Tuesday, December 29, 2009

It's all in the premise (or, is SpongeBob Squarepants on a higher plane of reality?)

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:







It's all in the premise (or, is SpongeBob Squarepants on a higher plane of reality?)
Jim Fedako



I just finished an enlightening phone call with my congressman's health policy advisor. I had called to give my opinion of an "official business" mailing I had just received ("official business" being the cover for a taxpayer-funded campaign flyer).

No matter how hard I tried, from the staffer's point of view, our debate was over which party has the best plan to lower healthcare costs. I repeatedly noted that her argument begs the question -- she assumes that government is the solution. Regardless of what I said, she wouldn't accept my insistence of a logical fallacy. And she kept coming back to her main premise: Healthcare is too expensive.

So I pulled that thread a bit.

I asked her to explain why healthcare is so expensive. "Many reasons," she replied.

"OK. Since you are the policy expert, give me the top reason," I prodded.

To this she responded, "The incidence of illnesses like type-2 diabetes is on the rise. We need to have people live healthier lives."

I walked her through what I thought was her logic: Since healthcare is too expensive, due to (inter alia) folks not taking care of themselves, government must step in (as there is no other means to lower costs) to manage costs and change lifestyles.

"That's right," she said without hesitation.

So there you have it. Assume that healthcare is too expensive and that government is the solution, and the next logical step is an increased nanny state.

"Just another crisis to feed the Leviathan," I thought.

I reminded the staffer that she is a Republican and that Republicans are supposed to be against government intrusions into personal matters (I do not believe that statement, but I like to hear the rhetorical gymnastics when the political class is confronted with their own hypocrisy).

She rewound back to the beginning, "But healthcare is too expensive."

It's coming. The folks in DC will be snooping in my pantry within 5 years, regardless the party. And it will be under cover of reducing healthcare costs.



Notes:

The reason I initially called was to discuss statements in the flyer where my congressman claims to support, among other things:

-- Permitting students to remain on their parent's policy through the age of 25
-- Continuing the fight against breast cancer by ensuring the availability of annual mammograms.
I asked, "Are there any current federal or state laws that prohibit students from being on their parent's policies or stop women from seeking mammograms?" The staffer couldn't name any.

I said, "Then are you permitting and ensuring? Or are you forcing?" Silence.

I then continued, "So, who is going to pay for these new regulations?"

She responded, "Well, they really don't cost anything. Consider 25-year-old students, they are likely very healthy. They'll improve the pool of insured. So there is no additional cost for keeping them on the policy."

"If that were the case, wouldn't insurance companies already be doing so in order to attract more business?" I added, feeling my head begin to spin.

"Yes. So, why not just make it law?" was the non sequitur.

That's when I realized that it was time for SpongeBob Squarepants -- a return to a reality that I can understand and enjoy.

Monday, December 28, 2009

I thought trust was something you earn

Of course, the Hanks and Thompson modus operandi is not about earning trust. No, those folks think anything goes -- er, everything goes. And now they want O'Brien to take their hands in a show of unity -- a show of trust.

Hey, Hanks and Thompson! What little cache of trust you once had was lost in a slew of sludge. And you can't consult trust into existence, not with a tax-funded mediator or a $3 million contract.

From
The Delaware Gazette (one paper that still earns the trust of its readers):

Commissioners disagree on conflict resolution

Thursday, December 24, 2009

By ANDREW TOBIAS
Staff Writer



Plans to bring in a state conflict resolution mediator will have to be dropped if commissioner Ken O’Brien doesn’t cooperate, commissioner Tommy Thompson said Wednesday.

Thompson is attempting to coordinate the mediation session, and he said he would like the commissioners to discuss “communication and trust,” but contends that O’Brien is not interested in participating.

Thompson and commissioner Todd Hanks in October voted to set up a meeting with a state conflict resolution agency. Without O’Brien’s involvement, Thompson said the commissioners may need to rescind the vote.

“It would be counterproductive to move forward without all three commissioners on board,” Thompson said.

O’Brien voted against the initial decision to bring in the mediator. He told the Gazette he is not necessarily opposed to mediation, but skeptical that a meeting could address something intangible like trust.

“I was not going to commit to doing it because I didn’t want to waste taxpayer money on something that likely would not come to a resolution,” he said.

The state-run program is sponsored by the County Commissioners Association of Ohio, and would not require any investment from the Delaware County government.

He has previously said he would only participate in the meetings if they were addressed toward a specific public policy issue. But, he said if the state mediator contacts him and is able to show a meeting about “communication and trust” may be beneficial to county business, he would be more receptive.

“I would like a concrete guide that she would recommend us follow if she thought there was something there,” O’Brien said.

Trust and communication have been an issue for the commissioners at times this year.

Since the passage and rescinding of a $3.13 million consulting contract over the summer, which O’Brien opposed and Thompson and Hanks initially supported, any discussion of the project has often turned heated.

O’Brien has stated he felt like the board had kept him out of the loop on that project, and subsequently requested every email sent between the commissioners and the prosecutor’s office. A county resident who ran O’Brien’s election campaign has also made numerous public records requests into the project and other topics, leading Hanks to accuse O’Brien of leading a “witch hunt.”

Thompson has also stated that he began locking his door in October after he heard about O’Brien searching a county employee’s desk when that employee was not present.

atobias@delgazette.com

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Republicans admit to destroying the economy

From The Columbus Dispatch:

Republican senators attacking the cost of a Democratic health-care bill showed far different concerns six years ago, when they approved a major Medicare expansion that has added tens of billions of dollars to federal deficits.

The inconsistency -- or hypocrisy, as some call it -- has irked Democrats, who say that their plan will pay for itself with higher taxes and spending cuts and cite the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office for support.


By contrast, when Republicans controlled the House, Senate and White House in 2003, they overcame Democratic opposition to add a deficit-financed prescription-drug benefit to Medicare. The program will cost a half-trillion dollars over 10 years, or more by some estimates.

Six years ago, "It was standard practice not to pay for things," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.


The Republican issue is not that government shouldn't run health care. No, their issue is that only Republican sycophants should benefit in the process.

Anyone who considers the Republicans as being different from the Democrats has a screw or two loose.

Note: Not only is Voinovich for government-run health care (in a manner that benefits Republican interests, of course), but he is also in favor a carbon tax, etc., as long as the policy change is not too quick and not too costly in the short-run. That's today's Republican -- a Democrat with a time-lag.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

That precludes government schools

If mail delivery was an entitlement -- a fundamental right, would anyone entrust it to the US Postal Service. Yet ...

In its recent email, the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy makes this statement: This statutory panel, the Ohio School Funding Advisory Council, must begin deliberations with the understanding that the state is responsible for and must be held accountable guaranteeing the entitlement of all students to high quality educational opportunities.

If the panel was intent on fulfilling its mandate, could it recommend government schools as the solution. Hmmm.

