Friday, October 31, 2014

Facebook is a media company. A politically biased media company.

FB uses algorithms to determine which news items to present to you and how prominently and frequently they get presented.  It would be very easy to privilege political news items that had a certain ideological slant. After all, that's what the NY Times and Rush Limbaugh do. And FB has already admitted manipulating news feeds for its own ends.

Zuckerberg is a very actuve, engaged liberal. And like Gates and all the other techno nerds he's in search of meaning and significance in his life. Watch out.

A powerful state will inevitably seek to destroy those who threaten its power


WHAT DESPERATION LOOKS LIKE: FBI Announces Investigation of GOP Senate Candidate Days Before Election. Acknowledgement of investigation is contrary to decades-long FBI practice.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Here's what the housing cargo cult looks like historically

All of the post 80s increase in home ownership was driven by the belief that owning a mortgaged to the hilt residence was the key or at least a key to middle class status.  It of course wasn't any more than simply having a college degree is  now.  And colleges will pay in the same coin as homebuilders for their folly.


WPA bans Argon. Only problem is that Argon is the third most common substance constituting 1% of the atmosphere

Observers speculate that activists handed EPA a list and they rubber stamped without doing any thinking. Because Argon is a noble gas that like helium doesn't react with other elements making it a strange substance to be dangerous.  Not to mention we breath huge amounts if it every day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

USDA Hasn't gotten its own memo on antifat BS

Makes you wonder why we keep these overpaid clowns around. Details at the link.

The UN like governments everywhere helps the powerful at the expense of the people. WHO is focused on banning vaping for its pharma clients rather than fighting Ebola.

The state is a monster no matter where it is. Thieves. Criminals. Governments.

Is there a connection between ebola and e-cigarettes?I don’t mean to imply that vaping has caused the epidemic in west Africa. But the World Health Organisation (WHO) now has serious questions to answer about its months of complacency over ebola. WHO’s director-general, Margaret Chan, made a speech only two weeks ago implying that tobacco control and the fight against e-cigarettes is a more important issue.

On October 13 Dr Chan gave her apologies for not being able to attend a conference on ebola and made a speech instead at a WHO summit in Moscow on tobacco. This is what she said there: “Some people speculated that I would not attend this meeting because I am so busy with so many other outbreaks of communicable diseases [ebola was third on her list, after flu and Mers coronavirus].No. No. No. I will not cancel my attendance at this meeting because it is too important . . . Tobacco control unquestionably is our biggest, surest and best opportunity to save some millions of lives . . .The next challenge is that the tobacco industry is increasing its dominance over the market for electronic cigarettes.”

The $20 million Moscow meeting happened behind closed doors, with even accredited journalists excluded. High on the agenda was vaping. WHO has long been trying to define e-cigarettes as tobacco products, though they are not, so as to bring them under the aegis of its tobacco “framework convention”.
The outcome of the Moscow meeting was the suggestion that more countries should ban e-cigarettes, despite the lack of scientific evidence that they do harm and ignoring the growing evidence that they save lives. Such bans would be convenient for pharmaceutical companies, with which WHO has close links, whose sales of nicotine gum and patches have been in free fall because of e-cigarettes.

More Ridley at the link.

Good news on patents: frivolous suits way down since Supremes ruled against them

The key to our growth and prosperity is technological and social innovation:  a key to that is the freedom to innovate which lawyers had been strangling for decades.  The Supreme Court finally dialed their predation a bit.  More details here.

But Alex Tabarrok of George Mason says we have a ways to go:

The Tabarrok Curve:
Tabarrok Curve

Latest election fraud news

COLORADO ELECTION SHENANIGANS: GOP: Some Boulder County election judges are Democrats posing as Republicans.

There's always someone bitching about something. The key is to ignore them.

Look: often it's a good sign that you offend someone. If you don't you're not doing anything of value.  Just make sure the right people are angry. College whining killing good causes at the link

College increasingly sucks doesn't it?

Tom Sowell on the fatal conceit of statists everywhere

Oh yes indeed they do.

Too many intellectuals are too impressed with the fact that they know more than other people. Even if an intellectual knows more than anybody else, that is not the same as saying that he knows more than everybody else put together — which is what would be needed to justify substituting his judgment for that expressed by millions of others through the market or through the ballot box.

