Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Once Again, He was right...

During his farewell address to the American people, Ronald Reagan, ever the humble optimist, spoke of America as being a shining city on a hill, a beacon of sorts that would set an example for freedom-loving people from every corner of the world. Mr. Reagan had a good reason to speak of our nation in such glowing and confident terms. In the eight short years he was in office, our nation accomplished more economically and internationally for the cause of liberty than at any time since World War II. 19 million new jobs, falling inflation and interest rates, record economic growth, a doubling of federal revenues and the vanquishing of the Soviet Union all happened as a direct result of his view that liberty works best for our people, and all people.

Mr. Reagan would have never believed that in less than 20 years since he left office the United States would be slouching towards the goal of becoming Western Europe - debt-ridden with quasi-nationalization of key industries (see cars, student loans, banking, health care...), exploding social welfare spending, rising levels of regulations and the threat of punitive tax rates on the more productive people among us.

I have said many times in recent years that America is no longer Reagan's America but one where the Reagan years are to be looked at as a brief aberration as we stumble into the same ditch as the Romans. I have not shared in his optimism. I have not believed my own statements that we must have hope because we are the only nation whose reset button has the word "liberty" on it. I tell my students, and have prepared to tell my kids, that our country still has time to change its mind and turn this economic Titanic around. Yet, many times I think I say this only because I do not want to feel guilty for bringing children into a world where they will be poorer than I, only by virtue of being born while adult socialists made plans on how to ruin their chance for success.

Yet, once again, I am proven wrong and Reagan, the great sage is proven right. There are reasons to be hopeful even when all looks bleak.

Of course, one reason could be the 63 seats that the Republicans won in November promising to not act like a Bush Republican. Another could be found in Mr. Obama recently pushing for greater free trade with South Korea despite protests from unions, environmentalists and other groups who do not want to compete in the global economy. It is also somewhat encouraging to see Mr. Obama cave in on his promise to force tax rates up on high achievers. The coming two year extension of the Bush tax cuts, combined with the payroll tax cut, even if temporary, are also a temporary movement away from the Hope and Change idiocy that has been so pervasive in our country.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the decision of Judge Henry Hudson, who just yesterday ruled that Mr. Obama's health care legislation requiring all of us to engage in commerce - by force - is unconstitutional. We may now see the implosion of the criminally suffocating health care legislation that promised to hurt businesses and individuals everywhere.

Somewhere, Mr. Reagan is probably smiling that sly smile of his and saying, "I wonder why people were so frantic over the past couple of years. Don't they know that Americans always change their minds when they come to believe that government is the problem, rather than the solution to what ails us?"

Bit by bit perhaps his reason for optimism is being woven back into the fabric of what makes our nation unique. I for one plan to do more sewing in the near future. After all, if Mr. Reagan could have hope when times suggested there should be none, the least I can do is have hope when current times suggest there is little.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

How to waste $100 million...

Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, announced that he was going to donate $100 million to help improve the public schools in Newark, New Jersey.

He would have been better off if he would have announced a series of 100 prizes worth $1 million to those individuals who come up with the best ideas for improving Facebook. Or, he could have spent the $100 million hiring more employees to monitor abuses of the Facebook service. Or, he could have thrown $100 million out of the window of his moving vehicle and assumed the people who picked it up would put it back into the economy.

Yet he chose to do one of the dumbest things a human being could do with $100 or $100 million.

Will $100 million:

a. Cause lousy parents in Newark to suddenly get involved in their childs' education or help them with homework or encourage them to read to their kids?
b. Cause poorly qualified teachers to magically become experts in their field of study?
c. Cause the teachers union in Newark to lose the power to protect bad teachers?
d. Cause tenure to go away in Newark?
e. Cause Newark to open up all school districts to competition, allowing any kid to go to any school he or she desires?
f. Cause the schools to adopt 1950s era punishment for unruly, disrespectful students?
g. Cause the IQ of the students in Newark to increase?

I wish Mr. Zuckerberg would reconsider. All he has accomplished is a net reduction of his wealth with nothing to show for it.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Thoughts on Quran burning and Mosque building

If liberty is truly valuable to you then you must allow others to use their liberty to do things that you might find offensive - so long at their behavior does not violate the rights of others.
This silly pastor in Gainesville has as much right to do something stupid as Muslims in New York have the right to do something that might be offensive.