Note: As the folks over at NEA remind us all, public education is all about the teachers (and insidious indoctrination, of course).

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Conserving conserves nothing

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:







Conserving conserves nothing
Jim Fedako



Plastic-Bag-Bin.gif

Maybe it was the holiday spirit. Or maybe it was the impatient line of holiday shoppers anxiously waiting for me to finish paying the cashier. Regardless, I let an economic fallacy slide without comment.

As the cashier was totaling my bill, she asked if she could pack some of my goods in the plastic bag I was holding; a plastic bag that previously held an item I had returned upon entering the store.

"Certainly," I replied.

She then noted with a smile, "Great. I'll reduce your bill by a quarter. You are saving the environment, you know."

I'm certain my sweater could feel the hair on my neck rise. "Saving the environment?" I thought. But before I could respond, and begin a lesson in economics, the holiday spirit, or line of holiday shoppers growing and waiting, kept me quiet.

In a slower time of the year, I would have noted that I would soon spend the quarter she left in my wallet on an after-dinner mint at a local restaurant. You know what I'm talking about; one of those small, foil-wrapped chocolate mints conveniently placed at the cash register.

My reuse of a plastic bag at the store allowed me to purchase a conglomeration of chocolate, sugar, fat, and foil. So, in the end, was the environment really "saved?"

Were my actions the same as those envisioned by the cashier? Did she really mean for me to consume different resources - something other than plastic? Is that really the end sought by those in the environmentalist movement?

Conserving conserves nothing is an outrageous claim, but it is true nonetheless. Oh, sure, by reducing my consumption, I am conserving certain scarce resources - that is the seen. However, as Hazlett and Bastiat showed years ago, the seen never tells the whole story. And, many times, the story it does tell is simply not true.

To get to the truth of my claim, we have to scratch beyond the surface. So, let us begin our Hazlettian and Bastiatian journey from the seen toward the unseen, and a better understanding of the economics of conservation.

First, we must define conservation. [1] As commonly used today, conservation refers to actions that reduce the use of certain resources for the purpose of protecting the environment. So, in this view, I conserve when, for the sake of protecting the environment, I travel by bicycle instead of by car. It then follows that I am not conserving when I choose to ride my bike as a benefit in itself. For my actions to be considered conserving, I have to be acting with the environment in mind. Or so the current definition goes.

I can reduce my consumption of a certain resource in order to satisfy a number of ends. For example: I can reduce out of a belief that, by doing so, I am protecting the environment; I can reduce due to a change in my valuation or preferences; I can reduce in order to save for future use; or, I can reduce as a result of government interventions.

In all cases, the result is the same: nothing is conserved. [2]

Let's analyze the result of my supposed conservation effort at the store? As noted above, if I simply redirect my quarter to another purchase, I am not conserving the environment, so to speak. While it is true that I am reducing my use of certain resources, it is also true that my new purchase results in the increased use of other resources. The unseen negates the seen.

What if I had flipped the quarter into the trash can on the way out of the store? Or dropped it in a piggybank at home? In either case, the market would have read my action as a change in preference for money over other goods. The value of money would change ever so slightly and the resources that I left unused would be purchased by some other producer or consumer. My abstention would result in their consumption - and nothing would have been conserved (or, more correctly, some resources might be conserved, but at the expense of others).

What if government had taxed that quarter away? Well, the same applies as above. Government could have spent its ill-gotten gain on monuments to itself, using scarce resources in the process. Or it ccould have destroyed the quarter, and the value of money would have changed in the market. Again, nothing would be conserved.

So there is nothing about the reuse of the plastic bag and the reward of a quarter which causes a reduction in the use of scarce resources -- in the aggregate, of course. And this holds every time I reduce my consumption of some good. I either consume some other good or change my preference for money. But nothing gets conserved.

Are there other ways to reduce consumption of a scarce resource? Absolutely. If folks in the environmentalist movement want to conserve (say) oil, they can purchase oil fields with all of those quarters returned at the checkout line. And they can leave the oil in the ground for as long as they own the land.

Certainly, by doing so, they will conserve oil. Nevertheless, they must also recognize that oil left in the ground will likely be offset by an increased use of other resources, with nothing being conserved in the end.

You may think, "That's a sad tale. If there is no way to conserve, then we have no future."

Such an argument is pure question begging. What makes conservation - as currently defined - a necessary means to a future? And what is that future, anyway?

There is hope. A truly free market would efficiently and effectively utilize scarce resources - conserve - through time. A free market and requisite property rights are the solution. They are our only hope, our only means to a brighter future.

I suggest that environmentalists redirect their efforts from so-called conservation to efforts that strengthen property rights and build freer markets. By doing so, they will be able to rest more easily knowing that the market will conserve resources efficiently and effectively. And then their means will be the same as our means, all leading to an end desired by most of us: a better world for ourselves and our children.

Note:

1. I am only looking at conservation as used by environmentalists - the three R's of recycle, reduce, and reuse. I am not considering conservation as defined by conservationists -- protecting certain plants, species, and habitats. Of course, strong property rights can protect those as well.

2. It is true that under full-blown socialism, with vast numbers of starving men, women and children lying down in the fields awaiting a quick dust to dust ending, fewer resources would be used - conservation would occur. However, with the exception of all but a few of the most-ardent environmentalists, no one desires such a dystopian world.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Are they also "for the kids?"

(HT to a reader of this blog)

When it's school district employees bilking property owners, it's all "for the kids." So what is it when it's federal employees bilking taxpayers? Is it still "for the kids?" -- Jim

From American Thinker:

December 16, 2009
Federal Employees at the Trough

By Paul B. Matthews

Last week, USA Today reported that nearly one in five federal government employees now earn over $100,000. The paper also reported the average federal salary rose to $71,260, almost $31,000 more than the comparative average private-sector wage.

Within the Department of Defense, over 10,000 employees (as of June 2009) now earn at least $150,000 per year, a 5½-fold increase in the number of employees eclipsing this salary threshold from just eighteen months ago.

continue reading

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Scrooge Defended

An oldie from Mises.org -- Jim

Scrooge Defended
Mises Daily: Monday, December 14, 1998 by Michael Levin

It's Christmas again, time to celebrate the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge. You know the ritual: boo the curmudgeon initially encountered in Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, then cheer the sweetie pie he becomes in the end. It's too bad no one notices that the curmudgeon had a point—quite a few points, in fact.

To appreciate them, it is necessary first to distinguish Scrooge's outlook on life from his disagreeable persona. He is said to have a pointed nose and a harsh voice, but not all hardheaded businessmen are so lamentably endowed, nor are their feckless nephews (remember Fred?) alwavs "ruddy and handsome," and possessed of pretty wives. These touches of the storyteller's art only bias the issue.

