The Economist's Cookbook

Recipes For A More Free Society

  • "The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they know about what they imagine they can design."

    - F.A. Hayek

My Reading List

Posted by The_Chef On 2:19 PM 4 comments

So I have almost a full bookshelf of books that I am trying to get through.

Already reading or own:

Freakonomics - Levitt
Human Action - Mises
After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy -Coyne
Capital and Its Structure - Lachmann
A selection of Clive Cussler, Michael Crichton, and Terry Brooks novels to work through.

Want Buy/Read:

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism
The Politically Incorrect Guide to The Constitution

Man, Economy, and State - Rothbard
The Ethics of Liberty - Rothbard
The Machinery of Freedom - David Friedman

Any others to add to the list?

Getting Away With Murder...

Posted by The_Chef On 9:35 AM 0 comments

...Police style.

Here is an article from Reason Hit & Run that I thought should be passed along.

According to an eight month investigation by the Chicago Tribune, police officers in Chicago meet in a roundtable style discussion to verify their stories and make sure that everything adds up when a shooting takes place involving police officers. Here's the kicker. The investigators will not re-open a case ven when new evidence comes to light.

Fuck the thin Blue Line.

Why College is So Expensive

Posted by The_Chef On 4:28 PM 0 comments

This is an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page about the cost of college and why it has been increasing at a faster rate than inflation.

Here's in interesting tidbit:

"...government handouts are creating the tuition problem. Tuition has risen about three percentage points faster than inflation every year for the past quarter-century. At the same time, the feds have put more and more money behind student loans and other financial aid. The government is slowly becoming a third-party tuition payer, with all the price distortions one would expect. Every time tuition rises, the government makes up the difference; colleges thus cheerfully raise tuition (and budgets), knowing the government will step in.
As a result, "colleges have little incentive to cut costs," says economist Richard Vedder, the author of "Going Broke by Degree: Why College Costs Too Much." Mr. Vedder explains that there are now twice as many university administrators per student as there were in the 1970s."

It would be interesting to see if the pressure for the increase in Gov't. funding is coming from the Public schools or the Private ones. I would suspect that the Private ones are filling a niche market that will increase in line with inflation to kep their prices competitive. And that the Public ones are fighting over funding allocations to grow their own budgets.

So, granted I kinda hate the Republican Party. However for once they are doing something right.

Well I'm sure that it's completely politically motivated, just like everything polititicians do. Here's a link to the Washington Times Article.

Looks like some of the climatologists are willing to actually come out and say that Al Gore is in fact the liar most of us think him to be. I mean it's about time SOMEONE called this guy out on this stuff.

In other news this might be a book worth consuming for the sake of self-enlightenment.

Here is a plug for the book by Michael Crichton:
"Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming will further enhance Lomborg’s reputation for global analysis and thoughtful response. For anyone who wants an overview of the global warming debate from an objective source, this brief text is a perfect place to start. Lomborg is only interested in real problems, and he has no patience with media fear-mongering; he begins by dispatching the myth of the endangered polar bears, showing that this Disneyesque cartoon has no relevance to the real world where polar bear populations are in fact increasing. Lomborg considers the issue in detail, citing sources from Al Gore to the World Wildlife Fund, then demonstrating that polar bear populations have actually increased five fold since the 1960s. "

Not Dead, I Swear

Posted by The_Chef On 2:38 AM 0 comments

I'm still here, just busy with school, I hope to have the blog back up and running on a semi reglar basis soon.

Most Interesting Quote of the Day

Posted by The_Chef On 12:50 PM 2 comments


From John Stossel's book Give Me a Break:

"One prostitute, Heather Smith, made an interesting comparison: 'It's legal for two men to go into a boxing ring and beat each other bloody for money,' she said, 'but it's not legal for me to go in and give someone sexual pleasure for money. What kind of sense does that make?'"


And people say that ladies of the night aren't intelligent ...

The Real Reason Prohibition Ended

Posted by The_Chef On 9:41 AM 0 comments

Here is a fascinating article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review by Don Boudreaux (Chair of the Econ Dept at GMU).

But all in all can anyone claim to be truly surprised by the idea that the true reason that liquor was re-legalized was because congress wanted the tax revenue.

So ... the question then arises: What will happen to the "drug" issue in this country if Congress decides that it needs another source of income for its various forms of extortion, coercion, and "redistribution".

Now there's an idea ... fund social security through legal drug sales in the US. Oh God ... I shouldn't say that, I'm waiting for that awful program to die a horrible, bloody death.

Supreme Court Dabbles in Econ?!

