Sunday, May 2, 2010

Eight Economic Problems and Eight Solutions

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-04-05:

In recent months, numerous people have asked me: What's wrong with the economy, and how can we turn it around? This essay I educate you, once and for all, about the eight main economic problems of today, and their eight solutions, so save this piece and forward to your friends - especially those who are running for office.

There are several problems with the economy. Some are short-term, others are long-term. Some have painful fixes, and some fixes are painless:

1. The falling value of the dollar. Long-term, the value of anything is a function of only three factors: supply, absolute demand, and relative demand to hold. In today's case, the two problems are with supply and relative demand to hold. The supply side is straightforward, with the US central bank simply creating too many dollars. It does so to finance the US Federal budget deficit as well as lending the money to banks and other credit institutions. Relative demand to hold (dollars) is a function of expectations of future economic and political developments. In brief, the market is believing that the US will suffer from higher taxes and more regulations, leading to less goods and services produces, and thus lower demand for dollars.

2. Higher prices on energy and other commodities. This is a similar case to the dollar, but in reverse: Supply is not growing much, but both real demand and relative demand to hold, are both going up. Supply is constrained because it's almost impossible to profitably increase the quantity of things such as energy. Regulations and litigation have caused the US to build not a single on-shore oil refinery or nuclear plant in about 30 years. Demand is growing because countries such as India, China and Russia are growing rich following low taxes, relatively low regulation in many areas, and privatization. Besides, didn't many Americans - including many environmentalists - argue for sharp increases in energy prices so that people would use less energy? At least according to them, $4/gallon gasoline must be a big improvement over 10 or 20 years ago, when the price was close to $1. You can't have it both ways...

3. Too high taxes. All sorts of businesses are leaving the US, incorporating anywhere from Macao to Ireland and Latvia because US taxes have become some of the highest in the world. US corporate income taxes are the second-highest in the world, after Japan. Many countries have zero capital gains taxes, whereas the US is at 15% and Hillbama proposing increases to 28% or 39.6%. The top income rax rates in Albania, Estonia, Hong-Kong and Russia are 10%, 13%, 15% and 17%. If you live in Manhattan, federal+state+local income tax is 49%. Small wonder the US economy is depressed with people fleeing abroad. Tax revenue has gone up for almost all of the last 67 years, with the biggest increases in the last 5 years. 70% of income taxes are paid by the top 5% of income earners. 50% of all taxes are paid by the richest 1% of taxpayers. In other words, the vast majority of taxes are paid by a few people at the top, who in some cases are in the process of moving their money abroad following the (recent and expected future) tax increases here at home, in combination with tax cuts abroad.

4. Too much government spending. As high as taxes have gone through the roof, they have not kept pace with spending. This year, the Federal budget is $3.1 trillion, or over over $10,000 per American. Of this amount, approx 20% goes to the department of defense. Most of the other 80% goes go social security, medicare and medicaid, plus gigantic government bureaucracies that make up new rules and new forms to fill out. The government employs literally millions of bureaucrats, whose jobs are to make it as difficult as possible to start and operate a business.

5. Too many regulations. Many US industries are very heavily regulated. It is illegal for FedEx and UPS to deliver first-class (i.e., regular) mail. Affirmative action laws add bureaucratic cost. Sarbanes-Oxley adds billions in cost and forcing companies to list their shares in London and Hong-Kong instead of NYSE and NASDAQ.

6. Too many lawsuits. US corporations spend more money on legal fees than on research and development. Do you think this is the case in India, China, Ireland and Lithuania? Of course not. A doctor's insurance is now over $300,000 per year. And you wonder why health care - and many other things - are expensive?

7. Too little savings. Americans save a very small portion of their income. Investment can only come from postponed consumption, so to make up for the difference we must borrow or receive direct investment from abroad. Americans don't save enough money because they believe that the big government welfare state will bail them out when they have a problem (social security, medicaid, medicare, disaster relief after a hurricane). In addition, we tax savings more than in other countries with higher rates on capital gains, interest and dividends. This party is all coming to an end as foreigners may become unwilling to lend to Americans or fail to invest here. Hence a key reason for the fall in the dollar's value.

8. Too much property owned by the government. Why is 92% of the land in America owned by various levels of government? Who owns most forests? Who owns 40 miles of beachfront between Orange County and San Diego? Who owns the three airports in New York? The US Post Office? The US is normally considered a capitalist country, and the US President is the leader of the free world, but fundamentally the US economy has more in common with the old Soviet Union and Red China under Chairman Mao, than most people realize. High taxes, high spending and high regulations are measurements of the degree to which a country is a socialist country, but so is the degree of government ownership of the most basic means of production: land.

The solutions to these eight problems are as follows:

1. How to stop the value of the dollar from falling? Print less dollars.

2. How to stop energy and other commodity prices from increasing? See (1) plus allow for new/more supply of energy by allowing people to build nuclear plants, oil refineries and drill for oil. But then again, some have been arguing for higher energy prices for decades, so...

3. How to deal with people and companies fleeing the country to lower-tax places? Cut taxes here at home. We should not have higher taxes than Albania, Estonia, Hong-Kong, Russia and Ireland. In addition to cutting taxes, make them simple by abolishing deductions and not more difficult to figure out than the tip on your restaurant bill.

4. How to deal with runaway government spending? Combine medicare, medicare and social security into one simplified - and much smaller - program called "welfare" which will be there to keep people from starving and perhaps freezing to death (simple solution: put people on buses to Florida, where it's warm and there are plenty of oranges growing on the trees). This would cut government spending by more than half, from $3.1 trillion to just under $1 trillion, cutting the tax burden on a family of four from $40,000 per year to approximately $12,000.

5. How to deregulate? Abolish all laws that don't interpret and enforce private property rights.

6. How to get rid of costly lawsuits? This one isn't lacking in complexity, but basically one key part of the solution is to have the losing party in a lawsuit pay for the other party's legal fees. That alone would probably cut over 90% of lawsuits.

7. How to get people to save and invest more? Cut taxes on saving and investments to zero. Also, by abolishing most forms of welfare programs, people would have a greater incentive to save. This would also attract foreign capital.

8. How to get rid of too much governmnent property? In the finest tradition of Margaret Thatcher and Boris Yeltsin, privatize! They turned two extremely poor economies into economic powerhouses not only by cutting taxes (which was extremely important) but also by selling/giving government property to the public. The US just privatized $20 billion worth of radio spectrum for wireless Internet in March 2008. Bravo! Now go sell most of the 92% of land it owns in this country, the US Post Office, airports, etc.

In summary, all of these cures to our eight economic ills are mainstream Economics 101. Generally, no serious economist disagrees with any of this. It's just that politics itself has its warped biases to do all the bad things. That's why so many economies around the world are operating at dramatically sub-par levels of performance. We may never get the optimal economic system installed - unless I am given dictatorial powers - but I still hope that someone will listen and do at least something in the right direction. The eight points above would do most of the trick.

How Socialism Is Anti-Green

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-04-02:

On the one hand, it is remarkable that despite the sharp increase in energy prices and the global warming concerns, the major candidates for the highest office are not proposing meaningful solutions. On the other hand, it's not surprising at all - this is the way almost all issues of seriousness are treated in Washington, DC.

Sometimes, the obsacles to renewable, cheaper and cleaner energy reside not in Washington, DC, but in state and local governments. Ted Kennedy's opposition to wind power on Martha's Vineyard is one famous example.

Another good example is solar power, at least in the state of California. It takes 69 signatures from 8 different state and local bodies in California, in order to be allowed to install a solar panel on one's roof. This process takes an absolute minimum of 6 months to complete. And solar power is an alleged top priority to the California government?

Installing a few solar panels on the roof should be a no-brainer decision for most people, but who can take 6 or more months off from work to chase down 69 bureaucratic signatures from 8 government bodies? The solution to this problem is of course to deregulate: No government permit or signature should be needed in order to put up a solar panel on the roof.

As Ronald Reagan said about the socialist prescription for the economy: "If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. If it stops moving, subsidize it."

Another thing that's been impossible to do for not only 6 months, but 30 years, is to build a nuclear plant in the U.S. It is widely known that nuclear energy is the most efficient technology available today on a sufficient scale to be able to substitute all coal-fired energy plants as fast as we can build them. We could build so many of them that we would make plug-in hybrid and all-electrical cars practical, reducing our dependence on oil dramatically.

But we haven't built a single one of them in 30 years. Why? Because the government has allowed people to file lawsuits against those interested in building them. In other words, the government has given the trial lawyers total veto power to prevent a cleaner environment and lower energy prices.

Again, the solution here is simple: The government needs to cease putting up this total obstacle against the building of clean energy. It needs to inform the trial lawyers that, sorry, a cleaner environment and the most rapid reduction in dependence on oil is a top national security priority, and you can't sue to stop it. In other words: John Edwards, you're out of business - go do something useful instead.

Interestingly, there are several very small U.S. communities, ranging from 50 to 5,000 people, who have continued to see nuclear plants being built to serve them, even in the last 30 years. They're called ships and submarines of the U.S. Navy. Speaking of 30 years, a U.S. aircraft carrier is not only 4.5 acres of sovereign U.S. territory, but its two nuclear plants can also operate for 30 years without refueling. They've been running like this for at least approximately 50 years now, and never an accident. And never a lawsuit.

Cleaner and cheaper energy should be a national security imperative. The ways to get there are to abolish the crazy socialist government policies of making it as difficult as possible to deploy solar power and nuclear power. In addition to lowering energy prices and improving the environment, this would have the additional side benefit of getting the Abdoullahs out of the Mercedes and onto the camel again.