The problem David Brooks is that human capital does not result from getting a sheepskin but rather the sheepskin (and $58k) results from having human capital

College has become such a cargo cult. And apparently Dave Brooks is a high priest:

Today, too many people are focused on the top 1 percent. But, as economist David Autor has shown, if you took all the wealth gains the top 1 percent made between 1979 and 2012 and spread it to the bottom 99 percent, each household would get a payment of only $7,000. But if you take a two-earner, high-school-educated couple and get them college degrees, their income goes up by $58,000 per year. Inequality is mostly a human capital problem.

Hattie Carpe Diem

Red Cross disasters wouldn't be hidden so easily if it were a for profit public company

One of the problems with not for profits being large scale service providers is that lacking owners, no one scrutinzes their operational performance or use of capital carefully. Paradoxically the tax subsidies we give them result in less accountability and efficiency, not more.

Read more about hidden Red Cross blunders at the link.

The Rich get Richer - internship edition

The rich get richer department: students at elite colleges come from far more affluent families with far more connections. Their schools spend far more tax free money on their educations and do not ever require them to borrow money. They live and study in plush facilities in the most fashionable neighborhoods in the nation. They then meet, befriend and marry each other guaranteeing the cycle of privilege will continue to intensify. Now they even guarantee their students internships in their field of choice furather cementing the conveyor belt of privilege in place.

How is it that the most politically egalitarian institutions produce the most inequitable results? How is it that the loudest yelps for equity come from the richest, most elite places?

Is it time to stop subsidizing the finishing schools of the ruling class? Before our nation turns into a UK or France where all the elites know and are related to each other?

So MIT students are stupid after all: 67% of undergrads believe it is possible to "accidently rape" someone.

I doubt if two thirds of German college students ever even thought Jews were "dirty" under Hitler. The fascist brainwashing of college kids is getting out of hand.  They tell their insane lies simply to serve the Democrats "war on women" political campaign. This is tragic madness. Will No one stand up to academe's cynical, brutal fraud?

But students are confused about how alcohol and intoxication affect consent, which perhaps speaks to increasing progressive activism around the idea that drunk people can’t give consent. Only about three-quarters of respondents said they feel confident in their own ability to judge whether someone is too intoxicated to consent to sex. And more than half agreed that “rape and sexual assault can happen unintentionally, especially if alcohol is involved.”

I just want to repeat that one more time: Half of the MIT students surveyed think it’s possible to “accidently” rape someone. When you consider undergraduates alone, this rises to 67 percent.

If not we are really going to have to pare this collegiate monstrosity back lest it destroy our democracy with its agitprop.

College: no longer just venal but positively evil.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How can this be? Iraqi Peshmerga marching to rescue Khobani

Contrary to our national security hysterics the 20,000 untrained, poorly led and armed ISIS rabble rattling around the desert interior of Syria haven't conquered Baghdad or any other place that wasn't already filled with their Sunni cousins and as I've already predicted: never will.

It's time we stopped listening to the shrieking meemies of both parties who somehow derive their meaning from how deeply they involve us in pointless refereeing nightmares around the world. This world like our country is chock full of adults who can and should take care of themselves if we could only keep our self righteous nanny state paws off long enough for them to do so.

Self righteous and meddlesome is no way to go through life, gang

How state run monopolies coopt new entrants to keep fleecing consumers

Almost inevitably any regulation of a service ends up restricting competition and costing consumers. No matter what the usually oh so progressive and pro poor politicos say they are almost always working for entrenched commercial interests. This piece (link below) demonstrates how Uber has been let into the DC taxicab cartel only to draw the bridge up behind it.

Thus the bullshit of "commonsense" regulation disguises the real goal of allocating the right to fleece consumers among the politically powerful. It's just that Uber has some of that power now and so the others had to accommodate it.

Before the progressives came and infected our minds with this notion that state manipulation was benign - indeed moral - this sort of inside running would have been recognized for the crooked scam it is. Thus laws intended to protect against monopoly and the exploitation of consumers instead serve to facilitate it. They also further entrench the politically powerful in their power.

It's all so progressive.

