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

Lincoln Unmasked

Posted by The_Chef On 5:51 PM 3 comments

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.

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.

So naturally she sues the hell out of the parties involved, as she should. But wait it gets better.

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."

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!

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.

Borknagar ... a pleasent surprise.

Posted by The_Chef On 3:10 PM 0 comments

: Borknagar
Album: Universal
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.

Rating: 4/5

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.

What have we here?!

Posted by The_Chef On 10:50 PM 0 comments

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.

Is this country worth saving?

Posted by The_Chef On 2:56 PM 4 comments

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?

Pizza vs Border Patrol

Posted by The_Chef On 1:09 AM 1 comments

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.
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.
Yes this will end well. Remind me why cops are even relevant?

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.

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Posted by The_Chef On 4:52 PM 0 comments

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!

Quick Update

Posted by The_Chef On 4:26 PM 0 comments

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.


Persefone - Shin-ken

Posted by The_Chef On 2:44 PM 0 comments

: Persefone
Album: Shin-Ken
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.
Rating: 3.5/5


Posted by The_Chef On 1:41 PM 0 comments

Copwatching (n):
1.) The act of observing law officers.
2.) The intent to keep your law officers honest by observing how they treat the public.

Except that all over the country if you photograph, observe, or film a police officer doing anything you are most likely going to get your camera etc. taken from you as "evidence" where it will mysteriously come back to you without the relevant pictures or data on it.

The plaintiffs cite 11 other incidents since 2005 in which people were arrested or allegedly threatened while videotaping, photographing or merely observing police officers. The list of potential plaintiffs' witnesses includes Times-Picayune city editor Gordon Russell and Associated Press Television News producer Rich Matthews.

"It is a widely accepted and established custom for police officers to arrest or threaten people for filming them," said Brittany Barrient, a student attorney from the Tulane Law Clinic who represents Griffith and Learned.

Ladies and Gentlemen ... it is NOT just a few bad apples spoiling the barrel. There is an institutional problem that encourages thuggery, the rampant violation of rights, the "Only One" mentality (as David over at WoG) refers to it. We have a problem in your country and that is that no one in the justice and law enforcement system is accountable for their actions unless they go to such extremes as running over kindergartners with a tank!

But the article is interesting because it hales from the legally embattled state of LA. You know the state that just had a huge snafu over their officers shooting unarmed and nonthreatening people in a post-Katrina bloodbath.

I've met some good cops and serious props go to the cops that are a part of Oath-Keepers, but goddamn boys, some of your fellow members need to get a reality check.

You're Going on the List...

Posted by The_Chef On 11:49 PM 2 comments

...even if you didn't do anything that should put you on the list.

GA Supreme court upholds the position that even if you don't commit ANY sexual crime you are still going on the sex offenders list if you commit OTHER crimes like kidnapping, illegally detaining a minor, etc.
This quote is priceless:

Writing for a 5-2 majority, Justice Harold Melton rejected arguments that the provision, as applied to Rainer, was cruel and unusual punishment. Sex offender registry laws, Melton wrote, "are regulatory, not punitive, in nature."
I would like to advance a position that many may find controversial, all regulation is punitive in nature because it provides punishments if those regulations are not met. So I think that the distinction is a fuzzy one at best to differentiate between. Add to that this concept: All regulations inherently reduce the choice set of the individual without facing punishment. That reduction in choice set is in and of itself a punishment of a kind. (Please note I'm not arguing that laws against murder is a bad thing, merely that regulation reduces choice set or more rightly that regulation increases the costs of making certain choices, which outside of the protection of life, liberty, and property are a bad thing.)

Here is another gem:
"Because the registration requirements themselves do not constitute punishment, it is of no consequence whether or not one has committed an offense that is 'sexual' in nature before being required to register," Melton wrote.
Does that make any sense to anyone? We all know that those regulations of where you can live/work/go make life hell on people that are convicted of a sex offense. As a result I can very clearly say that those regulations ARE punitive.

Now please understand I'm not saying that real sex offenders deserve a pass, on the contrary they deserve to get it good and hard. however there are WAAAY too many people that have no business being on those lists. 18 year old hooks up with his 17 year old girlfriend, even if it's consensual, her parents can file charges anyway (this varies from state to state but documented cases exist of this kind of shit).

Come on GA, you can do better than this.

Christians vs. Beck?!

Posted by The_Chef On 7:57 PM 5 comments

So Glen Beck opens his fool mouth and a ... I guess you could call him a "progressive" Christian ... calls him out on the whole thing.

Now I don't like Glen Beck. He's a loudmouth that is interested in nothing more than tossing mud and entertaining his audience and makes an attempt to sound 'libertarian'. And while he sounds okay when he has on people like Penn Gillette or other libertarians, he sounds like a raving loon most of the rest of the time.

On the other hand I'm not a religious person and I don't care for most of the "christians" I've met. Note that I say MOST of them, not all.

Well what is the deal? Defining social justice and economic justice are sticky issues to begin with. So while I believe that everyone should be looked at in the same way legally, we're living in an imperfect world where not everything is equal.

So what is the solution? I never thought I would say this but ... I agree with a Falwell (yes that Jr. one that succeeded his stupid windbag, douchebag father).

"Jesus taught that we should give to the poor and support widows, but he never said that we should elect a government that would take money from our neighbor's hand and give it to the poor," Falwell says.

Falwell says that Jesus believed that individuals, not governments, should help the poor.
The nature of being a Christian, at least as I see it is that, it ought to be the individual conviction of Christians to help those that are in need and deserve it. However it doesn't seem to me to be a moral thing to put people in power who put a gun in people's face in order to redistribute wealth in a manner that some group deems to be "proper" or "just".

Anyone that advocates the redistribution of private property as a "moral good" is nothing but a thief.
IRS pic courtesy of Oleg Volk

An Interesting Thought

Posted by The_Chef On 2:48 PM 0 comments

So my younger brother is a Sophomore in high school and is currently studying Orwell's 1984. His teacher puts up a discussion online and this is a thought of his that I found ... rather profound for a 16 year-old:

The idea of unified thinking, decision making, and gov’t is when freedom will start to become obsolete. Freedom of thought is disunity, non unification, and difference in opinion
Freedom of thought is disunity.... hmmmm

Well to the political class ... thought is dangerous. Don't think for yourself, Don't question authority, Don't oppose the "experts".

Да товарищ

You're Probably a Federal Criminal

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible to live without breaking laws. – Ayn Rand

Yes I know this article is old and it comes from the ever even handed Faux News site. But still the anecdotes in this article are ... frightening.

This is what economists talk about when they say regulation is a bad thing because of the unintended consequences such legislation may cause. The idea that bureaucrats and their department enforcers get to look over everyone's shoulder at anything a normal peaceful person is doing. And while many federal agencies are responsible for stupid prosecution of poorly written and poorly enforced laws, I can think of two primary offenders: The ATF and the EPA.

The ATF recently seized a series of airsoft guns with an ATF agent claiming they could readily be converted into usable machine guns. REALLY?!

On the EPA side of things there are so many laws governing what you can and cannot do with your own land because of all the regulations that surround land use, endangered species, water control, etc.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Is this freedom?
More laws, less justice. – Marcus Tullius Ciceroca (42 BC)

It lives once more!

Posted by The_Chef On 3:53 AM 2 comments

Yes I finally decided to resurrect the Cookbook, give it a new template (damn working out bugs in html is a pain in the ass), and get this blog back up and running. I've been ignoring things too long and kind of miss a place to vent my thoughts, epiphanies, and frustrations.