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

More Pro-Minimum Wage Nonsense.

Posted by The_Chef On 1:28 PM 3 comments

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.

Some Problems With the "Threepers"

Posted by The_Chef On 11:57 AM 5 comments

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.
I have seen several examples of BOTH of these points of view on blogs that are backing or sympathetic to the movement. (Hell, I'M sympathetic to the movement).

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 Problem With Government

Posted by The_Chef On 2:14 AM 2 comments

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.

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.
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.

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.

Rand Paul Wins In Landslide!

Posted by The_Chef On 2:30 PM 0 comments

Oh hell yes!

Suck it Republican Establishment!

Now let's hope he destroys the Dem. Challenger.

Who The Hell Are These Guys?!

Posted by The_Chef On 11:26 PM 1 comments

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:

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:

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 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.

War on Drugs a Catastrophic Failure

Posted by The_Chef On 11:47 PM 4 comments

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:

$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.

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?

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?!

Hellooooo Miss VA!

Posted by The_Chef On 12:37 PM 2 comments

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.

Anathema Keeps Rolling

Posted by The_Chef On 11:59 AM 0 comments

: Anathema
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.

Rating: 4.5/5

You're An Asshole!

Posted by The_Chef On 7:03 PM 1 comments

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.