It really does not matter what we think about a mosque being built in the shadow of 'Ground Zero'. The people who lost their lives nine years ago do not have an opinion on the matter any more than those who are upset about the mosque have any right to use government to stop its construction. If the folks who are proposing this building have paid for the land, labor and materials to build it, then so be it. That is the end of the story....IF....we truly believe in the idea of liberty. To force them to go somewhere else would simply show that Americans are hypocrites and that all that we say we have been fighting against the last nine years would be for naught.
I would be upset if I saw some nut burning the Bible in Iran - or Illinois. Yet, I only have an interest in seeing the Bible treated with respect, not a right to see it treated with respect.

If a book gets burned in America, so be it. So long as the pastor did not steal the matches or force someone else to assist him, we, as liberty-lovers are obligated to stand back, shake our heads over the foolishness of the man, and then let him proceed.

I would hope that Muslims and Christians living in America would see these events as an opportunity to do what we are supposed to do - leave each other alone.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Call 911....then wait 35 minutes....

This afternoon I was in my home when I happened to look out of my window and see a young teenaged girl walking along the side of my house. I hurried outside and found her barefoot and crying. When I asked her what was wrong she told me that she had been beaten by a relative at her home. I asked her if she wanted me to call the police and she said yes.

While she was in my house being consoled by my wife I dialed 911 and reported what had happened. The 15-year old girl told the dispatcher where the incident took place and I gave the authorities my address. 10 minutes went by and no one appeared.

I saw a police officer drive by, attempted to wave him down only to have him go on by.

I called 911 again to find out what was going on. They had not processed the last call yet but said that it would be soon.

Another officer went by. Again, I stood in my driveway, waving my arms. No response.

I called the non-emergency number for our local police department. I got a recording telling me to call the county. I did. The county gave me many options, none of which included talking to a human being.

After 30 minutes I drove the one-tenth of a mile that I live from my town's police department (I can actually see the department from my driveway..) No one was in the police department and the door was locked. A phone with instructions to dial 911 was on the outside of the building.

I dialed 911 for the third time and was told that the last calls were in the system, it was a busy day for the police and someone would arrive soon.

I drove home and after more than 35 minutes an officer finally appeared, told me he had been given the wrong address and then, finally, proceeded to assist this girl who had to wait more than a half hour for the government to do its job in a manner that our taxes call for.

Thank God she was not in my yard bleeding from a gunshot wound...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Is the Economy a Machine or an Ecosystem?

Much of what is missing from the current debate over economic policy is a fundamental question over what our nation's economy most closely resembles - a sophisticated machine that can be fine tuned by special people with IQ's several standard deviations greater than us common folk, or an ecosystem that selects the most relatively fit participants for success, while punishing poor decision makers with lower standards of living.

If our economy resembles a machine, then the Keynesians in Washington are correct that managed health care; near $1 trillion stimulus packages; targeted subsidies and bailouts; quasi-ownership of banking and automotive concerns; green initiatives and much more can be successfully carried out by elected officials whom we entrusted in the voting booth. Let's face it, we have been told over and over again that under the era of deregulation (presumably referring to Reagan, Clinton & Bush), led to the chaos that destroyed the American economy and, deservedly, our faith in capitalism. Unfettered capitalism, we have been told must be restrained by intelligent, diligent political officials and judges so that we can all be spared the ravages of another Great Depression.
On the other hand, what if an economy is not unlike the wilderness and the ecosystem that exists in the wilderness? Think about this proposition for a moment. Out in the wilds of nature, the regulating forces that guide the "decisions" of plants and animals is simply the extent to which the ecosystem selects for success, or failure, the behavior of its participants. Life is a random walk where sometimes there is just enough rain, food, sunlight and lack of disease to allow living beings that are best suited for current ecological circumstances to thrive. Other times, naturally occuring ecological "recessions", i.e. drought, floods, plagues, etc. cause participants that are ill-suited for the conditions that exist to face a greater probability of struggling, or even dying.

The "market" for resources is unregulated but ultimately faces regulation. The regulation in this case stems from diverse life forms using only those resources needed to maximize chances for survival. There is also no punishment imposed for those living things that have the best genes, the greatest strength, or the luckiest location at any given time.

