So for some unknown reason I walked by a radio that was blaring the infamous windbag known as Sean Hannity. He was busying himself with his "analysis" of economics. I was struck by this:
He was referring to the Keynesian (Pronounced like Kanesian) model of economics as the "Ken"sian model. Now I understand that most people have no idea who John Maynard Keynes was, or what his ideas were. I understand that most people may not know how to pronounce his name.
For the love of god, if you're going to TRY and act like you have ANY clue what the hell you're talking about, at LEAST get the guy's name right.
This goes for most of the pundits out there: Both on the left and the right. Olberman, O'Reilly, Rush, Matthews, all of you. STOP. Stop playing in the economic sandbox like any of us care what you think or what you say. You all are not qualified to do anything more than mouth breath.
So please, all of you, have a nice hot cup of SHUT THE HELL UP!
Thank you and have a nice day.
"The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they know about what they imagine they can design."
- F.A. Hayek
So for some unknown reason I walked by a radio that was blaring the infamous windbag known as Sean Hannity. He was busying himself with his "analysis" of economics. I was struck by this:
...and the results are fairly typical. Dodge the question. Babble incoherently. Make up facts. etc.
Here is what upsets me. These people are just as blind and unwilling to reason as many of the "Freepers" that inhabit the Tea Party movement. "What we need are everyone to have a good community/neighborhood school". Ah yes, where you can funnel 60+% of your funding into administrative costs rather than into actually teaching kids knowledge. In fact, this union leader has advocated for banning private schools. Let's see ... Yup, you're a tyrant.
There is nothing redeeming about these people's point of view. It's all talking points, ignore the question/data and keep sticking it to the private sector.
These people will keep smoking that pipe until this whole house of cards collapses around them.
Well, Let's see, Drug War? Check. Pregnant Suspect running from the people kicking her door in with guns? Check. Shooting of said pregnant female? Check. Now this fine upstanding officer will most likely get put on desk duty during the investigation, and be back at work in a month. If a concealed carry permit holder pulled a stunt like this, we'd never hear the end of it from the Brady Campaign. Keep licking your master's hand boys.
I'm not saying that drug dealers are nice people. I'm not saying that they are roll models. I'm not saying that drugs aren't destructive to one's health. But so are burgers, nicotine, and many prescription drugs. It's this goddamn neurotic thought that somehow these boys in blue are better then we are. Bullshit. These guys are people and should be trusted no more than you or I.
Today's entrant is a complete hack, a completely intellectually dishonest hack.
“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.” – GoetheYeah Markos, keep towing that empty headed line, attacking strawmen, and refusing to acknowledge that there is more than just a false Left-Right dichotomy in this country.
See here is what I don't understand, if you look at the history of Marijuana and you learn WHY it was banned, there should be no problem legalizing/de-criminalizing it. My own mother has had cancer... twice. So this one is near and dear to me. She almost didn't survive her first encounter and was extremely ill due to the treatments.
Medical Cannabis is a wonder drug basically. The fact of the matter is that too many people shriek about how EVVVVVIIIILLLL it is, or how those that smoke pot are wastrels and no good people that are not worthy of relief from pain or other symptoms that Medical Cannabis can treat. I don't smoke pot, but by god, if I had severe pain issues I'd rather smoke pot than take any of the myriad of opiate derivative drugs out on the market for pain management.
These people are the same damn breed of Prohibitionists that we had running around the US in the 1920s and 30s. They should be treated with the same mockery and scorn.
There are no, repeat zero reasons for banning this for medical use as proscribed by a physician.
(Personally I think there are no reasons to to ban it period, but hey, I'm just a crazy liberty nut, what do I know?)
Many of the more "left-libertarian types" might disagree with me. In fact I know some of them will. With all of the fervor over the whole Prop 8 thing in the People's republic of California, there has been quite the outcry over this. I see this on some of the blogs I read all the time. Frankly I'm sick of seeing it. It's not that I have anything against people who bet for the other team. I just don't care about the issue. And here is why:
1.) If you take the Anarcho-Capitalist (Market Anarchist) view there shouldn't be a government so leave it up to the movements of private contract enforcement to decide what they will and won't enforce, combined with the fact that the churches/religious organizations could do as they pleased in the same field. There I gave the AnCap line. Now for the more practical one.
2.) Marriage has, for a stupidly long time had religious subtext. It was a union brought together by the gods/God. Trying to make marriage a secular institution is ... an end-run around the issue at best. SO I have a better idea. Let's separate the religious nature of marriage from the legal and "official" nature of mutual contract between two individuals. This would do several things. It would shut up the religious right about a Federal Amendment banning Gay marriage. And it would let all of this play out on a smaller level, whether that be state, locality, or individual religious institutions.
Have the governments of both states and the Feds recognize any Civil Union Contract between two voluntary people that desire the legal/official rights and responsibilities of a couple etc.
Make marriage the sole area of religious institutions. Some institutions are already willing to marry homosexuals, others are not. Why not get the government out of marriage and let it go? Let the churches etc. fight it out amongst themselves. The simple fact of the matter is that this would allow straight or gay couples to get married, legally unionized, and any combination thereof, with no Federal WARRRGARBLE over the debate about who can and can't get married.
Free up competition in the market for unions/mates/marriages and let the chips fall where they may.
There, solved that problem. I doubt that many of the Liberals or Left-libertarians will agree with me, but that's okay. I don't need their approval to be right.
While the AnCap position is a logically consistent one, it simply isn't possible to go from massive statism to rampant Market Anarchy overnight. It's a process and smaller steps toward a better, more free, world are better than standing in our respective towers of intellectual fortitude shouting heretic at one another.
I remember back when this guy was running his campaign. The fervor he inspired was down right scary. The blind fanaticism for reasons that no one seem to explain to beyond the idea of "It's historic" and "He's younger, and understands 'our' generation better." The simple fact of the matter is that "He's not Bush" is probably the correct answer. And while I hated Bush with a passion, the Bamster has managed to kindle a fire of Dantean proportions. The rage is still there but has been slowly subverted by disgust and depression.
Yes the song is supposed to refer to GW Bush. but I find it strangely fitting.
Let's face it gun control is not popular right now. Especially when it comes to national level legislation. Several Supreme Court cases have helped to bolster our case for the ability to "cling" to our guns. So instead of playing by the rules, the gun control nuts are trying an end-run to ban all ammunition that has lead in it. So ... basically all of it.
