Friday, June 30, 2006

Econometrics and knowledge

Latest Mises.org blog post
http://blog.mises.org/archives/005249.asp


The National Bureau of Economic Research has just published a study that purports to answers one of the questions that has stumped men for ages, "Why do high earners work long hours?" Will the next study answer another unsolved mystery, "Why do those who work long hours tend to be high earners?"

There are a number of ways used by men in attempt to discover truth, one way is to employ empirical methods and gather data and generate correlation statistics, while another way is to utilize a priori logic and reason. The first method ends up with "knowledge" that is tempered by the term, suggest, since these studies can prove nothing. The data may suggest this, or it may suggest that. The findings and suggestions depend on the assumptions, equations, models, etc., and are always open to questions and challenges.

On the other hand, a priori knowledge is exact. The only problem with a priori logic is that it does not require a cadre of econometricians and statisticians, and what in the world would the feds do with all those unemployed researchers?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Free web books

Go to Gary North's web site to read excellent books on the Bible and Christian thought. Not only are the books interesting, challenging and timely, they really are free.

Or, go to Mises.org for a host of free books on Austrian Economics and the free market. You can read, or download and read, all the classics, including Human Action and Man, Economy, and State. Enjoy them all.

Monday, June 26, 2006

The free market and peace

The free market is the only economic system where we can disagree yet live peacefully. My wife likes Coke while I prefer Pepsi. In fact, I'd rather drink a glass of baking soda than a glass of Coke (Ok, a little hyperbole for effect). Due to the free market in soft drinks, my wife and I can live happily ever after. Under a hampered economy, or plain socialism, the fight becomes which flavor will be served by the scowling apparachik wearing a faded Babushka? Choose freedom everytime.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A response to A High School Reading List

I'm a 39 year resident of the community, have children in the district's schools, and have been a teacher for the last 16 years, and I trust the people who are trained to teach more than a bureaucrat who is offended by "profane" language that is found in many of the books you would consider classic.

The above comment came from someone who chose to remain anonymous, so I can only assume that the responder has identified himself or herself truthfully. This comment deserves a couple of remarks.

1. None of the books in question deserve to be called a classic. One of the books, Lovely Bones, published in 2002, contains a particularly vile description of rape. Nothing in this book would qualify it as a future classic. We are not talking about different views of the grade appropriateness of true classics. We are talking about a book that is assigned to students by teachers such as the respondent. We are talking about teachers who have no concept of the classics nor any sense of propriety or shame. We are talking about a belief that teachers know what is best for your children. As this responder has shown, unqualified trust in teachers is foolish at best.

2. Where I agree with the responder is the question of why anyone would put unqualified trust in their elected officials. We are simply individuals with our own opinions and beliefs. We are not omniscient and have no more knowledge of raising children than those who elected us. As the responder adequately proved, school staff and administration are also prone to poor decisions. The main difference is that some teachers, and all ardent teacher unionists, adhere to ideologies that are the polar opposite of your beliefs. And, they get to use the classroom to further these beliefs. Beware.

So, what's the solution? A move toward school choice and privatization. Under such a system, parents who want their children indoctrinated will seek out the responder as a classroom teacher. Those of us who don't want such garage filling the heads of our children can opt for other forms of education. And, the good teachers who find themselves surrounded by those such as the responder will be able to work at schools that have philosophies similar to their own.

The free market has the ability to solve these issues. A government-run, unionized education system, simply aggravates the problem.

Pat Robertson - King of the Leg Press

I used to take pride in the fact that I could squat 495 pounds back when I was a fit professional bicyclist. Now I read on Sportsline.com that Pat Robertson can leg press 2,000 pounds. Even given that performing a leg press is much easier than squatting, leg pressing 2,000 pounds has got to be much harder than squatting 495. Impressive! Of course Pat is 76 and I was 26 - even more impressive. I guess I'll take the next 34 years (I'm 42 now) to see if I can catch him. Go Pat!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

A great weekly news magazine

Read World magazine for a Christian perspective on the news. Every media source has its own bias, so chose the bias that fits with your views. And since there are no "R" or near "X" rated photos and stories, you don't have to be embarrassed leaving a copy around for kids and guests to review. The magazine contains nothing other than the national and world news reported from a Christian perspective. Refreshing, indeed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy?