Political speeches are filled with rhetoric about "hope" and "change" but never a sentence about abolishing the socialist obstacles to solar power and nuclear power. This is why it is so sad that the next President of the U.S. looks to be just another politician, as opposed to a businessman who has experience from the real world.

Oh, How Easy To Forget...And How Quickly Priorities Can Change

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-02-12:

Times go by, and even within a generation, people forget major events.

16 years ago, Yugoslavia was in the middle of a civil war that broke up the country into at least a half dozen countries.

26 years ago, the United Kingdom declared war on Argentina and sent the Royal Navy to war over The Falkland Islands.

36 years ago, Arab terrorists took the Israeli Olympic delegation at Munich hostage and proceeded to murder all of them. A year later, all of the countries surrounding Israel including Egypt and Syria, proceeded to attempt the invasion of Israel.

46 years ago, the US failed its attempted invasion of Cuba at The Bay of Pigs, which was followed by the Cuban Missile Crisis when the world came minutes away from total war.

56 years ago, the US and the UN were fighting a Chinese-assisted invasion by North Korea of South Korea, and General MacArthur threatened to drop a nuke on the enemy, at which point President Eisenhower fired him.

66 years ago, the US had just declared war on Germany, Japan and Italy, and proceeded to go all the way to victory after 450,000 Americans fell.

76 years ago, Adolf Hitler was leading the election campaign for the German National Socialist Workers' Party (Nationalsocialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, or NSDAP), in which he won and became head of the government. The only major world leader who protested and warned that this was bringing destruction to the world was Winston Churchill, an obscure right-wing back-bencher.

86 years ago, the US was experiencing unprecedented economic growth, but the German government thought it was harmless to increase the money supply, so it started printing money, which generated hyperinflation, followed by a depression and 40% unemployment.

96 years ago, the US government was debating 3 new policies that were implemented the following year: (a) prohibition of pot/drugs, (b) introducing the income tax, which previously had not existed and (c) requiring the use of passports for international travel.

Sen. John McCain's very vigorous mom Roberta was born 96 years ago, when drugs were legal, there was zero income tax and passports didn't exist.

Many Americans have conveniently forgotten these historical events. What's more surprising is that some Americans now also see September 11, 2001 - only little over 6 years ago - as a fading memory.

In this context, you may have missed it in all the coverage of Super Tuesday, but Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell gave his annual national security threat assessment to the Senate Intelligence Committee last week.

For anyone who still doubts that the United States and our allies are in a fight for our existence, Director McConnell's testimony should put those doubts to rest.

Here's part of what he said:

"Al Qaeda is improving the last key aspect of its ability to attack the U.S.: the identification, training, and positioning of operatives for an attack in the Homeland. While increased security measures at home and abroad have caused al Qaeda to view the West, especially the U.S., as a harder target, we have seen an influx of new Western recruits into the tribal areas since mid-2006. We assess that al Qaeda's Homeland plotting is likely to continue to focus on prominent political, economic, and infrastructure targets designed to produce mass casualties, visually dramatic destruction, significant economic aftershocks, and/or fear among the population.

We judge use of a conventional explosive to be the most probable al Qaeda attack scenario because the group is proficient with conventional small arms and improvised explosive devices and is innovative in creating capabilities and overcoming security obstacles. That said, al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are attempting to acquire chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons and materials (CBRN). We assess al Qaeda will continue to try to acquire and employ these weapons and materials -- some chemical and radiological materials and crude weapons designs are easily accessible, in our judgment."

What priorities will change after the next terrorist attack? Who will be blamed for failing to stop it? Will we blame our unguarded borders against Mexico and Canada? Will we blame the lack of biometric IDs? Will we blame the insufficient ability to wiretap suspected terrorists? Will there be calls to do what we did with the Japanese during World War 2? (internment camps)

I don't know what will be the precise dynamics in the media spin, but what I do know is that the political debate will shift dramatically at that point, and instantaneously, suddenly reminding us of 9/11 and various other turning points in history. We will be "shocked" to find out that we had become complacent and hadn't urgently addressed so many "obvious" holes in our security, such as our unguarded borders and lack of terrorist tracking.

The Greatest Generation vs. The Girlie Man Generation

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-02-10:

American tradition is steeped in the history of rugged individualism. In social life, kids were taught to not whine or complain, but to focus on serious things and work hard. In economic life, kids were taught that rewards would come to those who do the right thing, and that there was no government hammock for those who underperform. In national security, kids were taught that America will fight for freedom - not surrender to those who are plotting to kill or enslave us.

We used to call the combination of rugged individualism and common defense of our freedoms the hallmark of The Greatest Generation - those Americans who first went to war against Japan, Germany and Italy on December 8, 1941 and then built up the middle America we inherited several decades thereafter. This was possible for a combination of the three driving forces of modern American civilization: Social morality, economic freedom and defense of liberty against the its enemies.

And so it was that America became - by far - the cominant economic power in the decades following World War 2. In addition, we fought wars in Korea and Vietnam, trying to protect small countries who were on paths to freedom, against communist invasion, enslavement and genocide. A third war, following the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, is seeing the second tail of clean-up work today.

Almost 67 years after we declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy, I am sensing that the stoic rugged individualism of The Greatest Generation is giving way to something very different. It has been brewing for years with "sensitivity training" at work and "political correctness" at school. Protected classes and subjects have been created, about whom you are not allowed to speak in a certain way for the fear of "offending" someone. Sort of like the Danish cartoons about Mohammed.

We see this most recently in the "celebrity"-crazed culture, where movie stars, singers and other entertainers are suddenly not only endorsing politicians - but also getting significant attention for it. In the past such endorsements would never have happened, and if they did, nobody would take them seriously or give them much attention.

It is a poor reflection of the state of American culture when instead of proposing substantive policies, contenders for the highest office in the land think they can win by surrounding themselves by the people who are featured in the tabloids normally found by the supermarket check-out counters. Supporters of such candidates seem rarely - if ever - capable of identifying any substance advocated by these candidates, but rather such specifics are clouded and cloaked in "change" and other similarly meaningless phrases.

It is a sad statement on the direction of our American civilization when the mentality of our political process has been transformed from the rugged individualism and non-whining of The Greatest Generation, to the whining political correctness - dressed in Hollywood celebrity garb - of this new Girlie Man Generation. So therefore, the biggest question determining the outcome of the 2008 election will be whether The Silent Majority of which Richard Nixon spoke so eloquently, has been transformed from Greatest Generation to Girlie Man.

Why the classics are classics

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-01-29:

Proper schooling includes the study of the things in life that have withstood the test of time. This includes objects of art (Leonardo da Vinci), literature (Shakespeare) and politics (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution). These are items in life who are classical because they are each fundamental in their own disciplines.

With the most interesting political campaign in a generation in full swing, it is worth reflecting on the extent to which what is being discussed in these political debates will go down in history 25, 50, 100 or more years down the road as "classical" - or important in the eyes of history.

Let me suggest that at this point in the political season, as interesting as the fights may be from a multiplicity-of-candidates perspective, the actual content of the issue disagreements isn't fought in a particularly classic way. What do I mean by that?

First, let's define what is the classic debate in politics. It is pretty simple, actually. Everything that is done in the world, every dollar that is spent, is either done so by someone who is in charge of himself (or the family/children), or by someone who has taken the resource or forced it to be directed in any other (involuntary) way. That's the government, which taxes, spends and regulates. For this reason, the classical debate in politics is very simple: Should the government tax/spend and/or regulate something, or should it not? If the individual is in control of his property, it is capitalism, but if the government regulates it and/or taxes/spends it, the thing in question falls in the column of socialism.

Almost every viewpoint in politics can easily be analyzed in this manner - capitalism vs socialism. It used to be a big geopolitical struggle between the free world and The Soviet Union, but the geopolitical struggle has now been replaced by the desires of radical islam and of ever-growing government at home.

In this context, the current debate of taxes and spending is pretty pathetic. Let's start with Obama and Clinton. They are both in favor of raising Federal income taxes to well over 40%, raising the capital gains taxes from 15% to well over 40%, and probably also raising the corporate income tax from 35% to that over-40% rate. In other words, doing their best to make sure that the value of all companies on the stock exchanges will see their values tumble dramatically. By reducing corporate profits, and the share of those profits that go to their owners, it is a most basic corporate finance iron law 101 that the values must decline. Hence, a major reason for the stock market decline over the last couple of months. If there is a chance Obama or Clinton may actually raise those taxes in 2009, better sell those shares now before they go down another 20%. This is pretty simple - and prudent - risk management by those who own shares.

The most baffling point about the proposed Clinton/Obama tax hikes is their concurrent reaction to the recent market downturn and fears of recession. Both candidates are in favor of immediate tax breaks to avert a recession!

Hmmm, the economy is going South because of the fear of 2009 tax hikes, so therefore the same people who are proposing those tax hikes now want immediate tax cuts! Why doesn't anyone call these deeply self-contradictory candidates on this evident inconsistency? It should be the first question in every interview/debate.

Unfortunately, the current crop of Republicans are not doing too much better in these departments either. While they pay lip service to avoiding tax hikes, and in some cases propose some (mild) tax cuts - such as a cut in the Federal income tax rate from 39.6% to 30% - they are fairly silent on specifics with respect to overall government spending. This year, the Federal government spends approximately $3 trillion, or $10,000 for each of us 300 million Americans. That's up dramatically from 1962, when the Federal budget was $100 billion, or some $500 for each of approximately 200 million Americans.