...the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Lisa Jackson, who was responsible for banning bear hunting in New Jersey, is now considering a petition by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) – a leading anti-hunting organization – to ban all traditional ammunition under the Toxic Substance Control Act of 1976, a law in which Congress expressly exempted ammunition. If the EPA approves the petition, the result will be a total ban on all ammunition containing lead-core components, including hunting and target-shooting rounds.
The bullet points are interesting:
- There is no scientific evidence that the use of traditional ammunition is having an adverse impact on wildlife populations.
- Wildlife management is the proper jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the 50 state wildlife agencies.
- A 2008 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on blood lead levels of North Dakota hunters confirmed that consuming game harvested with traditional ammunition does not pose a human health risk.
- A ban on traditional ammunition would have a negative impact on wildlife conservation. The federal excise tax that manufacturers pay on the sale of the ammunition (11 percent) is a primary source of wildlife conservation funding. The bald eagle’s recovery, considered to be a great conservation success story, was made possible and funded by hunters using traditional ammunition – the very ammunition organizations like the CBD are now demonizing.
I found this especially interesting. It's very much worth watching and raises some interesting arguments in the justice sphere. How can we hope to "rehabilitate" people that are literally ticking bombs from a neuroscience standpoint.
They snuck onto his property in the middle of the night and found his Jeep in his driveway, a few feet from his trailer home. Then they attached a GPS tracking device to the vehicle's underside.
After Pineda-Moreno challenged the DEA's actions, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled in January that it was all perfectly legal. More disturbingly, a larger group of judges on the circuit, who were subsequently asked to reconsider the ruling, decided this month to let it stand.
In fact, the government violated Pineda-Moreno's privacy rights in two different ways. For starters, the invasion of his driveway was wrong. The courts have long held that people have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their homes and in the "curtilage," a fancy legal term for the area around the home. The government's intrusion on property just a few feet away was clearly in this zone of privacy.Really? So... trespassing no longer applies to others? Or is it only okay for agents of the state when they are watching you ... the little guy?
A friend of mine sent me this on facebook and it helps to corroborate what I've been saying for a while: Don't worry about Iran. The place is a mess with internal instability and as a result they are not a threat to anyone. In fact, intervention by the west might help to unify the government under the current Iranian Administration and that's the last thing we want to see happen.
People want to be free and the Green Revolution movement that was quashed about a year ago was only the first incident that might be coming down the pipe for Ahmadinnerjacket's Administration. Ya see, people are tired of the bullshit over there. The Shah was immensely corrupt, this current government is no less corrupt but wraps itself in the purity of the Muslim State as determined by the Imams. The outcome? Well let's see: You have a pissed off young generation that feels squeezed and controlled by their masters. You have politicians that are beginning to realize that the overthrow of the shah left them with a corrupt state drawing its power from religious tyranny. And you even have some of the Imam's questioning whether or not the path their country is on will lead them to a collapse.
I've said it before, I'll say it again. Leave them alone and let the whole thing collapse on itself because it can't help but do otherwise. In fact, this might be one of the few positive things to come out of the invasion of Iraq. With the removal of Saddam Hussein and the current political infighting in Iraq, there is no longer a strong militaristic presence to threaten Iran. Without that fear, Ahmadinnerjacket lost one of the weapons to control his populace.
Hell, their own military is shooting down their own lauded drones. Heh ... if the Iranians can shoot them down, I'm quite sure that the US or the Israeli militaries could swat them out of the sky with ease. As long as they are left alone, the system will collapse on its own. Now what comes out of it? We don't know, but it can't be much worse than what we see now.
There has been a lot of hubub over the so-called "Gender Gap" between the payscales of women and men in the workplace in both the US and in some countries in Western Europe. In a culture where it is anything but PC to assume that there are differences between the sexes, there are some interesting notations to be made. Ironically one of which is a rather insightful comment from someone that I completely disagree with on many issues: Peter Singer. Yeah, the guy that basically jump-started the animal liberation movement. But in writing about the differences in pay scale between men and women. He makes a very interesting observation:
While Darwinian thought has no impact on the priority we give to equality as a moral or political ideal, it gives us grounds for believing that since men and women play different roles in reproduction, they may also differ in their inclinations or temperaments, in ways that best promote the reproductive prospects of each sex. Since women are limited in the number of children they can have, they are likely to be selective in their choice of mate. Men, on the other hand, are limited in the number of children they can have only by the number of women they can have sex with. If achieving high status increases access to women, then we can expect men to have a stronger drive for status than women. This means that we cannot use the fact that there is a disproportionately large number of men in high status positions in business and politics as a reason for concluding that there has been discrimination against women. For example, the fact that there are fewer women chief executives of major corporations than men may be due to men being more willing to subordinate their personal lives and other interests to their career goals, and biological differences between men and women may be a factor in that greater readiness to sacrifice everything for the sake of getting to the top.1It would seem that Singer makes an interesting evolutionary argument for the difference between men and women. I'm not saying here's right, but it did get the wheels turning a bit. I do respect him for not falling into the typical feminist argument of "THERE ARE NO DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE SEXES!" line that I have heard from people and has actually been espoused by feminist philosophers. To throw a bit of libertarian economics into Singer's argument (which I'm sure would give him a stroke as the guy is a raging socialist and "social justice" advocate): It would seem that, if we accept Singer's argument that males face an evolutionary incentive given our background and genetic programming, we should expect them to have a higher drive to succeed as it increases their potential mate pool. And this isn't that far-fetched given that we know that women in general highly value the stability and ability to provide in a mate.
There is also another reason that I've seen advanced by several Economists with some interesting data to back up their statement that: Women make less during their child-bearing years because companies are discounting the value of their labor inputs because the chances are very good that these women are going to want to have children. As a result they are basically lost to the company for at least 12 months. There's not exactly a temp service for a VP of Plant Operations. I can't seem to find the study right off the top of the net, so if someone has a link to the actual paper I'd appreciate you sharing it. What they noted was that this so-called "gender gap" seems to disappear in post-menopausal women ... I found that, extremely interesting. Yes yes, Correlation is not Causation. That doesn't mean it doens't bear more investigation.
