About This Blog

Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) was the greatest economist of my time. His greatest works can be accessed here at no charge.

Mises believed that property, freedom and peace are and should be the hallmarks of a satisfying and prosperous society. I agree. Mises proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the prospect for general and individual prosperity is maximized, indeed, is only possible, if the principle of private property reigns supreme. What's yours is yours. What's mine is mine. When the line between yours and mine is smudged, the door to conflict opens. Without freedom (individual liberty of action) the principle of private property is neutered and the free market, which is the child of property and freedom and the mother of prosperity and satisfaction, cannot exist. Peace is the goal of a prosperous and satisfying society of free individuals, not peace which is purchased by submission to the enemies of property and freedom, but peace which results from the unyielding defense of these principles against all who challenge them.

In this blog I measure American society against the metrics of property, freedom and peace.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Heritage Foundation Skewers Public Employee Pensions/Listen To Scott Walker!!!!!!

The Heritage Foundation has published a new series of research papers and reports on public pensions. The research shows what we knew all along: public employee pensions are fat and sweet. AND, even after the recent legislation in Wisconsin that reformed the public retirement system, public employees in Wisconsin are still sitting pretty compared to private market employees.

The first report, titled The Real Cost of Public Pensions, "refutes two of the most common arguments that public pension benefits are somehow modest." It's wonky but it's worth the read if you're into the nitty gritty of the issue.

The second report, published yesterday -- The impact of Act 10 on public sector compensation in Wisconsin -- shows that Wisconsin public employee benefits are still 4.5 times larger than pensions in the private economy and Wisconsin public employees are still paid 22% more in total compensation than their private counterparts. The Executive Summary is below:

After a protracted legal and political battle, on March 11, 2011, the Wisconsin state Legislature passed Act 10, the Budget Repair Act, which increased public employee contributions toward pensions and health coverage and restricted union powers of collective bargaining and dues collection. This study analyzes public sector salaries and benefits in Wisconsin, with a particular focus on disentangling the risk-adjusted value of pension benefits offered in the public sector from accounting conventions that can understate the cost and value of defined benefit pension plans.

We find that state and local government employees receive salaries roughly equal to those paid to private sector Wisconsin employees with similar education and experience or working in jobs with similar skill requirements.

However, even following Act 10, pension benefits for Wisconsin public employees are roughly 4.5 times more valuable than private sector levels while health benefits are about twice as generous as those paid by larger private sector Wisconsin employers. This difference results in a combined salary-benefits compensation premium of around 22 percent for state workers over private sector workers, with varying but often larger pay advantages for local government employees.
I heard Scott Walker interviewed yesterday on the Laura Ingraham radio show (see below). The guy is absolutely amazing! I don't think there's a more well-spoken or enthusiastic advocate of property, freedom and peace anywhere on the national scene. He doesn't speak in a measured tones or hedge his opinions. He is forceful in his beliefs and knows economics like the back of his hand.

I'd hate to deprive Wisconsin of the best governor it's had in its history, but this guy should be on the Republican ticket this year with Mitt Romney! Listen to this clip of Walker in action and see if you agree with me.

More good news! Read an excellent recap of the recall race in Wisconsin at Legal Insurrection. A new poll from Marquette University, which is perhaps the most respected poll in the state, has Walker up 7 points. Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (pictured at right), has a lead in the polls over her unionist competitor, but her lead is "statistically insignificant." She is not as well-spoken as Walker, but she is good people ala Sarah Palin.

Walker doesn't sound like a man with the election in the bag. He is a man on a mission and warns his supporters not to "spike the football on the 10 yard line!"

So, please, donate to Walker and Kleefisch and, if you're a Wisconsinite, VOTE !!!!!!!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Peace..."Sometimes A Messy Process"

Maximum Leader Obama announced Monday that the war in Afghanistan will end on time in 2014:
I don't think there's ever going to be an optimal point where we say, "This is all done. This is perfect. This is just the way we wanted it. This is a process, and it's sometimes a messy process."

Operation Enduring Freedom -- the patriotic euphemism for the war in Afghanistan -- began on October 7, 2001. Maximum Decider George W. Bush started the war by announcing it to Congress on September 20, 2001. He said young Americans would begin to fight and die halfway around the world in order to achieve certain, clear-cut goals, including...
"the destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within Afghanistan, the capture of al-Qaeda leaders, and the cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan."[11][12][13]

Did you feel good about that? I'm ashamed to say I did. The Twin Towers had just been brought down by suicide bombers apparently trained and based in Afghanistan. Nearly 3,000 Americans were murdered as a result of the attack on September 11, 2001. I wanted the bastards who did this terrible atrocity to die! And I dare say all but a small fraction of Americans wanted the same thing.

Now, over ten years later, over 3,000 coalition combatants (almost 1,900 Americans) have given their lives to accomplish the goals Bush spelled out. Have these goals been accomplished? Judge for yourself. You've been reading the same headlines and seeing the same pictures broadcast from that war-torn country as I have. My educated guess is No, No and No.

In my humble opinion the war in Afghanistan has been like a film noir version of Groundhog Day. US troops spend days and years dying for their country, destroying "terrorists," bombing infrastructure, rebuilding infrastructure, capturing enemy Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, imprisoning them in Guantanamo, releasing them from Guantanamo, accidentally dropping a mortar round on a friendly wedding party, apologizing to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, paying reparations to what's left of the wedding party, investigating Karzai for corruption...and then doing it all over again the next day and years! We've been doing this for over ten years!

Meanwhile our brave guys are still being blown up in Afghanistan by roadside bombs rigged by Taliban terrorists.

And there has recently been some debate about whether or not the Taliban are the enemy. Vice President Biden recently announced that they weren't. Karzai agreed with him.

