Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pot shocked by darkness of kettle

Picked this up from Rational Capitalist.

It is incredibly shocking that the agency charged with oversight of the Federal Reserve has no clue how it's spending the one trillion dollars it just added to its balance sheet. On the other hand, there's a bit of Pot v. Kettle about Congress chiding the Fed for spending money with reckless abandon. They wrote the president a blank check with the TARP funds, and have abdicated any responsibility for how that money is being spent. Who is going to investigate them for that, and when?

"Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa"

The Wall Street Journal reports that, in an interview with Charlie Rose, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has acknowledged the responsibility of the Federal Reserve for the economic crisis.
Mr. Geithner: "But I would say there were three types of broad errors of policy
and policy both here and around the world. One was that monetary policy around
the world was too loose too long. And that created this just huge boom in asset
prices, money chasing risk. People trying to get a higher return. That was just
overwhelmingly powerful."

Geithner goes on to try to push responsibility back onto bankers for taking undue risks, but bankers were acting on the signals put out by the government. The government was holding interest rates low, encouraging (and even coercing) banks to make risky housing loans, and guaranteeing mortgage investments, all of which served to inflate the price of new housing on what looked like a perpetually increasing curve. What were the risks that the banks should have seen? That statism doesn't work? That government-created bubbles always end in government-created busts? If that is the risk that Wall Street should have recognized, then let Washington recognize it now and get their hands off the economy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Divine Right of Kings vs Vox Populi, Vox Dei

Diane Hsieh at Noodle Food links to this news report regarding a woman who called 911 when her father began having a seizure and ended up in a pissing contest with the policeman handling the call over her use of the 'f' word.

The policeman is obviously a jerk. He priggishly scolded the woman for her initial expletive, even though it was not addressed to him and she had no way of knowing that he would be able to hear it. On the other hand, the woman continued using the expletive even though it was very obviously getting her nowhere with the guy, and meanwhile her father is in a seizure on the floor.

These people strike me as two petty tyrants trying to force their will on each other. The cop, in his position as a public official with the power of life and death over the people who come to him for assistance, has dug in his heels and is going to insist on protocol being followed, regardless of the consequences to the people he is supposed to serve. The woman, as a member of The Public, is insisting on her right to be served patiently and calmly by a public official regardless of how she talks to him, and she is apparently willing to let her father lie on the floor dying while she fights for her right to use the 'f' word.

It's "I'm the government, you have to do what I say" vs "I'm the public, you f-ing owe me."

It's also a symptom of the mixed economy. The entitlements of the welfare state empower government bureaucrats, while privileging certain sections of the population. It's inevitable that the two groups will come into conflict, and this is just one example of something that I'm sure happens every day.

As we move further into the realm of socialism, though, it's the government that will win this contest. When the takeover of the private realm is complete, the priveleged class will find itself enfettered. They will find that "shared sacrifice" includes them too, and whatever scraps they get from the government will come at the expense of being told when to stand, when to sit, and when to shut the hell up.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Yaron Brook on PJTV

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute is now a regular on PJTV, and will be appearing on Fridays. The show is hosted by Allen Barton, and he is joined by Terry Jones of Investors Business Daily. Yesterday's show concerned Obama's first 100 days in office, the new credit card regulations, and a proposed federalism amendment. Watching these three men intelligently discuss the issues of the day is a real treat. Be sure to check it out.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Objectivist Round Up

This week's edition of the Objectivist Round Up is being hosted by Rational Jenn. Lots of good posts listed. Be sure to check it out.

A special nod to Paul McKeever who nicely refutes a rather bone-headed comparison of Ayn Rand and Thrasymachus.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Exploit the Earth Day!!