Posted by The_Chef On 9:32 AM 1 comments

This from the Washington Post:
"The U.S. Supreme Court yesterday overturned a nearly century-old ruling that prohibited manufacturers from dictating the minimum prices retailers must charge for their goods, saying such agreements could spark competition rather than stifle it.
The 5 to 4 opinion, delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, found that minimum-pricing requirements by manufacturers do not constitute an automatic violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. Instead, the agreements must be judged on a case-by-case basis according to a "rule of reason" to determine whether they interfere with market competition."

I have several problems with this.

Since when has our legal structure ever used such a thing as reason? I mean when you really get down to it the only way a true monopoly can exist is if it is legitimized and protected by the Federal Government. In a market where entrance into and out of the market is it entirely possible for an entrepreneur to knock a so-called Monopoly down a notch and in the process capture a portion of market share.

the fact that there happens to be one business that seems to dominate a given market at this time in NO way makes it a monopoly. In fact, if you look at many of the so-called (I say so-called because I honestly believe that "monopoly" is just a modern anti-capitalist buzzword) "monopolies" do not ACT like the microeconomic models tell us they should. Strange how they act like firms in a competitive market...

But here are the other issues and these both bother me a lot!
1.) What is wrong with allowing producers of a good to contract with a seller and say 'You buy this from us and you don't sell it below a price we set'? First off no self respecting retail store will go for it. They need those sale prices to clear out inventory. You see it all the time when you walk into a clothing store. Now some carriers of VERY expensive luxury goods might just go for this, but I wouldn't expect to see the price of Hanes T-Shirts skyrocket.
2.)This quote astounded me:
"Justice Stephen G. Breyer filed a dissenting opinion with Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, arguing that little has changed in the U.S. economy to warrant overruling a decision that has held up since 1911."(emphasis mine)

WHAT IN THE HELL!?! Are they really this dumb? Is 4/9 of the ruling court of our land legally retarded? The Economy hasn't changed? Or is just that it hasn't changed enough for the sainted wearers of black robes to decide that we are fit for government to cease regulating our lives and businesses?

I apologize for the three week break in posting.

It's truly amazing how people in the "civilized" West can be so blind, or so foolish in what they believe. We have, in the West, luxuries that many other people have never experienced. One such luxury is time. The ridiculous things that we in the West can take our time to support or rally to, are amazing.

I am referring specifically to the environmental movement in the West and Especially in the US. This movement has done more to harm people in the name of "preserving the earth", than anyone ever thought possible. I make this post on the heels of the anniversary of the release of the book Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. This is one book that spawned the beginnings of the environmental movement, and has cost millions of people their lives.

The book relates to the use of DDT in America and some of the adverse effects of its overuse. I use the term overuse, because even though water is the stuff of life YOU CAN STILL DROWN IN IT! DDT can cause bird shells to thin, if you spray it around like candy, but you don't need that much of it.

As a result the environmental lobby have hindered the use of DDT in Africa, an area overrun with Malaria. Roughly 300 million Africans contract Malaria a year .... that's almost the population of the US. More than 1 million of them will die each year.

I suppose it's okay to pile up the corpses, as long as we're saving the earth.

Damn Sweden! Pt 1

Posted by The_Chef On 2:57 PM 0 comments



Damn my Swedish blood. This is from an article on a new Swedish blog system that is supported by a Swedish newspaper. Read the following and see if anything seems contradictory.

--------------------------
Does Metro have any control over what its bloggers write?
No, they are free to write about whatever subjects they wish. But most of them will probably cover fashion, politics, culture and so on.

What happens if one of your bloggers says something illegal - something that could be construed as hate speech for example?
If we see something illegal the blogger will be obliged to remove it. There is also an abuse function that readers can click on if they see anything inappropriate. If people are reported we will keep a close watch on them. And if they continue to publish illegal material we will close them down.
--------------------------


N.B. This is the original from an article about the blog and one of its posters who is the stereotypical blond bombshell, and I think a model.

Hail Britania!

Posted by The_Chef On 2:25 PM 0 comments

The Empire defends some level of free speech. I say some level because Britain has a history of restricting its press and suppressing views that are inflammatory and contrary to parliament or are "restricted" for security reasons.

Here is the link.

It's high time people in the west stand up and tell these imams where to stick it. I'm all for freedom of religion, but not when it impedes my right to free speech.

The Flaw in Democracy?

Posted by The_Chef On 1:00 PM 0 comments

This is an article from TCS Daily in which Bryan Caplan is interviewed about the implications of his new book The Myth of the Rational Voter. This is really a groundbreaking piece of work. For those of you interested, look for it online, you probably won't find it in your local bookstore.