1 Peter Singer, A Darwinian Left: Politics, Evolution, and Cooperation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), pp. 17-18.
I mean what could possibly go wrong with regulating a fluid industry like "nannying".
*sigh* This will of course increase unemployment in that sector because of the marginally increased difficulty in firing a nanny. If the nanny is in good with the family, we might expect a small drop in employment due to the overtime guarantee provided for in this bill, depending on how the OT is calculated. But the real hit is going to be in those nannies that are on the lower spectrum where in stead of keeping someone around to watch their kids who isn't the best, they simply fire her now and start looking for another candidate who more clearly fits the employer requirements.
The Nanny state is now after nannies. Who would have thought?
Also: Who are the "Jews for Racial and Economic Justice" listed in the footnote of the article? Why does that name just shriek "Socialist Orgy/Thinktank" to me? Oh ... umm ... yep. Another group of yammering collectivists is a seemingly apt definition of the group.
*sigh* I forgot, markets are evil, workers are slaves, the free exchange of goods/services/ideas is dangerous to society. We must control it, right?
Today's Recipient is one Judge Thomas V. Gainer Jr. from Chicago.
Let's do a bit of looking at this shall we?
1.) Cop gets videotaped drinking shots and other beverages before getting into his car.
2.) Cop causes an accident resulting in two fatalites.
3.) Cop cleared of all charges.
Prosecutors made two attempts to prove that Ardelean did. After the two-vehicle fatal crash Nov. 22 in Roscoe Village, Ardelean was charged with misdemeanor DUI -- later upgraded to a felony. But those charges were dismissed when Cook County Judge Don Panarese ruled there was "no indication" Ardelean, who was off-duty at the time, was drunk. Prosecutors reinstated charges after saying they had a lengthy surveillance videotape showing Ardelean drinking five shots and other drinks at a North Side bar shortly before the crash.
Prosecutors also suggested in pretrial hearings that police the night of the crash turned a blind eye to Ardelean's intoxication. Among other things, he wasn't arrested or given a Breathalyzer until seven hours after the crash. But Gainer ruled in April that the supervising officer who ultimately made the arrest didn't have strong enough evidence to do so. Gainer's ruling also suppressed key blood-alcohol evidence.
So what does the judge in this case do? Well he throws out the video evidence of course.
Now I ask my readers, if one of us had pulled a stunt like this, what would have happened to us? More appropriately, what would have happened to one of us if we had killed two cops while driving drunk?
Remember kids: The cops are not on your side. They are not your friend. They are NOT there to "protect and serve" you.
Album: Planetary Confinement
Genre: Dark Atmospheric Rock (Mostly Acoustic)
Review: Antimatter is in the vein of Anathema and, to a certain degree, Katatonia. It's a dark, depressive, yet well constructed and frankly a beautiful musical journey. It's relatively slow, but it is cerebral and each stage of the music seems to be very well thought out and considered. It's not heavy. It's not groovy. It's simply very pretty, while being rather dark. The work has some Prog influences but it's not a huge part of the album. Highly recommended for those that like a creative work of rock.
"When all you've got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail."?
VH over at Vulcan's Hammer said something that made me wonder about the psychological nature of the legislative beast.
Shall we take a moment to look at the composition of our houses of Congress?
- 214 members (182 Representatives and 33 Senators) list their occupation as public service/politics
- 225 (168 Representatives and 57 Senators) list law [www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40086.pdf]
- 201 (175 Representatives and 27 Senators) list business
- 94 (78 Representatives and 16 Senators) list education
Now there is obviously overlap in this because we know that there are not 133 Senators. We can however conjecture that of the upper house there are at least 60-70% that are in the "politics/law" area.
I'd like to find a more in depth study of this, but this is good enough for a rough estimate.
If I may modify the famous saying at the top of the post:
"When all you've got is experience in law/politics every problem looks like it can be solved with a law."
We are all prone to do this: I tend to see economics as a primary driving force behind actions and think that markets can solve 99-100% of the worlds problems. We are all looking at things through some sort of colored tint based on what we study, learn, appreciate, and understand. Psychologists see personality types, sociologists see group dynamics and traits, economists see cost/benefit and incentives, etc. and so on; we're all guilty of it to a certain degree.
Perhaps that's the problem with Congress and politicians in general. Their view of things is that problems are to be solved with laws, coercion, and force. That is simply how they see things. Not that such a state excuses their actions, but it makes sense and would seem to fulfill Occam's Razor nicely.
I wonder who in Congress has a Masters or PhD in Economics. I know that as far as I can tell, the most economically astute person in Congress is actually an MD (Thanks Dr. Paul!).
Yes economists disagree about many things. the fight between the Neo-Classicists, Austrians, Monetarists, and Keynesians has been going on for a long long time but at least they hold some sort of understanding of the underlying principles.
These people are making policy without any understanding of the basic and underlying principles. That would be like putting me in charge of a five star restaurant's menu. I like food. I even like to dabble in the kitchen a bit, but I sure as hell don't know enough to construct the menu for a high class establishment.
Congress is meddling in things they don't understand. They are sticking wrenches in a moving engine in an unlit room. If you keep monkeying with the engine, you're gonna break it.
Do you really wanna be sticking a wrench in something like this? I don't.
Oh my... Walter Williams posts up a piece on how minimum wage hurts workers and someone in the House throws a hissy fit. Is anyone surprised?
I'll just leave this here, because it's ... kind of relevant:
I mean come on, these people in congress get to decide fiscal and economic policy!
And people wonder why we're in a financial mess in this country...
H/T to Cafe Hayek.
For those of you that are not aware of the existence of what some people call the "Three Percent" movement. They are, for lack of a better description, quasi-revolutionary. I wouldn't say fully, because while they may preach "keep your rifle ready and your powder dry", they aren't out looking to start assassinating public officials or waging open war against the government. Yet.
And I think that they serve a very good purpose. They are a fountain of information regarding gun laws, the abuse of police powers, and trying to gauge where politicians lie on certain issues. And , God forbid, a shooting war did start in this country between government agents and armed citizens, I'd probably be supporting them however I could. Politically speaking, they are either libertarians or "conservative republicans" (I still don't really understand what this means).
But there is another side to the 3% guys and gals that ... concerns me. In fact it is a concern that largely mirrors my concern with "libertarian" groups in general. While most of the "Threepers" I've come into contact with have been passionate, intelligent people. There are a few ... "moonbats" that exist.