So let's look without preconceptions at Scrooge's allegedly underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit. The fact is, if Cratchit's skills were worth more to anyone than the fifteen shillings Scrooge pays him weekly, there would be someone glad to offer it to him. Since no one has, and since Cratchit's profit-maximizing boss is hardly a man to pay for nothing, Cratchit must be worth exactly his present wages.

No doubt Cratchit needs—i.e., wants—more, to support his family and care for Tiny Tim. But Scrooge did not force Cratchit to father children he is having difficulty supporting. If Cratchit had children while suspecting he would be unable to afford them, he, not Scrooge, is responsible for their plight. And if Cratchit didn't know how expensive they would be, why must Scrooge assume the burden of Cratchit's misjudgment?

As for that one lump of coal Scrooge allows him, it bears emphasis that Cratchit has not been chained to his chilly desk. If he stays there, he shows by his behavior that he prefers his present wages-plus-comfort package to any other he has found, or supposes himself likely to find. Actions speak louder than grumbling, and the reader can hardly complain about what Cratchit evidently finds satisfactory.

More notorious even than his miserly ways are Scrooge's cynical words. "Are there no prisons," he jibes when solicited for charity, "and the Union workhouses?"

Terrible, right? Lacking in compassion?

Not necessarily. As Scrooge observes, he supports those institutions with his taxes. Already forced to help those who can't or won't help themselves, it is not unreasonable for him to balk at volunteering additional funds for their extra comfort.

Scrooge is skeptical that many would prefer death to the workhouse, and he is unmoved by talk of the workhouse's cheerlessness. He is right to be unmoved, for society's provisions for the poor must be, well, Dickensian. The more pleasant the alternatives to gainful employment, the greater will be the number of people who seek these alternatives, and the fewer there will be who engage in productive labor. If society expects anyone to work, work had better be a lot more attractive than idleness.

The normally taciturn Scrooge lets himself go a bit when Cratchit hints that he would like a paid Christmas holiday. "It's not fair," Scrooge objects, a charge not met by Cratchet's patently irrelevant protest that Christmas comes but once a year. Unfair it is, for Cratchit would doubtless object to a request for a day's uncompensated labor, "and yet," as Scrooge shrewdly points out, "you don't think me ill used when I pay a day's wages for no work."

Cratchit has apparently forgotten the golden rule. (Or is it that Scrooge has so much more than Cratchit that the golden rule does not come into play? But Scrooge doesn't think he has that much, and shouldn't he have a say in the matter?)

Scrooge's first employer, good old Fezziwig, was a lot freer with a guinea—he throws his employees a Christmas party. What the Ghost of Christmas Past does not explain is how Fezziwig afforded it. Did he attempt to pass the added costs to his customers? Or did young Scrooge pay for it anyway by working for marginally lower wages?

The biggest of the Big Lies about Scrooge is the pointlessness of his pursuit of money. "Wealth is of no use to him. He doesn't do any good with it," opines ruddy nephew Fred.

Wrong on both counts. Scrooge apparently lends money, and to discover the good he does one need only inquire of the borrowers. Here is a homeowner with a new roof, and there a merchant able to finance a shipment of tea, bringing profit to himself and happiness to tea drinkers, all thanks to Scrooge.

Dickens doesn't mention Scrooge's satisfied customers, but there must have been plenty of them for Scrooge to have gotten so rich.

Scrooge is said to hound debtors so relentlessly that—as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Be is able to show him—an indebted couple rejoices at his demise. The mere delay while their debt is transferred will avert the ruin Scrooge would have imposed.

This canard is triply absurd. First, a businessman as keen as Scrooge would prefer to delay payment to protect his investment rather than take possession of possibly useless collateral. (No bank wants developers to fail and leave it the proud possessor of a half-built shopping mall.) Second, the fretful couple knew and agreed to the terms on which Scrooge insisted. By reneging on the deal, they are effectively engaged in theft. Third, most important, and completely overlooked by Ghost and by Dickens, there are hopefuls whose own plans turn on borrowing the money returned to Scrooge from his old accounts. Scrooge can't relend what Caroline and her unnamed husband don't pay up, and he won't make a penny unless he puts the money to use after he gets it back.

The hard case, of course, is a payment due from Bob Cratchit, who needs the money for an emergency operation on Tiny Tim. (Here I depart from the text, but Dickens characters are so familiar to us they can be pressed into unfamiliar roles.) If you think it is heartless of Scrooge to demand payment, think of Sickly Sid, who needs an operation even more urgently than Tim does, and whose father is waiting to finance that operation by borrowing the money Cratchit is expected to pay up.

Is Tim's life more valuable than Sid's just because we've met him? And how do we explain to Sid's father that his son won't be able to have the operation after all, because Scrooge, as Christmas generosity, is allowing Cratchit to reschedule his debt? Scrooge does not circulate money from altruism, to be sure, but his motives, whatever they are, are congruent with the public good.

But what about those motives? Scrooge doesn't seem to get much satisfaction from the services he may inadvertently perform, and that seems to be part of Dickens's point. But who, apart from Dickens, says that Scrooge is not enjoying himself? He spends all his time at his business, likes to count his money, and has no outside interests.

At the same time, Scrooge is not given to brooding and shows absolutely no sign of depression or conflict. Whether he wished to or not, Dickens has made Scrooge by far the most intelligent character in his fable, and Dickens credits his creation with having nothing "fancy" about him. So we conclude that, in his undemonstrative way, Scrooge is productive and satisfied with his lot, which is to say happy.

There can be no arguing with Dickens's wish to show the spiritual advantages of love. But there was no need to make the object of his lesson an entrepreneur whose ideas and practices benefit his employees, society at large, and himself. Must such a man expect no fairer a fate than to die scorned and alone? Bah, I say. Humbug.

* * * * *

Michael Levin is professor of philosophy at the City University of New York.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Saving nothing: the district is on a spin-save cycle

The board and administration over at the Olentangy school district are trumpeting what they term as savings -- to the tune of $7 million over 4 years.

But nothing is being saved. The district is simply "reallocating" positions -- a game of musical chairs.

The district is stuck on a spin-save cycle.

Going underground

What happened to the Delaware County Political Reporter? They've gone underground.

What's going on?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Greenies polluting the environment


Last I heard, the feds declared carbon dioxide a health hazard -- a pollutant.

Of course, it's OK for the Greenies to run games for kids -- all for the benefit of greenie indoctrination -- that cause more carbon to be released into the environment (you know, human respiration releases carbon dioxide into the environment, and exercise speeds up respiration and increases carbon output). Shame, shame, shame.

Shouldn't the Greenies tell kids the inconvenient truth: We are all supposed to lie down in the fields and allow dust to be returned to dust so that Mother Earth can be cured of her cancerous tumors -- humans.