Now available at Mises.org.

An excellent book! My wife bought this book four years ago to home school our children in economics since many homeschoolers recommend it. I ended up reading it and discovering Austrian Economics for the first time, though I had a concentration in economics in college. After reading the book, I searched the internet for "Austrian School of Economics" and found Mises.org.

Buy it for your children or buy an extra copy to give to your local library or friends.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Gary North book on the Ten Commandments

Read Gary North's book, The Sinai Strategy: Economics and the Ten Commandments, to understand how the Ten Commandments work in a modern world. Interesting and enlightening. Available at Salt and Light Books.

Great history book by Ludwig von Mises

Omnipotent Government is one of Ludwig von Mises's best books. Truly a great journey through history, especially the creation of the socialist states and the havoc they wrought. Still relevant!

Available at Mises.org for purchase or to download and read. Buy it so that you can read it and pass it along.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Squatter's Rights

Latest Mises.org blog:http://blog.mises.org/archives/005185.asp

Squatter's Rights
Jim Fedako


AOL News is reporting that Daryl Hannah and others were arrested trying to stop a landowner from developing his Los Angeles property. Squatters have been using Ralph Horowitz's 14 acres to grow crops while the he "was paying $25,000 to $30,000 a month in mortgage and other land costs." None of the protestors, including Hannah, Willie Nelson, or Danny Glover, were willing to demonstrate their preference that this land remain undeveloped. Oh, they demonstrated, but they never opened their wallets to show their true preference rank.

AP quotes Hannah as stating, "I'm very confident this is the morally right thing to do, to take a principled stand in solidarity with the farmers." Just try this on her property and see if she still considers squatting a moral right.

Read Police Arrest Tree-Sitting Daryl Hannah for the whole story.

A listserve riposte

I will cease mentioning government and control as soon as you cease advocating for government to indoctrinate the next generation, captured by a compulsory system of education, in value-laded issues.

These vary same issues have already entered our schools resulting in the occasional band of roaming morons who spray paint SUVs, demand that KFC play Mozart in their slaughterhouses -- yes, the chicken we eat must be slaughtered somewhere, and protest McDonalds and Wal-Mart as evil incarnate.

Where do our students learn such ideas? From public school teachers who manipulate value-laded courses of study in order to project their own agendas. Where do teachers discover their Zeitgeist? From leftist professors and teachers unions. NEA's platform reads more like a green-crazed socialist cult than a professional education organization.

Why do so many people have such little faith in parents that they truly believe that without a unionized labor force inculcating children, nothing of value will ever be learned. Are we really at the point where the future of civilization is in the hands of public school teachers? Maybe preschool should start day one so that parents have no adverse influences on their children.

And, do you really believe that India is clouding their curriculum with issues that are ancillary to education? Is this why the Indian IT professional is in demand worldwide, his knowledge of green-based concerns?

I always find it ironic that the minute we come to terms that our schools' curriculum is a mile wide and an inch deep, the next crisis demands additional time and effort. Why don't we simply forget the three R's and indoctrinate from the first day of Kindergarten. Oh, wait, we do that already.

The reality is this, it's either individual acting humans making the hard decisions, or those decisions will be made by the comrade whose face appears on posters on every corner of every street. Read Hayek's Road to Serfdom (the old cartoon version).

As always, advocate for what you believe in, just don't use government as the means to your end.

