Monday, August 31, 2009

This is why California is a mess...

Yes, now you know what my neighbors are like.

Are These People Really Protecting Us?

A sheer nightmare at airport security. This was written back in 2002 and it is still relevant:

At the security checkpoint I was led aside for the "inspection" that’s all the rage at airports these days. My shoes were removed. I was told to take off my sweater, then to fold over the waistband of my pants. My baseball hat, hastily jammed on my head at 5 AM, was removed and assiduously examined ("Anything could be in here, sir," I was told, after I asked what I could hide in a baseball hat. Yeah. Anything.) Soon I was standing on one foot, my arms stretched out, the other leg sticking out in front of me à la a DUI test. I began to get pissed off, as most normal people would. My anger increased when I realized that the newly knighted federal employees weren’t just examining me, but my 7½ months pregnant wife as well...

...I found my wife sitting in a chair, crying. Mary rarely cries, and certainly not in public. When I asked her what was the matter, she tried to quell her tears and sobbed, "I’m’s...they touched my breasts...and..." That’s all I heard. I marched up to the woman who’d been examining her and shouted, "What did you do to her?" Later I found out that in addition to touching her swollen breasts – to protect the American citizenry – the employee had asked that she lift up her shirt. Not behind a screen, not off to the side – no, right there, directly in front of the hundred or so passengers standing in line. And for you women who’ve been pregnant and worn maternity pants, you know how ridiculous those things look. "I felt like a clown," my wife told me later. "

Read the rest of this story here.

Tomato's Galore

These are some great pictures of the Tomatina festival in Bunol, Spain. Ker-splat!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

White House, Congress projects record deficits

From AP:

The federal government faces exploding deficits and mounting debt over the next decade, White House and congressional budget officials projected Tuesday in competing but similar economic forecasts.

Both the White House Office of Management and Budget and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted the budget deficit this year would swell to nearly $1.6 trillion, a record, and far above the then-record 2008 budget deficit of $455 billion.

But while figures released by the White House foresee a cumulative $9 trillion deficit from 2010-2019, $2 trillion more than the administration estimated in May, congressional budget analysts put the 10-year figure at a lower $7.14 trillion...

...Beyond the 10-year forecast, the nation will face further challenges posed by rising health care costs and the aging of the population, the CBO said. "The budget remains on an unsustainable path" over the long-term and will require some combination of lower spending and higher tax revenues, it said.

Both forecasts see unemployment rising to 10 percent before falling and both suggest growth will return to the economy later this year but that recovery will be slow after the longest and deepest recession since the 1930s

Comment: This is no surprise to fiscal conservatives that have been sounding the alarm since Bush was in office. With the threat of government interventionist policies like Cap and Trade and a massive overhaul of the health care system, the private economy will have to carry a burden that may be so large that any real and sustained growth will be difficult. The article didn't mention anything about inflation which would be another thorn to knead its way into our economy.

No Degree, No Problem

Looking for a job or a career change? Here are some occupations that don't require years of college and thousands of dollars in tuition. While I enjoyed going to University, sometimes I wonder if it was worth the time and expense. Especially since some of the most talented individuals that I have met in my field (Finance--Treasury) have been people that started their careers with little formal training; they learned everything they needed to succeed on the job by finding a mentor that was an expert in the field. I can't tell you how many times I have come across managers with MBA's that were not nearly as talented or effective as some without MBA's and that rose to their position from the bottom up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oregon Health Plan Denies Chemo Medicine

Happy Monday! This is a sad and sorry video; coming to an America of the future if we get ObamaCare.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Don't Call Me Fumbles--Robot Chicken

Robot Chicken is very funny. I try not to stay up so late to watch it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Profiting From The Sick

From The Mises Institute:

An old-time socialist cliche in favor of socialized medicine is that private companies profit from people's sickness, which is supposed to be unconscionable. Actually the best way to meet people's needs is through a system that permits profitability as a sign of success and efficiency, just as it makes sense that farmers should profit from people's hunger or builders should profit from people's need for shelter etc.

