Category Archives: Economic$

Wednesday Golf Outing

Some more in the style of Hal Gurnee’s Network Time Killers

– A woman gave birth to twins… six months apart. Doctor blames it on an “incompetent cervix.”

That’s the best turn of phrase I’ve heard all day. All week, even. It definitely deserves to attain idiom status somehow. I’m thinking – to take the easy route – that it would be a great name for a  progressive-acoustic feminist wannabe-ironic hipster band.

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A raging AngerSad has erupted over the Hobby Lobby court decision on the Byrne Robotics board. I have a couple question about the decision myself. First, how much does birth control cost out-of-pocket? Is it really that expensive? Considering how prevalent birth control seems to be, it would seem to be rather affordable, given how many women use it, and that mass production lowers costs . But I’ve never bought it, so I can’t say for sure. Second, I’ve seen comments claiming women often need birth control for medical reasons other than actual contraception (which HL still provides). Hobby Lobby only refuses to provide 4 out of 20 birth control methods. The 4 types they won’t cover are abortifacients. Do abortifacients provide any kind of medical benefit the way, say, birth control pills do?

I’m not even going to get into all the issues about the government telling a privately-owned company what it can and can’t pay for, or how HL employees are free to work where the employers will pay for all forms of birth control, etc.

Getting back to the B.R. thread…. a commenter wrote “A single-payer system would have many problems, but it seems to work pretty well for Congress and our veterans.” Hasn’t said system and said veterans been much in the news of late? The commenter does link to a poll claiming most veterans are satisfied with the care they get, but I’m not inclined to trust the Veterans Affairs site’s reporting. As for Congress… drawing on the combined taxes of the entire country to support the health care of 535 people should work spectacularly well. It’s scaling it up to paying for 318 million people that’s the problem.

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Digging down into the internet vaults…. The Comics Curmudgeon examines(!) Rex Morgan M.D. (guest-starring LBJ. Or a lookalike from the same place Hal Gurnee found the Kenny Rogers clone) –

02_flirttown

02_twosome

 

FORE!

I don’t know if they went golfing, but it sounds like someone scored a hole-in-one…

02_whacking

I don’t want to know if there were penalty strokes.

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Somehow I’ve ended up featuring Kenny Rogers twice in relatively rapid succession. I’ve got nothing against Kenny – “Coward of the County” and “The Gambler” are good tunes – but let’s spin another track from that same era and see how many people run screaming.

The guys look like they’re going to, uh, play golf when the ladies suddenly show up.

 

Do Not Aim At Face

It’s been 22 years since the last amendment to the Constitution took effect, but Senate Democrats are hoping to alter the nation’s founding document once again… Despite that seemingly insurmountable hurdle, Senate Democrats are forging ahead with a plan to bring S J Res 19 to the floor.

This resolution would add a 28th Amendment, stating that Congress can regulate contributions and spending in federal elections. It would also give state governments the same authority in statewide contests.

Yet another example of the short-sightedness of liberals/leftists/progressives, or whatever they’re calling themselves this week. Democrats may succeed in regulating money in elections for now, but they can’t stay in power forever. Eventually – or sooner, the way this administration is running things (into the ground) – the Republicans will be in charge again.*

It’s the same lack of foresight that animates all their “living Constitution” moments. Do they really want to build a weapon and then have it turned back against them later on? By the unenlightened minions of Satan, no less?

Perhaps they thought a shift in American demographics will favor the Democrats for a few decades before they needed to worry about it. For a while there, I may have grudgingly agreed with them, but the last year or two seem to indicate that they’re slipping down to the end of their rope.

* I know, I know, it depends on the Republicans somehow overriding their hardwired instinct for running an easy touchdown through the wrong goalposts.

The House Edge

From the bleeding edge of house technology (no, not the music)… A Chinese construction firm 3D printed 10 small houses a one day using a process called “contour crafting” on a large scale.

I wouldn’t have wagered on the claim that the houses cost only $5000 each, but after seeing the result, I can believe it. Not exactly stately Wayne Manor here, but it looks livable enough.

Now it just needs life size, 3D printed Ken & Barbie to move in

Now it just needs life size, 3D printed Ken & Barbie

And from here – “Professor Behrokh Khoshnevis of The University of Southern California is testing a giant 3D printer that could be used to build a whole house in under 24 hours.”

Contour Crafting could slash the cost of home-owning, making it possible for millions of displaced people to get on the property ladder. It could even be used in disaster relief areas to build emergency and replacement housing.  For example, after an event such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which has displaced almost 600,000 people, Contour Crafting could be used to build replacement homes quickly.

It could be used to create high-quality shelter for people currently living in desperate conditions. “At the dawn of the 21st century [slums] are the condition of shelter for nearly one billion people in our world,” says Khoshnevis, “These buildings are breeding grounds for disease a problem of conventional construction which is slow, labour intensive and inefficient.”