Moreover, it's common knowledge that our guys are fighting the enemy (which may or may not be the Taliban) with their hands tied behind them. How many times have you read this headline: "Under Obama, Rules of Engagement in Afghan War Are Extreme Political Correctness Which Slow Down US Troops?"
Under the Obama Administration, the rules of engagement in the Afghan War are extreme political correctness, and this has brought well-earned criticism of the military's prosecution of the Afghan War from a very decorated source, Major General Robert Scales. Imagine if you're a Marine in Afghanistan, charged with fighting terrorists, yet you can't shoot at Taliban terrorists unless you see them actually holding weapons in their hands! If the Taliban terrorists only temporarily put their arms down, Marines are forbidden from shooting at them! Imagine that you also can't treat the captured terrorists "roughly"-as in using "harsh" language against them that may hurt their little, wittle, terrorist feelings-and that you must release your terrorist foe after 96 hours if you don't hand them over to the Afghan police. Think this is a bad dream, a cruel joke or simply a liberal's wildest fantasy come true? Think again, for this is actual war policy going on in Afghanistan right now under Obama.
And remember, the Taliban mentioned above may not be the enemy.

And this guy Karzai. What a piece of work! Every other day there's a news flash about this guy being corrupt, his brother being corrupt, him being offended by US troops, by US policy, by US politicians. The other day he banned a Congressman from visiting "his" country until the Congressman apologized for disrespecting him.

Hell, two years ago this moron threatened to join the Taliban unless he got what he wanted from the US. Of course, this might be understandable if, indeed, the Taliban is not the enemy.

I couldn't make this stuff up. Pretty funny, huh?

Yeah, if it wasn't for this:
NATO leaders signed off Monday on President Barack Obama's exit strategy from Afghanistan that calls for an end to combat operations next year and the withdrawal of the U.S.-led international military force by the end of 2014. [!!!!!!!!!!!!]

And this:

And this:
Remember the faces of the fallen this weekend.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Property, If You Can Keep It

Inscribed at the top of this page are the keys to a prosperous and satisfying society of cooperating individuals: Property, Freedom, Peace. But, to paraphrase the Bible, the greatest of these is Property.

Freedom and peace are effete, obscure and puny concepts absent the notion of property. In Human Action, Ludwig von Mises writes:
"There is no kind of freedom and liberty other than the kind which the market economy brings about. In a totalitarian hegemonic society the only freedom that is left to the individual, because it cannot be denied to him, is the freedom to commit suicide."
Of course, Mises understood that the essence of the "market economy" is property, i.e., the things which an individual rightfully and properly owns and controls. Property is not a natural right or a gift from God. Property is a consequence of human cooperative action in society, a derivative of mutual action's prime directive: Thou shalt not steal.

The concept of "theft" -- and its implied corollary, "property" -- does not occur to individuals acting alone in a jungle. All that a solitary man sees and discovers in the jungle is available to him for the taking, available for use as means to attain his chosen ends. He need not concern himself with the claims of others.

The concepts of theft and property can only occur to a human individual after he discovers another human individual like himself exists, and then only after both individuals conceive of the possibility of mutual, cooperative action.

Cooperative action is impossible without a mutual agreement to proscribe theft as taboo behavior. Individuals cooperate in order to attain goals they cannot satisfactorily attain by means of acting alone. But what is the point of cooperative action if the fruit of cooperative action remains uneaten? No rational individual cooperates knowing the purpose of his cooperative action cannot be attained. Therefore, when rational human beings cooperate, they agree, as a condition of their cooperative action, that they will not steal from one another the fruits of their cooperative effort. Thus, the ideas of ownership and private property are inferred and respected by all.

Cooperative action, properly understood, is necessarily mutual and voluntary. When human beings are forced by a strongman to work together, they do not work to attain their own ends. If they did, force and coercion would not be necessary. People forced to work together by a strongman work to attain the ends desired by the strongman. In such a circumstance, cooperative action does not exist except as a sideshow in which the oppressed cooperate with the strongman in vain and pathetic attempts to survive. In such a society, property does not exist for the coerced individuals. All property is owned and controlled by the strongman. As Mises points out, in such a society the only freedom that exists is the freedom to commit suicide, and even that petty liberty may require a struggle to win.

In Liberalism Mises wrote:
"Private property creates for the individual a sphere in which he is free of the state. It sets limits to the operation of the authoritarian will. It allows other forces to arise side by side with and in opposition to political power. It thus becomes the basis of all those activities that are free from violent interference on the part of the state. It is the soil in which the seeds of freedom are nurtured and in which the autonomy of the individual and ultimately all intellectual and material progress are rooted."
The United States of America was founded upon the principle of private property for all individuals. Prior to its founding the "sphere" of freedom surrounding ordinary individuals like you and me was tiny indeed. The King and his aristocratic favorites, including the Church, owned and controlled virtually all property. Common people only owned and controlled the rags on their back and what meager living quarters, animals and grain the nobility allowed them to have. And when the King demanded more property with which to pursue his ends, such as power, glory and a foreign conquest, he claimed as his own property even the meager holdings of the rabble.

The American Revolution changed all that. Americans, as part of their fundamental and mutual social compact, recognized the right of each individual to mutually and voluntarily cooperate with other individuals. Americans recognized that individual's right to own and control the product of their cooperative action no matter how voluminous or extensive that product may be. Americans recognized that a firm and unlimited right to property was an individual's only defense against state tyranny. Our founders greatest mistake was to assume this truth rather than spell it out in the founding documents of our society, our famed democratic republic.

The history of America since its founding has been a slow and steady whittling away of the individual's right to own and control property. And, as strongmen in the federal government whittled away this right, individual Americans became slowly and steadily less free.

Oh, we Americans make a show of our vaunted freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, our freedom of passage and all the rest. But of what significance are these freedoms if we cannot own and control property?

Our parasitic overlords in Washington, in state capitals and in county seats throughout this nation have levied confiscatory taxes on our land, our wages, our businesses, our profits, our investments, our homes, our purchases, even our drinks and our entertainment. Taxes levied on individuals in this country have risen from virtually zero at the time of this nation's founding to an aggregate confiscatory rate now of 50-60% on everything we produce as the result of our cooperative efforts.