Last year on my blog I promoted a new celebration called Exploit the Earth Day. It is a day set aside to celebrate all the myriad ways in which man exploits the Earth in order to live. I was looking for ways to mark the occasion, special things one might do to show one's joy in the exploitation of the Earth. Since then, I've realized that Exploit the Earth Day shouldn't be about a once-a-year celebration. We have to let it become a way of life. That is what I've done. And since last year's exploitation of the Earth was so successful, I've decided to do it again this year. I want to recommend to everyone that rather than just setting aside a single day out of the year to pay lip-service to the exploitation of the Earth, let us resolve to make it our complete 24/7 "no-alternative" lifestyle. Here are a few of the things I personally intend to do:

  • Convert oxygen into carbon dioxide via my respiratory system.
  • Break down biomass materials into solid waste and methane gas via my digestive tract.
  • Burn fossil fuels in my automobile for transportation, converting them into greenhouse gasses in an effort to stave off the next ice age.
  • Purchase food produced by large agri-businesses that exploit Mother Earth in the most direct way possible--not to mention the fossil fuel they burn in planting, harvesting, and shipping their products to market.
  • Purchase books and other paper products, which will require the mass slaughter of innocent trees, and the burning of fossil fuels to process them into paper and ship them to my door. (For extra style points, I'll have UPS occasionally deliver a single, over-packaged book to my house out in the country.)
  • Purchase a wide variety of other products, which require the burning of fossil fuels in their manufacture and shipping.
  • Use the various appliances in my home to wash and dry my clothes, wash dishes, cook food, heat water, cool and heat my house, circulate the air, watch movies, listen to music, surf the internet, and light up the house, all of which will require the burning of fossil fuels in power plants.

Those are just a few of the things that I think we can all do to exploit the Earth while dramatically improving our lives. I call it a "no-alternative" lifestyle, because the only alternative to exploiting the Earth is to lie down and be covered up by it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tax Day Tea Party Links

Here are some good links for more info on the protests.

My nomination for best speech of the day is this one by Dr. John Lewis:

There's a round-up at Titanic Deck Chairs of Objectivist bloggers writing about their experiences at the Tea Parties. Of special note are the speeches given by Greg Perkins and Rational Jenn.

Update: Forgot to include this after speech interview with Dr. Lewis.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tallahassee Tax Day Tea Party -- Report

Tallahassee's Tax Day Tea Party took place today at 5pm in front of the old capitol. I spent the early part of the day getting my sign ready. Not particularly clever or artistic, but it said what I wanted to say. (Clicking on the pictures will take you to my Webshots album where there are more pics.)


I got there about 4:30pm, and had some trouble finding a parking spot in Klemen Plaza. Most of that was probably due to the legislature being in session. There were a number of fellow protestors, though, who rode the elevator up with me. By the time I got up the hill to the front of the capitol, there was already a good sized crowd. I took a few pictures from the north end of the lawn, and then moved through the crowd getting video. I'm not an expert on these things, but I'm estimating the crowd at 1200-1500 people.




The views on display were mostly concerned with economic issues: the bailouts, government spending, debt, socialism. A few of the signs mentioned Obama by name indicating that some see the issue in partisan terms, even though the bailouts were already in place when Obama took office. True, he's trying to take government spending to a whole new level, but it's a difference of degree rather than kind. The advantage of having Obama as president is that so many conservatives have suddenly remembered that they are opposed to big government. It's like the past eight years were a wild Saturday night, but now it's Sunday and they're back in church.

Yet I digress. Some of the signs...

Basic common sense: "You can't borrow your way out of debt. You can't spend your way to wealth. So how do you figure government can do it?"


Anarchists: I didn't catch the significance of the 'A' when I first saw this sign.


A Culpeper Minutemen flag with the coiled rattlesnake. There were quite a few "Don't Tread on Me" flags, and one guy was handing out small rubber snakes to the kids.


View from the south end of the lawn:


More signage:

An exremist showed up. I spotted him easily by his sign.


This one was pretty clever, although I would say that Obama's policies, so far, have more in common with fascism.


Obamanomics: It's similar to compassionate conservatism only moreso.


I'm not greedy. I'd settle for a billion.


I like her stimulus plan: A hot cup of tea, a beautiful girl, and freedom!


A surprise appearance by Johnny Depp.


Uncle Sam was there.


Part of a speech by a local radio personality named Preston Scott. Sorry for the lousy color.

The crowd was enthusiastic and united in their opposition to government spending, but philosophically very mixed. Whether these protests can serve as a basis for reducing the size of government, or whether they can even slow it down, remains to be seen.