Sneak and peek warrants billed as necessary for anti terror used overwhelmingly to escalate the drug war

Reason documents the real purpose of these Patriot act constitutional infringements. It turns out that National Security is the last refuge of statist scoundrels. The state's minions lie to us shamelessly and we keep falling for it. More at the link.

According to Mark Jaycox of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, "Law enforcement made 47 sneak-and-peek searches nationwide from September 2001 to April 2003. The 2010 report reveals 3,970 total requests were processed. Within three years that number jumped to 11,129."

But terrorism! And, in fact, there are a few terrorism cases mixed in there. A very few. Like, homeopathic dilution few.

Out of the 3,970 total requests from October 1, 2009 to September 30, 2010, 3,034 were for narcotics cases and only 37 for terrorism cases (about .9%). Since then, the numbers get worse. The 2011 report reveals a total of 6,775 requests. 5,093 were used for drugs, while only 31 (or .5%) were used for terrorism cases. The 2012 report follows a similar pattern: Only .6%, or 58 requests, dealt with terrorism cases. The 2013 report confirms the incredibly low numbers. Out of 11,129 reports only 51, or .5%, of requests were used for terrorism. The majority of requests were overwhelmingly for narcotics cases, which tapped out at 9,401 requests.

How liberals got so illiberal

Robert Tracinski explains how the state's control over our economic lives inexorably extends into control over all our lives. This is why it is madness for social conservatives to think they can be economic liberals. Tracinski uses the example of The Hitching Post to illustrate why.

If you want to be socially free it is best that you stay economically free. For he who controls your livelihood controls your life. Simple but obvious point missed by so many social libertarians and conservatives alike. At the link.

Swiss direct democracy has created the most conservative and richest place in Europe

Remember that next time lefties talk about "the people this or that". The last thing the left wants is a Swiss style participatory democracy because they'd be crushed. Like the Bolsheviks who were never more than a vicious, tiny minority, the left wants to speak for the people not hear from them. Details here.

In six years Barack Obama has fundamentally transformed America

Into a Euro social democratic dystopia.

Thank God we have been saved by progressives. Imagine how horrible things would be if Reaganites were still in charge. Eek.

University of Chicago Horror Story: Or the day the innocence died.

This is the reading room of the William Rainey Harper library, the under-graduate library at the University of Chicago.  Kind of pretty huh – well we’ll see how pretty it looks to you after you’ve heard my tale. Because it was here, well just outside here, that I made one of the most shocking discoveries of my young life – one that would change me forever. I had just matriculated the U of C fully intending to get my Phd in Economics until - realizing that Phd meant you had to actually understand calculus rather than just pass the class - I settled for that "Gentleman's C" of degrees: the MBA.

As career and money minded harlots in the high temple of academe we MBAs were held in a certain amount of contempt.  Because while we were reasonably smart and hard working we were also terribly normal.  And of course there was that odd spot of bother that most of had with the calculus.  I realized that I wasn't in Kansas anymore the first day that I moved into my apartment just off campus.  I ran into my next door neighbor on the elevator and after introductions I asked him what he was studying and he said "linguistics" to which I replied "that's cool, which language?".  He reacted as if I had Ebola: he stepped back and his face turned bright red as he hissed "It's Ling-Guist-ics! Not languages!"

"Oh, ah, so I so what is the difference exactly?"

At that he fled towards his room muttering sinister imprecations about "fucking MBAs" or something to that effect. I never saw him again - I believe he asked to be transferred to another apartment because before I knew it he had been replaced by this nice evangelical Christian Japanese couple - or at least they strummed evangelical tunes with Japanese words which I assumed were Jesus oriented.  In other words: more freaks who disturbed the intensely secular and intellectual karma of all the other Maroons.

Because that was what we were: Maroons.  You see the U of C was founded with a huge check from John D. Rockefeller Junior.  Junior had a knack for giving away money that was at least as brilliant as his dad’s was for making it and it was the University’s good fortune to be standing directly underneath him when he gushed forth.  This is one of the reasons that the University of Chicago is tied with Cambridge University in England for the most Nobel Laureates associated with a University despite being one tenth as old.  Because when JD Jr. brassed up the other big name US universities were all busily climbing the social register – sneering, discriminating and oppressing while prioritizing the admission of callow white boys who had as they so quaintly put it: “sand”.  Although why they wanted so many beachcombers I do not know.  So for many years Chicago got all of the smart kids who hadn’t been to the beach resulting in a lot of the sort of prizes that smarty pants win. 