And what property we have, that the parasitic state cannot tax away or has not yet taxed away, the parasitic state rules and regulates with every manner of legal restriction imaginable. Our food, our clothes, our shelter, our automobiles, our work things, our play things -- everything we produce and own for our own satisfaction is subject to some bureaucrat's watchful eye and sharp tongue, a tongue that is quick to command us, to order us, to tell us what we must do or what we must not do with what we (supposedly) own.

The truth is we do not own and control property anymore. We lease it from the state and, as a result, we are minions of the state and the politicians and bureaucrats who run the state. These parasites seize our property and redistribute it to their friends and sycophants, their followers, hangers on and court jesters. They are at the same time worse and more better off than King George of centuries ago. And we are no better off than the King's rabble.

Ladies and gentlemen, we Americans, we ordinary and common individual citizens, no longer have property and, as a result, we are no longer free. We are forced to lick the boots of our masters and grovel before them. But we do have the freedom to gripe about our plight, don't we? We do have the freedom to vote for the parasites who suck the lifeblood of property from our lives, don't we? We do have the freedom to pray to God in our own way and to petition Him to stop the plundering parasites, don't we? We have the freedom to marry who and whatever we want, to fornicate with whom and with whatever we want, and act and say whatever vile things we want in public, don't we?

Yes, we have truly become a mighty and free people. The Founders of this nation would be truly proud!

In 2008 we Americans elected a President and a Congress bent on destroying the very idea of private property in this country. Our Maximum Leader brags about it. He says we'd all be better off if we let him spread our wealth around.

Oh the next day he will deny it. He and his representatives will spin the proper tune. They will say they are staunch defenders of property for all, even the poorest among us, but their actions soon betray their words. The very means they use to defend their principle of fairness -- a fair amount of property for all -- eviscerates the meaning and spirit of the idea of property.

In their foreign adventures our parasitic commanders preach that they must destroy a village in order to save it, so in our own nation our President and his lackeys preach that they must destroy property in order to save it and make it flourish. What absolute bunk!

These parasites worship the principle of robbing Peter to pay Paul! They tell us with a straight face that putting such a principle into practice will preserve property rights for all and rededicate our people to the noble principles upon which our country was founded. What a crock!

Do you believe it?

Do you believe that giving up your right to own and control the means of production will make you freer? Happier? More prosperous?

Do you believe that concentrating ownership and control of all your property, either by rule or by title, in the hands of a small elite thousands of miles away will make you more satisfied with your miserable lot?

Maybe it will if you have no property to start with. Maybe robbing Peter to pay Paul makes sense to you if your name is Paul. Maybe robbing the rich to give to the poor satisfies you so long as the parasites in Washington consider you poor and your neighbor rich.

Can't you see by now that in order for we individual Americans to be content and satisfied we must voluntarily and mutually cooperate with each other? Can't you understand that in order to cooperate we must own and control property? Can't you agree that in order to mutually and voluntarily cooperate, we must outlaw theft rather than attempt to prosper by means of it?

A society cannot long survive being ruled by an elite faction of erudite strongmen and ruthless thieves.

What chance do we have if all of us embrace thuggery and become thieves ourselves?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Civil War In Wisconsin?

In my last post I described the vicious political battle now being fought in Wisconsin over the recall election of Gov. Scott Walker. Unfortunately, this political battle has spawned internecine warfare reminiscent of the Civil War which pitted brother against brother.

As you may recall, a night or so ago my sister put a bumper sticker on her car advocating Scott Walker's reelection. The next morning she awoke to find a nail driven into her tire. Well, word of my sister's plight reached my brother, who also lives in Wisconsin. He's a retired public school teacher, a former member of the largest public teacher's union in the state and an unabashed opponent of Scott Walker. He quickly fired off an email to my sister and it was game on!

My brother's first salvo was a suggestion that the nail in my sister's tire was a false flag attack by Walker's own supporters. Apparently, that sort of thing is going on in the state as each side seeks to discredit the other in the eyes of Wisconsin's undecided voters.

Frankly, I think my brother's suggestion is a bit farfetched. While false flag attacks are possible, it's obvious they are not the norm. It's highly improbable a Walker supporter vandalized my sister's tire. Heck, if you want to believe otherwise, then you might as well believe that my sister drove a nail into her own tire. My brother's second salvo is the one I want to comment on and analyze.

You see, in her initial email to family my sister charged that Wisconsin taxpayers funded public school teachers' pensions. Well, that was like waving a red flag in front of my brother. He would have none of it. He contended that the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS) -- the state's public employee pension system -- is funded 100% by the employees themselves, He said the WRS receives not a single dime from Wisconsin taxpayers.

I found this contention a bit shocking. My brother is no dummy. He's an expert stock investor and is normally a clear thinker. He understands economics. Yet, I felt his argument flew into the face of everything I know about the WRS, not to mention my instincts about such state-run pension plans.So I did some research.

I started with an article my brother encouraged my sister to read: The Wisconsin Lie Exposed - Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee. Forbes published the article in February of 2011. Sure enough, the author of the article, Rick Ungar, says employees fund the WRS 100%:
If the Wisconsin governor and state legislature were to be honest, they would correctly frame this issue. They are not, in fact, asking state employees to make a larger contribution to their pension and benefits programs as that would not be possible- the employees are already paying 100% of the contributions.
Wow. Forbes! It's got to be true, right?

Not necessarily. Ungar's article is based on another article written by one David Cay Johnston, a real heavy hitter, Pulitzer Prize winner, ex-New York Times reporter and "one of the country's most important journalists." Well, I read Johnston's article, "Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who 'Contributes' to Public Workers' Pensions?" also published in February of 2011, at Tax.com, which may or may not be Johnston's website.

I found the tone of Johnston's article arrogant and condescending, but that's neither here nor there. The crux of Johnston's argument is summed up in the following paragraph from his article:
The fact is that all of the money going into these plans belongs to the workers because it is part of the compensation of the state workers. The fact is that the state workers negotiate their total compensation, which they then divvy up between cash wages, paid vacations, health insurance and, yes, pensions. Since the Wisconsin government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact. 
The problem is that this "indisputable fact" is also untrue. It turns out that the State of Wisconsin does not negotiate a "total compensation" package with state workers which the workers, then, "divvy up" after the fact as they see fit. In fact, the state and public employee unions negotiate a contract that is very specific about which dollars go where. In fact, Wisconsin state law mandates specifically how the WRS will be funded and how the funds will be divvied up.