Jim Fedako

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

One half of a running listserve dialog

The main issues that binds this listserve were born in the acculturation of the past 100 years, with its noticeable acceleration these last 30 odd years. The ills of our schools are the result of the continual inculcation of subsequent generations by the academic left. I absolutely agree that we need to undo the problems created by the neo-whatever that was in-vogue at any given time throughout these past decades. This is why you are much, much more likely to see the Che t-shirt in schools and on campuses than you are likely to ever see a Jefferson one.

On that, I can compromise on John's terms that the goals of education are the three R's, plus science and history. Sure, even these subjects are prone to agendas, but they at least are central to a continued US culture.

Students who can't read are powerless to fight for their own freedom. Ideologies are never the products of the illiterate. The convoluted and muddled, yes, but never the illiterate. Karl Marx, etc., all had years of education before they wrote the tomes that enslaved the masses and resulted in hundreds of millions of deaths last century.

The central focus needs to be on how can schools improve their delivery of the three R's, plus science and history. Any other agenda or issue or idea does nothing more than take the focus off of what needs to be taught. Jay and I will say that the market will provide this, others say different. Regardless, as long as we advocate for those ancillary issues, we change education, whether public or market-driven, from a system of learning to a system of indoctrination.

Allow the parents, like myself, to indoctrinate our children as WE see fit, not as the unionized wing of government sees fit.

I like to push the envelope farther than some since I truly believe in a free market solution, and I bristle at government solutions.

Jim Fedako

Listserve post on the role of public education and immigration

Whenever the majority of a society democratizes an issue, watch out. Those who advocated for the rule of the majority enforced by government better pray that they always remain in the majority. Once the center of opinion switches and the opposition ascends to power, the same process that worked wonders is now your worst nightmare.

A compulsory system of education controlled by the majority through government is a double-edged sword. It cuts in your favor when you are a member or fellow traveler of the ruling coalition, but it as easily dismembers your gains once power changes hands in a subsequent election.

If the fear is that the radical left will use public education to inculcate Mexican culture throughout the western states, the position should not be to strengthen public education while a more-moderate majority exists since all you will be doing is creating the beast that will ultimately destroy you -- Hegelian Dialectics.

And why shouldn't the radical left, or any group for that matter, work the system in order to use public schools for their purposes? We have been having a running debate as to how government can best indoctrinate for our purposes.

Many of our Founding Fathers came to the realization that decentralized control is the only way to guarantee Liberty. A market system of education would solve the indoctrination battles and allow us to live as free Americans. The founders of our great country were all educated privately, and their diverse opinions and heated debates guided the creation of our founding principles, which are forever documented in the Declaration and Constitution. We did not need a party-line to beat Liberty into the minds of the Patriots.

With greater effort, spread the ideas of Liberty. Otherwise you are educating the masses to accept centralized control. Once that has been accepted, if it already hasn't, it very easy to turn from one side of control to the other. Ludwig von Mises showed conclusively that Nazism and Marxism are not continuum opposites, they are simply collectivism and socialism in different packages. In fact Mises notes that Hitler favored ex-communists since their ideas of control were similar to his.

Liberty my friends, Liberty.

Jim Fedako

Monday, June 12, 2006

Letter to the Columbus Dispatch

Dear Letter Editor:

In his June 10, 2006 letter (State Teachers Retirement System in need of repair), Jim N. Reed correctly notes the financial mess of the State Teachers Retirement System. The solution implicit in his letter is for the state to increase the share of retirement paid by citizens via their local boards of education.

STRS is currently lobbying the state legislature to increase the percentage of salaries that school districts pay in teacher retirement from the current 14% to the proposed 16.5% -- not a bad publicly-funded retirement plan.

In order to pay for the increase, school districts will need to raise additional local property tax dollars.

So what Reed is really advocating is for everyone not in STRS to pay his increasing healthcare costs.

Along with ever Ohioan, I am also seeing rising healthcare costs. I will agree to assist Reed if he will assist me. Or, better yet, we both keep our own money and fund our own increases ourselves. That's really the only fair solution to everyone's problems.