Part that I really enjoyed:

"Another observation: If politicians did exactly what voters want, it would be a disaster. Since politicians expect that voters would blame them for a disaster, it is not in their interest to give the voters exactly what they want. So politicians have to strike a balance between adopting popular policies, and getting tolerable results. Maybe this is why almost everyone distrusts politicians - as I say in my book, "The public calls them venal for failing to deliver the impossible.""

MC Hammer has nothing on Virginia Schools apparently...

So a no touching policy eh? So students aren't even allowed to high-five because some tight ass administrator feels that it might lead to what? A fight? This is absurd on a whole new level. Jesus, maybe if you morons actually put kids through a rigorous academic program as opposed to some watered-down excuse for an education then perhaps, just MAYBE... you wouldn't have problems like this. Jesus, talk about micromanaging people's lives. I mean I'm all about giving kids direction and stability ... but this is ridiculous on a level that I would only expect from a politician.

"All touching -- not only fighting or inappropriate touching -- is against the rules at Kilmer Middle School in Vienna. Hand-holding, handshakes and high-fives? Banned. The rule has been conveyed to students this way: 'NO PHYSICAL CONTACT!!!!!' "



I need a hug :(

Why I Hate the TSA pt. I

Posted by The_Chef On 8:54 AM 2 comments

Let's face it, I don't travel much, but when I do I don't like to be groped, prodded, patted, and fingered by people. Just as I don't like that in normal life. But somehow these goons that work for the Transportation Safety Administration are allowed to abuse me as much as they want in the name of "safety." I'm sick of some big wet douche who barely graduated High School and has an IQ level below that of some deep-sea invertebrates digging through my property. This lack of intelligence is demonstrated here.

Ab-freakin'-surd. Seriously ... what the hell is wrong with this country. We're like damn sheep! This has truly reached a level of absurdity that just blows my mind. That people put up with this shit is simply a joke. The best thing for airline safety is to allow passengers to carry pocketknives and knitting needles and maybe even a chainsaw onto a plane. Seriously...

These regulations exist to make people "feel" safe. In fact, if people have learned what the loopholes are, we are actually LESS safe. It's ridiculous. I don't get it. How is some 360 pound walrus rooting through my bags supposed to make me feel better about traveling in the air?

This is bullshit and its time people stood up and called the TSA and police out on their bullshit and abuse.

Police state's suck and I'm tired of living in one where everything you do is watched and everyone 'could be' the next terrorist. Well right now, I'm pretty scared, but not of some Islamic whack-job, I'm scared of the government and the power it is wielding over those of us who live in this country.



Who is terrorizing whom?

On the Al Gore line...

Posted by The_Chef On 9:56 AM 1 comments



I just had to post these ... South Park is amazing!











Raising awareness about Manbearpig..

*Dies laughing*

This is just too much! Your Tax Dollars at work!

A bomb designed to release a powerful hormone causing a breakdown in military structure, because of sex....

:D

Just too much....

File Under "WTF?!"

Posted by The_Chef On 3:11 PM 4 comments

So apparently "Excessive Nudity" is now a crime....


See here.

... Now would someone please explain to me what the hell excessive nudity is. This makes absolutely NO sense. I thoght nudity was more or less an all or nothing kinda thing. Oh well... More power to those practicing excessive nudity.

I'm sure the cops enjoyed the show though...

Ah ha, so the battle of the so-called "Documentary" An Inconvenient Truth, championed by none other than our favorite Al Gore has become a graduation requirement at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.
Now aside from the fact that I simply hate Al Gore as a human being and find him to unabashedly stupid... I think this is just absolutely absurd...

It's like saying you can't graduate college without watching Mel Brooks' Classic Blazing Saddles. I'm sorry but I'm not exactly into watching propaganda... especially not as a graduation requirement.

File Under "B" for Blowhards

Posted by The_Chef On 2:15 PM 0 comments

So apparently according to some experts in the piping and fuel delivery business the supposed plot to "blow up JFK" would have caused collateral damage and little more.


Found here.


Hat Tip to Liberated Living for the heads up.


Typical reactionary knee-jerk reaction to the threat: "Oh my god! THOUSANDS WILL PERISH!"

Reality: "those explosions and fires are going to be fairly restricted.." (pipeline expert Richard Kuprewicz)


Typical Gov't/Media Tagteam... Assumption -> Exageration -> Fear Mongering ->Proven Wrong


Only in Van-Dam and Bruce Willis Films do pipelines blow up killing thousands.