Harsh as it may sound, what if we simply allowed our economy to copy what is "natural" to our condition? Human beings have a greater capacity to work together, a greater desire to share wealth and a deeper understanding of how to organize resources than animals and plants do. Government, one could argue, imposes unnatural regulations, taxes and laws that inhibit human being from maximizing the opportunities our economy (our ecosystem) has presented to us. Whether it is progressive individual and corporate income taxes; crony capitalism for businesses with the best lobbyists, but not the best products; or welfare and health care benefits for voters who would rather use a ballot to get money than a job to do the same, the examples are endless where unnatural, and unproductive decisions are rewarded all because government can use force.

I would like to suggest that the more we encourage our fellow man to look to nature rather than government for guidance on how to structure economic policy the better off we will be in the long run. This would not mean the absence of help for the down-trodden. Far from it. What it would mean is that in the future, participants in our biological economy would not build nests that they cannot afford; would not eat enough food to become a strain to their neighbors' wallet and would not use their businesses to invest in resources that are too risky.
Remember, if we think our economy is a machine, it means that in the long run we must face a reality where more and more experts get to design and control the part of the machine that each of us helps support. I am not sure I want a future that the Soviet Union decided to leave behind.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on the $20 billion Shakedown...

In case you missed the last blog entry on this site, I am in favor of BP paying for the cleanup of the property that is owned by all and therefore owned by no one. This is the nature of common property - if one of the part owners/nonowners does something to ruin what the rest of us partly own/do not own then that party must bear the responsibility for the damage done to the rest of us. BP - as my brother pointed out via email - made a lot of bad decisions stemming in large part from poor management on the oil rig. BP, according to The Wall Street Journal relied on less expensive, and riskier technology to drill for oil in deeper waters. Whatever millions BP saved by going cheap and having bad management/crisis planning, it is now paying for - and then some. I am fine with that. If $20 billion is not enough, let it be $23 billion or $36 billion. Whatever. I, like you, want BP to fix the mess it helped create.

Now lets turn to another huge spill that threatens far more people than BP will ever hurt. This spill has caused trillions, yes, trillions of dollars in damages and will have a catastrophic impact on our children, grandchildren and their grandchildren.

This spill is the huge gusher of money that our federal government has blown through since...well, since FDR with an acceleration in the name of Bush Compassion/International Pre-emptive Conflict and Obama Socialism/Keynesian Fallacy Worshipping.

Tell me please - how do we sit here and cry for dead pelicans and turtles who are covered in BP oil, when our future human citizens are covered in debt? Why should I rejoice when BP's CEO is dragged before Congress for his tar and feathering when no one from Congress is dragged before us to explain the trillions wasted in concept wars, health care for all, endless welfare benefits, bailouts for Harvard MBAs who were too stupid to recall the phrase "boom and......bust" and on and on and on?

It is a pathetic joke that BP is held to scrutiny of one standard for ruining the Gulf of Mexico while our own government gets to ruin every state in the nation with no accountability whatsoever.

Someone please explain this paradox to me.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Some Rational thoughts on the BP Oil Spill

I find myself in constant amazement at the stupidity of the American people. Just when I start thinking that maybe my fellow citizens deserve a little credit for having some common sense, another reason to have no faith in the economic intelligence of humans resurfaces.

To date, BP has lost over $1 billion as a result of this historically epic oil spill. Every second, BP officials can watch an underwater camera film profits gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. BP will end up spending far more on lawsuits, cleanup costs, new regulatory contraints on deepwater drilling and more. BP's reputation with consumers is tanking. Stockholders are fleeing. Bondholders are probably selling off in droves.

And yet, the American people think BP does not care about what is taking place. BP cares more than anyone! BP cares because it has the biggest reason (over 1 billion of them) to care. It is as if - when you listen to other people - that this evil corporation is somehow responding slowing and/or stupidly to the spill because it is, of course, an evil corporation that cares only about profits and stockholders. It is precisely because BP only cares about profits and stockholders that BP keeps trying to stop this spill.

Many will say that this is proof that deepwater drilling is too risky to continue or that BP and other companies should have had to take more precautions before they started drilling that deep. Nonsense.

First, the odds of something like this happening were - and still are - so low that it would not have made sense for BP to incur tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs to drill relief wells at the same time the primary wells were being drilled. Think of it this way. We have a better chance of dying from a car wreck than an oil rig has of sinking. Should Ford build cars that look like tanks with several feet of protective steel, bomb-proof windows and bumpers that are 10 feet thick? That would save many more lives, right? What would cars then cost?