Jim Fedako

Saturday, June 10, 2006

False Crisis and Immigration

Recent Mises.org blog post


False Crisis and Immigration
Jim Fedako


As immigration reform debates continue to heat up Washington and rankle the folks on talk radio and cable, in barber shops, and throughout the Web, we need to remember similar incidents throughout our history. As each new wave of immigrants entered the US, false crises were created and used to crackdown on the newcomers and expand government.

My grandmother was a Polish immigrant who never learned to read or write in English. She would, though, despite her poverty and 10 children, chase any government worker off her property with a broom. And she was not alone as her neighbors also refused to welcome government aid.

Contrast that with the trend started during the Great Society when government workers and their associated minions - the do-gooders - became more aggressive and pushed government services on anyone deemed in need of assistance, creating a dependent constituency and assumed positive rights.

Eliminate aggressive government interventions and the so-called immigration problem would cure itself. Absent government, those who immigrate would either have a job and be able to find housing and other essentials on their own, or they would be truly illegal trespassers and squatters.

As always, the problem is government and the solutions cannot be found in additional Progressive governmental interventions, such as welfare, etc., nor in statist forms of control

Absent government interventions, all will work itself out well.

List Serve Post on Immigration

I read the running comments on immigration and am shocked that we have lost knowledge of our history. As each new wave of immigrants entered the US, these same false crises were used to crack down on the newcomers and expand government. My grandfather and grandmother sent all four of their boys to the military without objection though neither could read or write in English till the day they died. We have a family reunion each year in Eastern PA and the physical features of those in my extended family and many others at the park show their Eastern European heritage, yet they are all Americans through and through.

My grandmother was a Polish immigrant who never learned what could be considered fluent English. She would, despite her poverty and 10 children, chase any government worker off her property with a broom.

Contrast that with the trend started during the Great Society when government workers became more aggressive and pushed government services on anyone and everyone, thereby creating a dependent constituency.

Eliminate aggressive government handouts and a large portion of the immigration problem would cure itself. Then, those who immigrate would either have a job and be able to find housing and other essentials on their own, or they would be truly illegal trespassers and squatters.

As always, the problem is government and the solutions cannot be found in additional Progressive governmental interventions, such as welfare, etc.

The only difference now is a hyperactive government and its minions of do-gooders. We have government schools that can't teach the wonders of the US and Western Civilization due to their blind adherence to multiculturalism.

Absent government interventions, all will work itself out well.

Jim

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Bible and the Estate Tax

In Proverbs 13:22, the Bible states that a good man leaves an inheritance to his grandchildren. Therefore, what affords government the right to confiscate such wealth? And, by the authority of which Bible passage do fellow Christians desire and seek such governmental confiscation?

Read Gary North's article at LewRockwell.com for more details.

Free Christian Books

Go to Gary North's web site www.freebooks.com to read excellent books on the Bible and Christian thought. Not only are the books interesting, challenging and timely, they really are free.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Parents v. Government -- A Listserve Post

John,

Dr. Groff's reference to education and the federal constitution is not a matter of debate. Convolution, certainly, but not debate. The US Constitution is a short, easy read, well worth the time and effort.

Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian School of Economics observed years ago that it is disingenuous to claim on one hand that the masses have no ability to correctly decide for themselves while claiming on the other hand that democracy works. Either the masses can run the economy by their individual decisions to buy or abstain from buying, or the omnipotent planning board must make all of the choices for them.

The often sought-after middle ground is simply the temporary balancing act before we tip toward either freedom or socialism, with the subtle and persistent influence of the socialists slowly tipping the scales in their favor.

Mises believed in freedom. Can I assume that you are not an advocate of freedom since you put such little faith in the masses?

As I have said before, it's either the parents making the decisions or we turn all children over to the likes of you and me. I will assume that the majority of parents would opt for their own decision-making skills, and I will assume that they will be right many more times than I.