In an article on JS Online, the website of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper, Patrick McIlheran, names the relevant state statutes and explains their consequences. He also links a report from the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau that describes WRS finances in detail. I followed the links and continued my research. What I found directly contradicts Pulitzer Prize Winner Johnston's analysis.

According to this report the WRS provides specific benefits to individual retirees. State law stipulates that these benefits must be paid for by employer and employee contributions, which the WRS invests. State statutes also stipulate that if these funds fall short for any reason (for example, if the WRS fund managers invest the funds badly), Wisconsin taxpayers must make up the difference. In essence, the WRS is a government-operated trust fund backstopped, as all public trust funds are, by the taxpayer.

The good news is that the WRS, unlike the federal Social Security Trust Fund, contains real assets that are relatively well-managed. So the probability the state will have to step in to rescue the WRS is slim. However, backstopping is by no means the full extent of taxpayer financial involvement in the WRS.

The truth is WRS leans heavily on the infrastructure of state government administrative services (like the Legislative Fiscal Bureau) which are, obviously, paid for by taxpayers. These in kind services allow the WRS to operate more cheaply than comparable investment services in the private economy.

Pulitzer Prize Winner Johnston claims the state-run WRS operates more cheaply because state investment managers pool resources of all WRS members and realize economies of scale:
The concept, at its most basic, is buying wholesale instead of retail. Wholesale is cheaper for the buyers. That is, it saves taxpayers money.
I think it's obvious that economies of scale are available to huge, private market investment houses as well as state-run agencies. Nevertheless, that last sentence about saving the taxpayers money is an irrelevant, statist afterthought since, if state employees managed their own retirement funds in the private market, taxpayers would have no liability or related expenses whatsoever. Which begs another interesting question...

If, as Johnston claims, "all of the money going into these plans [i.e., the Retirement System] belongs to the workers," could state workers take their funds out of the WRS and invest them elsewhere, i.e., in a private equity firm? The obvious answer is no. As I stated above, state law mandates the funds be invested in the WRS. Moreover, state employees would have to be crazy to move "their" money out of WRS because they know full well that the state not only backstops the WRS but also contributes 99% of the funds to the system!

How can I say this with confidence? Because I read the state statutes and studied the report, referenced above, from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Here's how it works.

Wisconsin state law mandates that employees must fund the WRS with contributions amounting to 5% of their wages. The statutes say that state taxpayers must then match that amount with a 5% contribution of their own. But if this is true, how can Pulitzer Prize Winner Johnston possibly claim the contributions to WRS come 100% from employees?

In a word, sophistry.

You see, Johnston is a big picture kind of guy, not one to be bogged down in the nitty gritty details of process. His reasoning is a strange endgame kind of fuzzy logic reminiscent of Keynes famous dictum that "in the long run we are all dead." Johnston conflates economics and accounting, values and bookkeeping. He's like a football commentator who believes that his post-game analysis has more to do with deciding winners and losers than the playing of the game.

Johnston admits the state of Wisconsin, as employer, contributes a matching amount of 5% to the WRS. But this is merely a technicality, according to Johnston. That 5% the state contributes is part of the "total compensation" package the employees have already negotiated for and won. Therefore, the funds all come out of the same pocket, so to speak -- the employees' pocket, not the taxpayers'.

But wait. The sophistry gets worse.

Some years ago public employee union negotiators persuaded the state to "pickup" the 5% that the employees are supposed to contribute to the WRS! This fact alone would seem to pretty much destroy Pulitzer Prize Winner Johnston's argument that the employees contribute all the funds to the System, don't you think? Not in Johnston's warped way of looking at things. Thankfully, reality is found in the governing state statutes, not in Johnston's specious logic.

The following are the "real" facts as stated by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau report:
Impact of Employer "Pickup" of Employee-Required Contributions. Table 28 shows who actually pays the employee-and employer required contribution amounts. The amount shown as paid by employees is the aggregate amount paid by all employee classifications. WRS employers have actually assumed the payment of virtually all employee-required contributions in addition to their employer-required contribution amounts.

Table 28 indicates that the percentage of employee and employer-paid contributions has remained quite stable in recent years and reflects the fact that WRS employers generally pickup the employee-required share of WRS contributions.
Table 28, (Page 48), by the way, shows that "employers," i.e., Wisconsin taxpayers, contribute over 99% of the funds held by the WRS.

The bottom line is that in the WRS even the employee's contribution to the pension system is contributed by Wisconsin taxpayers!

This is what Scott Walker has changed. This is why public labor unions and their members are up in arms. This is what my brother either doesn't understand or is willingly to overlook for his own benefit.

(Sorry, Bro, I have to call 'em like a see 'em.)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Union Goons Hit Close To Home

I have a lot of family in Wisconsin. My siblings and my elderly parents live there.

Yesterday, my sister emailed me to say she was very proud to put a Scott Walker bumper sticker on her car. My sister is a proud conservative and a very caring and empathetic individual. Every Sunday she visits my parents in their nursing home complex and attends religious services with them.

Today she emailed me to say she can't attend church with my parents. She only has one vehicle in the family, and last night somebody drove a nail into her tire.

The goon who did it doesn't know my sister. His act of vandalism only made her more determined to work and vote for Scott Walker's reelection.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"No Soup For You!"

Remember the "Soup Nazi" on Seinfeld? If you don't, here's a reminder:

Believe it or not, Soup Nazi's really exist. Of course you know about The Fuhrer of Soup Nazi's, Michelle Obama. Combating childhood obesity is her mission in life. In January of this year she issued her husband's new food rules for public school meals. Good idea, right?
Wrong! Remember Jazlyn Zambrano? She is the North Carolina four-year-old who was told by her public elementary school principal in February of this year to eat lunch at the school cafeteria because the brown-bag lunch her mother had packed for her "did not meet the necessary guidelines."

