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

Musing

Posted by The_Chef On 1:53 PM 1 comments

I don't think that there is really a topic to this one. I'm just kinda sitting here with a mug of hot chocolate in my hand and thinking.

I don't understand how modern people can see the need to be shepherded along through their life. I see it all the time and not just in news articles and rants about the nature of the nanny state, but rather, in my everyday life and there is it profoundly disturbing and troubling.

How can a person believe that they have to be constantly sheltered and cared for? That seems to me to be fundamentally flawed in its view of life and the nature of rights.

No, don't fear, I'm not going to go on about rights theory.

I think what bothers me is that the opinion, for that's all it is, that they should be cared for and sheltered comes at the expense of other people. Those expenses are monetary in nature but they also affect us that do not want to be sheltered and coddled. Public policy is inherently a blanket effect. So when a law is passed because someone wants the 'protection' it inherently affects everyone, whether they want it or not.

Thus is liberty chipped away by the sheer laziness of people to take care of themselves.

And Now For Something...

Posted by The_Chef On 11:33 AM 1 comments

...Completely Different.

So as I sit here having finished classes for the day, sipping a Sam Adams Brown Ale, I can't help but muse about a few things, some political/economic, some not.

The Atlas Trio played again last night bringing out pieces from Beethoven, Piazzolla, and Shostakovitch. All three were brilliantly played but the Piazzolla piece really moved me. Piazzolla is kind of a blend of classical and jazz. If you're interested in it, Here is the wiki link to his bio. It really kind of had an energy and power that I didn't expect a piano and cello to evoke. Both other pieces were really good as well, though I am not a huge fan of Beethoven's Sonata No. 2 in A major, it was still very well played and enjoyable.

The Shostakovitch bit was moving and seeing how it was written in 1944 it brought to my mind images of a Soviet flag flying over the abject ruins of Stalingrad. The idea of victory but at a terrible price seemed to just flow from Liana's violin. This kinda of mourning over what has been lost was always creeping out of the music.

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I'm currently listening to The Fountain soundtrack. It's amazing and I recommend it.

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I got into an argument with some student about how he thinks globalization is immoral because it hurts people in the US and he brought out this asinine argument about dedication to a benefactor, the benefactor clearly being the US.

This of course is ridiculous. If you want to buy American just to buy American then by all means do it, it's your money. However ... it is ... taxing to have some Classics major who can paraphrase some Adam Smith try and tell me why some US guy losing his job to an Indian guy is ... IMMORAL.

Now forgive me if I'm skeptical, but last time I checked there was no 'right' to a job. Certain decisions made by a company MAY hurt some people. But it also helps others and how are we to then judge morality based around the idea of benefit. Utility can't be measured in any meaningful way so it is nigh impossible to say that this guy who is unemployed at this moment is worse off. He may be is a worse position at that moment in time but stimuli can often prod people out of complacency. There was an excellent example about steel workers from Pittsburgh who lost their jobs and ended up working for mining companies in the Dakotas... they got paid better in the Dakotas. Hmmm.

We lose roughly 250,000 job a year, whether to outsourcing or simple job elimination ... We create almost 1.2 million new positions a year. Hmmmmm I don't see a problem here.

Lastly, I am sick and tired of people putting moral connotation on a transaction. Trade is viewed as a zero-sum game. It's not, both sides benefit. *sigh* We economics students have our work cut out for us.

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I think that's about it... for now.

We Can't Develop People...

Posted by The_Chef On 3:46 PM 0 comments

... they have to do it for themselves. More appropriately, I should say that things like the World Bank and Government handouts to poor countries do little or nothing to foment productive economic growth. Now by productive economic growth I mean wealth creation, wealth being things of subjective value to individuals.

This is a great article from Mary Anastasia O'Grady about some of the problems with the idea that we can create an economically stable country by simply throwing money at it. It's just like throwing more and more money at the US public school system ... Yup ... look how well that has turned out.

Here are the first few paragraphs of her article.

Are the world's impoverished masses destined to live lives of permanent misery unless rich countries transfer wealth for spending on education and infrastructure?

You might think so if your gurus on development economics earn their bread and butter "lending" at the World Bank. Education and infrastructure "investment" are two of the Bank's favorite development themes.

Yet the evidence is piling up that neither government nor multilateral spending on education and infrastructure are key to development. To move out of poverty, countries instead need fast growth; and to get that they need to unleash the animal spirits of entrepreneurs.

ENTREPRENEURS!?! NO! They exploit people. Oh wait... that's right, free exchange isn't a zero-sum game. Free-exchange combined with strong property rights, NOT CHARITY, lead to growth and wealth. So maybe we should turn the markets loose and stop proping up weak and corrupt states, even if they do say they like us...

NSA = Nosey Snoopy Assholes

Posted by The_Chef On 7:41 PM 5 comments


The NSA is freaking out over the possibility of cyberterrorism.