Now those of you that are reading this that consider yourselves part of the 3% crowd, please hear me out.
I very much enjoy some of the financial and economic discussions. The work on gun rights and political activism for the Second Amendment is priceless. But get the raving loons out of your group! I don't mind people talking about how much the government sucks, I don't mind the discussion about rights. What I mind is people who:
- Go flying off the hilt about the New World Order and all this other random conspiracy crap, that is a COMPLETE violation of Occam's Razor.
- While I don't object to people holding their religious values. I'm frankly sick and tired hearing that "The END TIMES are nigh!" No one cares, people have been screaming that for ... millennia. I do mean millennia, since the early 100s AD certain Christian groups have been calling for the end times, you haven't gotten it right yet. Please stop treating the most confusing book in the Bible like you understand prophecy, no one's gotten it right yet.
But this presents us with a problem. It's a problem that libertarians have struggled with: how do you get these people out of the party when one of your founding tenants is "free association"? The libertarians have their share of UFO chasing, NWO fighting, tinfoil hat wearing, conspiracy nut cases. And frankly it hurts the movement. It hurts the movement a lot because morons like that end up on TV and the American people go "What the hell? I don't want to be part of this group!"
So I pose the question to the Three Percenters: What are you all going to do? Please keep in mind that I'll back most of you. In fact, I do my best to try and provide a bit more economic education to some of the other blogs that support the 3% movement. But you all still have some kinks to work out. Please consider this constructive criticism.
The argument is that:
People are flawed and imperfect and some are downright evil. So we have to put other people in charge to rule in order to keep things orderly and productive.The fundamental problem is that those rulers are as flawed, imperfect, or as downright evil as any other "normal" person. According to Hayek's treatise on socialism in The Road to Serfdom, certain kinds of political systems even encourage power-hungry, or fundamentally immoral people to become leaders. So you haven't solved the problem.
In fact you've made it worse. You've now given very corruptible people, very very big guns to point at people they find convenient.
On the flip side ... is the idea of Anarchism and Free-Market Anarchism really a solution? Is is a practical solution?
See it's the last question there that I struggle with. Market Anarchy is essentially flawless in its defense of personal liberty. But is it practical in its application to a small cluster of people? Maybe. But as the size of that "group" of Market Anarchists grows, you will get more and more negative externalities to deal with.
Can humans function in a society like that after having a love of authority and a willingness to obey ground into them? Perhaps eventually.
Could we build that future? Probably not any time soon. Too many people have made themselves dependent on the coercive and re-distributive actions of the state.
So I've finally decided to blog about this because the Rampant ignorance is simply overpowering. Discussions I've had regarding this topic have sprung up on several forums and message boards over the net and as a result I will be using some of this snippets to make my case why not only is the AZ bill a bad idea, the entire Federal Immigration system needs to be trashed and overhauled.
So let's start The_Chef's Talley of the ways that Illegal Immigration doesn't matter.
1.) America was founded upon an idea of free choice. Tragically we've become a society of command and control. This country was built by people from every background. Nearly every group of immigrants that first came to these shores worked in jobs that were demeaning or generally undesirable to the current residents of American soil. I cite as examples the influx of Asians that were instrumental in the development of West Coast Railways, Blacks forcibly brought to America as Slaves, Latinos who helped to build the Southwest and actually helped Texas win her independence from Mexico and Santa Ana.
The majority of immigrants after the 1840s did not hop over a border or an ocean and suddenly smash their way into the upper crust of society. It took generations of work, sacrifice, and effort for all sorts of certain racial and national groups to work together. As a result our policy should be "Come, come build yourself and your family a better life." Right now we have a policy of "Get The Fuck Out! (Unless you're related to a citizen or have a PhD in a useful field)"
So what does it take to become a Legal US Citizen? Funny you should ask:
Yep a huge freaking flowchart about the Immigration process. Courtesy of Reason Magazine.
2.) I've heard the argument from some people that these "illegals" are putting our social programs under additional strain and are hurting the "American Taxpayer". Well congratulations, you have just made an excellent argument against re-distributive public policy. Ya see, when you promise to give free shit to people, more people will want to take advantage of such a system.
Welfare, Social-Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc. are nothing more than incentive programs. We may not want to call them that, but let's quickly review:
Welfare: Provides a subsidy to be poor/below X wage bracket. When you subsidize or incentivize a certain behavior you are bound to get more of it. If you deny this premise, you clearly need to pick up Henry Hazlitt's Economics in One Lesson before trying to digest anything else I have to say.
Social-Security: Creates an incentive to spend rather than save. If the Government is going to pay you $X upon retirement, then to maintain a similar standard of living you would not save $X during your labor years. This lack of saving is actually incentivized as well by a Federal Monetary Policy of massive inflation of currency that destroys Savings and harms both the poor and the old people because the prices of goods goes up, while the limited amount of income stays either stagnant or "sticky".
Medicare/Medicaid: Oh these two fraud and promissory programs are really a debacle. With the rising costs of health care which have largely been due to the actions of the Federal Government, the AMA, and the heavy restriction of medical care and the bureaucracy surrounding it, we are literally just going to hand out cash to people for being ill.
Now I'm not saying that we should let people die, but the simple fact of the matter is that there has never to my knowledge been a federal government program that comes in under budget, shrinks with time, or creates less red tape. We have helped to incentivize the over-use of medical facilities and procedures, being poor, and not saving. People over-consume a good when the costs are defrayed and it doesn't come out of their pocket.
These programs are quite literally going to bankrupt this nation. And I do mean that literally. Our sainted Government has promised tens of trillions of dollars to fund these programs.
So if the "illegals" take advantage of our political leader's decision to put a gun in the face of the American people and take their money to hand out to others, then the problem is the collectivized redistribution of resources, NOT the illegals who are hopping the border to work and maybe get a handout. It's not their fault we've created incentives to take advantage of us. IT'S US! WE ARE AT FAULT!