The parasites in Washington know better than mothers what their kids should be eating for lunch, right?

Wrong! It seems the Soup Nazi's in Washington get their marching orders from "experts" who hang out in an Oxford bunker in the UK. Meet Dr Oliver Mytton from the Department of Public Health, University of Oxford, UK and Dr. Corinna Hawkes from the Centre for Food Policy, City University, London, UK. This dynamic nerd duo recently published scientific articles in the British Medical Journal recommending that a "fat tax" of 20% be levied on "unhealthy food and drinks" in the US.

Dr. Mytton, who came up with the 20% tax rate, calls himself a pragmatist. He "said that governments actually might see food taxes as a way to generate revenue." (Gee, do ya think, Doc?) Dr. Hawkes seems the more dedicated Nazi. She said “there remains a long way to go for food policies to reach their full potential.”

Good God! Americans would never stand for such tyranny, right?

Wrong! According to the British Medical Journal article:
Opinion polls from the US also put support for tax on sugary drinks at between 37% and 72%, particularly when the health benefits of the tax are emphasized.
Gives new prospective to the phrase "a nation of sheeple," doesn't it?

Here's what one American from Indiana had to say about the proposed "fat tax:"
"I'd pay 20 percent. It's worth it,” one woman said. "I would eat a lot more healthy just to save more money.”
I'm guessing she thought long and hard about that one...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Report: Romney Headed For The "Big House"

As everyone interested in politics knows, Ed Klein has written a new blockbuster called: The Amateur. Whether Klein's book is fact or rumor, it has created a political stir by resurrecting the infamous relationship between Obama and Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., Maximum Leader's former Chicago pastor and mentor.

Apparently, Klein's book has Wright hinting that at the time of their meeting, Obama was steeped in Islam and knew little about Christianity. Wright says he taught Maximum enough Christianity to get buy. Klein also has Wright saying that Maximum Leader tried to buy Wright's silence in the 2008 campaign for $150,000.

This fresh new controversy has apparently spurred some Chicago billionaire and Romney supporter, named Joe Ricketts, to form a PAC to dish this new, fresh dirt on Wright and Obama. Unfortunately, Ricketts has now changed his mind and disavowed the PAC message.

What I find interesting about this entire affair is that, according to the Los Angeles Times, Ricketts changed his mind about the same time Mitt Romney condemned the PAC effort:
Mitt Romney said Thursday that he did not approve of a proposal for a racially-tinged ad campaign from an outside group that considered invoking controversial comments of President Obama’s former pastor, telling reporters he wanted to “make it very clear I repudiate that effort.”

“I think it’s the wrong course for a PAC or a campaign,”
This sure sounds like Mitt and his PAC are communicating in some "way, shape or form." I use these words because, according to a CNSnews.com report of December 20, 2011, Mitt used these exact same words in response to a question about a PAC ad from his supporters that trashed Newt Gingrich. According to the report:

Romney refused earlier Tuesday to disavow the group's ads, saying it would be illegal for him to coordinate with the super PAC. He did say that such groups are a "disaster" and have made a "mockery" of the presidential campaign.

"I'm not allowed to communicate with a super PAC in any way, shape or form," Romney said. "If we coordinate in any way whatsoever, we go to the big house."
So Romney refuses to disavow a PAC ad that trashes Newt on the grounds it may be collusion, but has no problem repudiating a PAC ad that trashes Obama. It sure looks to me like Romney's public repudiation of the ad against Obama is communication and coordination in some "way, shape or form." Ergo, I expect the FBI to be showing up at Romney's doorstep any time now to haul him off to the big house.

OOPS! Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe there wasn't any collusion. Maybe it's just crony capitalism as usual raising its ugly head. CHECK THIS NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE OUT. According to the Times, billionaire Joe Ricketts' plan to trash Obama didn't go over too well over at the Chicago City Hall. Why should that make a difference to Ricketts? Well, Rahm Emanuel, a rabid Obama supporter and former Obama chief-of-staff, is the current Mayor of Chicago AND, the Ricketts family owns the Chicago Cubs baseball club. This is significant because the family is currently seeking millions from the City of Chicago to renovate historic Wrigley Field:
A furor erupted in Chicago – Mr. Obama’s hometown – over the disclosure of the advertising plan. The Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, suddenly became entangled in city politics because the Cubs are pursuing city and state assistance for a $300 million renovation of Wrigley Field.
I guess politics as usual in the big city will save Romney from being shipped off to the big house.

Does anyone else out there feel like a chump, like all these parasitic political pukes are laughing at us poor, simple, taxpaying slobs?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Ron Paul "Debates" A Box Of Rocks (Moderated By Trish Regan)

Did you catch this one-on-one "Paul vs Paul" debate that aired on Bloomberg TV on April 30, 2012?

Popular wisdom has it that Ron Paul "owned" Paul Krugman in this "debate." To my mind neither "debater" did himself or the viewing public any favors.

Consider the following:
PAUL: ...Governments aren't supposed to run the economy. The people are supposed to run the economy.
Jesus, Ron, "run the economy?" Seriously. I thought you were familiar with the writings of Ludwig von Mises. In The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, Mises writes:
The worst enemy of clear thinking is the propensity to hypostatize, i.e., to ascribe substance or real existence to mental constructs or concepts.
The economy is not a thing. It is not some kind of machine, like an automobile, that requires an operator. The economy is a "mental construct." It's a euphemism for 300 million individuals in this country engaged in social cooperation, i.e., engaged in trade with one another. That kind of cooperation should kind of run itself, shouldn't it? Maybe that's what you meant, but you sure didn't articulate that meaning.

Here's how Mises articulates it in his most famous work, Human Action:
There are two different kinds of social cooperation: cooperation by virtue of contract and coordination, and cooperation by virtue of command and subordination or hegemony...Where and as far as cooperation is based on command and subordination, there is the man who commands and there are those who obey his orders...