If all of the oil companies took into account every possible disaster and then incurred costs to prevent even the lowest probability events, you would have the pleasure of paying much more for gas than you do now. Then you would complain about $6 gas and the "excessive measures" that oil companies are wasting money on.

The reality of this spill is quite simple. BP engaged in rational engineering to provide us with fuel at the lowest possible cost. Government regulators (who failed over and over again to do their jobs) implicitly trusted that BP loved getting money for oil and would try not to spill any. When the lowest probability event actually happened we got a spill into the nation's common property that BP should now pay to clean up. It will be bad for the Gulf States for a long time. Billions, potentially in tourism and seafood revenue will be lost. That is part of the price of keeping gas around $2.50 per gallon.

If you want a full-proof method for keeping all oil out of the ocean, then ban all drilling offshore, pay your $6 per gallon and shut up about the high price of gas.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why Libertarians are Losers...

As an unapologetic Libertarian I would like to take a moment to point out what is wrong with the folks that make up the ranks of our nation's third largest political party.

I, like many of you, voted for Ron Paul in 2008. I like his son, Rand Paul, and find him to be a breath of fresh air whenever he speaks on the issues that are dear to my heart.

And yet, Mr. Paul is on the verge - assuming it is not already too late - of being relegated to a footnote in our political history. This would place him in the company of other Libertarians who seem to take pride in losing elections. After all, it takes a special person to really understand how smart we Libertarians are. We, and only we, know that government best serves us when it leaves our wallets and bodies alone. The Democrats understand liberty as it pertains to our rights to engage in social contracts. Republicans understand liberty as it pertains to our rights in economic contracts.

It takes a real smart person to understand the value of liberty in all contracts between consenting adults.
Yet, Libertarians are really, really dumb in at least one respect.

Rather than slowly pulling Republicans and Democrats in our direction by showing them the value of true freedom, we open our extremist-sounding mouths and blurt out inumerable offensive ideas that send voters running away.

Take Rand Paul's recent remarks that the government probably overstepped its bounds in the 1964 Civil Rights legislation. Mr. Paul contended that private businesses should not have faced force desegregation of restaurants, hotels, etc.

Yes, I understand his point. No, I do not think I should have to let anyone in my home or car or other private areas of my life if I choose not to. The problem with what Mr. Paul said is twofold.

First, the voters are not Constitutionally astute enough to discern the broader meaning of his comments and therefore will think he is a racist.

Second, pragmatic Libertarianism might suggest that desegregation of businesses was a proper function of government. After all, black people in 1964 could have argued that they paid property taxes to maintain the sidewalks, roads, street lights, signs, sewers, police and fire protection for the local sandwich shop and therefore a sandwich shop that exists to sell food to the public should have to allow all members of the tax-paying public to peacefully enter and pay for a meal.

Liberty means "anything that is peaceful". A peaceful attempt to exchange private property in a business establishment seems to fit under that definition.

If Mr. Paul - and other Libertarians - want to start winning elections a strong dose of common-sense Libertarianism would help achieve that goal.

Until then, Libertarians will be confined to the wilderness where many of our best ideas our clouded by rhetoric that the voters find offensive or extremist.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Hometown lesson on the failures of government

I am asked from time to time if there are moments in my life I can point to that put me on a path to become a Libertarian economist who blames government for everything that ails the planet. While there is a long list - probably dating back to my days in Kindergarten - one instance in particular helped shape my correct view that there is absolutely nothing government does as well as the private sector.

On May 19, 1990 - twenty years ago today - my boyhood home in Hugo, Oklahoma burned to the ground.

It was a beautiful home. It was built at the turn of the 20th century and totally refurbished by my grandfather during the 1940s. The exterior was all made of large stone. The interior was Colorado pine logs with wagon wheel chandaliers, a huge fire place and many other touches that made it a wonderful place to live in.

On the rare occasions when I visit my home town I always take my wife and kids down the end of Bluff Street. The kids especially enjoy running around in the big field that was next to my home. Where the home once was there is now nothing more than grass and a chain link fence that keeps people away from the low-income housing units that now sit in our former pasture.

The house would still be there if not for the failures of Hugo's government that night.

My brother started his new motorcycle near the window of my parents bedroom. When the engine started an explosion took place and flames shot through the open window and caught the curtains on fire. He immediately called the fire department. When they arrived and attempted to hook their hoses into the plug only 30 yards or so from our house, the fireplug did not respond. They rushed down the street to one over 150 yards away. It did not respond either.