3.) Many of the arguments I hear from Right Wingers amount to two things:
I.) "They took our jerb.... they teeekk errrr jerrrrrrbbb.. teeeyy tttteeekkkkk errrrrrr jerrbbbbbbbb." This assumes that the jobs "belong" to someone other than the company. They own the job, they can fill it as they please. If they want to put a goddamn giant squid in charge of their Marketing Department that is their business to do so. I don't care if they hire some Mexican to cut lawns, or someone from Nicaragua to pick lettuce, it is THE COMPANY'S job slot to fill.4.) Markets want to clear. This is very simple Micro/Intro to economics and I find that this argument goes completely over the heads of most people because the majority of people are economic morons. I'm not saying this to demean them per se, I'm saying this because the VAST majority of Americans don't get it, and they don't want to.
II.) "But ... But ... But they are breaking a LAW!" Well in many states so are you if you're getting a blowjob, having anal sex, modifying your car illegally, not declaring your online purchases on your taxes so that you have to pay sales tax (This can be a felony by the way), if you own "prohibited" firearms in states like Illinois, Cali, or if you ever carry a firearm in a state where it is not legal to do so. LAWS do not decide whether something is morally right or wrong. They determine what politicians have determined to punish. It is "illegal" to do all sorts of things that the government has no business in. So FUCK OFF! The legality of an issue is completely irrelevant to the issue.
We know that labor markets are constantly shifting. There are not a static number of jobs. Jobs are constantly created and destroyed. A great example is the shift in labor from NE steel mills to the Dakotas for jobs in rare metal and mineral mining/processing.
5.) As part of this discussion one of the guys I was intellectually fencing with hit me with this:
So it's OK for a company to reap the rewards of existing in an economy such as the one in the US, where there is need for it's services and people can afford to pay it for it's service, all the while paying wages that would be expected in a much poorer nation? This is unethical to me, and if you can explain why it's not, I'm all ears.Wages are a function of supply and demand. The idea of working for X wage is/should be the determination of the worker and the market for labor.
In other words:
If person X is willing to work for Y wage, and voluntarily contracts to trade labor for wage at that
rate I don't care. If person X is told "You're working for Y wage and you can't say no and you can't leave the company" by his employer then I have a problem with it. Contracting at the point of a gun is not a contract, it's coercion.
Normally when it comes to wage, you get what you pay for, the better the wage/benefits, the better the workers you can attract. (No this is not a universal, I'm making a generalization, but one that I feel can be backed up by piles of both anecdotal examples, economic principles, and mountains of data).
Even if he's right, and it IS unethical ... how do you plan on fixing the problem? Minimum wage laws? Those create unemployment in the poorest segments of society and price workers out of the market.
The way I see it is that by instituting market reforms across the board and allowing the chips to fall where they may you get better outcomes. Take the medical industry, yes it's expensive, but he majority of groundbreaking research is done in the US, as a result, in order to recoup those losses, the price has to go up a marginal amount.
6.) The biggest kicker of all:
The US has over 70 TRILLION dollars($70,000,000,000,000) in unfunded liabilities and Government Debt/Debt Interest and you are worried about some poor Latinos jumping the border?! Good GOD! You should be more worried about the US currency/economy collapsing and hyperinflation!
If you understood the implications of those debts and liabilities you should be out there calling for the lynchings of 99% of both the Executive and Legislative branches of Gov't!
But no, you're complaining about roughly 10 million people who want to stop eating dirt and give their kids a better life. Yeah you're a real American Hero...
Keep in mind that I'm talking about very broad and very radical reforms to the status quo. But this country was founded as a series of colonies where people could basically do what they wanted. I don't see why people have to be controlled. Come to the border, bring some sort of ID, we make sure you don't walk in with a nuke or a vial of small pox, and BAM in a month or so, you're a US citizen. That's what the reform needs to be like.
So in a discussion on an automotive forum about the AZ bill that's gotten so much brouhaha someone pulled out a link to these guys: http://www.aim.org/
The article was lambasting the birth of children of "illegals" in this country.
Their "data", which is more of just rough estimates and napkin math (Not that there is anything WRONG with napkin math), suggest that the "cost to America" of all the babies born to "illegal" mothers is $6 Billion USD.
So I ran some rough napkin math of my own:
US GDP = $14,600,000,000,000 (14.6 trillion)
Illegal Babies = $6,000,000,000 (Allegedly! there are no data sets included in the article as to the actual cost. So in reality they are simply making assumptions that may or may not be supported by any sort of actual economic data. The numbers are all vague and variable.)
So aside form the fact that the data set is nonexistent, and the "cost of this is so fucking high ZOMG!" hmmmmm.
6/14,600 = 0.0004% of GDP...
Cry me a river. And THAT number assumes that their claim of data is actually RIGHT!
And while I know this is an ad hominem attack I can't help but point this out: http://www.aim.org/aim-column/hedge-...ld-revolution/
Their moron Editor Cliff Kincaid clearly has NO CLUE how Hedge Funds work. And essentially claims that they are profiting off of misery and encouraging economic collapse in Europe and America. Yeah this guy on the right. He clearly doesn't understand the signaling mechanism that Short Selling provides in the market, nor does he support a truly free market if he wants to get rid of Shorting. I bet he is willing to scream over the housing price/derivative/whatever debacle but does he know that the people that saw it coming first were the short sellers that signaled the market that prices were severely inflated? Bubbles pop and often the short sellers are the ones who see it coming.
Personally, I find this aim.org site about as intellectually relevant as Sean Hannity. That is to say: It's not. I don't know who these people are and how they got here ... but ... crawl back to your Republican supporters and leave the actual policy analysis to people that 1.) actually care about the concept of Liberty and 2.) have a clue what economics is.
These are the enemies on the Right. We have plenty of enemies on both sides of the party line. These people are just indicative of the typical chest thumping, wrap themselves in the flag, bullshit shoveling, fear mongering Right Wing stereotype.
And this is coming from Fox News... wow.
Forty Years later and 1 trillion (That's $1,000,000,000,000).
Here is the breakdown from the article:
Using Freedom of Information Act requests, archival records, federal budgets and dozens of interviews with leaders and analysts, the AP tracked where that money went, and found that the United States repeatedly increased budgets for programs that did little to stop the flow of drugs. In 40 years, taxpayers spent more than:Uh huh ... well ... not to put too fine a point on it, but ahem ... we told you so. Only a Government would continue such a failure and claim it's actually a success. What I don't understand is why the majority of the propaganda that gets shoveled down the people's collective throat. Of course Cocaine, Heroine, Methamphetamine, etc. will seriously mess you up. If legalized 99+% of people wouldn't go out and do coke or shoot up. More people might smoke a little pot on the weekend, but so what?