None of the leading Republican contenders - McCain, Romney, Giuliani or Huckabee - have the courage to spell out specifically what - if anything material - they would cut from this giant $3 trillion bureaucracy. None of them has proposed abolishing a single government department, as far as I know. None of them points this out in socialism vs capitalism terms. All of them have bought into the principle that big government is here to stay, only that it should grow at perhaps 2% per year instead of 7% or whatever.

What we are left with here is therefore the cowardly Mexican standoff between Republicans and Democrats: Clinton/Obama are unwilling to accurately describe their plans for taxing and spending as a step into a future of socialism, and McCain/Romney/Giuliani/Huckabee are unwilling to admit that they are unwilling to change the status quo by anything but a rounding error.

There is therefore nothing classical about this fight at all.

Rather, the current in-fighting in the two parties focus almost exclusively on personalities and resumes - not actual policies in the context of the eternal struggle between capitalism and socialism. Someone is for "hope" and "change", whereas someone else is for "experience" and "judgment." But is someone willing to take a stand for and against socialism and capitalism?

Not any of the leading candidates, that's for sure. With some degrees of difference in general direction, they have all basically bought into the model of big government, and the debate is about fine-tuning its size. Granted, it is important for the future of the stock market, economic growth and prosperity whether taxes are at 8%, 28% or 48%, but it doesn't address the issue of the very fat $3 trillion annual Federal budget.

There is only voice pointing out that the Emperors have no clothes in terms of the narrow scope of the debate: Ron Paul. He points out that almost all of our $3 trillion budget is unconstitutional and socialist. The original constitution spells out that the only legitimate functions of the Federal government are the maintenance of a judiciary and a defense against foreign enemies. If we had a constitutional government today, it would cost somewhere well below $1 trillion, or well below $3,333 for each of us 300 million Americans.

Example in point: The framers of the constitution had as a key objective to make sure that the government does not get its hands on the education of our children. "Public" (socialist) schools didn't exist until all of the founders of our constitution had died, in 1848, coincidental with Karl Marx's publication of Das Kapital. I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but I couldn't help noticing...

Yet today, the Republican candidates for President (except for Ron Paul) don't propose the abolition of "public" schools. Same thing for other big budget items such as social security, medicaid and medicare. All these things are, in fact, socialist programs and therefore not-so-coincidentally unconstitutional.

So there you have it - today's political debates have been reduced from comparing the classical differences between socialism and capitalism, to emotional nonsense such as whether we need a President who is for "change" and claims to be able to "unite the country." How do you "unite" the views of the person who will see a huge tax hike to pay for some government program with the bureaucrats and the alleged beneficiaries of such a program?

America needs a cold shower of hard and fundamental choice: Should we follow the constitution and dramatically deflate the size of the government budget and its millions of regulations, or should we march forward into full-fledged socialism? We know where Obama/Clinton stand, although they dare not say it. Unfortunately, we also know that McCain/Romney/Giuliani/Huckabee aren't proposing much more than "holding the line."

The stock market has been voting in recent months, and its verdict isn't all that rosy, as it starts to discount the probability of a leap into more socialism in 2009 and beyond. In the meantime, the rest of us can also vote our conscience - Ron Paul.

The Bodyguard Divide

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-01-23:

I thought I knew how to explain all the differences between the Republican and Democratic candidates for President. From the policies on taxes, regulations, illegal immigration and the Muslim World Jihad against modernity, one can tell the current crop of Democrat and Republican candidates for President apart from a mile away.

Literally, as it turns out.

You can actually tell the Obama/Clinton campaign entourages apart from McCain/Romney/Huckabee/Giuliani crowds, a mile away. Why? The discrepancy in the number of bodyguards.

Obama and Clinton are surrounded by a security entourage fit for a sitting President. This is in part understandable, in the case of Hillary, who unlike in the roaring Monica Lewinsky 1990s sometimes travels with the former President Bill. For the first-term Illinois Senator Obama, however, the swarms of bodyguards appears a bit more mysterious.

Contrast this with the Republican candidates. I met both McCain and Romney on multiple occasions in 2007, and on none of these four occasions was there a single bodyguard in sight. I have heard from others that the story is similar at Huckabee and Giuliani events, with the exception of Giuliani having at least one bodyguard. You don't see some sort of boxing rope at a Republican event (or nightclub/Hollywood red velvet rope when Bill Clinton needs to feel at home).

To quantify this further, ONE of ANY of the top two Democratic candidates have MORE than 10x (probably 20x) as many bodyguards as ALL of the Republican candidates COMBINED. The difference couldn't be greater.

Traditionally, Presidential candidates have received Secret Service protection upon receiving the formal nomination by their respective parties, typically some time in the Summer. Until then, they had none or very little protection. Obviously, exceptions were made for George Bush in 1988 because he was the sitting Vice President, but generally this wasn't so. I was at the Republican Convention in San Diego in August 1996 when we nominated Bob Dole, and he was just getting his first bodyguards from Secret Service around that time.

What I don't know is what it means. Perhaps you the reader can offer some credible suggestions. Does it mean that the threat against the leading Democrats is greater? Nobody wants to harm the Republican candidates? Why?

Leaving Las Vegas

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-01-10:

With the Nevada primary election for the 2008 Presidency less than a week away, there is one acute issue that every tourist notices in Las Vegas: The nightmarish cab and transportation situation.

Aside from a very limited monorail and some very sparse buses, the only mechanized way to move around Las Vegas is by cab. The cab lines are very long, and the price is approximately 2x compared to Manhattan. In other words, a consumer disaster.

It is also an environmental problem, for all the obvious reasons.

Las Vegas has over 150,000 hotel rooms, and the occupancy rate has been very high in recent years. This means there are probably over 200,000 tourists in LV on any given day. I estimate that each tourist takes 3 cab rides per person on average, per day. That's 600,000 cab rides. At an average fare of $15, that's $9 million per day in cab fares.

Each person waits in a cab line at least 10 minutes on average. That's 2 million person-minutes per day wasted standing in line, or 33,333 hours. At an hourly price of time of $20/hour, that's a cost of $666,666 per day. Even for a big city, that's a lot of waste. Of course, there is also a cost to the environment in the form of pollution.

The solution to this problem is of course simple: Build more Monorail and/or subway. Obviously, there should be a monorail right on the strip (Las Vegas Blvd) and/or a subway under it. There should also be something equivalent right under or behind the hotels on the West side. All of them should connect to the airport - how obvious!

Such a subway/monorail system would eliminate over 90% of the cab use by tourists. At conventions, people would get to/from meetings faster. Las Vegas would be a much more attractive place to visit. Conventions would flock to Vegas, instead of seeking to leave to cities with other attractive features.

So why hasn't this obvious improvement not happened? I don't know for sure, but the only plausible explanation points in the direction of a taxicab mafia of sorts. Taxis are the the only class benefiting from this inefficient transport system, whereas everyone else loses.

So are Obama and Clinton expressing any opinion on this subject? Are they in favor of reducing pollution and cheaper consumer prices? Are they willing to take on the taxicab union?

You guessed it. Of course not. Why try to offend something as important as the taxicab union? By the way, if you don't dare offending the taxicab union in Las Vegas, how will you take on Bin Laden?

I guess the Clinton/Obama solution to the transport congestion in Las Vegas is a much more subtle and macroeconomic one. Let's just raise everyone's taxes just enough to reduce people's propensity to travel to Las Vegas to begin with! Then the cab lines will be a little shorter - wait 5 minutes instead of 10. Then we can make this great shift of healthcare expenses from the individual's pocket to the government's pocket.

But wait - fewer people engaging in commerce, fewer business travelers, fewer tourists.... What happens to tax receipts? Ouch...

At least Romney/Giuliani/McCain/Huckabee/Thompson have a different recipe: Don't raise taxes, but rather prevent the unions from creating sensible and environmentally friendly transport solutions - monorails, subways. This would lower prices for consumers, enable people to move around faster, attract more business travelers and dramatically reduce all sorts of pollution, including noise. Unlike a tax hike, a capitalist solution to obvious problems.

I just hope someone makes this a political issue in next week's primary election, or in the November general election. I guess that's too much for which to hope.

Capitalism vs Socialism going into Iowa

This was previously posted on on or before 2008-01-03:

I am typing this as my flight passes right over Iowa, the start of the most open presidential election in at least three generations, perhaps ever. At least eight candidates have a reasonable shot at making it all the way, according to the conventional wisdom. The list of vice-presidential candidates is even longer.

In our generation, we have seen only one majorly consequential presidential election - one in which policy changed dramatically - and that was Ronald Reagan's 1980 landslide against Jimmy Carter. Those of you old enough to remember the sorry state of affairs in 1980 will appreciate the change away from 15% inflation, 20% interest rates, 10% unemployment, rampant street crime and Iran holding the US embassy hostage for 400 days. Today's 2% inflation, 5% interest rates, 5% unemployment and the ability to cross Fifth Avenue without being robbed is not the historical norm. Try to appreciate it, perhaps for a change.

I don't know whether this election will prove nearly as consequential as the one in 1980, but with the unprecedentedly large number of candidates, the ground is fertile for stark contrasts. Let's start with the democrats:

John Edwards is running a campaign which blends the 1948 Karl Marx Communist Manifesto with Vladmir Lenin's 1917 revolutionary words and a trial lawyer's obsession with suing every company for any reason. His rhetoric centers around "not negotiating" with business owners, because the taking of their property isn't realistically going to be voluntary. In other words, do what Lenin did in 1917 - just take or regulate private property into oblivion, creating a socialist state.