From Columbus World Affairs:

Council Fellows organize "Green Games"
Feburary (sic) - May 2009

Members of our youth group Council Fellows current project addresses global warming and promotes environmental sustainability at the local level. After conducting audits of the current energy use, purchasing and consumption habits at local non-profit organizations (those on the campus of The Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts), these high school students will consult with staffers to help them set achievable goals and change policies that lead to an overall improvement.

Students will track progress at these organizations, work on complementary activities with peers at area schools, and plan a fun field day type event that lets everyone in on the fun of going green! These "Green Games" will include challenges, relay races, exhibitions and more. Jefferson Center also plans to break ground on a community garden on the same day. (emphasis added -- Jim)

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Statistically insignificant

The folks at Olentangy will do anything to spin a story. The latest is this headline from the district listserve: SIX OLENTANGY STUDENTS EARN PERFECT SCORES ON OHIO ACHIEVEMENT TESTS.

That certainly sounds like news. But wait. There is no statistical difference between the state average percentage of perfect scores and the percentage heralded by the district. None.

Some of you will cry foul: The Antipositivist is using statistics to prove a point. What's up with that?

You are right, it is problematic. But let's continue for now.

Students are not randomly distributed among districts. Parents choose school districts, but they do not randomly choose Olentangy or (say) Cleveland City Schools. Therefore, the data around student scores are not probabilistic. So that very same data converted to statistics are suspect.

But, in this instance, the statistics are biased for Olentangy.

We can assume that most of the students earning a perfect score on any test would be found in high demographic districts -- with Olentangy being in the top 10 to 15 districts in Ohio, depending on which demographic value(s) chosen.

So Olentangy has to obtain numbers well above the state average just to be considered average within its peer group.

Since Olentangy is not statistically better than the state average (in spite of its biased draw), one can easily assume that it is below its peer districts in reality.

"'As Ronald Coase says, "If you torture the data long enough it will confess.'" -- Gordon Tullock



Note: The non sequitor above was never addressed. Statistics are valid as a means to understand our world. But statistics as a science never tells the full truth -- it can't. Nevertheless, it can provide insight, especially if the data is probabilistic.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Indoctrination or education?

You decide. -- Jim


From the Dispatch:
Metro student linked via video to climate talks
Monday, December 14, 2009 11:38 PM
By Ashley Lutz

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
DuyThanh Tran shuffled his papers nervously and addressed via video the diplomats and scientists at the United Nations' climate-change conference.

Tran, of Upper Arlington, a sophomore at the Metro Early College High School, talked at his school about waste reduction and global cooperation for about five minutes before he was stopped by the Danish moderator of the event tied to the international conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

"Can you repeat all that?" the moderator asked. "I didn't understand any of it."

DuyThanh, 16, repeated his speech, but the moderator still didn't understand. He asked DuyThanh to e-mail his ideas instead, amid laughter from the audience.

Technical glitches notwithstanding, DuyThanh and students from three other science centers participated in the environmental problem-solving conference via videoconference from science centers in the U.S. and Europe.

Students in Boston, France and Denmark also added their insights. Student representatives in India, Malaysia and Argentina were supposed to participate but never dialed in.

In Copenhagen, world leaders are debating how best to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.

One French student tried to explain in broken English how people should carpool. She then switched to French, and a moderator roughly translated her words.

DuyThanh was selected to present his ideas to the conference because he scored the highest of 42 Metro School students playing the climate-control game Clim'City. The game asks students to come up with strategies to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in their community.

At the Metro School in Columbus, students from around Franklin County focus on math and science.

DuyThanh emphasized the importance of communication among all nations.

"We can't fix global warming unless we act as one nation, with everybody participating," he said.

Metro School science teacher Neil Bluel hopes to use video technology to foster more successful communications between students in the future.

Even though DuyThanh's speech went mostly unheard, Bluel said he was excited that one of his students had the opportunity to send his ideas to the conference.

"I think it's a great opportunity for students to participate in this and apply real-life problems to global problems," Bluel said.

alutz@dispatch.com

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Didn't I read about this not too long ago?

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









Didn't I read about this not too long ago?
Jim Fedako



"It's not the first time a skyscraper has gone up as the economy swooned." Hmmm. Sounds oddly familiar.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Sara Marie Brenner: just another fascialist

Brenner hates the Democrats. Why? Because they're in power.

The Democrats and the Republicans are the US version of Stalin and Trotsky -- each believing in the same ideology and the same end, but simply fighting over who leads the way.

So
Brenner attacks Obama's health care plan (I can't call Obama's wicked nonsense reform). Why? Because Obama's plan is an unconstitutional power grab by the political class? Nope. Brenner attacks Obama's plan for one reason only -- it's not Brenner's plan.

You see, Brenner is smart -- borderline omniscient. So she has crafted her own health care plan, including this nugget: Reform medicaid to allow more people to be covered by it, and get rid of the waste in it. More people covered? Isn't that Obama's plan? Get rid of waste? Like that will ever happen.

The truth is that both the Democrats and the Republicans truly believe that government should run health care. Their only quibble -- which, in spite of all the Strum and Drang, is truly a quibble -- is how fast and who wins.

Hey, Powell! You have a real winner on city council.

note: Of course, the taxpayers lose in the end. But you knew that already.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The ROC

The ROC (Responsible Olentangy Citizens) has been active, though not as active as the Mole. Maybe it's inertia, but I bet the ROC will begin gaining momentum over time - as it takes advantage of all that potential energy out there.

What has the Mole dug up lately?

Check out the Orange Township Mole. It keeps digging up dirt ('cause that is what moles do).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My family's debt is now $314,248 (according to the debt clock)

My children will be saddled with a yoke of debt. And the thanks go to Uncle Sam (Obama, Bush, Tiberi, and the rest of the wrecking crew). Not to worry, there is enough thanks for both sides of the aisle.

Remember, this is quite a legacy to leave to our children. A creditor nation to a debtor nation in a generation.

I have to ask once again: And you still care about party politics?



Note: I received the Tiberi Christmas card today, including a picture of his family. I wonder if he tells his children that daddy helped destroy a nation, and their futures. I wonder.

PS: Keep in mind that my family has another debt of 10K due to Olentangy. Then there are the plethora of other governmental entities stacking up debt. We are a debtor nation.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

All contracts are political (at least now, anyway)

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at Mises.org:









All contracts are political (at least now, anyway)
Jim Fedako



What just happened? A 90-year-old winner of a Medal of Honor pulls the political card to trump a contract he freely signed. And the White House is involved (at some level, anyway).

If only the homeowners association would have put up a fight.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It's tyranny, and you worry about party politics

They are not doing it to us; we are aiding and abetting. -- Jim

Note: Keep in mind that the EPA was conceived and birthed by Republican Party.