— $20 billion to fight the drug gangs in their home countries. In Colombia, for example, the United States spent more than $6 billion, while coca cultivation increased and trafficking moved to Mexico — and the violence along with it.
— $33 billion in marketing "Just Say No"-style messages to America's youth and other prevention programs. High school students report the same rates of illegal drug use as they did in 1970, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says drug overdoses have "risen steadily" since the early 1970s to more than 20,000 last year.
— $49 billion for law enforcement along America's borders to cut off the flow of illegal drugs. This year, 25 million Americans will snort, swallow, inject and smoke illicit drugs, about 10 million more than in 1970, with the bulk of those drugs imported from Mexico.
— $121 billion to arrest more than 37 million nonviolent drug offenders, about 10 million of them for possession of marijuana. Studies show that jail time tends to increase drug abuse.
— $450 billion to lock those people up in federal prisons alone. Last year, half of all federal prisoners in the U.S. were serving sentences for drug offenses.
No one has the right what to tell you what you can put in your own body. However, If you step over the line and violate the property rights of someone else in a free society you'd get the book thrown at you. That is if the perpetrator survived the encounter.
Well, we have to keep the children safe. Right? RIGHT?!
ABCNews has the lingerie photos of the Miss USA contestants.
Someone get Miss VA my phone number!
And of course people are freaking out about this from the Left-Wing feminists screeching about the objectification of women to the Right-Wing Moral Majority types yelling about the risque nature of the photos.
Me? I just kind of wanted to see what my home state lady looked like. Can't say I was disappointed.
Please leave your male-bashing, "The_Chef is a chauvinist pig!" comments for me to chuckle over.
Album: We're Here Because We're Here
Genre: Atmospheric/Progressive Rock
Review: This album hits stores May 31st. I happened to have found it before said release date and snapped it up to give you all a review. They are just fantastic musicians. Sure it's not heavy, Sure it's not Avant-Garde, but they always are just different from everyone else out there, and the music itself is just beautiful. This album is no different. The construction is almost symphonic in the way each song just builds and builds on itself until it's this gorgeous crescendo of awesomeness. This album really kind of shows how they have fully left the "metal" movement and are building quite a following in the Progressive/Atmospheric Rock genre. The one thing that I'm worried about is that Steve Wilson is the producer for this album. Wilson is the brain behind the Prog Rock band Porcupine Tree. The problem is that Wilson has a habit of making bands sound more and more like PT the more he works with them. Fortunately this doesn't seem to be the case for this album. It's really really awesome. Anyone who loves good music construction should love this album. It is simply stunning. I'm not sure it's a 5/5, but goddamn it is really really close.
Well it's been a while since I've done one of these and there are so many assholes out there that picking up all of them is impossible. However, this one deserves special mention.
Ken Cuccinelli, the not-so-beloved Attorney General of my home state of Virginia, has managed another gaff that I find obnoxious and terribly appropriate to be dealt with.
He decided to modify the VA state seal to make it slightly less risque.
Now ... let's see ... Historic Seal? Check. Desire to be more "family friendly"? Check. Modify said historic seal? Check. Try to play it off as a joke to dodge the fallout? Check.
Yup. Ken ... You're an asshole.
I really don't get the moral majority people. I mean THIS is something you want to spend political capital on? After the catastrophe that was Ashcroft you actually thought you could do this and not take political flak?
It's been a while since I blogged about anything and I apologize for that. However, I'm back and this nomination of a very unattractive man/woman (I can't tell can you?) to the Supreme Court needs to be addressed.
1.) She/He does not support the limiting of the executive branch. In fact many of her papers have been in favor of expanding the currently absurd amounts of power that the executive branch already has in place. The focus should not be on expanding any of that power, but rather shackling it in an extreme way.
2.) She/He seems to support the Thurgood Marshall opinion that the court exists to protect the interests of the poor and disenfranchised in the country. This is not surprising given her clerkship under him, but should alarm anyone that expects her to expand the rights of the citizenry at large. The point of the Court is to ensure that the laws passed are Constitutional and in that way protect the average Joe from the power of the state. It shouldn't matter what the earnings of that Joe are. The simple fact is that justice for the sake of class position is nothing but a Randian nightmare.
3.) His/Her history of opinion on other issues are vague at best, though it does seem that she opposes partial-birth abortion (Yes, I'm on the fence about abortion in general, but that particular act is nothing short of barbaric.) Her view of gun rights will surely mirror those of the other left/left-leaning members of the court and as such, given the split on Heller should not affect the composition of the court in any meaningful way. So while it's not good news on that front, it's at least what any self-respecting Second Amendment advocate should have expected.
So in general it seems that we have an androgynous, left/left-leaning, class obsessed, pro-executive power female on her way into the highest court of the land. It's not good news, but it's exactly what we should have expected.
Okay so I know that a small sample is unscientific but just bear with me okay? I think that this article kind of explains why I find the Tea Party people rather irrelevant.
Washington Post article. Now lets look at a few things here:
Although united in their hostility to big government, the protesters were ideologically varied. At one end of the spectrum, a purist libertarian wanted to abolish public schools. At the other, a 24-year-old Internet marketing company owner with a spiked mohawk hairstyle strongly opposed the health-care bill but noted, "I love Medicare. That takes care of my grandparents."Ah ... okay. So the medicare industry (for that's now truly what it is inside the government) is okay because it "takes care of old people". Listen i am not some coldhearted evil genius who is trying to exterminate old people from the face of the earth. BUT THIS IS PART OF THE PROBLEM! Especially given this statement from the article:
I found that I agreed heartily with the tea partiers on what is perhaps their single biggest concern: that America's swelling government debt seriously threatens our long-term prosperity.So wait ... the Tea Party people are all up in arms about government debt. Which contrary to Joe Biden is a bigger "fucking deal" than any sort of Healthcare reform is. We're in the tunnel and the light at the end of it is probably a bullet train. But no matter, we have to make sure everyone keeps getting their handouts because it makes so-and-so feel good.
The only conceivable response is this:
"We are going toward bankruptcy," Cressy said. "We are on the road to be Greece and California."