Protectionism is ... Moronic pt.I

Posted by The_Chef On 10:11 AM 14 comments



So I'm sick of hearing about this Amnesty Bill that is in the works in the House and the Senate and that the Bush Administration seems to be pushing. There are alot of people spouting nonsense about how this immigration will hurt Americans and do all of these other awful things.
So let's look at this issue. Let's get the flag-waving statists who use their patriotism to cover their ignorance out of the way and get down to the meat of the matter.


Immigration has been the backbone of this country since its founding. Now all of a sudden we hear cries of "Close the border!" and all of this other nonsense. Illegal Immigration is a problem in one and only one aspect and that is the aspect of the welfare state. (Those of you that know me, know that I absolutely loathe the welfare state, it creates perverse incentives, rewards lack of productivity, and creates an entitlement mindset.)
So let's look at this immigration deal. These people come to the US for a better lifestyle than is offered in Mexico, They work low-income jobs which many Americans would not work and here's an interesting fact from the 2005 Census Bureau: Nearly one-quarter of all hispanics marry non-hispanic spouses. The number get's higher for those born in the US. Roughly 32% of all US-born hispanics marry non-hispanics, and 35% of all college educated hispanic females mary non-hispanic husbands. So .... apparently they assimilate pretty damn well.

So the argument that they don't assimilate well into american culture is just WRONG.

Next is the argument that they are "taking" American jobs. Allow me to explain, there is no "right" to your job. So first off if someone wants to underbid you for your job, that's just the way things work. You have to be willing to negotiate and haggle to keep what you have.
Second, it seems very odd to say this. 99.99% of first gen hispanics don't come to this country to work in high skill jobs. They are working in low-skill labor markets which by the way, is a very easy market to enter and exit (well except for minimum wage, which we won't get into here.)

Third there is the argument that the increase in immigration = more of a terror threat.

Here's an interesting thing... Immigrants are less likely to commit a crime than naturalized citizens... wait for it .... Yep that argument from the idea of crime is nonsense. ANd on a side if the Immigration service can't tell a difference between Achmed and Juan, we gotta a whole different set of problems.

The biggest problem people have is immigrants drawing benefits from the welfare system, but that is merely a symptom of the disease. So if we didnt have a welfare state, this wouldn't be a problem.

To Continue the Debate...

Posted by The_Chef On 1:31 PM 7 comments

Well upon learning several things, I think that another response is in order.

1.) Antilib, Welcome madam and I do appreciate the mental exercise that I am having to go through.

2.) When I say "reason" I mean high cognitive function, and though self awareness might be a factor in that, but I still don't believe that any dolphin is capable of a higher level of thought beyond "Oh look ... FOOD!" In fact it has yet to be determined if "learning" in animals is nothing but a conditioned response. To say that they reason, and have the word retain any of its meaning I believe is extremely ... premature. As an aside, it seems to me that species which spawn the likes of Flipper and Shamu are not quite on the level of species which spawned Mozart, Plato, Hayek, and Hawking.

3.) Antilib still makes a fundamental flaw in her assumptions about humanism and materialism. the flaws exist in the fact that value is radically subjective. Allow me to elaborate...
She states:
"Let's say I was referring to definition number one of humanism and definition number two of materialism, emphasis on "worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life". One definition is stating that human interests/values/dignity are of primary importance, while the other states that worldly goods are of primary importance, ergo you cannot reasonably be a humanist and materialist.Let's say I was referring to definition number one of humanism and definition number two of materialism, emphasis on "worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life". One definition is stating that human interests/values/dignity are of primary importance, while the other states that worldly goods are of primary importance, ergo you cannot reasonably be a humanist and materialist."

Your very argument is flawed in that you assume that Materialism is something that is not a value of people. That is to say that antilib accepts the idea that Humanism is "any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate". materialism could well be a human interest or value.

Antilib, I think, incorrectly assumes that the value of material things is unnatural or inhuman. On the contrary, I think it's very human to desire and want things that make life more pleasent or more comfortable and free-market capitalism is the most efficient way to produce those things. As such, it is best at fulfilling human desires.

Now if you want to make the argument that people shouldn't value material things ... then this is not really the place. I believe people should be allowed to value whatever they want (provided it doesn't infringe on my or anyone else's property rights. I have a feeling that philosophically neither of us will ever convince the other.

And for the record, Jon is a Liberal, of the Classical Variety.