...What differentiates the hegemonic bond from the contractual bond is the scope in which the choices of the individuals determine the course of events. As soon as a man has decided in favor of his subjection to a hegemonic system, he becomes, within the margin of this system's activities and for the time of his subjection, a pawn of the director's actions...

...In the frame of a contractual society the individual members exchange definite quantities of goods and services of a definite quality. In choosing subjection in a hegemonic body a man neither gives nor receives anything that is definite. He integrates himself into a system in which he has to render indefinite services and will receive what the director is willing to assign to him. He is at the mercy of the director. The director alone is free to choose. Whether the director is an individual or an organized group of individuals, a directorate, and whether the director is a selfish maniacal tyrant or a benevolent paternal despot is of no relevance for the structure of the whole system.

Ron, I know you can't say all that in a 20 minute TV "debate." The box of rocks you're debating wouldn't understand it anyway. But you could get the point across that individuals acting in an economy should rightfully be FREE TO CHOOSE, free to trade as they wish, on their own terms, not on terms set by a central authority, most especially not on terms set by political parasites in Washington, DC.

Krugman can't imagine 300 million individuals trading amongst themselves on their own terms without adult supervision by parasitic politicians:
KRUGMAN: You can’t leave the government out of monetary policy. If you think we’re going to let it set itself, it doesn’t happen. If you think you can avoid the government from setting monetary policy, you’re living in the world that was 150 years ago. We have an economy in which money is not just green pieces of paper with faces of dead presidents on them. Money is a part of the financial system that includes a variety of assets – we’re not quite sure where the line between money and non-money is. It’s a continuum.

Isn't it obvious Krugman is functioning barely one notch outside the realm of gibberish? Because today individuals are not free to choose, free to cooperate by contract, due to the hegemony of political parasites the world over, Krugman can't imagine ever returning to a time 150 years ago when individuals were largely free to cooperate by contract, i.e., to manage their own affairs free from parasitic intervention.   

Krugman is such a moron he admits he doesn't know exactly what money is, but at the same time he wants the central, political parasite -- the government -- to set "monetary policy!" The box of rocks doesn't believe individual traders, cooperating by contract, could originate and create money without the intervention of a parasitic authority.

Here's what Mises has to say about that in Human Action:
If it is assumed that the conditions of the parties concerned are improved by every step that leads from direct exchange to indirect exchange and subsequently to giving preference for use as a medium of exchange to certain goods distinguished by their especially high marketability, it is difficult to conceive why one should, in dealing with the origin of indirect exchange, resort in addition to authoritarian decree or an explicit compact between citizens. A man who finds it hard to obtain in direct barter what he wants to acquire renders better his chances of acquiring it in later acts of exchange by the procurement of a more marketable good. Under these circumstances there was no need of government interference or of a compact between the citizens. The happy idea of proceeding in this way could strike the shrewdest individuals, and the less resourceful could imitate the former's method. It is certainly more plausible to take for granted that the immediate advantages conferred by indirect exchange were recognized by the acting parties than to assume that the whole image of a society trading by means of money was conceived by a genius and, if we adopt the covenant doctrine, made obvious to the rest of the people by persuasion.
Krugman, let me state this in simpler terms you might be able to understand: Even prisoners can figure out on their own that cigarettes are money behind bars! They don't need a "genius" tyrant like you to explain it to them and force it upon them!

You want more Krugman drivel? Consider this Krugman explanation of the Great Depression:
KRUGMAN: The reality is it was a market economy run amok, which happens, happens repeatedly over the past couple of centuries. You do need...I'm actually a believer in the market economy, I’m a believer in capitalism. I want the market economy to be left as free as it can be, but there are limits. You do need the government to step in to stabilize. Depressions are a bad thing for capitalism and it's the role of the government to make sure they don't happen, or if they do happen, they don't last too long.
Where to begin?!?!?! How about I allow Mises to explain to Krugman just what this "market economy" is that Krugman believes in:
The market economy is the social system of the division of labor under private ownership of the means of production. Everybody acts on his own behalf...There is in the operation of the market no compulsion and coercion. The state, the social apparatus of coercion and compulsion, does not interfere with the market and with the citizens' activities directed by the market...The market is not a place, a thing, or a collective entity. The market is a process, actuated by the interplay of the actions of the various individuals cooperating under the division of labor. The forces determining the --continually changing--state of the market are the [p. 258] value judgments of these individuals and their actions as directed by these value judgments. The state of the market at any instant is the price structure, i.e., the totality of the exchange ratios as established by the interaction of those eager to buy and those eager to sell. There is nothing inhuman or mystical with regard to the market. The market process is entirely a resultant of human actions. Every market phenomenon can be traced back to definite choices of the members of the market society.
Krugman, trust me. You DON'T believe in a "market economy!" You covet a market run by "geniuses" like yourself who know how to "stabilize" it, to keep it from running "amok" and to "make sure" depressions and recessions "don't last too long."

Good grief! Has this idiot been asleep the last six years, or, for that matter, the last hundred?!?!?

Lastly, consider this absurdity:
KRUGMAN: You really think that people – that’s not what I, that’s not my understanding of the law - but do you really think people use dollar bills only because the federal government isn't allowing them to use other stuff?
Well, yeah...! Duh!! Trying paying your federal income taxes with "other stuff" and see where it gets you. Why not empty your head and try paying your taxes with a box of rocks, you numbskull!

I can't go on!... Writing this post is too brutal, too painful. It's like...it's like talking to a box of rocks. And lest Krugman accuse me of favoritism, I will end with a quotation from Ludwig von Mises in Human Action that is absolutely naive, incorrect and absurd:
For two hundred years the governments have interfered with the market’s choice of the money medium. Even the most bigoted étatists do not venture to assert that this interference has proved beneficial.
Sorry, Ludwig. Even you could not foresee an idiot etatist as bigoted as Paul Krugman. I know...I know. They gave him your Nobel Prize! Well, they're idiots too.

Now for the best thing about the "Paul vs Paul" debate: Trish Regan!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Let's Face It: George Clooney Is Just Dim; YOU And I Are The Absolute Morons

This is George Clooney.

