Saturday, May 27, 2006

What in the world?

Well this was quite a surprise! Apparently, a liberal slams the Republicans for anti-free market activity in the agricultural business. Check this out via Club for Growth.

Mr. Chairman, I am here to confess my reading incomprehension. I have listened to many of my conservative friends talk about the wonders of the free market, of the importance of letting the consumers make their best choices, of keeping government out of economic activity, of the virtues of free trade, but then I look at various agricultural programs like this one. Now, it violates every principle of free market economics known to man and two or three not yet discovered.

So I have been forced to conclude that in all of those great free market texts by Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and all the others that there is a footnote that says, by the way, none of this applies to agriculture. Now, it may be written in high German, and that may be why I have not been able to discern it, but there is no greater contrast in America today than between the free enterprise rhetoric of so many conservatives and the statist, subsidized, inflationary, protectionist, anti-consumer agricultural policies, and this is one of them.

In particular, I have listened to people, and some of us have said let us protect workers and the environment in trade; let us not have unrestricted free trade; but let us have trade that respects worker rights and environmental rights. And we have been excoriated for our lack of concern for poor countries.

There is no greater obstacle, as it is now clear in the Doha round, to the completion of a comprehensive trade policy than the American agricultural policy, with one exception, European agricultural policy, which is much worse and just as phony.

Sugar is an example. This program is an interference with the legitimate efforts at economic self-help in many foreign nations. So I appreciate the leadership of the gentleman from Arizona [Jeff Flake] and the gentleman from Oregon [Roy Blumenauer]. Here is a chance for some of my free-enterprise-professing friends to get honest with themselves, and now maybe we will see some born-again free enterprisers in the agricultural field.

Well Mr. Frank, you have certainly made an impression... I hope you continue reading Mises and Hayek, then transform into a libertarian. Here's to hoping...

MS Office 2007 Beta 2

I have officially downloaded and begun using the Beta 2 release of Office 2007. I think I'm going to really like the ribbon style menus more than the previous drop-down options. It's much more elegant this way. Outlook has been improved, but I'm not sure I like the RSS options yet. I'll test run it with a few of the Office 2007 blogs, but I have a feeling that I will continue to use Sage...

Friday, May 19, 2006

Very funny Star Wars spoof...

Let's see if this works...

Okay, I guess it did!

Darth Vader let's the Emperor know that the Death Star blew up. A few curse words, you've been warned.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I am currently in Missouri, writing this post from my wife's parents' house. We will be away from Austin for about two weeks. This is the first real vacation I have had in years, and I am going to soak it for all its worth! Reading, fellowship, sleeping, eating - that's all I plan on doing.

I had a great discussion with my Dad and my father-in-law about government, hopefully my parents don't think I'm quite so crazy anymore, haha. I found out my dad is called "Yoda" at work. What a lucky guy. I just get called "insane".

It's nice to see old friends again. I talked with Eric, Zach, Stuart, and David today at length about music, life, and getting away. What a grand time! I hope David finds what he is looking for, and I especially hope he takes me up on my offer and visits UT.

Tonight, I will be attending the first concert of one of my mother's choirs in four and a half years. How odd, it seems like such a short time ago I was helping set up chairs, singing great music, and playing SWCCG afterwards. How time flies...

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Do you see what I see...

Good morning folks, I am putting up a link to my bookmarks. If you are interested in finding out what I'm looking at online, you can check there. More than likely there will be new websites there on a daily basis, unless I'm out of town. Hopefully, it may also persuade you to give a try. If you've never done social bookmarking before, you should try it!

My bookmarks!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Buyout and ideas...

So, if anyone is feeling particularly generous to me, they can buy the entire store collection of books for me... It only costs $2000, and will certainly keep me occupied for the rest of my natural life. If you would like to make this significant donation to a friend of freedom, please do so... Maybe I should start a donation account on this blog...

And if you need persuasion to do this amazing feat of charity, here's some stuff I wrote today regarding the problem of utility infrastructure, such as electricity, water, and communications, and how they relate to Federal government.

On roads… Historically, trade routes and roads were developed as a natural response to competitive advantage (this is clear in the near east). One coastal city had a particular advantage in an industry, another city its own advantage, and they decide they want to trade. (Eventually, by the way, this results in a sort of cultural standardization of precious metal currency.) Why is it necessary for the federal government to step in and create roads in the first place, when part of the natural response to economic forces will be to make roads? (Note the emphasis on federal, it is reasonable that a smaller community/city could make their own attempt based on their own knowledge of their own situation – there is no knowledge gap as in the Federal government. Perhaps after the attempt they may decide it was more beneficial to let market forces determine the road structure through the price system.)