From the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE.org):

The Freeman Ideas On Liberty
http://www.thefreemanonline.org
EPA to Announce New Greenhouse Regulations
Posted By Mike Van Winkle • • Vol. /Issue


“An ‘endangerment’ finding by the Environmental Protection Agency could pave the way for the government to require businesses that emit carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases to make costly changes in machinery to reduce emissions — even if Congress doesn’t pass pending climate-change legislation. EPA action to regulate emissions could affect the U.S. economy more directly, and more quickly, than any global deal inked in the Danish capital, where no binding agreement is expected.” (Wall Street Journal, Monday)
Just wait until they start regulating all human behavior that emits carbon dioxide.
FEE Timely Classic:“


An Earlier Response to Environmental Tyranny” by Daniel F. Walker

Monday, December 07, 2009

Bill Harris: Republican senator and nanny do-gooder

Bill Harris is working hard to establish a legacy that includes a bigger and more intrusive government. He is a true Republican at heart -- which now means he is a Democrat, through and through.

Folks, it will start with BMI (Ohio SB 210), but it will not end there. The state never aggregates statistics and leaves it at that. They will, in subsequent bills, use aggregate BMI stats to usurp what is left of your parental rights. And if you do not complain now, don't complain later.

Harris is a fool -- just like all of us who voted for him.

Note: Please don't reply with "at least he is not a Democrat." Harris couldn't be any more of a liberal -- just like all the other so-called Republicans who support this nonsense.


Bill,

Are you telling me that you, as a Republican, are a cosponsor of a bill that includes BMI testing of children? Are you stating that it is the role of government to act as nanny? Is this your definition of limited government?

And the creation of the Healthy Choices for Healthy Children Council? Are you serious? You were elected to reduce government yet you advocate to make it ever more intrusive. This will be your legacy.

Shame on you. And shame on those of us who voted for you.

I have to tell you, it's positions like these that are leading this nation to believe that there just may not be a dime's worth of difference between the parties.

As long as the Republicans are going to act like Democrats, we might as well vote for the real thing.

Jim Fedako
member, central committee
Delaware
County GOP

Saturday, December 05, 2009

FFF and Plymouth

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Thursday, November 26, 2009
At last after much debate of things, the governor gave way that they should set corn everyman for his own particular... That had very good success for it made all hands very industrious, so much [more] corn was planted than otherwise would have been ... The experience that has had in this common course and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst Godly and sober men, may well evince the Vanities of the conceit of Plato's and other ancients, applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of propertie, and bringing into commone wealth, would make them happy and flourishing, as if they were wiser than God.
— Governor William Bradford, Of Plimouth Plantation: 1620-1647 [1650]

Friday, December 04, 2009

Selling guns to a nutcase


Funny, the feds never run background checks before selling guns. And they have no problems selling to homicidal nutcases.

But, as an American under the supposed protection of the Second Amendment, your federal government is convinced that you are a criminal until you can prove otherwise.

So much for a constitution.

And, keep in mind, the weapons will be sold for peace. Or at least that is what we are told. In the end, the weapons will be sold to benefit the military industrial machine. And no one else.


From The Columbus Dispatch:


Ohio-Serbian military partnership thrives
Thursday, December 3, 2009 3:20 AM
By
Jeb Phillips
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

Serbian Maj. Gen. Aleksandar Zivkovic gets tips from Sgt. Andrew Loader on shooting a simulated missile launcher.


Before the Serbian minister of defense took questions at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, he made sure everyone knew he had outshot an Ohio soldier on the simulated gun range.

"10.4 seconds," said Dragan Sutanovac of the time it took him to hit all of the targets.


"Put down that it was 10.4 minutes," said Maj. Gen. Gregory Wayt, the Ohio National Guard's adjutant general and a kind of tour guide yesterday for the defense minister.

They laughed, Wayt slapped Sutanovac on the back, and Sutanovac called Wayt "Waytovich."

More than anything else, that shared goodwill was why a high-ranking Serbian delegation made the trip to Columbus this week.


Since 2006, the Ohio National Guard has worked with the Republic of Serbia, population about 7.4 million, as part of a national partnership program. The federal National Guard Bureau started the program in 1993 to link the defense ministries of young democracies in central and eastern Europe with state National Guards.

The idea, at least in part, was to promote peace and national security in that part of the world.

The Ohio National Guard continues a relationship with its first partner, Hungary. But over the past three years, the Serbian military and the Ohio National Guard have worked together 85 times. They've trained together in Michigan and rehabilitated schools in Serbia.

Before this week, no Serbian department minister had visited the United States in 25 years. Sutanovac started out in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. secretary of defense and other officials, then made his way to see his Ohio partners.


The Ohio partners appeared to be showing off a little yesterday. In a hangar at Rickenbacker, they set up the simulated gun range, a simulated shoulder-mounted missile launcher and a high-tech mobile medical station.

The Serbian ambassador to the United States, Vladimir Petrovic, climbed into a Bradley Fighting Vehicle also on display. Maj. Gen. Aleksandar Zivkovic, commander of the Serbian training command, tried to hit a simulated helicopter with the simulated missile launcher. Time ran out on the exercise twice before he could fire.


"Too short for me," he said in English. A little later, he said through a translator that he was learning what good tools simulators could be.

As show-and-tell seemed to be winding down yesterday afternoon, the Serbian defense minister was back at the simulated gun range with a pistol. Once again, he hit all the targets faster than an Ohio soldier.

Full of goodwill, he twirled around and smiled.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Play the Correlation Game

Play the Correlation Game

By: Jim Fedako

Ludwig von Mises:
As a method of economic analysis econometrics is a childish play with figures that does not contribute anything to the elucidation of the problems of economic reality.[1]


Think that you might be capable of a crime? Worried that you're the next face to appear on the local most-wanted list? Wonder no more. Just take a gander at your high school senior photo and make an honest assessment of your appearance. If you were cute or handsome, no prison yard for you. If you were ugly, better call an attorney and bondsman right away ‘cause the slammer is less than eight years away.

Confused? Well, I'm only reciting the latest research – or that which is called research – from the
National Bureau of Economic Research. The abstract from Ugly Criminals, NBER Working Paper No. 12019, Issued in February 2006, includes the suggestive finding that, “the level of beauty in high school has an effect on criminal propensity 7-8 years later.” There you have it. Enough said. Crime is the result of looks, plain and simple. It gets worse; the labor market “provides an incentive” for ugly people to live lives of criminal activity. What an evil world we live in?

Compare this with what Mises.org has to offer:
The Epistemological Problems of Economics; and, The Ultimate Foundation of Economics Science. Talk about a dismal science. Come on now, who really needs an Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought? I mean, what’s the point? As my Dad likes to say, “What does it have to do with the price of tea in China?” Or, more importantly, what does all that have to do with one’s propensity to commit a crime?