Jim Fedako

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

A High School Reading List - Back by popular demand

It doesn't take much effort to find a recommended reading list for high school students. Many learned minds have taken the challenge of creating a list and deciding which books make their list and which do not. There are many great books to choose from, and only four years of high school to read them. Time is the only limiting factor for facilitating maximum learning.

Just like any top 10 or top 100 list, we all can argue over which books deserve to be mentioned, and which books do not. Half the fun of reading such lists is debating which books were left out, and which ones should have been. Again, time forces the list to be limited, with many excellent books always left out.

So what does the Olentangy School District do when confronted with the challenge of creating a reading list from the many great classics? It assigns some of its college prep students to read Mark Hadden's The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. I found this book on no list of classic must-reads. In fact, this book published in 2003 is as profane as it is vacuous. The question is what teacher in his or her right mind would assign this book to students? And what administrator would back up the teacher's selection of this book?

The beauty of the internet is that anyone with web access can go to Amazon.com and search books for various words. This allows parents and community members to see what students are reading without having to purchase or borrow the book. Want to search the content of The Curious Incident? Just click over to Amazon and enter profane words in the search box. You'll be shocked, as are many parents in this district.

With so little time between 8th grade and freshman year of college, the Olentangy District has chosen a peculiar approach to its mission of facilitating maximum learning for every student.

This all leaves me wondering what the staff and administration consider classics? And what they consider maximum learning? And I'm a board member.

Jim Fedako
Member, Olentangy Board of Education

A Philosophical Divide

Latest Mises.org blog:http://blog.mises.org/archives/005122.asp#more

A Philosophical Divide
Jim Fedako


A philosophical divide between classic liberalism and the political forms now in vogue is manifest in the phrase, "Let's agree to disagree." To the classic liberal, this means we agree to end our discussion, debate, or argument and go about our separate ways. The phrase is the end as such. Certainly the classic liberal may engage the next person in a similar discourse and attempt to sway a new opinion, whether in person or by letter, handbill, pamphlet, etc., or through the more current versions of email, blog, or website. Additionally, the classic liberal assumes that his verbal opponent will also engage others in the marketplace of ideas. The understanding is that one is attempting to sway an opinion by the use of knowledge and logic.

Contrast that with the current use of "let's agree to disagree."

The statist version indicates that the statist will end the discourse and use whatever power and influence he has in order to have government -- the social apparatus of compulsion and coercion -- codify his views into law. What the statist is saying is, "Since your opinion holds no power, let's agree to end this pointless debate. I am wasting my time trying to convince you when I can use government to force you." You see it all the time as individuals lobby and pressure government to enforce their opinions and beliefs.

CS Lewis wrote that we need to fear those who claim to have our best interests in mind. Unlike the tyrant who will sleep every now and again, the do-gooder will work without rest in order to enslave you while claiming to protect you. I think that if Lewis were alive today he would have to extend that observation to include the do-gooder employed by government, no matter the level. Not only do they not sleep as they invade your rights, your taxes pay them to do it.

You can debate them and agree to disagree, but remember, as you sleep, they are drafting laws, rules, and regulations in order to control you life.

Jim Fedako, a former professional cyclist who lives in Lewis Center, OH, is a member of the Olentangy Local School District and maintains a blog: Anti-Positivist.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

An Old Letter to the Editor That Was Never Published

Dear Letters Editor:

"Then he whomps the other student with a pillow." (from "Hilliard students take law into own hands", September 16, 2005.)

Let's see, Constitution Day was passed by a Congress that does not understand state's rights and the role of the federal government and is being implemented by schools that confound the US Constitution with codes of conduct and civil law. Is this really as wonderful as it seems?

Students in Hilliard are being taught that a good constitution enumerates the behaviors which govern good citizens. It would appear to me that teachers at Horizon Elementary understand a constitution to be a document that empowers citizens to enforce vague "feel-good" terms under the threat of violence (see first sentence).