Without access to water from the only two plugs in our area, all they - and my brother could do - was watch our home, and all of its contents, burn to the ground even though they got to our home when the fire was still contained to only part of the bedroom.

When an investigation was conducted as to why the plugs did not work it was discovered that the fire department had neglected to conduct routine maintenance (by flushing out the plugs) when it was supposed to. In fact, rather than coming out once every few months as the city required, it had been years since they had driven the five minutes it would have taken from the fire station to our house to simply do their jobs.

My parents considered pursuing litigation against the fire department only to discover from an attorney that cities in Oklahoma are under no legal obligation to protect citizens.
As a Libertarian I realize that my family has to bear responsibility for the cause of the fire. However, I also became well aware of another fact of life: If you count on a not-for-profit government agency that receives all of its funding from the forced taking of our earnings without the accountability that private companies face, then you better make sure that your insurance is up to date and your most important belongings are kept in a fire-proof safe.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Communists in my Classroom

In an earlier blog entry that many of you responded to, I posted some student thoughts on NFL quarterback, Joe Montana - and his $49 million home. It was clear, from the writings of many of my students, that Socialism is alive and well in America.

Out of pure morbid curiosity, I decided to find out in my summer class, if Communism might also be the favored solution to our nation's problems. So, I played a dirty trick on my students. Here is what they were asked to read and comment on:


This month Congress will vote on the 2010 Equity and Economic Security Act. Below are five of the Act's major provisions. Please read over each of them and then write a short essay explaining whether or not these provisions will help bring about greater economic equality and security for the United States.

1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes.

2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax.

3. Abolition of all right of inheritance.

4. Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.

5. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.

Of course, as all of you know, these five provisions come directly from The Communist Manifesto written by Messrs. Marx and Engels. There is no such Act (yet). I basically lied to everyone to flush out the Marxists among us.

Brace yourself.

25% of my students were in agreement with parts of, or all of this "Act." Here are some their comments - unedited for grammar or spelling.

"I think this program will bring greater economic quality because each of these points will bring comfort and benefits to the citizens. I think this program will bring a security in economy that will be a benefit to everyone. These program mentioned talk about abolition of things that citizens in the past will like to eliminate, also give a lot of benefits to the public like centralization of communication and transport. I think every single part is a benefit to almost every citizen."

"The only thing the government should possibly implement would be point 5: Centralization of the means of communication and transport in hands of the State."

"I have also been a victim of the corruption of lenders and credit companies, scams, and seen the economic hardships. Therefore, I do feel that this Act will bring about some much needed direction, organization and reconstruction to our much needed economy."

"As we all know the economy was very affected by the property and territory sales. This problem really impacted most of the population, so I think that if Congress get control over this it could absolutely help our economic crisis. Banks were basically one of the central points why economy was so devastated this year. By centralizing the credict in the hands of the state it will possibly regulate and balance the economy."

"I feel that a combination of those changes would result in greater economic equality."

"Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes could, in my opinion, possibly help out the economy. Abolition of all right of inheritance would help out the security our economy.


There you have it my friends....or should I say comrades?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

George Costanza & Texting while Driving laws...

In a classic episode of Seinfeld, George and Kramer come out of a store with a bottle of wine to discover that they have been blocked in by a double-parker. Irate, George explains to Kramer how incredibly stupid and selfish double-parkers are and that if he ran for president he would insist on "the death penalty for double-parking."

George Costanza for President!!

Today, on the way to work - just like every other day the past couple of years - I found myself almost killed by another Florida lunatic who was texting while driving. I cannot begin to tell you how much I want these people tried, on the side of the road by roving juries, and executed, on the side of the road, by roving execution squads.

Imagine the jobs we could create for the funeral home industry by eliminating these menaces to society! Imagine how we could reduce global warming by getting their cars off the road! Imagine the impact on used-car prices as the families of these idiots have to sell their cars.

The Florida Senate voted 34-4 yesterday to ban texting while driving. The bill would make texting a "secondary violation" - meaning you would have to first be pulled over for doing something else. The first offense would carry a fine of $30 plus court costs. Second offense would be $60. If a driver crashed into me or some other innocent person, six points would be assessed against their drivers license.

The Florida House is NOT expected to to go along with this measure. According to one idiot politician, "There are a lot of things that people do in their cars that are very distracting, and all of them need to be addressed. And it needs to be addressed from a different perspective."