Why read Mises, Rothbard, and others, when you can understand the world simply by downloading a couple of sets of specious federal data from the web, importing them into any statistical software package – go ahead and use MS Excel if you like -- and correlating these unrelated data points? If two thoughts cross your mind, correlate them. You can even call yourself a researcher and maybe convince the NBER to publish your findings. If your findings are provocative, or even if your title is provocative, you may find yourself sitting with national talking-heads on a cable news channel, not to mention having your name, photo and findings on the front page of the New York Times. In a moment, you are a star. Set the countdown clock at fifteen minutes and enjoy.

Of course there will always be that fear which occasionally enters your conscious mind; what if someone actually reads my study? The study’s title is certainly catchy but the underlying statistical findings are spurious at best. The abstract will suggest a lot about the research, but it’s really easy to suggest; learning and understanding are different matters since they take actual effort and knowledge. It appears that the more provocative the title, or suggestive the findings, the less initial review given to the actual study. (No correlative proof here, just an observation.) Later, after your clock has expired, another researcher will review your findings and publish his refutation and begin his fifteen minutes in the limelight.

Now if you want, you can get more sophisticated by first creating a model and then testing the model against your shallow pool of data. Of course models are best in the end since they add complexity and allow you to include intricate equations in your research paper; form over substance. Just for kicks, link the models and equations together in lines of esoteric jargon that is muddled at best. Muddled writing implies intellect, right? Not so says Rothbard. Muddled writing is usually the sign of muddled thinking. Muddled begets muddled.

Positivism, empiricism, et al, are predicated on the belief that only testable knowledge is valid. They like to claim that aprioristic knowledge is simply a game of semantics and word play; it’s all just tautologies. Really? Mises built his economics on a solid foundation; humans use means to obtain ends; they act. From this he created the science of economics that truly explains the processes of the market, whether free, hampered or socialistic.

From this foundation, Mises can state as a truth such concepts as inflation is the increasing on the supply of fiat money. Inflation is not a push/pull between consumers and suppliers. It’s not some monster that arises when you don't want it only to be settled down by the latest reading from Oracle of the Fed. Inflation is the printing of money or the loosening of credit. Simple. Doesn't matter what the latest researcher has shown using the latest statistical equations and programs. Inflation is what it is.

Reading Mises and Rothbard are sufficient to disprove an NBER study espousing how “investing” in some social program will reap societal benefits in future years. Whereas General Electric sends me my dividends on a regular basis, in all the years that politicians and governmental bureaucrats have invested my confiscated earnings on social programs, I have not received one dividend check. Not one penny. This despite the advertised billions and trillions of dividends due to me by now. Where’s my return on investment from the all pork used to fund NBER research? I don’t need a ten percent return, just three or four percent will suffice. Heck, I’ll even settle for one percent. Check’s in the mail I suppose.

See, as long as we are led to believe that the world can only be understood through empirical and statistical studies, we will never be able to question the true causes of our current malaise. Studies can only suggest. The truth can never be found in statistics, the noise level always drowns out any knowledge that could possibly be garnered.

So, why the continued funding for these studies? Ask yourself, “If ugly people are forced into lives of criminal activity due to the conditions of the current labor market, who or what could correct that market flaw?” If you were a good student in public schools, raise your hand and be prepared to respond, “My dear Uncle Sam is your man.” There you have it, the implicit and sometimes explicit solution to all the social ills noted by NBER research is always interventionism. Government needs to regulate the labor market and correct “the possibility that beauty may have an impact on human capital formation.” One or two more interventions and we can all cross the river to the
Land of Cockaigne. At least that’s the picture they paint on the minds of children throughout the nation’s public school system. It’s even tough for adults – myself included -- to keep fighting the party slogans we heard for twelve years over the scratchy PA.

Read Mises, Rothbard, and others who sought liberty and prosperity for all of us. Spend some time digesting the insights found in
The Epistemological Problems of Economics, The Ultimate Foundation of Economics Science, not to mention Human Action and Man, Economy, and State. And, disregard the drivel that is portrayed as science but is nothing less than a game of MS Excel.

By the way, the study that I am truly awaiting is the one that correlates PT Barnum’s fool with those willing to forego $5 in order to read the latest drivel from NBER. That’s a study I'll purchase. No, wait. Wouldn't that make me the fool and PT correct once more?


1. The full quote from, Ludwig von Mises,
The Ultimate Foundation of Economic Science, 1978. "Deluded by the idea that the sciences of human action must ape the technique of the natural sciences, hosts of authors are intent upon a quantification of economics. They think that economics ought to imitate chemistry, which progressed from a qualitative to a quantitative state.[1] Their motto is the positivistic maxim: Science is measurement. Supported by rich funds, they are busy reprinting and rearranging statistical data provided by governments, by trade associations, and by corporations and other enterprises. They try to compute the arithmetical relations among various of these data and thus to determine what they call, by analogy with the natural sciences, correlations and functions. They fail to realize that in the field of human action statistics is always history and that the alleged "correlations" and "functions" do not describe anything else than what happened at a definite instant of time in a definite geographical area as the outcome of the actions of a definite number of people.[2] As a method of economic analysis econometrics is a childish play with figures that does not contribute anything to the elucidation of the problems of economic reality."

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Pat Tiberi: forcing us to poison the environment

Good ol' fascialist (a combination of fascism and socialism) Tiberi voted to shove fluorescent light bulbs down our throats. The guy is a real piece of work. -- Jim


Utility wants longer to explain light-bulb plan
Saturday, November 28, 2009 3:03 AM
By John Funk
The Plain Dealer

FirstEnergy Corp. says it needs more time to explain what it wants to do with the 3.75 million high-efficiency light bulbs it had hoped to sell to consumers whether they wanted them or not.

The Akron utility is trying to get an extension on the Monday deadline set by state regulators to explain how it will dispose of the compact fluorescent light bulbs.

The company wants to work the program into a three-year program it will file by Dec. 31.

The Ohio consumers' counsel objects to the delay and is telling the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio that. The PUCO in October rejected a FirstEnergy plan to hand-deliver bulbs to customers, then raise their bills to cover that cost and the lost energy revenue.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Physics and global warming

In Falsification Of The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics, Physicist Dr. Gerhard Gerlich, of the Institute of Mathematical Physics at the Technical University Carolo-Wilhelmina in Braunschweig in Germany, and Dr. Ralf D. Tscheuschner take the global warmists to task.

For the Al Gore ilk, this is truly an inconvenient read.

Note: For those adhering to scientism, note the lack of unanimity within science itself. The only things that are truly settled are those which are trivial (I know, I know, that was a tautology -- forgive me).



Abstract (from The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics)

The atmospheric greenhouse effect, an idea the authors trace back to the traditional works of Fourier 1824, Tyndall 1861 and Arrhenius 1896, but which is still supported in global climatology, essentially describes a fictitious mechanism by which a planetary atmosphere acts as a heat pump driven by an environment that is radiatively interacting with but radiatively equilibrated to the atmospheric system.

According to the second law of thermodynamics such a planetary machine can never exist.