Here is a scary article from WIRED!.


Quote:

The nation's top spy, Michael McConnell, thinks the threat of cyberarmageddon! is so great that the U.S. government should have unfettered and warrantless access to U.S. citizens' Google search histories, private e-mails and file transfers, in order to spot the cyberterrorists in our midst.
Wow ... someone has watched Live Free or Die Hard WAY WAY too many times. Goddamn! Get a clue, the people want the bureaucrats out of their lives, yesterday!

Townhall.com = Worthless

Posted by The_Chef On 7:16 PM 0 comments

So I picked this up a bit late from Penny Arcade but here it is. Apparently one of the writers, a one Kevin McCullough, at Townhall.com (basically a raving neo-con/Christian-tyrant moralist hotbed) is flipping shit about the content of ... wait for it ... a video game. A video game named Mass Effect to be more specific.

Here is a link to his "article".

I say "article" because I don't think the guy ever played the game. McCullough claims that this game is part of a new movement to pervert our children into mindless sexually compulsive kids. Ummm wait a second ... let me get this straight you want to fearmonger people about a game you have not played? So you actually don't know the content of the game? So you're basically pulling things out of your ass? ... Thought so.

And let me tell you, this box art just SCREAMS cyber-orgy.

Gabe and Tycho at Penny Arcade have done a great job of shooting holes all through his article.

Here is yet ANOTHER breakdown point by point of his article from Right Thoughts.

God I hate Neo-Cons...

Back at School

Posted by The_Chef On 10:58 PM 0 comments

Forgive my absence for a few more days. I'm getting everything unpacked here back at school. I'll be posting again soon.

Bill to Control Language...

Posted by The_Chef On 8:49 AM 0 comments


A town Near St. Louis Missouri is trying to pass a bill to ban swearing in bars.


Full Article Here.


My response? Well I could go into a long diatribe about the nature of free speech and I could quote Orwell ("Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear") And I could talk about free speech and the bilateral nature of liberty ... but instead I've got a much more refined and fitting response: Fuck that.


Quote of the Day

Posted by The_Chef On 12:56 PM 1 comments

From Chris Coyne's After War: The Political Economy of Exporting Democracy:

"...Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman, writing in the area of monetary policy, noted not only that policymakers lack the requisite knowledge to develop and commit to effective discretionary policies, but that there is a time lag between the recognition that a policy is needed and the design and ultimate implementation of that policy. The passage of time is itself an issue because a policy that is appropriate in one period may not be appropriate in subsequent periods."

Hmmmm yet another problem with policy-based manipulation of an infinitely complex market.

A Non-political Post.

Posted by The_Chef On 10:47 AM 1 comments

Right, well ... while everyone else is off discussing Hillary's tears, I'm going to talk about 2007. Things that I liked from 2007. Let's get started.

I.) The release of the Nissan GTR in Japan. This car is a monster and will make every Ferrari owner in the US squirm when it hits the streets.

II.) Fine liquors that I have had the opportunity to have, listed in no particular order.

  • Jameson Irish Whiskey - an excellent standby for any occasion. We refer to it as liquid gold for a reason, smooth with a bit of bite. Serve on the rocks.
  • Macallan 12 Year Scotch - This sherry cask single malt scotch is simply delicious. A complex smoky flavor with a crisp dry finish. Serve with a splash of water to bring the flavor out.
  • Captain Morgan Tattoo Rum - This stuff looks like used motor oil. It's black in color and has a typical Capt. Morgan taste with the addition of some other spices which compliment the rum well. It is relatively inexpensive and not for every occasion, but might tantalize the palate of many fans of a Rum & Coke.
  • Drambuie - Do I even have to go into how awesome this stuff is? Herbal in taste with a sweet finish. Serve neat, over ice, or with a splash of water. For a Rusty Nail mix with a good Scotch.
  • Gentleman Jack - Quite possibly the smoothest Tennessee whiskey I've ever had. For being mass produced this is a very solid product. I prefer this served over the rocks or neat.

III.) Music - Please note these albums may NOT have been released in 2007, I simply have gotten the chance to listen to them in 2007.

  • Anathema - A Natural Disaster
  • Opeth - Blackwater Park
  • Anberlin - Lost Songs
  • 3 - The End is Begun
  • Abstract - Fragmenthea
  • Becoming the Archetype - Physics of Fire
  • Blotted Science - The Machinations of Dementia
  • Devin Townsend - Ziltoid the Omniscient
  • Iron & Wine - Our Endless Numbered Days
  • Katatonia - The Last Fair Deal Gone Down
  • Mechanical Poet - Who Did it it Michelle Waters?
  • Sieges Even - The Art of Navigating by the Stars
  • Virgin Black - Requiem-Mezzo Forte

I think that's about it. Feel free to look up the bands. Give them a listen, nothing there is too heavy.