George Clooney is a popular, Hollywood actor, producer and writer. His net worth is reported to be $160-million.

Good for George. I respect an individual's success in the free market.

George Clooney is also a social activist. He advocates for gay rights. He wants "to stop and prevent mass atrocities" throughout the world, most especially in the Sudan and in Darfur.

Good for George. It's a free country. I'm against mass atrocities too.

George Clooney is also a political activist. He is wildly progressive and liberal. He supported Barack Obama in 2008 and is working to reelect Barack Obama in 2012. Both in 2008 and in 2012 he donated the maximum amounts allowed by the law to Obama's campaigns. He has also donated in-kind services to Obama, such as the use of his house. He is regularly pictured in the news media in conference with President Obama. Apparently, his donations have captured the President's ear. Just the other day he raised $15-million for Obama's campaign through one PAC or another. He's probably raised two or three times that amount for Obama and leftist PAC's in the last six years.

Bad for George. This is how we know he is "dim." But it's still a free country, even for dim bulbs.

These are Republicans, sitting in convention in 2008. They oppose Obama's politics, his social and economic policies and virtually everything he stands for and has done as President. They want with all their hearts to defeat Obama in 2012. They raise and donate millions to defeat the President.

Everyday I read political blogs written by committed conservatives who despise progressive/liberal/leftist social and economic policies. I am also such a blogger. My fellow bloggers and I would give our eye teeth to defeat Obama in 2012. Many of us also donate our hard-earned cash to that effort.

Last year George Clooney produced, directed, wrote and starred in a film called: The Ides of March. Ironically, in the film Clooney plays a naive political idealist who is disillusioned when the Presidential candidate he's working for turns out to be a pompous, lying, hypocritical, backstabbing, demagogic, political whore. The film grossed about $41-million dollars (USA) for Clooney and friends. Also last year Clooney starred in a film called: The Descendents. That film grossed about $83-million (USA). 

$124-million for two films. Not bad. I saw both films. They were very bad. Tickets for my wife and I cost me about $40. I figure in the last 10 years I've spent maybe $300-$400 bucks on films George Clooney had a hand in making. My wife's probably spent two or three times that much!

Clooney is a popular Hollywood figure. I assume many, many of my Republican and conservative friends and bloggers have contributed similar amounts to Clooney's Hollywood empire over the years. Be honest, folks. Republicans and conservatives go to movies too!

What are we thinking? By day we rail against Obama's reelection with heartfelt and intelligent rants. By night we stupidly give our hard-earned cash to George Clooney, so he can, in turn, give it to Obama's reelection campaign!

Folks, this is YOU and ME...

 Ludwig von Mises, Economic Policy, p. 9–10:
It is not the Hollywood film corporation that pays the wages of a movie star; it is the people who pay admission to the movies. And it is not the entrepreneurs of a boxing match who pay the enormous demands of the prize fighters; it is the people who pay admission to the fight.

So Journalism Has Come To This?!?!?!

So Mitt Romney was a prankster in high school... Well, we certainly can't have a President like that!!

My God, at times I'm embarrassed to call myself an American.

James T. Callender and William Randolph Hearst would be proud.

H. L. Mencken is once again spinning in his grave. Hell, even Walter Cronkite has probably taken a turn or two.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ludwig von Mises Tells Cher To Suck Wind

Yesterday, Cher wrote this:
If ROMNEY gets elected I don't know if i can breathe same air as Him & his Right Wing Racist Homophobic Women Hating Tea Bagger Masters

And this:
TOO HARSH ? Thats me Holding BACK! They care nothing about the POOR The OLD The SICK
The HUNGRY CHILDREN & People striving 4 a Better LIFE !—

Today, she wrote this:
Sorry 4 bringing Wrath of Kahn Lovelies!Feelings r 1 thing but no right 2 let mean spirit run free! Anger in heart made me turn back on Luv

And this:
Oh babe where ya been? Went Full Rush! Was on Cher Tear ! RT @DoctorSwill @cher Oh no...what has your mouth done now? :)~

Fifty-six years ago, Ludwig von Mises wrote this:
The many to whom capitalism gave a comfortable income and leisure are yearning for entertainment. Crowds throng to the theatres. There is money in show business. Popular actors and playwrights...live in palatial houses with butlers and swimming pools. ...Yet Hollywood and Broadway, the world-famous centers of the entertain­ment industry, are hotbeds of communism. Authors and performers are to be found among the most bigoted supporters of Sovietism...

...Under capitalism, material success depends on the apprecia­tion of a man’s achievements on the part of the sovereign con­sumers. In this regard there is no difference between the services rendered by a manufacturer and those rendered by a producer, an actor or a playwright. Yet the awareness of this dependence makes those in show business much more uneasy than those supplying the customers with tangible amenities...

...People long for amusement because they are bored. And nothing makes them so weary as amusements with which they are already familiar. The essence of the entertainment industry is variety. The patrons applaud most what is new and therefore unexpected and surpris­ing. They are capricious and unaccountable. They disdain what they cherished yesterday. A tycoon of the stage or the screen must always fear the waywardness of the public. He awakes rich and famous one morning and may be forgotten the next day. He knows very well that he depends entirely on the whims and fan­cies of a crowd hankering after merriment. He is always agitated by anxiety. Like the master-builder in Ibsen’s play, he fears the unknown newcomers, the vigorous youths who will supplant him in the favor of the public.

It is obvious that there is no relief from what makes these stage people uneasy...Communism, some of them think, will bring their deliverance. Is it not a sys­tem that makes all people happy?...

...It may be fairly assumed that none of the Hollywood and Broadway communists has ever studied the writings of any so­cialist author and still less any serious analysis of the market economy. But it is this very fact that, to these glamour girls, dancers and singers, to these authors and producers of comedies, moving pictures and songs, gives the strange illusion that their particular grievances will disappear as soon as the “expropriators” will be expropriated...