Materialism and Humanity

Posted by The_Chef On 10:11 PM 1 comments

Antilib in the preceding post had this to say:
"We're in a societal decline because materialism and humanism are competing forces, they just don't play well together. You can emphasize the importance of goods or you can be pro-people, but you can't be both, and the farther the spotlight moves away from people onto material goods, the more apathy, crime, drug abuse, crime, domestic violence, crime, etc. you're going to see."
Now let's examine this. I heartily disagree with antilib and believe that he doesn't properly understand capitalism, humanism, or materialism.
Let's get some working definitions:
Humanism

1.any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity predominate.
2.devotion to or study of the humanities.
3.(sometimes initial capital letter) the studies, principles, or culture of the humanists.
4. Philosophy. a variety of ethical theory and practice that emphasizes reason, scientific inquiry, and human fulfillment in the natural world and often rejects the importance of belief in God.

Materialism
  1. Philosophy The theory that physical matter is the only reality and that everything, including thought, feeling, mind, and will, can be explained in terms of matter and physical phenomena.
  2. The theory or attitude that physical well-being and worldly possessions constitute the greatest good and highest value in life.
  3. A great or excessive regard for worldly concerns.
Does anyone see a conflict? If we accept the Def. 1 & 4 of humanism and Def. 2 of materialism, they go quite well together.

Capitalism does not create social situations, it responds to them. Capitalism is not some sort of chaotic beast rampaging over the lives of the people that live under it. It is a method to creation of wealth, well-being, technology, invention, and creation. To say that capitalism runs roughshod over human nature is completely false. Entrepreneurs and the suppliers of goods and services respond to the desires of their consumers. So if you have a problem antilib, it should be with those consumers, not the producers. They provide what people want. Man is a builder and inventor. man is set apart from the rest of the world as we know it by one very distinct factor: reason.


It is the use of reason which makes man what he is, not some sort of abstract, absolute altruism which will ultimately lead man down the path of self destruction.

Antilib raises an interesting point, but one that I think is fundamentally flawed.

The Holy See in Economics?!?

Posted by The_Chef On 10:59 AM 3 comments


Well that is interesting. The Pope now has the answers to the problems that we see in South America and the answer is not a reduction of transaction costs, more clearly defines and enforced property rights and a tax structure that favors growth, its rejection of both capitalism and Marxism. While I applaud the Pope for his insight in rejection of Marxist thought, I find his condemnation of capitalism both deeply disturbing and hilarious.

Rome has not been known for it's acceptance of the ideal of free thought, free speech, and freedom in general. I understand that the Catholic church is a "moral" entity in nature, but at the same time I would rather live in a free society than one governed by the whims of a group of individuals with an agenda.

This comment especially grated against me:

He also warned of unfettered capitalism and globalization, blamed by many in Latin America for a deep divide between the rich and poor. The pope said it could give "rise to a worrying degradation of personal dignity through drugs, alcohol and deceptive illusions of happiness."

Wow... Now this coming from a Catholic... just wow... allow me to elaborate.

1.) Given that the Pope is the Leader of a church that believes that man is a fallen creature, you would think that he would want to engender the creation of the system which best takes advantage of that fact. You cannot change the nature of man, the Church acknowledges this. As such, it would seem that favoring capitalism which plays to the greed of human beings would be the best possible system to live in, especially if it is a free society where people are capable of making their own decisions based on their own subjective valuations of any given good or service.

2.) Trade never makes either party worse off. John Stossel recently had a great piece on this here. It is painfully clear to anyone who is versed in trades and free-market Econ that we call it "mutual gains" from trade for a reason. How much worse off would we all be if we didn't trade?

3.) So what we see here is a Pontiff signaling and playing to the masses, which is usually what religion does. Papal signaling, who would have thought?

Now to be charitable, I'm not sure what exactly the Pope mean by "unbridled" capitalism. Hayek himself says that capitalism and exchange work under a set of very clear and strict guidelines (e.g. Property rights), but I don't think that is exactly what the Pope was saying ... I think he's talking about a mixed economy, which is really just mild socialism....

So thanks Popa Pope, you've displayed your ignorance.


US to Sue OPEC?!?

Posted by The_Chef On 10:23 AM 5 comments

Well when I saw this article here on Newsmax my first reaction was to chuckle and then I realized that this was serious. the House has passed a bill that will modify the anti-trust rules allowing them to sue other companies in other countries for "price fixing".

WHAT THE HELL!?!

Since when do we get to dictate business policy to companies or organizations in other countries? this is completely absurd and the statement from the White House saying that such a suit could cause a series of backlashes from the middle east and make our oil situation worse is surprisingly correct. You don't bite the hand that feeds you, apparently the House has yet to figure this out.

Are Moderate Muslims Really Silent?

Posted by The_Chef On 10:54 AM 0 comments

Stephen Schwartz of TCS Daily says no.
Here is his fascinating article. The things brought up in this article are veeeery interesting.