Nevertheless, he said he supported the initial bank bailouts, despite their high cost, because they were necessary to stabilize the financial system.
Or this wonderful gem trying to sideline those of us that actually support massive government cuts to FIX THE PROBLEM:
Some participants had far-out views. I heard proposals to repeal the progressive income tax, abolish the Federal Reserve Board and privatize the U.S. Postal Service.Oh right ... because those ideas are SO FAR OUT THERE! Maybe for a small minded non-economically educated person! The only solution is to shrink entitlement programs and military spending. The only way to do those things is to make people unhappy.
We ... are in deep trouble and the Tea Partiers, while I share their frustration, are not the saviors of America. They more resemble one of those angry mobs from South Park going "RabbleRabbleRabbleRabbleRabbleRabbleRabble!"
From Cafe Hayek:
The U.S. Department of Agriculture indicated it will allow a small increase in U.S. sugar imports this year, a decision that is likely to do little to quell complaints from confectioners and processors about tight supplies.So we're going to relax quotas on sugar. We juuuuust couldn't get rid of them could we? No of course not ... that might increase the occurrence of *cue scary music* CAVITIES and competition. Both of which we all know are evil and bad. Morons.
Here is the other bit that really pissed me off:
Mr. Vilsack’s comments raised the prospect of increased demand for global sugar and drove prices up 2.7%, or 0.44 cent, to 16.98 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. Prices for U.S. domestic sugar dropped 2.1%, to 30.8 cents a pound.So we pay almost double for sugar because of all this crap ... and you wonder why your favorite soda has High Fructose Corn Syrup instead of real sugar, which is actually better for you than HFCS.
FlexYourRights.org has put up their "10 Rules For Dealing With Police Encounters" on youtube.
This is split up into 4 sections. I'm sure that most liberty activists know these rules and know your rights, but it never hurts to brush up, just in case you have to use them. I have refused to consent to a search. The officer didn't like it, but I was allowed to leave. So review them! With thousands of laws, legal codes etc. you never know what might be illegal these days. So know your rights, be respectful (difficult to do, but entirely necessary) and calmly assert your rights.
Remember the cops are NOT your friend. It doesn't matter how well intentioned they may be. They are not on your side.
Stay safe and stay smart.
So I grabbed my Dad's copy and tore through it in about a day. I highly recommend it as it does a great job of explaining antebellum politics as well as debunking the aura of sainthood around Lincoln.
Of course it's been trashed by people that disagree and have spent their entire career dedicated to one man in history.
There are a lot of interesting parts of this book and most important is the bibliography. As a libertarian I in no way support slavery, but I also oppose the coercion of the state to solve problems.
The short version: Lincoln was nothing but a modern politician, selling public policy for political support of his backers. DiLorenzo goes into the fight over central banking and the real reason for the Civil War: Tariffs.
From the Volokh law blog.
I saw this over at Radley Balko's The Agitator blog and thought I'd give it a glance. And damn ...
It looks like this will be ramrodded through via executive order. From what people can tell from the drafts this is bad news for anyone that does anything on the internet.
Like this for example:
Paragraphs 2 and 3 mandate a statutory damages provision in civil copyright law, as under US law — so that copyright holders, even without the need to demonstrate any measurable harm whatsoever, can recover awards thousands of times greater than any possible damage they may have suffered.Yeah, because that's totally cool. Some kid downloads the latest album from X band, the company goes after him for $70K instead of the $12.95 cost of the album.
I do find this funny given that much of the non-mainstream music genres (like metal) have embraced the download the album first and see what it's about rather than throwing a collective hissy fit. many of these bands wouldn't get any exposure any other way. An excellent example is the Progressive Death Metal band Persefone (I blog about them here) who is from the tiny country of Andorra. While tey aren't very big in Europe or the US yet, they are huge in Japan. Their success has been directly tied to the international spread of their music through both legal and "illegal" means.
I still want to know how you regulate an idea or regulate information when the means to pass that data are as easily accessible as they currently are. Intellectual property rights are a sticky debate to begin with and I wonder what the future holds if the international community continues to "clamp down" on the spread of ideas, even if that spread is "illegal".
I found this pic very funny because what has happened is that the more albums circulate for "free" on the internet, the more many of those bands see their revenues increase from the live shows.
...And what's more ... THEY GET AWAY WITH IT.
REALLY?! I mean come on.
Some real gems from the article:
She insisted it was the car in front of her that was speeding, and refused to sign the ticket because she thought she'd be admitting guilt.So naturally she sues the hell out of the parties involved, as she should. But wait it gets better.
Rather than give her the ticket and let her go on her way, the officers decided to arrest her. One reached in, turned off her car and dropped the keys on the floor. Brooks stiffened her arms against the steering wheel and told the officers she was pregnant, but refused to get out, even after they threatened to stun her.
Holy Crap. yeah her reaching down and grabbing those keys to drive off erratically is about as likely as her sprouting wings to flee the scene!
But in a 2-1 ruling Friday, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. Judges Cynthia Holcomb Hall and Diarmuid F. O'Scannlain held that the officers were justified in making an arrest because Brooks was obstructing them and resisting arrest.
The use of force was also justified because of the threat Brooks posed, Hall wrote: "It seems clear that Brooks was not going to be able to harm anyone with her car at a moment's notice. Nonetheless, some threat that she might retrieve the keys and drive off erratically remained, particularly given her refusal to leave the car and her state of agitation."
Ya know, I know cops have a crap job and get a ton of garbage thrown at them in their line of work. But this is completely unacceptable. Having a high stress and dangerous job does NOT justify the arbitrary use of force whenever you feel like it!
This behavior will continue until the populace starts actually resisting, then things will get interesting.
Genre: Viking/Progressive/Black Metal
Review: Wow. I don't really like Black Metal as a genre, but this album got so much buzz I figured I'd see what was up. SputnikMusic kind of trashed it but I noticed that the votes seemed to be very split in the "love it or hate it" camps. I think it's amazing. It has some of the tones of Ulver and Solefald, both bands I really love. It pushes some envelopes but is nothing groundbreaking. But even if it's not groundbreaking it's still very very good.
CNN has the scoop here.
Well played America ... you had a good run, but Ben Franklin was right:
When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.Thanks America. RIP 1776-2010. Now we just wait for the downward spiral. Perhaps from the ashes of this we can build a free society but ... I'm not sure this is salvageable.