Grow a backbone for Gods sake! Texting leads to six times more dangerous driving conditions than being drunk!

A $30 fine is not going to stop anything when the probablity of getting stopped is so low.

Therefore, until George is elected President I may just take matters in my own hands and pull over texters, have them roll down their window and then beat them with their own phones. (For you internet-police, I am only, like, you-know, sort of, really kidding...)

You texters-while operating 2,000 lbs. of machinery at 70mph are evil and/or stupid and/or selfish.

Turn off your phone and drive so the rest of us can see our families again...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

John Paul Stevens and your Home

A few days ago, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote to President Obama informing him of his decision to retire from the bench this summer.

Owners of private property all over the United States would have benefited greatly if he would have made this announcement in 2005.

It was in that year that he wrote the majority opinion in one of the most dreadful Supreme Court decisions in the history of our republic.

In the Kelo v. New London, CT decision (liberty lovers need not be reminded of what this case was all about...) Mr. Stevens found that "[p]romoting economic development is a traditional and long accepted function of government. As with excercises in urban planning and development, the city is trying to coordinate a variety of commerical, residential and recreational land uses, with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts. Because that plan unquestionably serves a public purpose, the takings challenged here satisfy the 5th amendment."

To Stevens - and the rest of the Constitutional revisionists of the liberal wing of the Supreme Court, our home is nothing more than a "part" of a "whole" and government knows better than we do what to do with that part.

Good riddance, Mr. Stevens. May you enjoy your retirement in your home - that has not been targeted for an eminent domain taking.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Come on, Mr. President...Throw like a man!

In case you missed it, President Obama threw out the first pitch at the home opener for the Washington Nationals this season. What a shame. Most baseball fans have been debating whether or not he should have worn a Chicago White Sox hat while on the mound. Real baseball fans - and real men - are discussing his form in throwing out the first pitch.

YouTube it for yourself....

With apologies to women everywhere, our President throws like a girl.

This is not good.

You need the President of the United States to show the world that he is a real leader. Throwing a lollipop ball with a limp wrist does not inspire confidence.

I would suggest that Mr. Obama go out and do any of the following to prove to our nation that his manhood is not to be questioned:

1. Cut down a tree with a chainsaw that he has to start by himself. Then, take an axe and split a few of the logs.

2. Grill out a steak while wearing an old pair of jeans and a ragged t-shirt and eat it (the steak)while having a real beer (not the light beer he prefers).

3. Don't shave for a week and appear at a press conference in hiking boots.

4. Take part in a tackle football game on the white house lawn and break at least one bone in an opponents' body.

5. Be seen reading a book on how to skin a moose with a Bowie Knife.

6. Be seen hunting moose.

7. Tell the next reporter who asks him a question he does not like that, "If you don't shut up I am going to hit you so hard you will wear out from bouncing."

8. Be seen picking his teeth with a twig.

9. Send an open letter to Osama bin Laden challenging him to a fist fight.

10. Take pitching lessons.
What would you add to my list?

Monday, March 29, 2010

How Republicans can win in 2010 & 2012

In the wake of the socialization of 20% of the nation's economy, Libertarians, Reagan/Goldwater Republicans and Tea Party activists (a blend of the aforementioned) are gearing up for the 2010 midterm elections and the 2012 Presidential race.
What follows is a prescription for victory...

1. Forget about Sarah Palin. If you listened to her during the 2008 campaign and today, she is a free-market lightweight with no serious ideas on the issue of taxes, regulations, spending, health care or anything else for that matter. She will get destroyed if she runs and has to intellectually defend her surface-only views on matters that are important to real-Republicans. Rock star novelty acts who use words like "dang" and "youbetcha" are refreshing but not transformative.

2. Identify and defeat every "Bush Republican" who runs in every primary in America. Ronald Reagan's greatest mistake was picking the liberal George H.W. Bush to be V.P. On April 10, 1980 Bush called Reagan's view that drastic reductions in income taxes would lead to more wealth and more government revenue, "Voodoo Economics". He was never a believer in Reagan's Libertarian makeover of the American economy. His son was even worse. Sure we got small cuts in marginal tax rates in 2003 but we also got the most massive increase in domestic welfare spending since the 1960s; thousands of pages of new regulations; a $1.5 trillion prescription drug benefit program that Obama has now added to; new tariffs; restrictions on talented foreign immigrants, etc. etc. All Bush Republicans must be kicked out of office so people like Howard Houchen (Oklahoma) and Marco Rubio (Florida) can lead us back to the 1980s. The simple fact is that today's Republicans have no right to argue against Obama's Socialist agenda when their party helped create the fertile ground from which Socialism grew this decade.