There is one exception, of course - the trial lawyers, who will help bring about the end of all non-lawyer private enterprise by suing them so they have to shut down or be unable to compete. In John Edwards' world, that's the only Kosher form of private enterprise.

Clinton and Obama are masters in the art of talking a lot but saying nothing. They talk about all of the things that are wrong with America - people not buying health insurance, people polluting too much, people being too racist, and so forth. They wow to "fight" for health, "fight" for the environment, "fight" against racism - basically, "fight" for everything and everyone, except Iraq, where it isn't Kosher to fight. These "fights" are each defined as a new government program, because Clinton has very well-meaning plans for your life - pay for health care! Reduce that carbon footprint! Don't harbor those racist thoughts! Beacause you can't fix your problems on your own, we need to tax you so that we can employ a few million new government bureaucrats in order to tame your habits.

Welcome to the Western European welfare state. You know, the one with 10% unemployment, mimicing Jimmy Carter. It would be 1976 all over again.

I can't tell any material difference - or any at all - between the proposed policies of Clinton and Obama. Talking in platitudes of "change" and "experience" doesn't constitute a policy difference. They both want to "fix" social security by increasing taxes on those making over $100,000 per year. They both want to "fix" health care by making it mandatory to pay for it, and if you can't or won't pay for it, someone else will be forced to do so - either your employer, or the government. And you know where they get their money - prices on products, and your tax bill.

As for Iraq, they both say we have to leave, but not before some time after 2013. Perhaps. As for winning against Al-Quaeda, what do you mean? 9/11 was a loooong time ago. Britney Spears wasn't even in rehab then.

The republicans are a bit more interesting, because at least they don't speak only in platitudes ("I'm for better education, and we have to do something about the environment").

Mitt Romney would be the first President in 3 generations with solid Wall Street experience, hopefully a welcome change. Clearly a competent man, but his record as governor of Massachusetts is a bit sketchy, with tax increases and forcing people to buy health care insurance. Having made hundreds of millions of dollars, he would be viewed as just a rich guy buying himself into the office. Sort of like Jon Corzine.

Rudy Giuliani is the real deal on almost everything from economics to foreign policy. He has vowed to personally press the execution button if we capture Bin Laden alive. He also doesn't carry all of this annoying abortion baggage surrounding many other republicans. This means he could win California and New York, securing the whole election.

Mike Huckabee is the best speaker, and he has humor. Unfortunately he shares, at least in part, a fatal flaw with all of the democrat candidates - he failed Economics 101, as he doesn't seem eager to support tax/spending cuts, deregulation or free trade. Nevertheless, he can out-debate anyone on style and humor points.

John McCain is obviously the foreign policy candidate, and like it or not, he has an independent streak, refusing to support Ethanol subsidies while campaigning in Iowa. With terrorism and rogue regimes not going away anytime soon, we couldn't go wrong with a war hero in charge. The last two were very successful - Generals Eisenhower and Grant. One only wonders if young Americans who don't remember Jimmy Carter's 1970s stagflation will want to vote for a 71-year-old fighter pilot who spent 5.5 years being in a Vietnamese torture chamber.

Fred Thompson is the Ronald Reagan character, not because he is an actor, but because he is a bit lazy and comfortable with his mainstream right-wing ideology. He doesn't have plans for you. He just wants to try to cut the size of government while burning Al-Quaeda's ass. Not a bad place to be.

All of this brings us to the most interesting candidate - Ron Paul. He is like the kid in the fable who insistently points out that the emperor has no clothes. Federal employees? Fire them. Taxes? Abolish them. Regulations? No communism in America. The welfare state? Unconstitutional. The monetary system? Back to gold. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would have been proud.

In coming hours, days, weeks and months, there will be a lot of election-year noise, and for good reason. Just remember that noise may not equal results. In the election 40 years ago, 1968, Richard Nixon pointed out that the loudmouths don't always win. Rather, the silent majority tends to win. The bigger question in 2008 is whether the silent majority now looks like a generation or two without good knowledge of history and economics. Have we gone from the greatest generation - represented by Ronald Reagan - to the tabloid/celebrity-obsessed generation represented by 40 channels of television garbage?

One Solution For Two Americas

This was previously posted on on or before 2007-12-01:

There have been numerous political disagreements in the US since its founding. The 1861-65 civil war is obviously the most famous and pronounced. More relevant to today, the modern ideological debate in the US started as contrasting responses to the October 1929 stock market crash and the depression that followed. With a brief interruption by World War 2 and foreign-policy zig-zaging in the 1950s in response to the communist invasions around the world (Eastern Europe, Korea, Cuba, this remains the heart of the domestic political debate in the US to this date.

One can argue that an additional division in US politics emerged in response to 9/11. This division is along two dimensions. First, whose fault was it? Second, what should we do about it? One side argues that 9/11 and associated acts of terrorism (such as the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993) is simply the fault of the obvious perpertrators (religious extremists) and the people who finance them (the oil-rich Wahabbis, principally in Saudi Arabia). The other side argues that the US provoked these and other attempted acts of terrorism by helping to liberate Kuwait from the 1990 invasion by Iraq, stationing troops in Saudi Arabia. Coincidentally, that's Osama Bin Laden's argument.

As to what to do about it, regardless of fault, some argue we should go after them, and others argue for kumba-ya therapy (Dennis Kucinich, assorted self-proclaimed foreign-policy experts in Hollywood).

Aside from this recent foreign-policy wrinkle with a homeland security twist, the main portion of domestic policy discourse concerns the US 78-year old argument of whether our economy should have more or less taxes and regulations. During these years, this country has seen Presidential and Congressional elections vascilate around 50% for each side. Yes, Nixon and Reagan won land-slides in 1972 and 1984, but most elections have been fairly close, some to the extreme (1960 and 2000).

With the country close to 50/50 in terms of opinion about what to do with taxes and regulations, why not divide the country into two? One half of the country would operate a big government, where most people were employed by the government and/or paid close to 100% in taxes. All forms of business, to the extent any wouldn't be completely and directly owned by the government, would need special government permits to offer products and employ people. In schools, it would be offensive to be better than other students, speak correct English, or remember history. Government-provided health care would mean that whomever needed health care would need to go abroad.

In the other half of the US, the regulatory environment for all businesses would be similar to the laws regulating Apple and Google, which is to say essentially no industry-specific regulations at all. Elementary schools would be private, just like our farms and better universities. Each family of 4 would pay a flat annual federal tax of no more than $4,000 with no need to disclose income or claim deductions.

With these two Americas, is there any doubt which one would florish, and which one would collapse? We have, of course, seen this before. East Germany vs West. North Korea vs South. The 3 Chinas until "big" China started turning capitalist some 25 years ago. The UK in the 19th century vs the mid-20th century vs Margaret Thatcher. Jimmy Carter's America vs Ronald Reagan's.

It seems relatively well-understood, even by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, that full socialism as in the Soviet Union, was a really bad idea for economic progress. So why isn't it that they recognize that 50% socialism is half a cancer? Why not take it down to zero as soon as we can?

The federal government has so severely watered down the ability of any state to distinguish itself, that it is effectively meaningless for a person to try to play the state arbitrage and move to a freer state (say, in the South) compared to the more repressive higher-taxed states in the North. This is why we may need to divide America into two in order to be able to once again display the benefits of capitalism to those many among us who have never seen the contrast between capitalism and socialism up close. Most young Americans today have never experienced hardship in the form of living in North Korea, the old Soviet Union or Cuba, among other places. Even most of the poorest Americans have access to food and opportunities not dreamed of by people less than a century ago.

With prosperity comes laziness. In today's America, it has become easy to take prosperity for granted. This, in combination with having the government in charge of the school system, where history is seemingly not taught in favor of sensitivity/minority training, is the kind of societal poison from which empires such as Rome, Britain and soon perhaps the US will fall unless corrected.

The wrong country, at the wrong time?

This was previously posted on on or before 2007-10-09:

Ponder for a moment a place where 92% of the land and 99% of the radio spectrum in the air is owned by the government. In this place, people pay a 35% income tax plus another 9% to a local government. On what's left of this money, people invest and the corporations are then taxed another 35% of the remainder. Then you take the remainder of that and invest in the stock market or in a bank account, and that's taxed at 35% again. Then let's assume you die - the government again collects as much as 52%. When you buy something along the way, the sales tax may be 8%.

In this place, you need a permit to do just about anything. You can't build a house or add to an existing one, on the little (8% of the total) private land there is, without a permit. You need a government license to cut hair, administer funerals, fish and if you want to drive a cab in the country's largest city, you have to pay over $400,000 to obtain a permit. That would buy you a top-of-the-line Rolls-Royce, but in this case it's just a "medallion" which is the misleading name for a meaningless government permit. While delivering packages is legal, delivering first-class main in competition with the government is illegal.

In this place, you are governed by 170,000 pages of tax law, and you can't decide which medicine or other substances to put into your own body. If you talk to someone at work or in school in the "wrong" way so that they claim to be upset, you can be sued or fired.

This place has a special tax on wages that's paid into a "retirement fund" managed by the government. This "fund" takes all of its annual receipts every year and spends all of it it on current retirerees as well as on general government spending, so there is really no fund beyond the hope that future generations will continue to pay higher and higher tax rates. In other words, a pyramid - or ponzi - scheme.