Drugs and America

Posted by The_Chef On 9:46 AM 1 comments


Rolling Stone online has a very interesting article on the history of the drug war. They address a lot of the futility of the fight. But I don't think they make the ultimate leap to complete legalization. Their reasoning seems to drive them toward that conclusion but they just can't seem to come out and say "We should legalize cocaine."


Here's how I see it. We should legalize it all. Major drug companies can produce pure drugs, safely cut the product, sell it in varying strengths. This will do one major thing for this country. It will destroy gangs. The major stream of financing for 99% of all gangs is drugs. If we legalize it the price will drop, gangs won't be able to compete in a black-market vs free-market fight, and with the money gone the gangs will either turn to other means of raising capital (unlikely to create the same returns as high profit drugs), or begin to evaporate.


If we legalize drugs people are not going to rush to the local pharmacist to get some...


What is my Generation Fighting For?

Posted by The_Chef On 10:52 PM 1 comments

Justin over at Intellectual Chaos in his post about the movie Amazing Grace notes that he is unable to find a driving idea or creed of my generation. I suppose for reference I should state that my generation is roughly 18-25.

I don't want to be remembered as the generation which crusaded against Global Warming or followed Bono to Africa to do AIDS work.

So I suppose the question is what do I want us to be known for? I suppose the simple answer is freedom. Yes this of course sounds cheesy and cliche. I want this to be a new generation of thinkers pondering and writing on things like Rights theory, the nature of government, the definition of good government. I want to see young people rise up and whether with their vote or their wallet say "We have had enough of bureaucrats telling us how to live our lives."

Perhaps we are the generation to destroy the entitlement society...

I don't want some Utopian Randian Revolution or libertarian orgy, I just want to be left alone by desk jockeys in Washington.

What do you see for your generation?

Quote of the Day

Posted by The_Chef On 1:25 PM 0 comments

"The ability to turn failure into success and to benefit from the discomfiture of others is the critical test of true entrepreneurship."
-Ludwig Lachman The Order of Capital

FOX News

Posted by The_Chef On 1:05 PM 0 comments

... Unbalanced, Biased, Unethical

David Codrea over at War on Guns has on interesting idea since Ron Paul is being excluded from the Fox News Debate.

I quote this from David, so he takes credit for this.

"If negotiations are unsuccessful at getting [Ron Paul] in at the last minute, they should do three things--they should be starting on them now:

1. Use a portion of that $20M they've raised to buy a 1-minute ad for Ron to be aired immediately before the debate--if not on Fox, then on their competitor CNN. The content of the ad should be to call attention to his exclusion, to provide an overview of his message, and to direct viewers to #2,

2. Have Ron live on the Internet at the same time as the debate, answering all questions posed to the candidates on the Fox program. This could actually work to his advantage, as there would be no distractions from other candidates, no questions intentionally leaving him out, and no misrepresentations of his positions or statements by the other candidates. It could also draw a significant portion of the audience away from Fox.

3. Publicize the hell out of this. Issue press releases to get it into the news. Use the unprecedented Internet network Paul supporters have established."

Go minions... e-mail Fox News and get Paul ON THE DEBATE!

Free Books!

Posted by The_Chef On 2:41 PM 0 comments

So BK Marcus over at lowercase liberty has two free Murray Rothbard books up for download and a Ron Paul piece.

Yes they are PDF, but you can also get other versions.

(Those of you who use PDFs often I recommend getting rid of the Adobe Acrobat and switching to Foxit.)

Links:
Ron Paul - Gold, Peace, and Prosperity
Murray Rothbard - For a New Liberty
Murray Rothbard - What Has Government Done to our Money?

A giant thanks to Marcus goes out for putting these up!

Ignorance Abounds

Posted by The_Chef On 9:22 AM 1 comments

I have come to terms with people not liking what I believe in. Hell I've even made some people question their belief in the effectiveness of Gov't intervention.

We just took 15 steps back....

Here is a New York Times article worth looking at.
(Warning, those that are fans of free markets might become ill after reading this.)

I can't take the time to respond to this right now. And is is so so blatantly wrong and simplistic about so many things that it's hard to deal with it all. Needless to say my response is a firm belief that the markets we see now are heavily distorted by government intervention.

The author's bruhaha about the housing markets is a crock. No one put a gun to the head of the people signing their name on those ARMs. Heaven forbid people pay for their choices. Also keep in mind that the number of houses now in foreclosure whether due to medical bills or the ARMs or WHATEVER is a HUGE NUMBER! It's ... 0.3%.

Okay yes I was being a little sarcastic. That number is tiny and all we hear is "Oh my GOD, these poor people are loosing their homes!"

*sigh* The title of this post is all I can say ... Ignorance abounds.