3. Stop talking about gay marriage; where Obama was born; illegal immigration and other social problems.....for now. Reagan used to say that the best family values stemmed from a full-time job. Reagan was anti-abortion and had impeccable standards with those of us who care about morality in government. However, Republicans, by focusing on issues that occupy the outskirts of an unemployment rate of 10%; skyrocketing spending and the nationalization of health care, autos and banking, are missing the bigger picture. If America is going to become France, or worse, it will not matter if Joe and Bill are allowed to marry or if Julio came over here without permits or if Obama was born in a Taliban stronghold somewhere. So, focus on economics, win the elections, create new free-market policies and then when unemployment is back to 3.9% turn your attention to the side issues that you believe to be important.

On behalf of those of us who were abandoned by the Republican Party beginning on January 20, 1989 we wish you well in restoring some sense of small government this November and in 2012.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Why "Education Reform" will never be successful

In case you missed it, the federal government announced this week the latest and greatest plan to finally, really, really, "we mean it this time", "this is going to work, just you wait and see..." education reform plan.

The central planners who have brought us one of the worst public education models in the developed, or undeveloped, or totally no where near developed world, are serious this time. After decades, give or take a month or two, of unmitigated failure in providing anything more than monumental failure from kindergarten through graduation day, the "experts" have finally realized that what the U.S. needs is a system of uniform standards that will apply to all 50 states. The president wants all kids to be "proficient" in math and English by 2014 and "college ready" by 2020.

To do this, the government will blah, blah, blah and if it does not happen, blah, blah, blah....

You can Google this initiative if you want to, but in 2014, 2024 and on March 11, 2071 at 11:18am we will still have a lousy K-12 system.

Here is why.
1. Teachers in America are largely unqualified to teach. A degree in education is the easiest college degree to obtain and is four years of learning teaching methodology but not four years of becoming an expert in your field. In Finland - a nation that routinely ranks first in the world in multiple subject areas - you have to have a Masters degree in your field of study and six years of on-the-job training before you are allowed to teach. In America you could have a government or science teacher with no direct expertise in government or science, teaching your kid just because they have the four year "teaching degree" and a teaching certificate that legally permits them to stand in front of your kid. Without requiring people to become economists, chemists, biologists, mathematicians, etc. before they walk into the classroom, all this round of education reform will do is create new standards without creating new, qualified professionals to help students reach those standards.

2. There is little to no competition for the most at-risk students. If you are rich, or middle-class you have options when it comes to educating your child. You can send them to private school or join the ranks of 2 million homeschooled children. Private schools have to deliver a good product or parents remove their kids. Demand for that school's seats drops and they go out of business. The government schools - no matter what reforms are pursued - will never improve because of school zoning. If you are poor you have no other choice but to send your kid to the school in your district. This legal monopoly destroys education in the U.S. because there is no pressure for schools to improve. As long as schools know that they will be guaranteed customers by rule of law, why should those schools try to innovate? They don't have to. Name another market where you have shop based on your residence. In the free market you can be mobile with your money and that puts intense pressure on suppliers to deliver a good product or service. What if you could only buy a Toyota because that was the closest dealership to your house? Do you think Toyota would rush to fix brake problems in your district or would the dealer tell you, "What are you going to do about it?

3. Unions and tenure are duel cancers for education reform. If you work in the private sector you do not have tenure - meaning a lifetime contract. If you stink, you are gone. What if we had tenure in professional sports? We would have 61-year old quarterbacks playing for your favorite team, throwing 16 interceptions per game and all you could do about it is nothing. Once a teacher has tenure their incentives to produce goes down. Back that up with a Communistic union that protects teachers who are sexual predators, racist and more from being punished and you have a recipe for horrible K-12 education. The teachers union, with power to punish politicians who push for competition and other meaningful reforms is more dangerous, to more American children than any organization on Earth. Terrorists might destroy a few dozen or a few thousand lives at a time. The teachers union is ruining the lives of 50 million children who are forced to live with bad teachers who don't have to care.

Imagine a new cell phone company opening up that has employees who are not trained on how to make cell phones; have lifetime contracts to make cell phones; are protected from being fired if the make bad cell phones and are guaranteed to have customers because the government tells all of us that we have to shop for this cell phone.