...But it is noteworthy to remember that no other American milieu was more enthusiastic in the endorsement of communism than that of people cooperat­ing in the production of these silly plays and films.
I appreciate Ludwig von Mises' cogent analysis of the "glamour girl" mindset. Yet, I tend to believe there is another, simpler explanation of why rich celebrities endorse socialism and yearn for the federal parasites in Washington to raise taxes on the wealthy and redistribute the seized spoils to the "Poor" and the "Old" and the "Sick" and to the "Hungry children." That explanation is GUILT and ENVY.

Many of these babied, wealthy, Hollywood "has beens" look back on their life and wonder "Why me?" Why am I so fortunate, so privileged, so rich? Yes, I've worked hard, but I truly enjoyed every second. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Wealth and celebrity came easy to me. Wealth and celebrity are a matter of luck.

Yes! That's it! I was simply lucky! Other poor slobs are not so lucky. Therefore, the lucky must contribute a portion of their wealth to the unlucky! It's just common sense!!

Of course, I could voluntarily contribute to the unlucky common people through private charities -- and I do. But that's just me! What about other lucky bastards like me who are even more rich than me but who are ignorant or selfish? These lucky, ignorant and selfish rich individuals must be forced by the central authorities in Washington to contribute a portion of their wealth to the unlucky too! It is only fair!

Besides, I'm not saying that we rich, lucky bastards have to give everything we have to the unlucky masses. If we all gave a little, we could still enjoy the lifestyle we've earned by all of our hard work and the unlucky ones would benefit.

The rich, lucky Republican bastards, like those selfish, evil Koch brothers are the worst. I hate them!! They are the richest of the rich, the luckiest of the lucky! Yet they show no compassion, no heart whatsoever! Anyway, why should the Koch brothers be allowed to be richer than me? Did they work harder than me for what they have? Are they better persons? Do they have a bigger heart? Are they more loving?


So make them pay!!!!

What this poor, pathetic, conflicted soul does not understand, and what Mises points out, is that the production of wealth is not independent of the means by which it is distributed. Her simple-minded advocacy of socialism may soothe her feelings of guilt and envy, but it inevitably makes us all poorer by destroying the very thing that allowed Cher to produce her wealth in the first place: private property and the freedom to pursue it and accumulate it for herself.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Genesis: The Story Of Job Creation

IN THE BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth and made himself Maximum Leader of both, and called Himself "Obama."

When Obama began creating the heavens and the earth, America was a shapeless, chaotic mess, with the evil Spirit of Bush brooding over the darkness.

Then Obama said: "Let there be light." And Solyndra appeared. And Obama was pleased with it, and divided Americans into Greens and Skeptics. He made the Greens "winners," and the Skeptics "losers." Together with the Greens, Obama forged the first day of fundamental change.

And on the second day, Obama rested.

Then Obama said: "Let the dark vapors of America separate to form "rich" and "poor." And let the poor be above and the rich below. And let there be class warfare between the two. This all happened on the third day.

And on the fourth day, Obama rested.

Then Obama said: "Let the safety net beneath the poor be expanded by $-Trillions so that unprecedented deficits will emerge." And so it was. And Obama named the $-Trillions "stimulus," and the safety net "student loans" and "food stamps" and "unemployment compensation" and "American Opportunity Tax Credit" and "Race to the Top" and "Pell
Grants" and "The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act."  And Obama was pleased. And he said, "Let the stimulus burst forth and produce every variety of lobbyist bearing seed money for My re-election, and let this seed money produce handsome fund raisers in my image like George Clooney." And Obama called the fund raisers "bundlers." And so it was, and Obama was pleased. This all happened the morning of the fifth day.

That afternoon Obama rested again.

Then Obama said: "Let the too-big-to-fail bankers rise from the slime of the earth and join the poor in the heavens." He ordered the US Treasury to rain money upon them. Obama said: "Let them now make loans to small businesses and write mortgages to individuals in need." But the loathsome bankers tossed meaty bonuses to themselves and told Obama to pound sand. Obama was not pleased. So He smote the bankers, seized General Motors, fired its CEO and gave the car company to Richard Trumka who built the Chevy Volt, the most expensive Fire Hazard in the short history of creation.

And Mrs. Obama rested.

Then Obama gazed upon 20-million illegal aliens and called them "undocumented immigrants." And so these migrants could vote for Him, He called voter ID laws "racism." And so these new constituents could be fruitful and multiply, He performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes and created a cap on their health insurance costs but no cap on their medical benefits. He called this miracle "ObamaCare" after himself. And then He created money out of nothing and called it "debt," and piled this debt in mountains up to the sky. And then Obama created patsies to pay off that debt and called these patsies "children."

And Mrs. Obama was pleased, so she rested again.

But He was not yet finished. Obama said: "Let there be a Surge in Afghanistan!" And the Taliban quaked in fear. Then He created radar and worked under it to nullify the 2nd Amendment, sending thousands of machine guns to Mexico. This pleased Obama...until Solyndra went bankrupt and "Fast and Furious" made the New York Times. Obama was unhappy.

So he rested again.

Then Obama said: "Let the earth bring forth every kind of animal." And Navy Seals appeared. And Obama used them to smote Bin Laden dead in a gutsy move. And Obama was pleased again and, feeling his oats, He promised Putin better things to come. He basked in the warmth of the Arab Spring and created the Buffett Rule. And Obama was pleased with what he had done.

So Obama rested again.

And finally Obama said: "Let there be men and women made in the image and likeness of their Maker." He called the first man "Trayvon" and the first woman "Julia." And then He said: "Let there be hope and change in My new world, and an end to white racism." And he called this new way of thinking and acting "fairness."

And to celebrate this new world of fairness, Obama rested again.

But the new men and women He had created in his image quickly grew restless. They Occupied Wall Street, set fire to businesses and broke bank windows.

So Obama gathered his thoughts as he rested once more.

Then, at the eleventh hour on the seventh day, in order to occupy the Occupiers and to help himself get re-elected, Obama fiddled with Labor Department statistics and created...JOBS!

[Apologies to the Author of The Book and to those who took the photos that I found in Google Images.]