Question: Is this silence because the Mainstream Mass media (MSM as Schwartz calls it) obsessed with fear-mongering because it makes for good news, or do they just not care? So pretty much: Negligence or Apathy?

Addendum: This is an article on the suppression of a Film called Islam vs. Islamists by PBS who sponsored the film which supposedly gives the views of various US groups of moderate muslims who are speaking out against the hijacking of their religion.

Gov't as a Price Gouger

Posted by The_Chef On 3:12 PM 0 comments

Props to Russell Roberts over at Cafe Hayek for this little gem:
Roberts on George Will on Price Gouging
Here is the link to the full article from the Washington Post:
Posturing At the Pumps By George F. Will
Wow, just wow, the inane nature of politics in this country continues to amaze me! This short bit especially got me riled up:
"The bill does not explain how a gouger can gouge when his product is obtainable more cheaply nearby. Actually, Pelosi's constituents are being gouged by people like Pelosi -- by government. While oil companies make about 13 cents on a gallon of gasoline, the federal government makes 18.4 cents (the federal tax) and California's various governments make 40.2 cents (the nation's third-highest gasoline tax). Pelosi's San Francisco collects a local sales tax of 8.5 percent -- higher than the state's average for local sales taxes."

Wait wait wait .... those KAZILLIONS of dollars that the oil companies are making in profit is eclipsed in profit by the Federal, State, and Local governments?!?! NO WAY! *chuckle* This foolishness truly has risen to new levels.

By the Way, that picture makes me chuckle.

*sigh* I found this on TCS Daily:


Wow ... Just wow. the FDA procedure is hampering the creation of drugs which could potentially be used to treat any number of devastating diseases ... because the cost of wading through all of the FDA red tape and FDA requirements is too high.

Nearly a BILLION dollars to go through all the FDA crap, NO WONDER DRUGS ARE EXPENSIVE!

And now the FDA is rejecting a drug because there are other drugs like it on the market ....


Wait ... so .... the FDA is deciding that consumers don't need another option when it comes to certain drugs. Congratulations, the FDA now knows what's best for you, and it's a smaller choice set.

Let's assume that we have Disease A. Now disease A isn't deadly or debilitating, but it's a painful condition and people want treatment for it. Now let's assume that three different companies produce drugs X, Y, and Z.

Now Another company develops drug P and drug P treats disease A, much like drugs XYZ do.

If Drug P were allowed to enter the market, competition between the four companies for market share would increase and we'd see a fall in price, provided that the market is free enough to allow for price shifts (i.e. no Gov't price ceilings or floors, no predatory pricing laws, etc). We should see a drop in the prices of all the drugs which treat disease A. If drug P isn't allowed into the market, the prices of drugs XYZ will remain higher than if P entered the market and the consumer's choices will be more limited.

"The FDA: Screwing you hard, fast, and hard ... for your own protection"

So apparently the cover story of Business Week has an article on the expanded use of credit by low-income individuals. The conclusion is that this is in fact bad for these people. Somehow the idea that poor people using credit to get things that they want is bad is completely ludicrous.

Of course there are poor people that can't properly manage their funds and end up in debt trouble. Hey guess what, I've been in that boat before. I know what it's like, and I might be back in it after I graduate as I've invested alot of loan funds in my college education.


Props to Russell Roberts over at Cafe Hayek for finding this.

One republican I would vote for...

Posted by The_Chef On 10:48 AM 0 comments

Ron Paul (R) Texas

From the Washington Times in regards to a debate televised by FOX:
Mr. Paul, Texas Republican, stood firm, saying "blowback" to U.S. actions is real: "If we ignore that, we ignore that at our own risk. If we think that we can do what we want around the world and not incite hatred, then we have a problem."



He's quite right, perhaps the best policy is one of NOT pissing people and countries off, especially ones that are willing to kill you to prove how upset they are with you.

Now the idea that he would actually win the Republican nomination is nothing short of a pipedream for Libertarians but I can still hope can't I?

Maybe someone like Paul would actually push for some real policy changes in Washington.

Thought of the Day

Posted by The_Chef On 3:58 PM 0 comments

I "borrowed" this from Walter Williams' GMU homepage.

"A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should also have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government." -- George Washington

There's what the founding fathers thought about guns.

-Jon

Jerry Falwell Dies at 73

Posted by The_Chef On 3:10 PM 0 comments

WARNING: This is a rant.

So today Jerry Falwell dropped dead. He will awake in the next life wondering "where am I going in a hand basket and why is it so hot?"