What kind of cell phone do you think you would get?

Why should it be any different for your child's education?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A Black History Month - or any month - Tragedy

Not long ago I was lecturing on Adam Smith's view of Capitalism to approximatley 160 students in three different classes. At one point I began a side discussion on whether Capitalism overcomes racism.

In passing, I asked each of my classes if they knew who Booker T. Washington was. Out of all of these students - many of whom are African-American - only three students indicated that they knew of Mr. Washington. Two of them thought he had "something to do with peanut butter" and one said, "Wasn't he some sort of educator"?

What a shame.

Even though it should, it never ceases to amaze me how pathetic our K-12 schools are at teaching young people about some the world's all-time great leaders in the fight for liberty and free markets.

Booker T. Washington, a former slave who endured inumerable obstacles in his desire to become educated, championed the cause of liberty and capitalism for America's black citizens in the late 1800s and early part of the last century. He traveled the country lecturing on the need for black Americans to rely on themselves to overcome the vestiges of slavery, rather than rely on government for assistance.

In 1901, speaking on the future of black Americans, he said, "When a negro girl learns to cook, to sew, to write a book, or a Negro boy learns to groom horses, or to grow sweet potatoes, or to produce butter, or to build a house, or be able to practice medicine, as well or better than someone else, they will be rewarded regardless of race or color. In the long run, the world is going to have the best, and any difference in race, religion, or previous history will not long keep the world from what it wants.

I think that the whole future of my race hinges on the question as to whether or not it can make itself of such indispensable value that the people in the town and the state where we reside will feel that our presence is necessary to the happiness and well-being of the community. No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual, and moral well-being of the place in which he lives is long left without proper reward. This is the great human law that cannot be permanently nullified."

As Black History comes to a close it would be refreshing to meet more people - black and white - who not only know who Booker T. Washington was, but what he stood for so that our nation could move away from the politics of victimization to the concept of personal responsibility.

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Sampling of the Socialist Mindset

Today (January 11, 2010) I gave 180 of my new students an article about Joe Montana's house that was featured recently in The Wall Street Journal (November 6, 2009 wsj.com). Mr. Montana is attempting to sell his house for $49 million - a price that reflects some incredible features in and around his property.
I asked my students to comment on what should be done about people facing foreclosure, or people who cannot afford a home, given the fact the people like Mr. Montana enjoy such wonderful houses.
Here is a sampling of the answers I received:
"I believe that the people like Joe Montana are the reasons why regular Americans cannot afford a home or are facing foreclosure. Joe Montana got his wealth and his fame from the American people and I believe he should help the people that really need it. Why is it that a regular sized family needs a 10,000 square foot house on 500 acres that cost nearly 50 million dollars. Joe Montana should move into a regular sized home which cost a couple hundred thousand and then distribute the rest of his wealth to the Americans that made him rich in the first place."
"......the fans who paid his salary are struggling while he spends money on lavish unecessary junk."
"Government tax should be placed on homes worth an excessive amount. The revenues of which should go towards a government program that assists lower-income Americans in buying a home or avoiding foreclosure."
"...[ A bill ] should be passed to allow homeowners to walk away from the home they were paying on without having to be forced to pay the mortgage they cannot afford."
"When I read about the consumption of people who have money like Mr. Montana, I almost feel like supporting a society like Denmark's or Sweden's where 60% of income goes to taxes."
"......there is too much money invested in athlete's salaries. They don't help the economy in any way."
"One thing that I think the government could do to prevent people from losing their homes is pay off for all the houses in America."
"I think that this article shows how the rich stay rich and the poor unfortunately stay poor."
".....one wonders what can be done in order to equalize the playing field. Perhaps setting the limitation of what one can inevitably purchase."
"If people who have large amounts of money are able to afford large homes and nice furniture cannot spare some money to charity, then people like Mr. Montana should have their pay cut and distributed to those who can't afford anything or at least given to local shelters who can use the money for those who can't help themselves."
"Something that could be done is the Congress passing a bill that will force banks and loan companies to lower their interest rates....."
"One suggestion is that property taxes would increase for homes valued over, let's say, $1 million. That excess money could go towards a department that is in charge of dispersing money to future home buyers or those facing foreclosure."
"There should be a law preventing rich civilians from spending so much money on homes."
There were many others that echoed the sentiments of the students above.
It is going to be a long semester....