Progressives tend to frame capitalism as a system of profit only. But they ignore the threat of losses that are the results of inefficiency. More importantly, I don't buy the argument that if people are motivated by profits, it means that they will automatically be greedy and immoral.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Question About Private Health Insurance

Cafe Hayek has a wonderful post on private health insurance. A reader named Tom commented thusly:

Imagine we had entirely private health insurance market – no Medicare or Medicaid. If I live to be sixty-five, I will probably have a personal and/or family history that indicates a strong probability of developing an expensive chronic condition. I would wager that is true of almost all sixty-five year olds.
So here is my question: which insurer in their right mind would take on my risk?
I suspect none. Once philanthropy and savings were exhausted, I would surely risk a painful life and preventable death.
Do I want this? Does anyone? Isn’t “socialized” medicine for older people an unpleasant moral necessity for our wealthy society? Please note I am deeply suspicious of most arguments cast in moral terms in discussions of politics and economics. I ask these questions guardedly.

Russell Roberts encouraged some of his regular commenters to respond to Tom's concern with excellent results. Here is one of my favorites by a commenter named aleksanderhansen:


I will give one (out of many) potential solution. Will insurers simply stop offering coverage to these individuals less they pay very high premiums?

One solution to your problem would be to enter into an insurance contract today which guarantees you continued coverage when you reach that age. On one hand, such an insurance policy might have premiums that are, ceteris paribus, higher than other insurance contracts to compensate the insurer over time for the (increasing) probability of you developing a condition in the later stages of your life. On the other hand, the fact that you are committing to a very long-term contract benefits the insurance company - they will have a secure income stream for a long time. This would exert downward pressure on the premiums.

Along similar lines one might also imagine a futures market for insurance, i.e., you buy a contract today which guarantees you coverage when you reach a certain age, at an agreed upon price.

Some of the other comments which address free market solutions to health care are excellent so go check out this post.

Don't Forget The Liberal Goose Step!

John Mackey CEO of Whole Foods writes an op-ed in the WSJ on how to fix health care via free-market solutions and the Left are now organizing to boycott his business. Mackey didn't goose-step in time for Liberals, he voiced his opinion, and now they are ready for blood. So much for tolerance, understanding, and constructive debate.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lot's Of Conservatives Out There...

From The Bobo Files:

The Gallup Poll linked above indicates that this is the highest number of individuals who have ever self-identified as Conservative versus Liberals. Now is the time for Conservatives to take back our country from those left-leaning liberal socialists who are bent on destroying the morals and very fiber of America through their immoral policies and agendas. Get out and vote in 2010 and let those arrogant bastards in D.C. know that we aren’t going to take it any longer.

The Gallup Poll

Comment: Democrats in the 2010 elections may find out the hard way that the U.S. is more of a center right nation than they think.

Rose Friedman, Economist Partner of Husband Milton, Dies at 97

Rose Friedman, champion of liberty and free market economics has passed away. Godspeed, Rose, godspeed.

Rare Star Wars Photos

Nerd alert! I love Star Wars and these pictures are great!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Eight Reasons Why Big Government Hurts Economic Growth

If The Government Controls Health Care...

Jonah Goldberg writes the following on health care:

Now, I don’t think Soylent Green-style solutions are coming down the pike. (Government cheese is people!) But every nationalized health-care system to one degree or another rations care based on the quality of life and number of “life years” a procedure will yield. That’s perfectly reasonable. If you put me in charge of everyone’s health care, I would do that, too. That’s a really good argument for not giving me — or anyone else — that power.

When it comes to civil liberties, liberals are often distrustful of government power. But, for reasons that baffle me, they are quite comfortable with Uncle Sam getting into the business of deciding, or providing “guidance” on, which lives are more valuable than others. A government charged with extending life expectancy must meddle not just with our health care, but with what we eat, how we drive, how we live. A government determined to cut costs must meddle not just with how we live, but how we die.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Friday, August 14, 2009

Obama tries to compare healthcare to the USPS--Stupid Move

Larry Kudlow nails this issue perfectly:

It's hard to know why President Obama said what he said at Tuesday's health-care town hall in New Hampshire. He actually stated: "If you think about it, UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It's the Post Office that's always having problems."

Oops. Freudian slip? Subliminally speaking, was the president inferring that private health insurers are doing just fine?