Our Constitution was drafted in order to limit the powers of the federal government, though Sen. Byrd -- D-W.Va., sponsor, and the rest of Congress missed that lesson. Or, maybe they also spent their youth writing school constitutions similar to those being created in elementaries in Central Ohio.

A true school constitution would have to be constructed in a manner that circumscribed the powers of the staff within the God-given rights of the students. That would be an interesting exercise to say the least. Instead, the teachers had students codify classroom behavior expectations and called them a constitution.

I know, this all sounds like a fun activity, but what is really being taught? And, most importantly, what does this say about the teachers' understand of such valuable concepts as the guarantees of freedom from government contained in the document signed by our Founding Fathers?

Constitution Day failed in Hilliard.

Jim Fedako

The Gnawing Rats -- A Listserve Post

Mona,

The reality is that socialism won the Cold War. Antonio Gramsci, the Italian socialist from early 20th century, realized that there was no way to fight a pitched battle against the Western industrial societies. The socialist instigators would not be able to sway the workers nor gain popular support for revolution. Gramsci believed that socialism could win the day if it supported a lengthy insurgency that slowly destroyed the bedrock institutions of our free societies; family, church, etc. So while we stared-down the Evil Empire, the rats slowly gnawed holes in the concepts of liberty that founded the US and made England great. Gramsci never lived to see the dawn of the forthcoming new age (he died soon after Benito Mussolini released him from jail), but his like-minded minions proved that nuclear power is no match for an uncoordinated subversive attack against the mind.

A good source to understand our current mess is the classic treatise Theory and History, Ludwig von Mises. Mises exposed the flaws in the concepts of socialism and other strains of such thought.

Jim Fedako

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Life Without Government Equals Chaos. Hardly!

Latest Mises.org blog:http://blog.mises.org/archives/005122.asp#more

We tend to assume that without an interventionist government – a government that extends beyond the enumerated powers in the Constitution - life would resolve into chaos. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

In the nineteenth century, French economist Frédéric Bastiat remarked on the wonder of that phenomenon by exclaiming, "Paris gets fed!" The same can be said of New York, Tokyo, Mexico City, etc. It's doesn't take the intervention of a governmental planning board to ensure adequate food for all of us. Entrepreneurs seeking profit make certain that eggs and milk are readily available for tomorrow's breakfast.

Consider the alternative: In the late 1970's and early 1980's I spent three weeks in the then-socialist countries of Yugoslavia and East Germany. If it wasn't for the illegal food market there would have been nothing to eat other than cookies, Vodka, and stale bread. Keep in mind that the brightest minds planned these economies. Not much to be said for central planning.

But we tend to forget these real-world examples of governmental planning. Maybe we assume that our bureaucrats are more omniscient and brighter than those of Yugoslavia and East Germany. Ludwig von Mises of the Austrian School of Economics proved over 80 years ago that all attempts at central planning lead to chaos. He was correct then, and he is still correct today.

Yet we still believe in governmental solutions. As I have previously written, if government is omniscient, I am omniscient. And even I don’t believe that to be true. Parents allow school officials, such as me, to make important decisions for their children because there exists the belief that school officials somehow are unbiased and altruistic, and better at guiding children than their own parents. While it is certainly true that most school employees like working with students, they can’t possible have a child’s best interests in mind. That is the realm of parents only.

School officials have jobs, careers and families of their own. They also have biases and beliefs that greatly differ from individual parents. There is nothing wrong with differing views, but parents should not simply hand over their children to the schools and assume the best. We bristle at the idea of our friends, neighbors and family members guiding our parental decisions, yet we readily give school officials, who are nothing more than friends, neighbors and family members, the power to make those very same decisions. The robe of omniscience does not come with school employment. In fact, there is nothing unique and special about school employment.

Remember, it's the entrepreneur who will truck the eggs and milk so that you can eat tomorrow.

Jim Fedako