Indeed, central government spending is rampant at $10,000 on average for every man, woman and child per year. This amout has been rising every year, rain or shine. In 1963, it was $500 per person per year.

What is this country? The Soviet Union ca 1980? No, it is today's United States.

Despite that we are a heavily over-taxed and over-regulated country bordering on socialism, Congress and several presidential candidates are arguing for higher taxes, more government spending and more regulation. The government can't deliver our mail on time, protect our Southern border from a daily invasion of thousands of people, or process a passport in less than two months, but it needs more of our money to hire more people and take over the health care system. Karl Marx and Vladmir Lenin would be proud.

There are only two important issues worth discussing as America goes to the polls again next year. The first one is how we will protect us against those who have decided that if you're not of the right kind of religion, you must be killed. These are the people who attacked the World Trade Center in 1993 and 2001 and are plotting to cause even greater harm the next time.

The other issue is whether the US economy should be made freer so that we can compete with China, India, Eastern Europe and other places where taxes are being cut and capitalism is on the march forward. If one is to believe and extrapolate the lame behavior by the US congress and by many of the presidential candidates, we are instead marching in the direction of Cuba and North Korea. It doesn't look so good, does it?

A $30 trillion government asset sale to pay for the abolition of social security

This was previously posted on on or before 2007-09-17:

Presidential memo:

Fundamental problem: The 74 year-old social security system is a ponzi, or pyramid, scheme with no individual private sector investment value. It has created a multi-trillion dollar liability for the US government.

Political problem: Within the confines of the government's income statement, a solution can only come from lowering benefits or raising taxes -- neither of which is politically possible.

Fundamental and political solution: Massivie privatization in the form of selling US government property, particularly some part 92% of the US land mass owned by the US government as well as the 99% of the spectrum in the air currently unutilized, underutilized or mis-allocated to useless tasks. The proceeds from this asset sale would go into IRA or 401(k) style accounts compensating for an abolition of the entire social security system. I calculate that some $30 trillion, or $100,000 for each US citizen, could be raised from this asset sale. These proceeds would go into IRA accounts for each person.


The 1933 establishment of the social security system created a gigantic long-term economic and political dilemma for the US taxpayer. When introduced, it effectively constituted a welfare hand-out because recipients in the first few decades received benefits far in excess of what they had paid into the system. In fact, the earliest recipients had not paid in anything to the system.

When a scheme of this nature is attempted by a private citizen, we call it ponzi, or pyramid, scheme. Someone gets a lot of money in the early phases, while the later entrants are left holding the bag. The later entrants have paid in a lot more money into the system than is available for distribution.

Within the confines of the social security system itself, there are only two ways to continue this system. First, you can cut benefits. This can be done in two ways. You can simply reduce the payouts per year, or you can raise the retirement age -- or both. There are good reasons to do both. By reducing benefits, we recognize the social security system for what it is and always was -- a ponzi scheme. People simply have to acknowledge that they should have never relied on it in the first place, realize that the taxes paid in previous decades was a form of welfare, flush away the spilled milk, and move on.

Increasing the retirement age is a very logical thing to do, for the obvious reason that people are now capable of working longer and they live longer.

The problem with both of these approaches is that they have effectively proven politically impossible. As with anyone who has come to expect that a government subsidy will continue, recipients of social security will fight tooth and nail to kick the can of taxpayer burden down the road onto the next generation.

The other side of the equation is the tax used to fund the payments. As the number of retirees grows, the benefits grow, and people live longer, these taxes would have to grow until they eventually reach 100% of all production and income in the country. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1920, "The Santa Claus Principle will eventually liquidate itself." This approach puts the US on a fast track to becoming a 100% socialist state where the income tax returns would be very simplified:

1. How much money did you make last year?
2. How much is left of it?
3. Send it in.

That is, unless it was just taxed at source to the tune of 100% at which point every person in America would rely for every bread crumb, every unit of housing, every piece of clothing on government handouts either in the form of a check or in-kind. Basically, it would look like a classical socialist/communist country, most of whom have faded away (North Korea and Cuba being the two remaining stragglers).
In other words, within the confines of the levers available to the social security system itself, there is essentially no solution likely to happen, except those who create political chaos or a gradual leap into total socialism. And that's the future for which we are now on auto-pilot, barring a radical change of direction.

Therefore, the only solution must come from outside the social security system itself. This solution is no different that any other person who is spending too much money, making too little money, but doesn't want to change those parameters. To prevent this person from bankruptcy, there must be an asset sale in order to fund the gap between too high expenses and too little income.

Fortunately, the US government has just the kind of assets that could and should be sold in order to yield a politically realistic solution to the social security ponzi scheme.

Let's begin by looking at an aerial map of the 50 United States. Guess what? 92% of it is owned by the Federal Government. As the crudest measure of the degree to which a country is a socialist country, this high percentage ought to be outright alarming. Social security ponzi scheme or not, the government shouldn't own 92% of the land. Fortunately, this at leaves us a fantastic source from which to fund an end to the social security system. What is this 92% of our country worth? There is no easy answer to this, to say the least, but the GDP of this country is around $15 trillion per year, and the underlying asset base is many times that number. Assuming that the asset yield is 10% per year, our national assets are worth $150 trillion. At a 5% yield, the assets are worth $300 trillion. Of that underlying asset base, a significant portion is the land value itself. One can therefore assume that the government's holdings are worth at least several tens of trillions of dollars. How much of the 92% would or should be sold, and what would the sale actually fetch? There is no way of telling for sure, of course, but there should be no reason not to start with at least putting a price tag on a few trillion dollars' worth of millions and millions of acers, from sea to shining sea.

The other major US government asset is lurking in the air all around us. Currently less than 1% of all sub-75 gigahertz frequencies have been sold ("licensed") to private industry for its most fruitful use - interactive IP Internet, which is where almost 100% of Silicon Valley's innovation resides. Most frequencies are either unused, withheld by The Pentagon, underutilized by churches and schools, or gravely mis-allocated to outdated technologies such as terrestrial broadcast television. 91% of US households have either cable TV or satellite service, rendering terrestrial broadcast television a complete waste occupying the finest beachfront property from a spectrum perspective. In 1994, the US government sold relatively unattractive spectrum at 1.9 gigahertz to entities which later became T-Mobile and Sprint PCS for tens of billions of dollars, contributing to the decline in the government budget deficit in the following years. In 2006, there were more sales of equally inferior 1.7 and 2.1 gigahertz spectrum, raising many more billions of dollars. In 2008, we expect the sale of the 700 megahertz spectrum to raise perhaps much more than $10 billion dollars. And yet these sales are tiny, constituting small slices of less than 1% of the total spectrum that could be sold. The overall value of all spectrum is hard to estimate, of course, but if less than 1% of the spectrum has yielded well over $100 billion in previous sales, much of it before the advent of the Internet, the other 99% of the spectrum may just be worth at least $10 trillion.

So there you have it: Selling government land and spectrum each have the capacity to yield at least $10 trillion. Let's say $15 trillion each, or $30 trillion in total. Given a US population of 300 million, that's $100,000 per every man, woman and child - $400,000 for a family of four.

How would we funnel this $100,000 per person to each individual? Fortunately, we already have very good systems available for this, in the form of IRA accounts and 401(k) accounts. They are largely similar in all relevant aspects. The government would simply open up an IRA account for anyone not already in possession of one, deposit the proceeds from the actions of the sale of government land and spectrum, until each account eventually looks like some $100,000 in addition to what it was before.

Once these accounts have been funded, the government could simply abolish the social security system. No slow phase-out, just abolish it. We would have undergone a transition to a fully private system in a very short period of time. Social security would never again become an economic or political problem. The social security "tax" would go to zero immediately, yielding the largest tax cut in US history. Talk about a boon to the economy!

There would be other benefits with this system as well. First, by transfering ownership of land from the government to the private sector, it is evident that it would be put to better use. Second, the privatization of the spectrum would be a boon of olympian proportions to our technology and communications industries. Internet speeds now achieved by fiber-optic cables (gigabits) would be achievable wirelessly in the air. Just imagine what this would do to individual and corporate efficiency, as well as for homeland security.

Privatization was key to the success for Margaret Thatcher and Boris Yeltsin alike. It transformed stagnant economies into booming ones. It created vibrant stock markets and gigantic leaps forward in terms of wealth, where there was economic paralysis before. Privatization ought to be the answer to the social security crisis that's creeping upon us right now here in the US, too. It cannot be done from within inside the social security system itself, but rather it has to be funded from auctioning off the largest swaths of government property, to the tune of some $30 trillion. Fortunately, the assets are there to do it. The only remaining question is who the President will be who decides to save America by applying capitalism to our biggest national balance sheet problem.

2008: 1976 all over again?

This was previously posted on on or before 2007-09-04:

The analogy is far from perfect, but there are some similarities. Having come from a couple of Middle East wars (1967 and 1973 vs 1991 and 2003), major acts of terrorism (Munich 1972 vs 9/11) and dramatic spikes in the price of oil, the next major election looks to be won by people who have a fanatical desire to raise taxes and spend every penny.

In 1976, it was Jimmy Carter and his congressional cheer-leaders who did their best to punctuate US competitiveness and embolden our enemies. Inflation and interest rates both hit double digits, economic growth went negative, the stock market declined and people's savings evaporated. It was the only real economic crisis we have had since the 1930s.

32 years later, we are better off in one respect, and worse off in another.