Government insurance is what's in trouble today. Medicare is in the hole by about $40 trillion on a discounted present-value basis over the next 40 or 50 years. And if we're going to equate government care to government mail, according to Steve Hayes of The Weekly Standard, the U.S. Postal Service is going bankrupt with a $7 billion net loss this year. With 633,000 career employees, the Post Office won't be able to make $5.4 billion in retiree health-benefit payments. How many of these federal employees will populate the new government-backed insurance plan if it passes?

...Obama's health-care gaffes are mounting. At a press conference a few weeks back, the president let fly with an attack on doctors who remove tonsils instead of handing out allergy pills. Since doctors are very popular in America, and with many Obamacare protesters opposed to putting government central planners between doctors and patients, this was a big mistake.

Whoops! Obama admitted that private companies do a better job delivering items than a government run entity. This is no surprise to me or anyone else that is an advocate for the free-market. If he wants his ObamaCare to survive he best stick to the script of vilifing private enterprise.

For those that want to argue that the United States Postal Service is semi-private or privatized, read the following: The USPS is exempt from paying federal, state, or local taxes on its income, sales, purchases, or property. Unlike private companies, it is immune from most forms of regulation, such as antitrust, motor vehicle registration, parking tickets, zoning, and land use restrictions. It is also able to borrow money at the lowest possible rate through the U.S. Treasury. And with all these advantages, the USPS still can not balance its books. As Kudlow points out, "the U.S. Postal Service is going bankrupt with a $7 billion net loss this year." Incredible. Where will health care end up if the government takes it over?

So, how is the USPS "semi-privatized?" Well, private firms who submit the lowest bids are allowed to do all of the long -haul trucking for the USPS. Air transportation firms are also allowed to bid for jobs as are sorting facilities for express mail. That's pretty much it. The USPS has fought proposals for full privitization for a long time with horrendous results. So when Obama gaffes by trying to compare the health care industry to UPS, FedEx, and the USPS, a closer examination is very revealing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Town Hall Meeting

This is a great post on a first person account of a town hall meeting.

HT: The Bobo Files

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obamanomics Explained - Spreading the Wealth

Hilarious and so true!!

HT: Liberty Pen

The Hypocrisy Of The Left

The Left has been responding to the ruckus at town hall meetings by claiming that the Right's protests are completely different from the Left's protests. You see their protests (The Left) seem to have more legitimacy because they never tried to shut down debate at town hall-like meetings. Whoops! Except these protests at town hall meetings in 2005.

HT: Newmark's Door

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

New Poll: Only 32% Favor Government-Run Health Care

Rasmussen Reports has a new poll: "Thirty-two percent (32%) of voters nationwide favor a single-payer health care system where the federal government provides coverage for everyone. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 57% are opposed to a single-payer plan."

I know what Obamacare supporters will say, "Rasmussen is biased and Republican." My answer to that is--prove that Rasmussen's polling methods are unsound. Additionally, when Rasmussen polls showed that Obama was clearly ahead of McCain last year, I didn't hear much complaining about bias from the Left.

Read the Rasmussen Report here

On Life Expectancy

Another Democratic talking point challenged; this time its the low U.S. life expectancy myth that supporters of ObamaCare continuously parrot. From Samuel Preston and Jessica Ho:

Life expectancy in the United States fares poorly in international comparisons, primarily because of high mortality rates above age 50. Its low ranking is often blamed on a poor performance by the health care system rather than on behavioral or social factors. This paper presents evidence on the relative performance of the US health care system using death avoidance as the sole criterion. We find that, by standards of OECD countries, the US does well in terms of screening for cancer, survival rates from cancer, survival rates after heart attacks and strokes, and medication of individuals with high levels of blood pressure or cholesterol. We consider in greater depth mortality from prostate cancer and breast cancer, diseases for which effective methods of identification and treatment have been developed and where behavioral factors do not play a dominant role. We show that the US has had significantly faster declines in mortality from these two diseases than comparison countries. We conclude that the low longevity ranking of the United States is not likely to be a result of a poorly functioning health care system.

Read the entire paper here.