On electrical, communication, and water infrastructure… What would have happened if the government had not enforced infrastructure? Similar to the road systems, I don’t see as much of a problem when local governments get together, with consenting citizens and consenting businesses, to work on their own infrastructure. They may be successful, or they may decide to just let the market hammer it out. Obviously, it is in a business’ best interest to have the best resources possible, and if they think it is profitable to have their own power system rather than be dependent upon the city, that is their decision. It would also work for them to sign-up to a company that provides electrical services in some way (whether through special power lines or through fuel cells / batteries, whatever), the likes of which developed as a result of market forces. This argument could be extended to water and communication services.

The problem is when the national government in DC thinks that they know what is best for every individual city, because the politicians in DC have an innate lack of knowledge about what happens in, say, New Orleans and their water barriers. (I have slightly changed the topic, but I think you understand what I mean. DC didn’t provide the resources for their barriers because they didn’t think they needed it. The market in New Orleans can handle that issue much better, as it is in the best interest of the businesses to have those barriers in order to protect their investments from a hurricane.) So, it doesn’t work to have national government handing down orders for the rest of the country to follow. Furthermore, remember that advances in technology have a sort of trickle-down effect by necessity. It’s like luxury cars. Fifteen years ago, only luxury cars had CD players. Now, they nearly come standard, or you can easily buy your own and improve your vehicle. Now, the luxury car nifty gadget is GPS and directional systems. Given a few more years, those will probably become standard too. But if the government came in and said that every car needed a GPS system, the result would be disastrous! People would not be able to get the car they really wanted because they would be effectively forced to spend more on the GPS. Likewise, car companies would not be able to sufficiently serve their customers with the products they really want. So, I’m not really saying that nothing was gained from these interventions, but only that if the market had been allowed to work, things very likely would have evolved naturally and would have used resources more effectively.

One objection to this is that there are still places in the US without these amenities, and why is something not done about them? The answer is that either it simply is not profitable to do so, or that they are being neglected by the government.

Either way, the failure of that sort of system should be noted. First, if it isn’t profitable or beneficial, why should massive amounts of taxpayer money be used for the benefit of very few individuals such as those who choose to live outside of the market realms of infrastructure? Because of pity? Government charity, though in isolated instances has worked, for all intents and purposes has been a dismal failure (welfare, anyone?). However, private charity continues to be successful in accomplishing their goals, and if they choose to provide such services free of charge that is their business. Second, if they are being neglected, then it shows once again that the government is incapable of true economic calculation. If it were profitable to power/water those areas over time it would be accomplished. It does indeed come back down to individual’s self-interest. The person who lives outside of the infrastructure has displayed his self-interest in is choice to live there, despite the lack of infrastructure. The power/water/communications company is acting in their self-interest by not providing an expensive service to a person who, by their choices, has effectively said they are not willing to pay the cost to get that good/service. The government, however, manages to bypass those economic preferences and forces their will on both the consumer and producer.

There is a book written by Austrian economists Robert Bradley and Richard Fulmer called Energy: The Master Resource. I really want to read this book. Here’s the description:

“Author Robert Bradley, together with Richard Fulmer, have put together an outstanding book that covers this huge subject, beginning with answers to the most fundamental questions (What is energy? Where does energy come from?) through current policy applications (Are we running out of oil? Is the globe warming?). It is ideal for students and classroom use. But it is also the best book for anyone who wants to think and talk intelligently about this huge topic.

It is set up in the form of a textbook, with excellent graphics and clear text, but also contains enough documentation to provide resources for further study. The organization is outstanding and the discussion thorough. For example, under the topic of electricity, we find short descriptions of coal-fired plants, nuclear fission, natural gas, hydroelectric plants, wind power, geothermal energy, microturbines solar power, biomass, fuel cells, and more. A great merit of this book is that it discusses not just the technology but also the economics of various alternative energy sources--a point which is nearly always neglected in the usual literature.

Also not neglected is the area of energy regulation and its effects, and the authors take a free-market perspective.”