So what was I talking about again?  Ah, yes Maroons:  it turns out that at the time of the great Rockefeller Money Flood Harvard was considered the primo college brand and since they were called the Crimsons the branding geniuses at U of C HQ decided:  “hey, Maroon is a drab imitation of Crimson so let’s brand ourselves as a drab imitation of Harvard” – they might have been geniuses at calculus but they didn’t know squat about marketing. Nor had they ever seen a Bugs Bunny cartoon.  What a bunch of maroons.

So the other Maroons really looked down on us MBAs even more than they looked down on the budding shysters over in the law school - which hurt our feelings not at all because if all those flaky maroons thought lawyers were swell then we sure as hell didn’t want them to think we were. Which is probably one of the reasons we came up with the idea for “Liquidity Preference Functions” in the first place - the liquidity preference is a concept in financial economics that says ceteris paribus (not that it ever is) people would rather have a five spot in their pocket than an IOU from their loser brother in law because they can use the five spot to fulfill their real liquidity preference for alcohol while no one in their right mind would take the idiot B in L’s marker for love or money or more to the point for that alcohol - which of course was the point of our Liquidity Preference Functions.  And when the weather was nice we held them out of doors in the quadrangle in front of Stuart Hall which was the old neo Gothic pile where all of the B School’s lectures were held. It was also right below the undergraduate reading room of the William Rainey Harper library – command central for the strangest mob of undergraduate matriculants ever to matriculate with their pants on.

Imagine the scene:  It’s five pm on a Friday in September at least four weeks before midterms.  The sun is shining, the birds are singing and the beer is flowing.  The stereo system is pumping out the Rolling Stones Tattoo You album at collegiate decibel-age and the boy ‘n girl MBAs are starting to get their weekend college grooves on, something that at least half of us hadn’t experienced since the last time we were in college and had dreamed about almost every night since (OK, maybe it was just me but still). And what did we hear through Mick Jagger’s wails?  the shouts and curses of undergraduates from library windows far above us.  Shouting at us to turn the music down and go inside.  Naturally we thought this was just undergrads pulling our chain because they wanted some of our beer so we pointed out that any girl could come down and get beer for free and under duress said that any guy she was with could have some too (the business school was seriously short of women and none of the women we had were interested in undergraduate men, well…boys really) - but they didn’t come down, not even the chicks.  They didn’t want our beer, they didn’t want to meet a bunch of studs who were this close to making the big bucks.  They didn’t want us at all.  They wanted to study.  No, honest.  I am not making this up.  Ask anyone who was there.

And that’s not all because the story gets even darker.  Not only did they want to study, they wanted us, the noble, normal ones to go.  So they called the cops on us.  On a Friday at five thirty pm in September when the birds were singing and the sun was shining and the beer was flowing. And did I point out that the beer was free to almost all comers?  When the cops arrived we of course gave them a snootful which they happily quaffed as they explained sorrowfully that we would have to go.  We said “Aw C’mon” to which they responded with sheepish, outstretched arms as if to say “we agree with you brilliant MBAs and would prefer to drink beer, meet women and rock on with you and we do not understand the bizarre aliens jeering at us from upstairs any more than you do but we work for bizarre aliens just like them only worse so to keep our jobs we’ll just take your beer and make you go inside.” It was that bad.  Even the cops were trapped in the darkness.  Cops who wouldn’t – couldn’t hang with us and show the girls their cool guns or even make their sirens go.  Dark times I tell you, dark times.

And that searing experience has colored my perspective on life to this very day.  Because if undergraduates at an accredited college at five o’clock on a Friday a full four weeks before midterms when the sun is shining and the birds are singing and the beer is flowing for free turn it down to study more (did I point out that it was Friday evening four weeks before midterms?) then the world is a much darker and less comprehensible place than I had believed possible.  It’s a place where Muslims can chop people’s heads off with kitchen knives and viruses can cross oceans and freak governors out.  It’s even a world where graduate shysters who’ve done nothing but teach other proto shysters how to shyst can become President.  My naïve, fraternal innocence died that day in Chicago amidst the free beer, Rolling Stones and hysterical jeering freshmen, never to return again.