NY times Op-Ed Link
I was astounded that this ran in the NYT at all, but it needs to be read by everyone. It needs to be read because of the budgetary garbage the current administration and its lackeys are feeding us. Now please understand that I am not trashing the CBO here. Largely these guys and gals do a pretty good job. But they have to operate under certain assumptions about government that we all know are fallacious. They make the fatal assumption that programs won't increase in spending in an effort to hold certain variables constant for the sake of calculation.
But like much of micro-economics, holding things constant that we know have a track record of NOT staying constant is ... slightly irresponsible. But anyway ... down to the nitty-gritty.
In reality, if you strip out all the gimmicks and budgetary games and rework the calculus, a wholly different picture emerges: The health care reform legislation would raise, not lower, federal deficits, by $562 billion.Somehow I am not the least bit surprised that the math didn't work out.
Gimmick No. 1 is the way the bill front-loads revenues and back loads spending. That is, the taxes and fees it calls for are set to begin immediately, but its new subsidies would be deferred so that the first 10 years of revenue would be used to pay for only 6 years of spending.But this makes perfect sense if you are a politician. You load down the tax burden and get on CNN and claim "this is a giant step forward to building a better society, a society where you won't be turned away at the hospital or at the doctor because you're not wealthy enough to blah blah blah." So yeah, pass the bill, tax the shit out of people, delay the benefits while claiming that you've solved a crisis.
This bit is especially interesting:
Finally, in perhaps the most amazing bit of unrealistic accounting, the legislation proposes to trim $463 billion from Medicare spending and use it to finance insurance subsidies. But Medicare is already bleeding red ink, and the health care bill has no reforms that would enable the program to operate more cheaply in the future.Read the whole article ... now.
Wyoming fires a shot at D.C.
Off to a good start:
This week, Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal signed House Joint Resolution 2 (HJ0002), claiming “sovereignty on behalf of the State of Wyoming and for its citizens under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government or reserved to the people by the Constitution of the United States.”Oh ... this sounds nice:
“For decades we have shared increased frustration dealing with the federal government and its agencies. What started out as a leak in the erosion of state prerogative and independence has today turned into a flood. From wolf and grizzly bear management, to gun control, to endless regulation and unfunded mandates – the federal government has become far too powerful and intrusive.”Yet I find this terribly confusing:
Freudenthal, a long-time Democrat, was previously a US attorney for the Clinton administration, and is currently serving his 2nd term as Governor of Wyoming. He endorsed Barack Obama for president and is commonly referred to as one of the most popular governors in the country. (Emphasis Mine)I do wonder whether this is nothing more than normal political posturing to take advantage of public opinion. In fact given his track record I'm not confident that this Governor is actually serious. How the hell could you oppose Barack Obama on the basis of state sovereignty ESPECIALLY on the 2nd amendment when you knew EXACTLY where the asshole stood when he was running for the title of god.... I'm sorry I meant the presidency of the US, his followers thought he was running for god.
While I doubt the seriousness of this. It's a good sign. Let's hope WY follows though and tells the Federal Government to GTFO.
I know that some of the more radical Anarcho-Capitalists will say that no state or coercive entity is worth saving. So while I'm sure that Kent and I will disagree about this specifically, I'm speaking more in a hypothetical manner. If we have to live in a statist society ...
Is this society even worth fighting for anymore?
Some will say yes, the voting box still holds it's potency, I disagree. I think that the entire thing has become an exercise in bureaucratic backscratching and making promises with other people's money.
Some others will say YES, and we'll fight for it if we have to. Will you win? I'm not sure. I truly don't know if another American Revolution could succeed.
If none of these are acceptable or feasible, where do we then go?
Man arrested for crossing the street with a Pizza.
In the fashion of David Codrea from War on Guns I hereby dub this a "We're the 'Only Ones' With Munchies" article.
He walked down Church Street to the nearest pizza shop, which happens to be in Canada, and said that to his surprise he was stopped by state police and told that crossing on Church Street is illegal.Yes this will end well. Remind me why cops are even relevant?
Fed up by what he perceived as hostility from the officer, Roy walked down the street, crossing the border a second time. And then a third."I went back and did it again, and this time I was met by the border patrol and he frisked me and handcuffed me, put me in the back of his cruiser, took me to border patrol headquarters, put me in a cell, held me for three hours, then let me out and told me I was going to be fined $500 dollars," Roy said.
But this raises three distinct issues.
1.) Border patrol agents need to get the pineapple out of their ass and leave people alone. At worst what should have happened is they should have asked to see the inside box to verify it wasn't filled with cocaine (please note I am against the drug war, I'm speaking hypothetically here). and wished the man a pleasant night and a good dinner.
2.) The liberties that police and law enforcement officers think they can take with people has gotten completely out of hand as the "DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?" mentality has spread like cancer through the ranks of those that are supposed to protect people from ... you know ... real criminals.
3.) You NEVER separate a man from his pizza, it's just not right.
I'm not sure why I love this holiday so much.
It's an excuse to drink, which I plan on doing this weekend during a belated St.Paddy's party, which will include watching Boondock Saints I & II back to back over Irish Coffee and Guinness.
I think part of it is the strong independent nature of Ireland and its history. While I strongly dislike the socialist and communist nature of what the IRA stood for (workers' revolution, my ass), I understand the desire to be free all too well.
So hoist a pint for freedom everyone!
P.S. If you're mormon or muslim and don't drink, too bad for you!
Due to some complaints about the text color I am stumbling my way through editing the html of the blog to make it a bit easier to read.
So if there are any unexpected anurisms that the blog has due to html problems, please let me know.
Genre: Progressive/Melodic Death Metal
Review: Persefone hails from the tiny European nation of Andorra and is starting to make their mark on the metal scene in the world. Influenced by the like of Arcturus, Opeth, and a little dash of some symphonic bands, they've got a good blend. I listened to this album expecting this to be one of those "I've heard this before" kind of things, but it wasn't. While I could draw similarities to other bands that I know and love, they do produce something unique and engaging. It's heavy where it needs to be and then at times they break off into something that is much more melodic to keep things interesting. the band apparently has a large following in Japan, while their rep is more slowly growing in the US and Europe. It's good stuff and I hope the band continues to evolve and improve.