On a more serious note, what will this do to the "religious right"?

This leaves the last major rallying figure for them to be Pat Robertson, who has proven himself to be a nearly irredeemable dope. Well, maybe this means that a new figure will rise up and take his place in the realm of absurd "christian" rhetoric. Still, all in all I would consider this a benficial thing for even the "religious right". The problem with most of the people in that category is that they, like the late Jerry Falwell, tend to sacrifice other people's freedom and and their own logical faculties in service to their higher more "enlightened" view of morality. THis might push some of them to look beyond their ideal theocracy and look toward a more free society, one based on tolleraance, not acceptance, but tollerance.

The man horribly represented what christianity is, and what christians should act like and I shall not for a moment mourn his death.

/end rant

...what about Hayek?

Posted by The_Chef On 1:31 PM 0 comments

So as an undergrad last year in my Austrian Econ class, Dr. Tony Carilli assigned for us, among other scholarly articles, the Reader's Digest summary of Hayek's famous, or perhaps infamous depending on your views, work The Road to Serfdom. Well being the free market hound that I am, I have been reading through the actual book.

So I asked myself "are we on this road to serfdom?"

Now the answer is not something that I have at this time as I have not finished the book and dare not begin an analysis of this question until I have fully finished TRS but I wanted to note a few things that I have picked up on. I wish to address one here.

Hayek's analysis of the shift away from the radical socialists of the early 20th century to the gradual "progressives" that we see today is exactly what I see and what scares me. As Hayek states in his introduction of the 1969 printing of the book there is a feeling "toward piecemeal change."
Whether because of ignorance or active planning, we see this effect in modern American society. The drive to socialize the economic activity of the country's citizens is still quite alive and well. This includes the vaunted National healthcare plan that is coming, whether we want it or not. This, among a series of what I see as violations of the government contract which we agreed to in the Constitution, is one of the reasons that I think we are on slowly sliding into neo-socialism as I'll call it.
-Jon

Posted by The_Chef On 12:55 AM 0 comments

Life is crazy.

Thirty-two killed in a shooting at Virginia Tech. I have friends that go there. Strangely though, I am not in mourning like the rest of the country seems to be. Yeah, call me cold and callous if you want, but I'm not choked up and bawling my eyes out over this. Well so what is the effect of all this.

Oh of course, GUN CONTROL.

Someone who is mentally unstable goes crazy and kills a bunch of people. Of course it's not the school's fault for letting someone like that continue to be on campus. It's not even the crazy Asian kid's fault because he's dead so we can't really blame him... and he's crazy, so it's not really his fault. Oh wait I know... it must be the fault of ... THE GUNS! That's right ladies and gentlemen, inanimate objects are now the subject of the blame for the killings.

Does anyone else realize how absolutely absurd that sounds ... putting blame on an unmoving object... Granted the purpose of a gun is to intimidate/harm/kill something. But since when were those purposes naturally evil?

Let's just examine this:
If we ban guns or even just handguns, then what will happen? The law abiding people will turn their guns in and the criminals, because they are criminals ... won't. Well those of us who are law abiding (relatively speaking) are now completely screwed. We lost the ability to defend ourselves on an even plane. This is just great.

Then the Europeans and Aussies stand up and say that "well we don't have guns and we don't have people being shot." You're right you don't you have people being stabbed to death and you have higher rates of robbery, rape, assault, theft, and various other crimes. So we have more deaths and less total crime and you have more total crime and we have more deaths, but less crime. Personally, I'd rather have the latter.

So here's to firearms! Keep them clean and keep them ready.
-Jon

So I'm sitting in my house last night, packing to come back to school, folding clothes, all that kind of good stuff and my dad walks in. The dialogue is paraphrased:

Dad: "So I think I know why the liberals want nationalized health care."
Jon: "Really? Aside from the fact that it allows them to regulate who gets what kind of care?"
Dad: "Beyond that, think bigger."
Jon: "Ummm, right, just tell me."
Dad: "If Health care is a 'right' as some people want to claim that it is and government must then provide it on a national scale, what is the implicit assumption?"
Jon: "They have to be able to ... oh ... "
Dad: "Exactly, if they are the provider of that good then they have to be able to control costs in some way. Now what does that mean for health care?"
Jon: "It means that they can ban anything that they deem 'unhealthy' whatever that may be."
Dad: "Yes but more than that, it means that they can outlaw things they determine to be too risky or unhealthy, they can tell you where to live, what to eat, how to live..."
Jon: "...where you can go and where you can't..."
Dad: "Exactly, it opens the door for huge strides in government control over the lives of the people in this country."
Jon: "You mean sheeple."
Dad: "Yeah, that term actually fits quite nicely right there."
... I love my dad, he's turning into a good Libertarian...
Yes, please, call me an alarmist. (keep in mind that the Democrats called the Republicans who opposed the implementation of the 16th amendment to the constitution, "alarmists and fear- mongers") For those of you that don't know what the 16th Amendment is....
The Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution

Yep income taxes, which were promised to be 1% and be for the war effort, and BE SHORT TERM. Now, we (the average American) is working 3 months out of the year just to pay their FEDERAL income taxes. So you can call me an alarmist all you want, but there is precedent here for this kind of Leviathan-like government expansion.