We are better off now because so many countries around the world are making the strongest economic progress in almost a century, perhaps in all of recorded history. The former Soviet Union and its occupied territories such as the Baltic states all the way down to Albania have implemented flat taxes from 10% to 17%, leading to rapid economic growth of which we could not dream when the Iron Curtain came down in November 1989.

In India and China, privatization, liberalization, deregulation and spectacular tax cuts have caused an economic boom not seen since the US became the world's superpower in the 100 or so years before the 1930s. Countries who were trying to battle mass starvation under Indira Ghandi and Mao Tse Tung in the 1970s, are now major food exporters - not to speak of every iPod, iPhone and iMac. It is clear who, and when, world leaders learned from Ronald Reagan instead of Jimmy Carter.

Therefore, while the US may suffer from tax hikes and insane new regulations - including making the entire health care system into an arm of the same people who now dish out services from the windows of the US Postal Service - we are at least operating in an international environment where capitalism has never been as wide-spread as today. Our own domestic consumption may collapse, but at least our companies - largely operating out of Chinese and Indian facilities - can still generate the goods and services the rest of the world will buy in mushrooming quantities. Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher may be banned from history classes for our young people because their achievements don't fit the socialist planning utopia of America's teaching class, but they are the heroes whose ideas and leadership have brought life and growing prosperity to literally billions of people around the world.

In another dimension, our position in 2008 could be dicier than in 1976. The cold war was of course filled with the ultimate danger, but at least the Russians loved their children too, as that song went whose name I don't remember right now. Unfortunately, today's enemy doesn't love its children at all. It strapps bombs around them, while thinking about the 72 virgins soon to be enjoyed as Allah's grand prize for killing an infidel. Or a few million of us. One of these days, one of these religious fanatics will walk across the Mexican border, get a driver's license in LA, and drive to NYC with something very lethal. At this pace, we are clearly living on borrowed time. On December 8, 1941, President Roosevelt joined with a united congress and country to destroy our enemy to the last millimeter. Today, many Presidential candidates generate the biggest applause lines when they promise to "bring our troops home" so that we can achieve a "political solution."

Oh boy. Every time I see John Edwards, Hillary Clinton or Barack Hussein Obama, I see the ghost of Jimmy Carter redux. Let's leave our fanatical enemies to therapy, while we tax the US economy into a state of socialist paralysis. Sadly, there is a significant probablility that this part of history will repeat itself 32 years later. I guess this is the political equivalent of every generation making its own mistake. As kids, we do something stupid and we learn from it. As adults, we vote for Jimmy Carter and then we sober up with a Ronald Reagan. Will it happen again in 2008 and beyond?

If it does, that spells a disaster for the stock market down the road. Taxes and regulations have been as certain to kill an economy as sustained rain storms have been certain to kill a forest fire. As Ludwig von Mises wrote in 1920, when he predicted most of this, "The Santa Claus Principle eventually liquidates itself." Now that's a lesson for Obama, Osama and Chelsea's mama.

So what about about George Bush Jr in all of this? The conventional wisdom, at least in the left-wing media, is that he is inarticulate and suffering from low intelligence. Interestingly, they also claim that he is basically taking his orders from Vice President Cheney, whom not even the leftists accuse of being inarticulate or unintelligent. So either it matters that President Bush is inarticulate and unintelligent, or it doesn't. You can't have it both ways.

Besides, if you leave someone in charge of something - such as your money with a fund manager - what matters isn't whether the fund manager is articulate or smart. What matters is if he is right. Being articulate and smart may get you through school and may make you popular in the finer circles of Uptown's cocktail parties, but it is all in vain if you are not right in your decision-making. I know plenty of fund managers who are inarticulate and perhaps not all that intellectually impressive, but who deliver spectacular results because they are right. Who would you rather have running your money - someone who is articulate, intelligent and wrong? Or someone who is inarticulate, unintelligent but right? That doesn't mean George Bush has been right on everything, but it should tell us to at least focus on the right metrics. A few decades from now, we may have a verdict.

It is always easy to criticize a manager, as there will inevitably be mistakes of all kinds, not the least in execution. Even the best fund managers are only right just over 50% of the time. But imagine if Al Gore and his fan club would have been in charge in 2001 and beyond - would we have been better off to dramatically raise our taxes, impose all sorts of new regulations, socialize major parts of the economy and patted the terrorists on their backs and offered them therapy? It sounds to me as if the alternative to what actually happened over the last 6 years would have been poverty followed by death. So with all of his many faults, perhaps George Bush was a lot better than the alternative after all...

Nothing wrong with chaos and civil war in and around Iraq

This was previously posted on on or before 2007-01-28:

From the most right-wing Republicans to the most left-wing Democrats, there appears to be a common theme in terms of wanting to avoid “chaos” in Iraq. By this, people tend to mean civil war between Shia and Sunni muslims, dragging Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria into a larger regional war, and so forth. This is supposed to be a terrible thing, something we must prevent at all cost.

Wait a minute! Not so fast. What’s so wrong with a little bit of chaos – or civil war, or outright war, between various muslim factions in and around Iraq?

Let’s first review some history. We went to war in 2003 to finish the job 12 years after we chickened out in 1991. After we kicked him out of Kuwait, Saddam was on the ropes, ready for the plucking. The Iraqi army surrendered to Italian television crews and prayed for the US to come liberate them. We were indeed greeted as liberators. However, Colin Powell and Jim Baker advised George Bush-the-older that going all the way to Baghdad would somehow be unnecessary, too difficult.

So what did we get? Well, we got the opposite of chaos. We got stability. Saddam was stable in the saddle in Baghdad, left free to let his extremely brutal police state conceal all sorts of activity, including paying for suicide bombers to attack Israeli shopping malls and serve as host to terrorists on the run from the US military.

This stability was no good. There have been lots of stable regimes who are not good. Hitler’s regime was stable. Tojo was stable. The Soviet Union was stable for 70 years. Castro alone has been stable for a whopping 48 years. North Korea has been stable for 54 years. All of those regimes were at some point very stable, and all of those regimes were at some point lethal threats to the US, and needed to be removed or neutralized.

9/11 happened while there was relative stability in the Middle East. The Saudi regime, which fed most of the hijackers, has been stable since the 1920s. Extremely wealthy and not particularly in love with the US people, this could be characterized as a very lethal regime if you are an American, especially if you happened to be sitting on a high floor in The World Trade Center on 9/11.

So much for the need for a stable Middle East!

No, what we need instead is a lot of chaos and civil war in the Middle East, especially in and around Iraq. There are several key reasons why we haven’t been attacked here at home after 9/11, something which everyone (including me) thought impossible in the days and weeks following 9/11. One such key reason is because we have created a mess in Iraq. If we had actually “succeeded” in Iraq, bringing about some sort of functioning democracy, squashed the violence, etc., then the bad guys would have left Iraq and now be on their way to blowing up The Empire State building and the US Congress. The bad guys need to be kept busy in Iraq, not in Brooklyn.

For the US, chaos in Iraq is nothing to fear. To the contrary! What we want is a massive civil war in Iraq, which will hopefully spread to almost all of their neighboring countries – particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria. The bloodier the better. This will keep the religious nutcases really busy for a long time – hopefully long enough for me to live in peace and freedom until I am 100 here in the civilized world, or until the religious nutcases have erased themselves off the map to the last man, whichever comes first.

Think about it, what they are arguing about in this so-called “sectarian violence” or “civil war”: They are arguing about what happened to Mohammed, or who came after him, or something like that – whatever – 5,000 years ago. Or some time a really long time ago anyway. If that’s what those jokers are arguing about and killing each other about, I say: Good riddance! People who argue about useless fantasies and religious BS of that nature are not positive to the human gene pool. So let them fight with each other. To hell with stability; long live chaos and civil war in and around Iraq.

The sole root of all Middle Eastern conflict is found in religion. Sunni Moslems hate the Shia and vice versa. And some or most Moslems hate the West and the Israelis because we are not some form of Moslem. None of these problems will ever end until people stop taking religion seriously, or become outright atheists, which is the logical and rational conclusion anyway. In this context I don’t see why the rest of us should be particularly concerned about chaos and civil war in and around Iraq.

One wonders if this isn’t actually fully understood by our political leadership already, but that they are too afraid of pointing it out in public. It may not pass the politically correct test in the French-dominated culture of the diplomatic corps. One can’t help but wonder if Dick Cheney is the guy who has understood most of this all along. After all, he is the guy who was part of the team who took the decision in Spring 1991 to not depose Saddam, and was given the opportunity to correct that mistake of 1991. In other words, he is the only one left who learned from the key mistake of 1991: favoring Middle East stability over chaos and war. However, just like everyone else, he doesn’t dare to say it that way, but rather plays along with the same refrain of everyone from right to left, that we somehow need to prevent chaos and civil war in Iraq and beyond. It should come as no surprise that the politically correct premise is, as is typical, completely the opposite of the truth.

Dumb and Dumber: John Edwards and New Orleans

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-12-28:

Notorious trial lawyer John Edwards announced his candidacy for the 2008 Presidential election yesterday in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. Yes, this is a city which is still defined by “Wards” and “Parishes.” Court houses also have ceiling fans.

It is hard to figure out who is the bigger idiot here: John Edwards, or the people he visited. Let’s start with the people he visited. These people are playing Russian roulette every day, as they live below the water level, protected by fragile levees. They blew up in August 2005 and it will of course happen again. We are paying for it, supposedly to the tune of $200 billion, or as much as the Iraq war costs every year or two.