If Khoshnevis wins his bet, this could lower housing costs to a fraction of what it costs now, and allow buyers vast leeway in choosing specifications. Why, one could design their very own life-sized Malibu Stacy’s Dream House.

smithers2

Life is gay and fancy-free, when you’re with Malibu Stacy

 

Oops! Pretend you didn’t see that. Look at this one instead.

Malibu Stacy

“Who cares if she has a new hat?!?”

Tomorrow’s Annual Xtortion

Swiped taxed from Ed Driscoll, ReasonTV busts out a jam –

For those who kick it old skool and the only Pharrell you know is the guy who played BJ on M*A*S*H…

Mo’ Money, No Problems

[Or: “Dullards And Centslessness”}

Found via VodkaPundit – “Stop freaking out about the debt”

Matt Yglesias narrates a short video claiming that the debt is not a problem right now. As VP noted, Yglesias actually states “The US government can never run out of  dollars.”

See, the federal government prints dollars, or the Federal Reserve makes them on computers. Why people shouldn’t worry about the feds creating money on computers but are supposed to throw crosses and holy water at Bitcoin is not explained.

The video also states that the debt could be reduced through higher taxes or cutting benefits, but that would be taking money out of people’s pockets. Higher taxes do take money out of people’s pockets, but cutting benefits does not. It’s reducing the amount of money going into people’s pockets. One can argue the ethics or the costs of cutting benefit payouts, but let’s call it what it is.

The video concludes by asking viewers to find something else to worry about, because “debt just isn’t a problem right now.” Why change the oil in your car now when you can let the engine seize up later?

Nearing The Event Horizon

Population keeps on breeding
Nation bleeding, still more feeding economy

-Ten Years After – “I’d Love To Change The World”

This Daily Caller piece calls for “de-growth” –

Environmentalists are pushing a new way to deal with global warming and overpopulation: the U.S. needs to “de-grow” its economy.

What is “de-growth”? It means forcing people to work less to make them more equal, consume fewer goods and use less electricity. Think of it like camping, but for the rest of your life.

…“There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the U.S.,” Worldwatch senior fellow Erik Assadourian told Sierra Magazine.

…De-growing the economy means working less and consuming fewer goods and electricity… “If we had a livable wage and could each work a 20-hour week,” Assadourian said, “we’d have time to choose more sustainable options that are also better for ourselves.”

…About a month ago, former Vice President Al Gore suggested that “fertility management” was crucial to fighting global warming and promoting development in poor countries.

The article covers quite a few pages from the Progressive textbook … shrinking the economy, reducing population, forced equality, mandated wages coupled with higher taxes, increased leisure time, and a simultaneous worship and fear of science. But all these are driven by one concern – a belief that everything is zero-sum consumption.

There’s no allowance for replenishment of goods and resources, or that more people might result in more production. Nothing that resembles, you know, work. It’s pure consumption. And they want to reduce the competition.

Social Fairness

Brent Parrish on The Inequality of Equality, and questioning the concept of “social justice.” It’s not too long, check it out.

Where most Social Justice types get hung up is confusing fairness for justice. What’s fair is not always necessarily just.

The hot trend among social justice crusaders nowadays is “income inequality.” This parallels another problem, which I believe is just as serious – Traffic Inequality. It’s not fair that Sunshine Mary and Donal Graeme, among others,¹ get more readers than I do.

Clearly, the answer is to redistribute readers. Enacting a Minimum Traffic law would transfer excess readers from high-traffic sites to writers like myself who fall under the Readership Poverty Line. Seriously, does Mary really need all of her (as of this writing) 1,378,008 hits, compared to my 9,923? That’s over one million more hits, and she only started writing about 3 weeks before I did (and if we consider that those numbers only track her current site, I’m actually about 8 months ahead). If she cared, she would distribute some of those hits to the rest of us.

Under the labor theory of value which many SJ crusaders seem to subscribe to, I should get the same amount of traffic as SSM, and more than Donal. So why should they get more traffic?

Readers – like most incomes – aren’t distributed, they are earned. Value isn’t determined by labor, but by the benefit one gains from the product. Other writers post material that readers place a higher value on, and so those readers are more likely to return.  More people want to read about traditional sex roles or the definition of Game than about 3D printing firearms or Batman vs. Donkey Kong. One might even argue that they are better writers than I am.²

Those others also post on a more consistent schedule than I do, which attracts and keeps readers. They also promote their work more than I do. They’re the 8 PM show five nights a week and get paid accordingly, whereas I show up Saturday night and hang around the parking lot after hours entertaining a few friends and passersby with off-the-wall stories for tips and free sodas.

No one held a gun to anyone’s head and forced them to read SSM or Donal or whoever over me.³ Unfair as it might be, it’s not unjust. Trying to get readers from them by any means other than writing to suit the existing market – or finding a new one – would be coercion, which is both unfair and unjust.

