaffirmation of the principle that the proper function of government is to secure the rights of the individual to person and property.

On the other hand, the left calls for a massive increase in federal power.  It yearns for a full government takeover of the medical profession, a global government bureaucracy to police and enforce environmentalist regulations, increased taxation and regulation of individuals and business, and government imposed limits on dissenting speech.  And how does the left propose to enforce these taxes, regulations and outright confiscations?  The only way a government can - by the threat of force against it's own citizenry. 

Ironically, it is the left which seeks to use government force against innocent individuals, and it is the Tea Party movement which seeks to check, restrict, and roll back that power. 

The political pundits, on both sides, seem bewildered at the intensity of the political debate currently going on in America, and to some extent, around the world.  They are taken aback by the ferocity of the debates which they characterize as "divisive", "over the top" or "extreme".  The rancorous town hall meetings, the tea party protests, the "vitriol" on the network talk shows, are all symptoms of this strange phenomenon which concerns and confuses them.

Well, guess what?  If someone threatens to take everything you value, your income, your savings, your property, and your ability to independently and freely choose with whom you associate, who you trade, or what you say, there are going to be repercussions.  This is not some petty debate over inconsequential political minutia.        

Of course, to the pragmatist socialist, every debate is over minutia.  To them, there are no general principles, no such thing as rights.  These naive claims by the Tea Party, they would say, are overheated rhetoric, the racist rantings of deranged fly over state fanatics conditioned by Rush Limbaugh and Fox News into fomenting a "culture of hate." They, the ruling elite, know what is best for these unruly cretins. They can define the common good. They know how much of your earnings belong to you and how the balance should be redistributed, how much you should save, how much you should charge for your service, what the temperature of earth should be, which industries should receive preferential treatment and subsidies, how much money to create, how much to charge for loans, where you should smoke, what you can put into your body, where you can build a home, how much you can spend to support a candidate, and even when and where you can build a lemonade stand  They have it covered.

The Tea Party rightly sees that America's founding principles are under attack.  The government is taxing, spending, and regulating us into oblivion. Socialism, or its close cousin fascism, necessitates tyranny as it requires the government to initiate force against individuals to enforce price controls and/or seize property.  As America moves further down this statist road, the amount of violence perpetrated by the state against individuals is only a question of degree.  The knowledge of what is truly at stake is what energizes the Tea Party movement.  It is this knowledge which makes the Tea Party adherents, and any advocate of individual liberty, the true defenders of non-violence.   

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Zero Energy

In physics, the concept of "absolute zero" is the theoretical minimum temperature – a temperature at which all molecular motion ceases. Defined as 0 degrees Kelvin, it is impossible to actually reach this temperature, although you can get close. The world record achieved by scientists is 100 picokelvins. Even virtual nothingness has some energy: the temperature of the universe is 2.73 Kelvins due to the so-called cosmic background radiation. In other words, achieving absolute zero is really hard – actually impossible. Unless you are a social scientist. According to this: (HT: Ari Armsrong)

Starting Wednesday and continuing for the next year, a large swath of downtown Fort Collins will offset its peak power consumption by generating some of its own energy—an $11 million component of an ambitious and much-heralded effort to create a “zero energy district” in the heart of the city. FortZED, as the district is dubbed, will attempt to offset the energy it currently uses from a publicly-owned coal-fired power plant “through conservation, efficiency, renewable sources and smart technologies,” according to the project’s website.
Zero energy, eh? Well, it turns out they are going to actually use diesel generators and natural gas.

“The whole thing is backwards,” says Eric Sutherland, a Fort Collins resident well known as a citizen watchdog on energy issues. “They’re taking the emergency diesel generators at City Hall and a few places around (Colorado State University) campus and slaving those to power the grid. Gosh, let’s take the most dirty, expensive, scarce fossil fuel—diesel—and use it to generate electricity, and this is our renewable energy source?”
But not to worry. You see, uh, well let’s let the project manager, Dennis Sumner, explain:

“Obviously we’re not going to consider it progress to move toward having lots of diesel engines operate all over town to replace a highly efficient coal plant. That’s not a step in the right direction,” Sumner says. “We’re testing how can we integrate these distributed resources. (Think) of the emergency generation equipment we’re using as proxies for what could be different resources in the future.”
So this town spent $11 million to pretend that alternative sources of energy, like diesel and natural gas, are actually “proxies for what could be different resources in the future” presumably wind farms, solar, or magic pixie dust energy. But, if wind farms and solar and the like are actually viable forms of energy, couldn’t they have just used the $11 million to, uh, show that they work?

“In the broader FortZED concept, I think there was a lot of enthusiasm for the opportunity for something like a wind project,” he says. “When there was discussion about the development of the Maxwell Ranch, I think a lot of people got pretty excited. ‘Gee, that could be a big boost.’ … But at this point, it doesn’t seem to be coming together.”
To me, this article underscores a deeper aspect of the environmentalist ideology. Environmentalism is not a fight against pollution or “dirty energy”, it is a fight against the nature of reality, particularly man’s nature. Man has to use the earth in order to survive - that is our nature! There is no getting around that, unless you choose to die. However, environmentalists regard the earth as a kind of sacred deity to be worshipped and preserved for that eminent, yet insatiable ghost known as “future generations.” Therefore, man is regarded as a kind of Original Sinner, whose piddling sustenance is all but a sacrilege. Evidently, the Sacred Organism yearns to be untouched and held in a kind of cryogenic stasis as determined by panels of Philosopher Kings: assorted central planners, U.N. scientists, and town officals, who divine and translate Her decrees to the unwashed masses.

To the environmentalist, man’s life is to be spent in penance for his Original Sin, absolving himself of guilt by ascetically seeking out ways to minimize his “footprint”, picking through his garbage, substituting privation for convenience, and crusading asymptotically towards that ultimate offering: zero energy.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Niall Ferguson: "The Nasty Fiscal Arithmetic of Imperial Decline"

Here is an excellent lecture by the renowned economic historian, Niall Ferguson, titled "Empires on the Edge of Chaos."  Ferguson eloquently argues that the United States is on a path towards financial ruin as its extraordinary fiscal deficits reach crisis levels - levels that historically have resulted in the sudden (not gradual) collapse of the world's great empires.  While I do not agree with all of his lecture, I found it compelling and insightful.