If you have any IQ at all, you should not be living in New Orleans. It is similar to playing Russian roulette. Move to some place where you’re not going to be under water some day again. Colorado comes to mind, as does Kentucky or Vermont – basically, almost anywhere but New Orleans. As it stands, knowing the socialist leanings of the US government, the rest of us will have to pay the bill again the next time there is a flood in New Orleans. This should simply not be allowed to happen. People who choose to live in New Orleans should not be subsidized. Likewise, people who choose to play Russian roulette should not obtain free government life insurance, either. The fact that I’m paying for these morons makes me sick to my stomach. $200 billion divided by a million or so people in New Orleans; that’s $200K per person, man woman and child. How about giving me a $200K tax refund instead? If the American population did this math, they would instigate a revolution and plow New Orleans into the ocean, or donate it back to the French.

Perhaps it was for this reason that New Orleans was a good fit for John Edwards to announce his candidacy to be the leader of the free world. This is a guy who wants to tax people who make money and give it to those who don’t. Talk about rewarding bad behavior and sinking the economy. Just take a look around the world. John Edwards clearly didn’t notice what was going on in the Soviet Union for decades, or for that matter China and India. He wants to go where they were in the 1980s, 1970s, 1960s, 1950s and so on. If that’s what he likes so much, he should move to North Korea or Venezuela, as they are two examples of today’s deviants.

Message to John Edwards: We don’t want your taxes, crazy regulations and insane lawsuits. Crawl back to North Korea or Venezuela or some other place where you will feel at home, and bring a Karl Marx book to read on the plane so you can perfect your party membership test skills. You may have announced your candidacy in New Orleans, which seems to fit your common IQ level, but please don’t poison the rest of the country’s gene pool and our bank accounts.

65 years ago: A different level of resolve

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-12-09:

On this the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, after which the US declared war on Japan, Germany and Italy, we may consider the effort it took to achieve victory.

By the way, Japan attacked us, following which the US landed in Morocco to fight the Germans, then cutting across to Sicily. Only thereafter did we start bombing the Japanese. Granted, we fire bombed the major Japanese cities to complete oblivion - over 110,000 Japanese were burned to death one night in March 1945 alone - and we topped it off with the world's first two nukes in August 1945. The US never put a soldier on Japanese mainland soil. You may recall the Japanese government surrendered on the deck of The Missouri with General MacArthur looking over their shoulders.

Anyway, lesson learned - bombing worked. At least in Japan.

In World War 2, some 440,000 Americans died in combat. That's in less than 4 years, or about 100,000 per year - 8,000 per month. In contrast, after 3.5 years in Iraq, that number is less than 1/100th as large.

World War 2 achieved victory against 3 countries, at least 2 of whom wanted to kill us. 65 years after Pearl Harbor, we have any number of members of a religious death cult who want to kill us. Hitler and Tojo were unsuccessful in their attempts 65 years ago, but will we be as lucky this time? What will it take to win 65 years after the most recent attempt?

The US population was half of today's 300 million, and 440,000 Americans died in combat. This is equivalent to almost one million today. Will we raise an army ten million men strong and see 10% of them fall in battle, in order to achieve victory today?

It is tempting to hesitate now. But what will we say if the enemy manages to explode a nuclear bomb each in New York and Washington? That we didn't expect it? That we didn't act boldly or quickly enough to disarm the enemy? That we thought it was perfectly okay to let Iran and North Korea develop nuclear bombs?

As the war ended in 1945, the lesson was that Hitler should have been stopped years before he invaded Poland in September 1939. Have we remembered this lesson?

America #1

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-11-26:

Greetings from the humblest of corner offices overlooking Rockefeller Center Plaza, the home of our great nation’s big Christmas tree. Construction of the Rockefeller Center started in 1931 and all the buildings East of 6th avenue were complete by 1940, just in time to redirect the construction efforts to the war against the axis of evil – Germany, Italy and Japan.

As the war ended and the US had bombed the dictator regimes of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo into submission, all parties killing some 50 million people in the process, the great industrial power of the greatest country on Earth redirected its productive capacity from making bombs, airplanes and tanks, to feeding its people and launching the great consumer era.

It didn’t take long for America to show why this country not only wins on the battlefield, but also wins in capitalistic commerce.

In 1951, the average American ate 50 percent more than the average European. Americans controlled two-thirds of the world's productive capacity, owned 80 percent of the world's electrical goods, and produced more than 40 percent of its electricity, 60 percent of its oil and 66 percent of its steel. America's 5 percent of the world's population had more wealth than the other 95 percent, and Americans made almost all of what they consumed: 99.93 percent of new cars sold in this country in 1954 were U.S. brands.

By the end of the 1950s, GM was a bigger economic entity than Belgium, and Los Angeles had more cars than did Asia — cars for a gadget-smitten people, cars with Strato-Streak engines, Strato-Flight Hydra-Matic transmissions and Torsion-Aire suspensions. The 1958 Lincoln Continental was 19 feet long, and Elvis was King.

In 1950, 40 percent of Americans had never seen a television program; by May 1953 Boston had more televisions than bathtubs. In 1951 a Tennessee youth was arrested on suspicion of narcotics possession. The brown powder was a new product — instant coffee. Folks did not eat foreign food, except French toast.

Unlike today, when everything edible, from milk to spinach, has its moment as a menace to health, in the 1950s everything was good for you. Cigarettes? Healthful. Advertisements, often featuring doctors, said smoking soothed jangled nerves and sharpened minds. X-rays were so benign that shoe stores installed special machines that used them to measure foot sizes.

In Las Vegas, downwind from some creative atomic weapons tests, government technicians used Geiger counters to measure fallout. People lined up to see how radioactive they were. It was all part of the fun. What a joy it was to be indestructible! But, people somehow knew without a warning label that bleach was not a refreshing drink.

Few things except for the culture of “The government owes me x” has changed more for the worse in recent decades than childhood. The lives of children used to be unsupervised, unregulated and robustly physical. Even in the 1970s, when I grew up, admittedly on the other side of the planet, kids were always outdoors — I was pushed out the door at 7:30 in the morning and not allowed back in until 4:30pm unless I was on fire or actively bleeding.

America’s dominance isn’t what it used to be. Decades of high taxes, runaway government spending, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, insane litigation, political correctness, Eliot “Gestapo” Spitzer and most recently Sarbanes-Oxley have kicked this society’s dynamism into a far more humble and dull setting, seeing its growth rates lag behind other more capitalistic countries such as Hong-Kong, China and most recently India. Those economies are still small – the US grew more the last five years than the size of the entire current Chinese economy – but over time, the US will fall behind if it continues to shoot itself in the foot.

One statistic alone says it all: In the first 9 months of 2006, Buick sold more cars in China than in the US. The defense rests.

Yet at least New York City after decade of Guiliani and Bloomberg in the Mayor’s seat could have had an even worse record. The 4.1% unemployment rate is the lowest on record, and the city's credit rating is at the highest level ever. With crime down 20 percent since Bloomberg took office — after a 57 percent reduction during the Giuliani years — the FBI rates this as the nation's safest large city, which is one reason for the sharp increase in applications to Columbia University and New York University. Welfare caseloads, which totaled 1.1 million a decade ago, are under 400,000. In 2005 the percentage of high school students graduating on time was the highest since the city began keeping that statistic in 1986. Bloomberg credits his crusade against smoking with the decline in heart attacks that has helped make the life expectancy of city residents higher than that of the rest of the nation.

Neither America nor New York City are perfect, but we are still #1. It feels good to be #1. In Europe, on the other hand… oh well, they’re still debating the proper etiquette for surrender, how not to offend women forced to dress in bee-keeper suits, and why it should be illegal to work more than 35 hour a week (presumably by employing a work hour Gestapo).

Minimum wage, maximum unemployment

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-11-11:

With the elections now over, we now hear that one of the first laws that the new congress will pass is an increase in the minimum wage from $5.25 per hour to $7.25.

Why only $7.25? Why not $10 even? Why not $20 or $100? Heck, let's just make it $1,000 so that everyone is on par with the country's best attorneys. Or $1 million a day, like the best hedge fund managers.

Of course, for anyone with the slightest common sense, and for others with a passing grade in Economics 101, we know that a minimum price on anything causes more supply than demand - in this case labor.

At the current minimum wage of $5.25 there are relatively few people who are priced out of the market. At $1,000 an hour, we would have 99% or more unemployment.

The point is that you don't make anybody worth $7.25 (or any other number) by making it illegal to pay him or her less. All you do is make him or her unemployed, unless of course someone is willing to break the law. Now that's nice - creating criminals out of people who want to hire fellow citizens. Perhaps this goes hand in hand with those who think it is perfectly fine for people to walk across the Mexican border without permission. All of those illegal immigrants who work in the US automatically create a criminal out of every employee. In either case, however, people would rather be a criminal than unemployed. The difference is that in the case of the illegal immigrant, the employer doesn't risk much that the employee will turn in the employer to the police, because the employee faces deportation. In the case of paying a US citizen below the minimum wage, however, the employer would have to think more than twice because the worker only loses his or her job if the police is told.

The minimum wage falls into the same category of counterproductive social experiments as alcohol prohibition 1920-33 and the current war on drugs, which started softly 1914 and was intensified under Richard Nixon and again under Ronald Reagan.

Alcohol prohibition 1920-33 didn't do anything to reduce alcoholism, but it made almost every American adult into a criminal, and it created mafias, violence and police corruption. The war on drugs, well - same thing.

So here we go again - the government setting a price where it has no business being involved at all. Raising the minimum wage will not add a penny to a person's pocket who is making $5.25 today. It will only make this person unemployed. 180 degrees counterproductive.

