Saturday, December 31

Donald J. Boudreaux has many good questions

Questions for liberals and conservatives both, starting with:
Why are the pundits and politicians who most fear the motives and the power of private corporations typically also the most strident advocates of higher tariffs to protect these corporations from competition?

Read more: And the answer is? - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Sunday, December 25

Can I get both?

Come With Me to Taco Bell

Girl #1, dramatic: Would you rather be burned alive, or forced to eat human excrement?
Girl #2: Can I get both?


via Overheard in New York, Dec 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22

Bruce Schneier

On T.S.A. security theater:
“We’re spending billions upon billions of dollars doing this—and it is almost entirely pointless. Not only is it not done right, but even if it was done right it would be the wrong thing to do.”

Wednesday, December 21

Nobel peace prize winner Obama keeps on killing

The Obama administration has carried out hundreds of CIA drone strikes, resulting in an estimated 1,350 to 2,250 deaths in Pakistan alone.
Because the names of the dead and the threat they were believed to pose are secret, it is impossible for anyone without access to U.S. intelligence to assess whether the deaths were justified.
That's not nearly as many as Bush is responsible for, but still....

Saturday, December 17

He is Full of Nice yellow Custard


The Caterpillar is Crawling along the Fence. He has Pretty Fur all over his Back, and he Walks by Wrinkling up his Skin. He is Full of Nice yellow Custard. Perhaps you had better take him into the house, where it is warm, and Mash him on the Wall Paper with Sister Lulu's Album. Then the Wall Paper will Look as if a Red Headed Girl had been leaning Against it.
--Eugene Field

Monday, December 12

Unravel the elite faux-consensus in favor of bailout economics

Matt Welch suggests that one
....measure government intervention against the claims made while selling it, marshal as much historical data as one can find, and try to fact-check policy discussion as it happens. This is where the elite faux-consensus in favor of bailout economics begins to unravel.
He notes,
Not a day goes by when George W. Bush’s deregulation is not blamed for the financial crisis, and yet he hired 90,000 net new regulators, passed the largest Wall Street reform since the Depression, and increased fiscally significant regulations by more than any president since Richard Nixon. We are told by New York Times columnist Paul Krugman and his friends in The Nation that the country is being ruled by a ruthless “austerity class,” yet federal spending has continued to increase even after the summer’s debt-ceiling agreement. The Occupy Wall Street movement and the (mostly Democratic) politicians who support it have shifted the national conversation to the “fact” that the middle class is worse off than it was three decades ago, yet as University of Chicago economist Bruce Meyer and Notre Dame economist James Sullivan found in a recent paper, “median income and consumption both rose by more than 50 percent in real terms between 1980 and 2009.”

Sunday, December 11

With regard to The China Premium

Years ago, (before China's "reform and opening"), Johnnie Walker Black Label (more expensive than red label) was a standard gift in Taiwan. I heard that Johnnie Walker decided to lower the price to gain market share. Big mistake: sales plummeted. (Now they've got Blue Label as their premium brand.) Years later, XO cognac became the standard, and you still see it for sale in Chinatown supermarkets outside China. Funny thing, though--even though it comes from France, I've never seen it in liquor shops there. And I heard that in Hong Kong the Chinese would drink their XO with Coke. Nowadays, according to the Chinese soaps I watch, drinking grape wine out of the "proper" glass is the "in" thing, although characters are often portrayed as gulping it instead of sipping.

But we're not entire immune to this sort of nonsense. In "Predictably Irrational", Dan Ariely argues that fancy glasses makes wine taste better. At least in the sixties and seventies in France, adults drank their wine out of Duralex Gigogne & Picardie glasses--inexpensive tempered glass that was also the standard in school cafeterias.

Friday, December 2

Americans prefer freedom to equality

A majority of Americans oppose interference from the state
Nearly six-in-ten (58%) Americans believe that it is more important for people to be free to pursue their goals without interference from the state; just 35% say it is more important for the state to play an active role in society so as to guarantee that nobody is in need.

In contrast, at least six-in-ten people in Spain (67%), France (64%), Germany (62%) and 55% in Britain say it is more important for the state to ensure that nobody is in need; about four-in-ten or fewer consider being free from state interference a higher priority.
And yet they keep voting for Democrats and Republicans.