HT: Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution

Monday, August 10, 2009

ObamaCare = Longer Wait Times; Exhibit A: MASS

The Massachusetts experiment with public health care has not been working as well as it was advertised in 2006. The commonwealth's 2006 program closely resembles what Democrats are trying to push on the American public. Well, here are some inconvenient facts about the program:

From the 2009 Survey of Physician Appointment Wait Times (see p. 14):

As these numbers (in the chart above) indicate, Boston experiences by far the longest average wait times of any of the 15 metropolitan markets. In addition, wait times in Boston increased in 2009 over 2004 in three of the four specialties where comparisons are possible: dermatology, ob/gyn and orthopedic surgery. In general, wait times decreased in 2009 relative to 2004 in most metropolitan markets surveyed, with several exceptions.

Long wait times in Boston may be driven in part by the healthcare reform initiative that was put in place in Massachusetts in 2006. The initiative succeeded in covering many of the state’s uninsured patients. However, it has been reported that many patients in Massachusetts are encountering difficulty in accessing physicians. Survey results support these reports. Long appointment wait times in Boston also may signal what could happen nationally in the event that access to healthcare is expanded through healthcare reform. Increased demand resulting from improved access to care for approximately 47 million uninsured people can be expected to extend doctor appointment wait times in many markets.

HT: SBVOR and Carpe Diem

Dissent Is Patriotic

Debra J. Saunders has written a succinct and poignant piece on the town hall protests:

Now I don't think Obamaland was working on an "enemies list" - as some conservatives have charged. But I do want to note how deftly the left has abandoned its old rallying cry, "Dissent is patriotic."

Democratic leaders have taken to dissing health care dissenters who show up at town-hall meetings conducted by members of Congress visiting their districts - and not just for the boorish behavior of the loudmouths.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, dismissed protesters as "AstroTurf" - artificial grassroots support. On MSNBC's "Hardball," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., exhorted the media to investigate town-hall protesters, as "This is just all organized."

And: "You in the media have to take a look at what's going on here. This is all planned. It's to hurt our president and it's to change the Congress."

When Boxer grilled Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about what personal price the childless Rice paid for the Iraq war, Boxer later boasted that she was "speaking truth to power." But when angry voters try to do the same with elected officials, whether they're heckling them or just showing up, Boxer wants the media to investigate.

It's laughable: Democrats discrediting protests because - ooooooh - they're organized. Last year, weren't these same folks guffawing about Jesus being a community organizer?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Who deserves a raise?

HT: Lowercase Liberty

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Obama officials: Taxes may rise to pay health care

Barack Obama constantly repeated that taxes would not rise for the middle class during the Presidential campaign. Well, so much for that.

Idea's on Redesigning America's Currency

Of course, these will never come to fruition but I must admit that some of them were very cool.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Optimum Size of Government

From the Center for Freedom and Prosperity:

A new study by economists with the Institute for Market Economics (IME) in Sofia, Bulgaria, using the latest OECD data, finds that the government sectors in OECD (developed countries) are too large relative to their private sectors to maximize economic growth. Economists have long known that the government sector can be too small or too large to maximize economic growth, job creation, and the social welfare of its citizens. Governments that do not adequately protect the people and their property and the rule of law may be too small, while governments whose size and inefficiencies cause a misallocation of resources are too large.

Over the last several decades, economists have tried to determine and quantify the optimum size of government (recognizing that not all governments and societies are the same). Most studies have shown the optimum size of government is between 12% and 30% of GDP. The new IME study, entitled The Optimum Size of Government, finds (using standard methodology) the government sector should be no larger than 25% (and perhaps considerably smaller) to maximize GDP growth. All major governments, including the U.S., Germany, U.K., France, and Italy greatly exceed that level. The average government sector for the OECD countries now exceeds 41% of GDP.

Markets In Everything

Free online courses with distinguished professors from reputable colleges and universities:

They don't offer degrees but then they don't charge tuition either.

Colleges and universities across the United States are offering free courses online on virtually every subject imaginable, including videotaped lectures by some of their most distinguished professors.

Video-sharing site YouTube recently created a hub called YouTube EDU at for the more than 100 US colleges and universities offering free online learning.

HT: Mark J. Perry at Carpe Diem