The only sane thing to do is of course the abolition of the minimum wage, period. This would create employment opportunities for those not worth $5.25 an hour.

The minimum wage is the mirror image of the maximum price, another government favorite insanity. It has been applied at times in the past for things such as gasoline (1973, 1979) and rental apartments. All you got was of course a shortage of gasoline and apartments. Pretty obvious to anyone with the slightest common sense or listening to the first hour of Economics 101. Now there is talk about setting maximum prices on prescription drugs and (again!) gasoline. Will they ever learn?

Where did the hurricanes go?

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-11-09:

Several months ago, l watched Al Gore's movie on the world going to hell in a handbasket as a result of global warming, in turn a result of pollution. This movie was filmed mostly at the end of 2005 or early 2006. The climax of the movie is when Al Gore points out that the Earth has become warmer over the last 30 years, and that 2005 was the warmest year yet (at least since the Bronze age). All of this heat is supposed to be the cause of the hurricanes that devastated Florida and the Gulf Coast in 2005. I remember Al Gore wagging his finger and implying that it is just going to get worse and worse unless we "do something."

Now here is one point: What happened to the hurricanes in 2006? 2005 was bad and allegedly the result of these nasty global warming trend, in turn caused by pollution. By this token, 2006 should have been even worse. More pollution, warmer climate, more hurricanes.

I have no idea whether 2006 was warmer or colder than 2005, but I do know that our cars got cleaner in 2006 as they have in each of the last 30 years. And I do know that the hurricanes somehow took a vacation. Perhaps they come back again in 2007, but for the moment I don't hear Al Gore pushing this particular argument. I mean, if 2005 was the worst year because there were so many hurricanes caused by the warm weather as a result of the pollution, then 2006 must have been the best year because there weren't any hurricanes caused by cold weather as a result of reduced pollution, right?

I don't think so, either way, but at a minimum the recent data does undercut Al Gore's argument as much as anybody else's. My memory isn't the best, but I do remember the logic as it was presented less than a full year ago, and things now look to have turned 180 degrees.

Speaking of degrees, Global Warming may have been the theme of the last 18 years, but it was only in the 1970s that many of the same people (Al Gore himself?) warned about the new ice age. I remember distinctly that when I was in school in 1980 we were taught that we would have to move to Africa because "not even in Spain would it be warm enough to grow oranges." The cause of this new ice age? The same one as global warming, of course: Pollution. No matter whether the Earth becomes warmer or colder, the cause is always the same.

Yeah, and during the bronze age and the ice age... Looooots of industry, lots of pollution!

Ever thought about the simplest physical facts? At night, it gets colder than during the day, at Winter, it gets colder than Summer - and vice versa. And what's the reason for that? The sun, of course. That's some radical temperature differences between night and day, Summer and Winter. Why can't global warming (the 1988 to present fad) and the new ice age (the 1970s fad) simply be the result of the sun's emitting power not being 100% even? Perhaps it is just a bit stronger at times, and weaker at other times? I am not a scientist, but it does make sense that such fluctuations better explain what's going on in terms of temperatures on Earth, than this pollution business.

Think about it: There was no industry until some 200 years ago. And the temperatures on Earth went up and down before 1800 anyway. Then pollution increased until the 1970s and then temperatures went both up and down for those almost 200 years. And then after 1970 our environment has been getting cleaner every year, first allegedly causing a new ice age and now more recently causing global warming. Hey, the logic doesn't hold.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Swedish Democrats gone nuts

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-10-17:

There they go again! After Sweden finally rewarded itself with a non-socialist government for the first time in 12 years, the sniping has started. The new opposition, aided and abetted by the eager left-wing press, is of course focused on meaningless stuff such as whether some cabinet member once upon a time hired a maid or babysitter (not Kosher in Sweden, where everyone but the Royal family is supposed to do their own dishes). The fact that only half the country works in a real job, and that half of those in turn work for some useless, indeed counter-productive, government job, has never concerned the socialists. They are arguing whether the new minister of finance once paid a babysitter $1,500, slightly less than $1,500 or slightly more than $1,500, during a year in the 1990s. Gee.

Instead of engaging in this jealous nonsense, people ought to be thanking these household employers for putting money in the pocket of high school kids or recent immigrants. Those are groups of people where unemployment is even higher anyway. Talk about the world being upside down! Small wonder that country has been going under for the better part of the last 35 years. If you pay people to not work, and then criticize people for employing fellow citizens, is there any surprise you end up with unemployment? Hmm, let me think…

We're winning the war!

This was previously posted on on or before 2006-04-26:

34 years after Nixon went to China to talk some sense into Chairman Mao, the so-called ping-pong diplomacy, unmistakable evidence proves the final nail in the coffin in our war against international communism: The first Hooters has opened in Shanghai this week, to be followed later this Summer by 3 more, including Beijing.

Why aren't we opening a few of these in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and Syria? Clearly, that would loosen up some of their kooky antics. Generally, I believe the U.S. has been focused too little on allowing the appeal of modern American cultural commercialism to persuade those kinds of folks to rid themselves of all of that religious nonsense.

May I suggest we tell Rupert Murdoch and Charlie Ergen, among others, to direct their satellites to those countries, beaming loads of HBO, MTV, The Shopping Channel, Discovery, The History Channel, Showtime, Starz, FOX and MSNBC to all of those seemingly angry and bored people covered in bee-keeper suits. Hey, maybe a little CNBC could make them into good capitalists, opening up accounts at Schwab and watching Jim Cramer's MAD MONEY religiously instead of bending over on a carpet five times a day and listening to some dude making noises akin to a cow with stomach ache.

Much more productive! I bet those regimes would be gone in a quarter, replaced by a massive Hong-Kong asking for their MTV and tax cuts, getting government off their backs. And then they will look with admiration to what Ronald Reagan did 25 years ago as opposed to what Mohammed did 2500 years ago, or whenever it may have been. Boyakasha! Respek.

“Values” vs. science in the mind of a Liberal Democrat

This was previously posted on on or before 2005-09-04:

Over the last year or so, I have had several conversations with various flavors of Liberal Democrats, who profess to be very upset about religious people, presumably Republican such. The Liberal Democrats seem particularly upset about the “science vs. creationism” debate, that religious Republicans in particular allegedly have rejected “science” in favor of “creationism,” which in their mind also carries over into “values” in a broader sense.

On those terms, I actually agree with the Liberal Democrats 100%. It is no news that I find all forms of religion – at least the way the word is typically defined – to be nonsense per definition. But that is not the only thing that’s bothering me in this debate. No, what I find incredibly hypocritical is that the people who rightly find “creationism” and “values” so deplorable are themselves rejecting at least as much science as do the prototypical religious Republicans!

What do I mean by that? Specifically, the Liberal Democrats have all rejected the science of economics! There is no remotely credible economist who says anything but that the most efficient – “scientific” – economic system is 100% pure laissez-faire. Free markets, free trade, the smallest possible government, if any at all. This is nothing but basic Economics 101.

Yet the Liberal Democrats are all rejecting economic science! They are all in favor of ever-increasing socialist intrusions in people’s freedom to own and trade on voluntary terms. Why? Well, the Liberal Democrats believe that their “values” trump the science of economics. In their world, Laissez-Faire economics is also the most efficient economic system, but government policy needs to be guided by their non-scientific “values” in favor of $2+ trillion worth of annual taxes and millions and millions of pages of red tape.

Yeah, the Liberal Democrats are right when they criticize some religious Republicans about “creationism,” but who are they to cast the first stone? At least the debate about creationism has to do with deeply historical nonsense – who cares what may or may not happened some 2000 or 2000 billion years ago? The Liberal Democrat rejection of economic science, however, means that not only I, but billions of people on planet Earth are suffering today and tomorrow from lack of economic freedom and prosperity.

Bad weather, common sense and personal responsibility

This was previously posted on on or before 2005-09-04:

Is there any personal responsibility left in this world? Or is anything bad that’s happening always someone else’s fault, including the government’s? The Mississippi/Louisiana hurricane Katrina was an act of nature, predictable over time and warned with specificity days before it hit. As a result, there are two lessons here: First, if you live or build in a hurricane-prone area, especially below sea level, you can’t blame your fellow taxpayer if your house blows away or gets flooded. Second, if you have taken the risk to live below sea level in a hurricane-prone area, and every level of government tells you to get out immediately in order to save your life, and then you don’t follow orders, you also can’t blame your fellow taxpayer if you die or face hardship.

People assume different risks by doing different things. Some people smoke, some people do bungee-jumping, others ride motorcycles, some people live on a fault line in California, and yet others stay below sea level when there is a hurricane approaching. Darwinism is a process of weeding out survivors. Part of such survival is intelligence, and in turn intelligence partially consists of judging risk/reward ratios. So Darwinism weeds out weaklings, physically and mentally. Darwinism furthers the evolution of the human race, so with the government subsidizing stupidity, the quality of the human race could decline.

So here is some simple intelligence: If you don’t want to be flooded in a hurricane, you can choose to live in Denver, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City or somewhere like that. However, if you ignore this basic intelligence, and choose to live on the Mississippi or Louisiana shores, perhaps under sea level, don’t complain if one day you get screwed by bad weather.

To summarize: We watch TV and see the pictures of people in and near New Orleans. The evident question must be: What were all of those people doing there? First, why did they live in that nasty place to begin with? Second, why were they there when they had been told they should evacuate and that they may die if they remain? Well, why do people continue to smoke…