Nevertheless, in almost all texts of global climatology and in widespread secondary literature it is taken for granted that such a mechanism is real and stands on a firm scientific foundation. In this paper the popular conjecture is analyzed and the underlying physical principles clarified.

By showing that

(a) there are no common physical laws between the warming phenomenon in glass houses and the fictitious atmospheric greenhouse effects,
(b) there are no calculations to determine an average surface temperature of a planet,
(c) the frequently mentioned difference of 33 °C is a meaningless number calculated
wrongly,
(d) the formulas of cavity radiation are used inappropriately,
(e) the assumption of a radiative balance is unphysical,
(f) thermal conductivity and friction must not be set to zero,

the atmospheric greenhouse conjecture is falsified.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Probability and age

My birthday is just around the corner. It's a time for family, fun, and cake -- lots of cake. It is also a time for a quick look at the CSO mortality tables (available online).

The tables -- used in insurance and other areas -- provide a value that reflects deaths per 1000 policy holders, depending on age, sex, and smoking status. With little difficulty, I found my value.

Luckily, I am still at a less than 1 death per 1000 mortality rate ... whew ...

Nevertheless, a question remains: What is my probability of dying within the next 12 months?

Is the answer simply the rate found on the table for male, nonsmokers (blended rate since the age in the table is an issue age, which changes six months before the actual date of birth)?

The answer depends on your view of probability. If you take the standard view of probability, your answer is yes -- the rate is my probability of dying. If you take a frequency view of probability, your answer would be much different. You would state that my probability of dying is either 100% or o%. And we will not know the answer until the year is over (though God knows now).

Is this just esoteric nonsense? Not at all. Your view of probability drives how you perceive statistical conclusions. It helps you separate the statistical chaff from the statistical wheat


Note: I take a frequentist view of probability. So I'll let you know next year what my actual qx (mortality rate) was for this year. Or, just maybe, I won't.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

What is science?

Is it immutable truth? Not so. As Stephen Hawking explains, "No matter how many times the results of experiments agree with some theory, you can never be sure that the next time the result will not contradict the theory."

At best, science is nothing more than the closest correlation known between natural phenomenon.

Yet many assume that science is law; that science is without bias or error. They assume this to be so since that is how science is portrayed in most schools and universities. Once scientists speak, alternate theories or ideas are to be cast aside -- they are now archaic and foolish.

But such is not science. Science proves nothing, and so must be always open to retesting of old theories. Science is never settled -- in spite of what Al Gore states.

Consider a tool used in scientific investigations: statistics. There are two layers to statistics, there is probability and there are statistical equations.

The concept of probability is still open to debate -- learned and reasonable minds do not agree on what constitutes a true probabilistic statement. Yet scientists (as well as many others) plug datasets into statistical equations and claim the results to be truth.

However, this is akin to entering an address into the name field of a computer program and claiming that, since the program didn't error, what you entered must be a name.

Just because the equation, program, or model can process the data, does not mean the results are true.

Consider this syllogism: All readers of this blog are Steelers fans. You are a reader of this blog, Therefore, you are a Steelers fan.

The syllogism is correct as far as logic is concerned -- the conclusion follows from the major and minor premises. But the major premise is likely not true -- I'm almost certain that at least one reader of this blog is not a Steelers fan. If the major premise is not true, there is no way to claim that the conclusion is true (based on the major premise, of course).

Logic works, but does not always provide conclusions that are true -- meaningful in a real world sense.

Once you go beyond the trivial, science isn't even close to being settled (true science, that is). And the more we learn, the more we realize we don't know.

Earlier this year, Jym Ganahl (a trusted, local meteorologist and TV weatherman) spoke at a meeting I attended. He noted that, as a group, meteorologists do not support the supposed science of human-induced global warming. Oh, sure, climate is changing -- it always is. But there is no proof that man is causing that change.

The global warming debate is not settled -- sorry Al. Although the climate change debate is settled -- our climate is changing, it always is.

Finally, a letter in today's edition of The Columbus Dispatch claimed that science is truth -- and this coming from a writer who identified herself as a former scientist. When you read such nonsense, consider Hawking. Science can never define truth. Never.

Note to my Christian brothers and sister: There is only one Truth, and it is found in the Bible. Do not be taken in by the allure of science (or, as FA Hayek termed it, scientism). Science is not truth. And that is a statement that any good scientist (typically defined as a scientist that is not dependent on the state for funding and support -- he who pays the piper ...) would accept.

Note: Read Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, FA Hayek, Richard von Mises, Ludwig von Mises, et al, to enrich your understanding of science. At a later time, I will address the apriori sciences. From these, truth can be ascertained -- truth that is supported by the Bible, of course.

PS: Since I am my own editor, I tend to revise posts after some time and thought. As someone born in Pittsburgh, it is really hard for me to write Steelers fan instead of Steeler fan. If you are from western PA, you would understand.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Falsification and science

Karl Popper -- widely regarded as one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century -- claimed that only statements which are falsifiable can be considered scientific. So, a theory should be considered scientific if and only if it is falsifiable.

Now, consider global warming -- er, climate change. By Popper's definition, global warming cannot be science since its claims are unfalsifiable. The so-called science of global warming cannot be contradicted. Even evidence that obviously refutes its claims is disregarded -- the evidence is already incorporated into global warming.

At its most absurd, show that temperatures are going down and the adherents of global warming say that the lower temperatures are the result of global warming. It's almost Marxian in its nonsense.

In the end, global warming is something other than science. For many, it's another means to destroy man. For others, it's the ploy that will lead to riches. And for the politicians, it's one more crisis that can't go to waste.

note: Even while the global warmists are playing the adult masses, the public schools are indoctrinating the next generation. (HT LewRockwell.com)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

FFF and a really good point

Albert knocks this one on the head. -- Jim

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Monday, November 23, 2009

For forty years now, I have been putting the one question to reformers, planners, single-taxers (one of which I am), socialists, etc., etc., and never got an answer: 'Suppose you got your system all set up, what kind of people can you get to administer it except the kind you've got?"
— Albert Jay Nock, Selected Letters of Albert Jay Nock

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Dave King thanks his friends

In this week's edition of ThisWeek Olentangy, newly elected school board member Dave King has a letter thanking his friends. His friends?!? Isn't that what he plans on doing after he is sworn in?

And I bet King has a lot of friends that he plans on thanking -- or a few friends that he plans on thanking a lot (keep in mind that King makes his living [inter alia] by getting contracts from various local governments).

Folks, hold onto your wallet -- King is on the board.

Note: By thanking his friends, King sounds like he just won election to high school student council -- and his friends are about to get the choice photos in the yearbook (Ok, mixing two high school offices, but you get the point).

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Thanksgiving Day story from The Independent Institute

From The Independent Institute

The Pilgrims’ Real Thanksgiving Lesson
November 25, 2008
Benjamin Powell

Feast and football. That’s what many of us think about at Thanksgiving. Most people identify the origin of the holiday with the Pilgrims’ first bountiful harvest. But few understand how the Pilgrims actually solved their chronic food shortages.

Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did.

In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on equality and need as determined by Plantation officials. People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. Governor William Bradford, in his 1647 history, Of Plymouth Plantation, wrote that this system was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. The problem was that young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.

Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.

This change, Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, the women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability.

Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner.

We are direct beneficiaries of the economics lesson the pilgrims learned in 1623. Today we have a much better developed and well-defined set of property rights. Our economic system offers incentives for us—in the form of prices and profits—to coordinate our individual behavior for the mutual benefit of all; even those we may not personally know.

It is customary in many families to give thanks to the hands that prepared this feast during the Thanksgiving dinner blessing. Perhaps we should also be thankful for the millions of other hands that helped get the dinner to the table: the grocer who sold us the turkey, the truck driver who delivered it to the store, and the farmer who raised it all contributed to our Thanksgiving dinner because our economic system rewards them. That’s the real lesson of Thanksgiving. The economic incentives provided by private competitive markets where people are left free to make their own choices make bountiful feasts possible.

Powell is Research Fellow at The Independent Institute ,assistant professor of economics at Suffolk University and a Senior Economist with the Beacon Hill Institute. Dr. Powell received his Ph.D. in economics from George Mason University. He has been assistant professor of economics at San Jose State University, a fellow with the Mercatus Center's Global Prosperity Initiative, and a visiting research fellow with the American Institute for Economic Research.
Full Biography and Recent Publications
This article was originally published in November 2004. It ran in the San Diego Union-Tribune and Charlotte Observer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dianetics in education

You have to read this nonsense to believe it. It's sort of like reading Dianetics or similar mishmash. But, and this is big, unlike the Dianetics mishmash, this nonsense IS the nonsense that is taught to educators, who bring it into your child's classroom. -- Jim


From the Marxists over at TCRecord, the propaganda arm of the Teachers College of Columbia University:

Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education

reviewed by Kathleen Nolan — November 02, 2009

Title: Culturally Responsive Mathematics
EducationAuthor(s): Brian Greer, Swapna Mukhopadhyay, Arthur B. Powell, and
Sharon Nelson-Barber (eds.)
Publisher: Routledge, New
York
ISBN: 0805862641,
Pages:
400,
Year: 2009

As I pondered the title of this admirable collection of essays, I could not help but ask the pertinent question at hand: What, exactly, is meant by (a) culturally responsive mathematics education? Decidedly, this is precisely the question addressed by each of the chapter authors, albeit in ways that are embedded in stories of identity, cultural artifacts, curriculum development, social justice, computer design, semiotics, the environment, and the historical, anthropological, and highly politicized perspectives on mathematics as socially and culturally constructed. I quickly discerned that such a diverse collection of perspectives focused on the topic of diversity does not readily lend itself to a cursory review process— striving to
encapsulate the flavor of a rich text such as this in 1500 words or less is akin, I suppose, to striving to encapsulate what it means to be culturally
responsive in mathematics education in 370 pages or less!

FFF and Shanker

And he was right. -- Jim

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Thursday, November 19, 2009

It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy, a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no surprise that our school system doesn't improve: It more resembles the communist economy than our own market economy.
— Albert Shanker, President of the American Federation of Teachers

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Educational relativism

The Ohio School Boards Association is the lobbying arm of Ohio's public school districts. In the note below, OSBA defines its position as one of money -- their position is simply relative to the amount of state tax dollars appropriated.

For OSBA and the rest of the educationists, progressive nonsense is never morally or ethically wrong, it's only underfunded.

-- Jim


From OSBA's Facts in a Flash:

Healthy Children, Healthy Choices Legislation

Both the Ohio House (HB 373) and Ohio Senate (SB 210) are proposing bipartisan bills that would establish nutritional standards for certain foods and beverages sold in schools; require public school students to have periodic body mass index measurements; and require daily physical activity for students. Both bills are being strongly supported by the Ohio Business Roundtable and other health care advocates.

Specifically, the bills would:

  • Require that schools provide 30 minutes of physical activity for students each day.
  • Increase required physical education time for high school students from a half-unit to a full unit, and ensure that teachers are licensed in physical education.
  • Require that schools offer more nutritious food and beverages in vending machines and on menus.
  • Require body mass index screenings for students entering third, fifth and ninth grades, educate parents about the results and post aggregate results on district report cards.
  • Increase access to free breakfast for students who qualify. OSBA is working with other interested parties on the legislation.

We have expressed some concerns regarding how the proposal would be funded and how districts would fit the new requirements into an already crowded school day.

It's looking to be an FFF weekend

Sad, but true. -- Jim

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Friday, November 20, 2009

For the majority of people liberty means only the system and the administrators they are used to.
— Albert Jay Nock, Selected Letters of Albert Jay Nock [1962]

Friday, November 20, 2009

FFF and Mises

From a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.

— Ludwig von Mises, Human Action [1949]

FFF and Pascal

Old words of wisdom from a recent edition of the Email Update from the Future of Freedom Foundation:

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Can any thing be more ridiculous than that a man has a right to kill me because he dwells the other side of the water, and because his prince has a quarrel with mine, although I have none with him?
— Blaise Pascal, Pensees, IV [1670]

There has to be more here ... there just has to be

But, I guess it ends with this. -- Jim


From The Columbus Dispatch

Delaware County jail director resigns
Friday, November 20, 2009 4:29 PM
BY
DANA WILSON
The Columbus Dispatch

DELAWARE, Ohio The director of the Delaware County jail resigned today after admitting to using his personal cell phone to take and send inappropriate photos to a female employee, Sheriff Walter L. Davis III said.

Christopher L. Smith, 34, took one of the images while he was on duty and dressed in uniform, Davis said.

Smith sent the photos to a woman who worked for a company that provides health-care services at the jail. The woman no longer works at the jail, but the sheriff said he did not have details on her employment status because she is not a county employee.

Smith had been on paid leave since Nov. 9 and was being investigated for violating office policies concerning non-discrimination and harassment. Smith resigned today during a meeting the sheriff had arranged to discuss the results of an internal review.

"He felt disappointed in himself and felt that he had let down the office," Davis said.

In his resignation letter, Smith said he resigned with deep regret and thanked Davis for "the challenges and life experiences" he gained at work.


The administrative investigation found that Smith violated the office's code of conduct but did not warrant a criminal probe, Davis said. He first learned of Smith's alleged misconduct through an anonymous complaint to the county commissioners.

"The citizens of Delaware County deserve public servants who represent the mission of our office," Davis said. "The office cannot and will not tolerate employees who exhibit a lack of judgment while on duty."

Smith could not be reached for comment. He joined the sheriff's office in March 2008, and previously worked for the Morrow County sheriff's office for 10 years.