no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics

Catching Up Around the ‘Sphere

January 16th, 2008

I’ve been absent for a few days, so I suppose it’s time to catch up.

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Mitt Romney is celebrating a victory by wide margin here in Michigan. His television ads so far have been pandering to the UAW and automotive base, traditionally safe haven for the Dems. (Sidebar: Does anyone else think that it’s funny that Romney grew up in Michigan, which State is shaped like a mitten? Mitt. Mitten. Get it?) Among other things, he’s been promising “investment” by which he really means “subsidy,” and peddling all sorts of nationalist economic mercantilism.

The son of a former car-company chief, Romney pledged billions in Washington aid to bolster automakers. And his anti-Washington, pro-change message resonated with Republicans in the state whose economic fortunes have declined along with the auto industry.

Pledging “billions.” Where do you think that money is going to come from, Mitt? Well, it can come from taxes, or it can come from the printing press. I thought Republicans were supposed to be for free markets and low taxes. Apparently, not when an election is on the line. Republican he is not. CoyoteBlog is certainly not the only one who ponders these things…

I propose that the amount of bullshit people are willing to believe is proportional to how badly they want it to be true.

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Speaking of the “i” word…

The Washington Post continues to propogate the myth that inflation is not a monetary phenomenon. The pace of inflation has increased some 50% over fiscal year 2006. The market anticipates another rate cut by the FED, so apparently Bernanke remains committed to the FED’s policy of using inflation to combat inflation.

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The USDA is urging a ban on cloneburgers, even while the FDA has determined they are safe to eat. I endorse cloneburgers, previous post here.

Part of the problem, according to the Washington Post, is foreign trade, where other countries are reluctant to purchase genetically altered florae and faunae from the U.S. I say fuck them if they don’t want it. More cloneburgers for the rest of us. Or clone-veggieburgers. We shouldn’t be prohibited from purchasing and consuming consistently tasty clones simply because some eurotrash is skeptical. The French love their peasant farmers more than the U.S. loves its agribusiness. Tell them to get off their collective derrieres and actually produce something for a change…

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Via FSK’s shared items, I came across this Bryan Angliss, who clearly doesn’t know how to think. He honestly argues that without the government, the national highway system would “end up being controlled by a single monopolistic corporation, and that’s functionally equivalent to the government that already owns the highways.”

There is simply no basis in historical fact or in theory, for assuming that roads would end up being monopolized. American history, is full of examples of private highways around the turn of the 19th century, many of which earned small or modest returns. Bonus points for recognizing that the government is equivalent to the “single monopolistic corporation.”

…However: Several demerits for failing to recognize that monopolies have historically not existed without the sanction and privilege granted to them by governments. Further demerits for ostensibly understanding that “monopolies are bad,” but failing to apply that line of reasoning in a consistent manner. (i.e., if monopolies are bad, and government is functionally equivalent to a monopoly, what does that say about government?) Even more demerits for citing sports venues and mass-transit as examples of “public goods.” These are probably two of the absolute worst examples of a public good, but Angliss suggests that,

[T]he economic benefits of a major sports franchise and mass transit will boost the entire region’s growth, reduce pollution throughout the region, etc, so fairness requires that everyone who will benefit should help pay the costs..

Where to begin… By this logic, a department store or a restaurant or a movie theater is a public good, because it will boost the entire region’s growth.

I don’t even want to waste the time explaining that “public financing” of major sports stadiums (operated by billionaires who own billion-dollar franchise teams) essentially amounts to public subsidization of their wealth and largesse, and allows them to earn a far higher return than they otherwise would. Public sports venues routinely employ minimum-wage workers, commission-based hawkers, and volunteer organizations to perform the lion’s share of the vending and services. “Public” police are conscripted for crowd control, and “public” thoroughfares are congested on game days. Furthermore, Angliss’ argument is essentially Bastiat’s fallacy of the broken window, noticing only what is “seen” and ignoring what is “not seen,” that is, he essentially assumes that if the money is not spent on the sporting venue and its complimentary goods and services, the money will not be spent on anything, anywhere. This is demonstrably not true, and even if it were true, it doesn’t mean the money disappears. It would become “savings,” which is what people are able to do when they’re not taxed to the hilt. And “savings” encourages investment, in spite of Keynes.

I could go through the same sort of step-by-step with public transit, but I’d rather not.

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At The Liberty Papers, Doug Mataconis comments on the Supreme Court’s refusal to grant terminally ill patients the ability to use experimental treatment.

This reminded me of something I’ve thought for quite some time. When the “right to die” issue is brought up, sometimes people make an argument that goes something like this: “We shouldn’t play God with human lives.”

It’s facially hypocritical to argue that “We shouldn’t play God” by permitting people to end their own lives. Preventing someone from exercising the right to die is essentially forcing them to remain alive, which amounts to no less than playing God. There are no two ways about this. If it’s wrong to “play God,” by helping people die, it’s just as wrong to keep them alive.

We “play God” when we perform quadruple bypass surgeries, when infants are born months premature and they are incubated by thousands of dollars of technology, when we grow flowers in a greenhouse during the winter months, and so on. I submit, that there is nothing wrong with “playing God.”

If you want to argue against a person’s right to end his or her own life, you’ll need a stronger case than that.

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The CoyoteBlog complains about an Oregon law which requires an attendant to fill up your gas tank.

I ran into the same emasculating regulation while I was in Oregon snowboarding back in late May, 2007. What a fucking nightmare – since I was running late for an AM flight back to Detroit, I did the same thing: gassed up my rental car. Then, the clerk was there in seconds. He said something to the effect of, “I’m supposed to do that for you.”

Listen brah, in Michigan, we pump our own gas. I don’t have time to wait for your rent-seeking ass.

no third solution

Blogging about liberty, anarchy, economics and politics