¹ Waaayyy too many others. A pimp can’t catch a break these days.

² Stop smoking crack. Your mom would be so ashamed.

³ Okay, Donal might have. He’s tricky like that.

The Art Of Capitalism

Jesse Myerson posts at Salon Why You’re Wrong About Communism: 7 Huge Misconceptions About It (And Capitalism).

My favorite part is when he ends the piece with this claim –

…most of the greatest art under capitalism has always come from people who are oppressed and alienated (see: the blues, jazz, rock & roll, and hip-hop). Then, thanks to capitalism, it is homogenized, marketed, and milked for all its value by the “entrepreneurs” sitting at the top of the heap, stroking their satiated flanks in admiration of themselves for getting everyone beneath them to believe that we are free.

Cafe Hayek (where I found out about this) quickly and efficiently dismantles this claim –

Overlook the questionable claim that most great artists under capitalism were oppressed and alienated.  (Were Lennon and McCartney, Berry Gordy, Duke Ellington, Leonard Bernstein, and Andy Warhol truly “oppressed and alienated”?  How about Jackson Pollock?  Thomas Hardy?  Ernest Hemingway?  Lawrence Olivier?  Raymond Loewy?)  Focus instead on the critical reality that, in fact, there are countless great artists, and Niagaras of profound art, produced under capitalism.  The same cannot be said for communism.

The reason is simple.  Capitalism supplies artists not only with abundant materials and media for producing and sharing their works, but also with the freedom and personal space for them to create.  In stark contrast, communism necessarily prohibits would-be artists from pursuing their muses.  All means of production under communism are owned by the state, and, hence, remain off-limits to artists whose individual plans do not mesh with the central plan.

I hadn’t seen Myerson’s piece when I did this post of my own earlier, but mine suggests a basic flaw in his claim – would a communist society permit a publishing house to print sympathetic stories about a character who fought for the enemy side in the biggest war it had ever seen?

He’s half right about great artists often being alienated and oppressed. But this isn’t political, it’s social alienation… sometimes actively rejected by peers, other times because of their own issues which have nothing to do with anyone else’s reaction to them. Artists are usually different from most people. If anything, capitalism helps them reach out and speak to other rare people like them.

There’s another way that capitalism has helped artists. In the 1950s, profits from their high-selling horror magazines allowed E.C. Comics  to subsidize the science fiction books they wanted to do. Until Congress threatened to censor them, that is (shades of communism).

Kings Ransom

This lightbulb was first sparked up by this guy called Wei Dai
This asymmetry in public key cryptography is why
We can hash out on our mining rigs in search of reward
& cos it’s P2P & free I micropay what I afford
– Jamie Shelly, “Bitcoin Song”

From ESPN – The Sacramento Kings announced Thursday that they will become the first professional sports franchise to accept Bitcoin virtual currency.

Team owner Vivek Ranadive said he became interested in digital money when “My kids would go to games and ask why we didn’t accept Bitcoin.”

The Wall Street Journal notes that Ranadive, who apparently has the coolest name among sports team owners, plans to have his coaches use Google Glass on the sidelines. WSJ also points out that “Sacramento, the 19th-largest market in the NBA, is better placed for this initiative than almost anywhere else. On the edges of Silicon Valley and boasting a steady influx of high-tech firms of its own, the city is plugged into a ‘tech mind-set’ to which bitcoin appeals, Mr. Ranadivé said.”

For a while now, I’ve been seeing a major paradigm shift on the not-so-distant horizon.  Whether it will happen fast or unfold slowly, I don’t know, but it’s coming. Digital and crytpocurrency is just part of it.

Quite a few people have been predicting an economic or even a total civilizational collapse. Another sizable part of the population seems to assume society will continue to progress unimpeded no matter what, driven by forces of history. I’m not sold on either view.  I can see more and more people working for themselves, selling their services to each other, largely via internet. A Korean artist designs a CD cover for an Australian guitarist and a drummer in Japan who started a band and ship their t-shirts to America through Amazon, all of them getting paid through Paypal or Litecoin. I don’t have a fully developed concept just yet, but I envision a large scale decentralization across the entire spectrum – economic, political, social, technical, and more.

Listen to the sound of money

Doesn’t that bass line sound a little like the opening riff to this song?

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I woulda called it “Kings Hoard” but I didn’t want to disappoint all the Warcraft fans.

I, Smartphone

Via Russ Roberts at Cafe Hayek – An update to Leonard Read’s legendary 1958 essay I, Pencil –

I wish more people understood the marvel of emergent order that makes the world around us not just orderly, but when the feedback loops are healthy ones, a source of delight and comfort. This video (HT: Caleb Cangelosi) says it very well. Much of what makes life pleasant is undesigned. This does not mean that all undesigned phenomena are good. It does not mean that the islands of design within the undesigned sea are unimportant; they are very important. But appreciate how we human beings are able to cooperate without explicit top-down coordination. – Russ Roberts