So yes, vote for Nationalized Health care. It'll probably turn out like the Public school system in America. That is to say that it will be a mess of positively biblical proportions.

Now before some person gets on here and starts the typical "What about the kid who has cancer and their parents can't afford the treatment..." line of argument, let me forestall that by saying that I am not talking in anyway about what a person deserves, as that has an icky moral connotation that I dislike. Fine, we can treat all of the children in America for cancer, if you want to give up your rights to: live where you want, go where you want, eat what you want, drink what you want, etc.

On an ending note, what happens when the government decides that certain modes of thought are "unhealthy"? We won't be allowed to think what we want anymore.

The roads to Hell and Tyranny are paved with "good intentions".

-Jon

Global Warming and Public Policy

Posted by The_Chef On 11:58 PM 0 comments



How many of you have seen the South Park Episode on Global warming? If not you should. That aside there is an interesting tid-bit in that episode where the populace of the town panic and stampede because "...global warming is coming..." So ... what does this have to do with Econ?

Let's examine some of the policy that is coming our way:
Laws to restrict the kind of transportation we can use/own based on fuel efficiency.
Laws providing tax breaks for people owning Hybrid cars.
Laws mandating that Hybrids become the major product for car manufacturers.

Well who is purporting these policies? Aside from the Environmental special interest groups, many scientists also think that people and our production of "greenhouse gasses" are the cause of the global warming trend. But wait, to quote Shakespeare: "OH SPITE, OH HELL!" Consesnsus in the scientific community on global warming, something so many people think to be scientific canon, apparently is not.

Russian Astronomer Disagrees with the Mainstream
So a Russian Astronomer has broken ranks and is stating that the Sun (you know, that big ball of FUSION that we see come up every day) is the true reason behind the warming trend. Well this is interesting. Now please understand that I am not saying whether this Russian, Habibullo Abdussamatov by name, is right or not. He simply states that if mankind has had an influence on the global temperature, it pales in comparison to the effect that the sun has on our climate.

So what does all this mean to the fields of Economics and Policy Analysis?

Well, here's my take on this whole mess:
Given that there is uncertainty in the scientific community, alot more than you would believe, over this whole issue as to who or what is responsible for this warming trend that we see, how on earth can we dictate effective policy to try and "deal" with this issue? Now I don't mean to turn this into a philosophical "We can't ever know anything so why do anything?" kind of argument. All I think is that there are scientific "studies" on both sides that are slanted to show "evidence" that either side A or side B are correct. We should ultimately reserve judgement until we know what is truly going on.

Now if I may rant a bit. Activists want government to restrict my rights to own a brawny V8 in the future because, God forbid, it will create greenhouse gasses. As one of my car tuner friends said, "Yeah right, they'll have to catch me first to take my car from me. They may get me in the end but I'll give them one helluva chase."

"The government which governs least, governs best."
-Jon

In the beginning...

Posted by The_Chef On 8:08 PM 0 comments

Well we're not exactly God and this isn't exactly the heavens and earth, but this is the first post here. I'm actually not sure how many people will wander in here, but it should make for an interesting experiment.

I think we will start off the blog with a pull for the book that both Brian and I are currently reading for the Center for the Study of Political Economy reading group. Terrorism and Tyranny by James Bovard is a great, if scathing, review of the abuses that our liberties have suffered under the guise of fighting a "war on terror". Bovard clearly sets his sights on the Bush administration and the PATRIOT act, but no one is safe from his barrage on the failures, screw-ups, and ass-covering that has been done by the US Government. Bovard is especially critical of the jingoistic response of the government and the public passivity in the whole matter.

Bovard does not pull punches and the hits keep on coming throughout the book. It really is a fascinating look at how government incompetence and failure is rewarded with expanded power and control of our lives. This work is extremely well cited and makes for an infuriating read.

It's worth your time to pick it up for a read:
a la Amazon.com : James Bovard - Terrorism and Tyranny
-Jon