My point is that the Austrian School does try to address these issues. I am not fully aware of the breadth of work out there regarding these, but we also have the principles of the free market to help us understand the situation, which is how I’m approaching this.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Articles worth reading...

To Rule is to Destroy :: A fantastic article calling for radical reform in the classical-liberal sense - free markets & non-intervention. This is exactly why I believe radical change is necessary for the preservation of freedom for ourselves, our children, our churches, our nation, our world. We cannot stand by and let either Republican, Democrat, or bureaucrat keep slowly cutting into our God-given freedom. I agree with Ludvig von Mises that the principle way this change will occur is through education, and I encourage you to think deeply about what the government is doing both at home and abroad and judge for yourselves. We need to understand the problems at hand and be able to argue persuasively to others, then give them the solution – free markets, an intervention-less government, a simple judicial system. I refuse to end up like Europe, under complete socialism.

Who Owns the Internet? :: The net-neutrality debate is going haywire. Whoever thought government could solve this problem should know better. Congress doesn't have a clue about science or technology, and would YOU let your tech company be run by somebody who knows nothing about the subject? This is a clear calling for de-regulating the communications industry and abolishing the FCC.

Congress apparently has passed a bill to punish so-called "price-gougers" of oil. What a crock. Read Cato's article and the Mises blog for info on this latest development.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Liberty is the answer, not government!

An interesting perspective by Lew Rockwell...

The problem with American conservatism is that it hates the left more than the state, loves the past more than liberty, feels a greater attachment to nationalism than to the idea of self-determination, believes brute force is the answer to all social problems, and thinks it is better to impose truth rather than risk losing one’s soul to heresy. It has never understood the idea of freedom as a self-ordering principle of society. It has never seen the state as the enemy of what conservatives purport to favor. It has always looked to presidential power as the saving grace of what is right and true about America.

Obviously, there are those conservatives who agree entirely with this position and are true friends of liberty, but any governmental philosophy, no matter the name, that adheres to what Rockwell rejects above is clearly not compatible with individual liberty, free markets, and ultimately non-intervention by government.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

And the insanity continues...

Regardless of what you think about the character of the various leaders of the US, you must admit that most of them are simply idiotic. Most seem to have no clue about real economics, and they believe that they, the almighty thinkers and planners of 270 million person's national destinies, can manipulate the market any way they choose for the supposed "betterment" of their constituents. Not even mentioning the inherent moral problems with their views, the efficiency at which they accomplish these goals is nothing short of ridiculous. If the governments' operations were performed in the private sector with the same results, they would be out of business faster than a dotcom bust.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you need to go to and start reading. In the meantime, here's some more reading from the Cato Institute on oil, on state hypocrisy, and an article by Karl Beisel on the REAL ID act.

Markets or Manipulation?
State Hypocrisy
Karl Beisel on REAL ID

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Article Roundup 5/2/2006

The Myth of 'Keeping Up': You just can't stay current on everything! [Note to self...]

Scientists create a black hole in a lab: Brookhaven blows our minds once again.

Cato Institute analyzes oil

"Although few believe it, the oil industry would have to earn record profits for a long time before it would produce above average returns for its long-term investors.

Even were profits more extraordinary than they are, a special tax would be a mistake. Windfall profit taxes threaten to institutionalize a form of one-way capitalism in which investors are allowed losses or meager profits but average or better returns are disallowed. Who would want to invest money in an industry like that?"

My point exactly.

Socialist Recipes to Continue Being Poor

An interesting quote...
In a presidential debate with Al Gore on October 11, 2000, in Winston-Salem, NC, Bush said: "I don’t think our troops ought to be used for what’s called nation-building…I think what we need to do is convince people who live in the lands they live in to build the nations. Maybe I’m missing something here. I mean, we’re going to have a kind of nation-building corps from America? Absolutely not."

Really? I guess he decided he missed something... From Bush Styled Pax Americana

Liberty, free markets, peace.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Public Education Debacle

This is part of a series of articles about the US Public Education System.

Literacy rose ... to between 91 and 97%

Comment moderation and random quotes...

Yesterday I got comment spammed on this blog. It wasn't a big deal, and it was only two comments (I think), but I have enabled the Blogger feature which requires word verification to post comments. That should stop any spambots.

On a much cooler note, check the right sidebar. Notice something new? That's right, now we have random Mises quotes 24/7. It pings for a quote from the database whenever you refresh. Go ahead, try it! It's so beautiful, it makes me want to cry...