May God have mercy on our Souls.

I like Joni Ernst and I hope she wins the open Iowa Senate seat but I am sick to death of the glorification of having a job in the military

Here's text from her latest ad:

“We’ve taken that oath to sacrifice everything, with nothing asked in return.”

First of all Ms. Ernst you were paid to take those risks. Paid so much in above market total comp that an enlisted heavy posting like Jacksonville NC is among the highest income per capita places in America. Second of all only a small proportion of our military ever see combat or even come near it. And if you're paid far above market rates for a government job that is no more dangerous than many civilian ones I am sorry: you are not a hero, you made no sacrifice and you are not special.

This glorification of the militry not to mention overpaid cops and firefighters for doing their jobs smacks of militarism and should stop. People strutting around in uniforms draped in flags should scare us all.

I their desperation Democrats are running "independents" rather than Democrats in South Dakota and Kansas.

And the actual Dem nominee on South Dakota is crying foul over Democrat ads that are driving his negatives up. In Kansas they forced the legally nominated Dem nominee to withdraw presumably with threats of the same sort. The "Independent", Gary Orman ran as a Dem  last time.
Desperation drives dishonesty.

First Illinois, now Maryland Voting machines that switch R votes to D

They call it a "calibration issue". I have never seen so many reports if Dem voter fraud before an election. Not close.

“When I first selected my candidate on the electronic machine, it would not put the ‘x’ on the candidate I chose — a Republican — but it would put the ‘x’ on the Democrat candidate above it,” Donna Hamilton said.
“This happened multiple times with multiple selections. Every time my choice flipped from Republican to Democrat. Sometimes it required four or five tries to get the ‘x’ to stay on my real selection,” the Frederick, Md., resident said last week.

Dems have been thoroughly Chicagoed over the last six years. It's definitely change.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Press grandees decry Obama Administration's treatment of the press "most restrictive", "dangerous", "opaque"

The press' favoritism is biting them in the ass. Nobody respects a gutless shill, least of all those who you're shilling for. Read the Wapo link for the press shock and dismay.

Success and tragedy : the collapse of pharmacy innovation is saving us money but costing us lives

Medicare spent less per enrollee than it did last year. Yes you heard that right. 1% less but still. 60% of the reduction comes from declines in pharmacy spending via part D. This is because drugs are coming off patent and new drugs aren't replacing them so a larger and larger proportion of drugs become subject to price competition. In other words: less innovation, fewer new cures. Sigh.

What a turnaround!

This chart explains why geopolitics have changed so much.  The United States continuing dynamism in the face of catastrophic leadership continues to be the Stubborn Fact of the age. Imagine what we could do if we were competently governed. Hat tip Carpe Diem.

Paul Krugman Ex Nobelist

I thought this chart from Walter Williams was apt.  Pauley K is supposed to be a studmuffin of economics but he trims his views to win political battles.  Sad, really.  Not what the Nobel was meant to highlight.  Still, there's one in every generation.


The Feds are inflating the housing bubble and enticing vulnerable people into it once again

It is not a mercy to entice someone unprepared for home ownership to buy a home.  The result last time was foreclosure and a massive reduction in working class net worth.  I simply do not understand what the administration's logic is.  It  It's as if they don't really care about people who aren't home builders or mortgage bankers.  It seems so cruel to do this to people. Hattip Carpe Diem

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are planning to guarantee some loans with down payments of as little as 3%. That should help underwater homeowners. Let’s begin by saying that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are instances where loans should be available to borrowers without the means to place a down payment. It’s just that I can’t think of any.

Read about it here.

Date rape druggings hardly exist

Research in the UK and Australia found that of 1101 alleged cases where they could test blood and urine for substances, only 21 could even possibly be termed 'date rape druggings'.  Not of 1101 women but of 1101 women who went to the authorities claiming to have been victims which means that the prevalence must some tiny fraction of the 2 percent stat. Perhaps 2 one hundredths of a percent?  Who knows.

The researchers said in most cases that these alleged incidents were caused by excessive alcohol or illegal drug use.  But women sometimes prefer to claim victim status rather than admit that they got drunk out of their minds.  And our oh so hysterical feminists, egged on by the Democratic party's 'war on women' campaign has persuaded women to focus on a virtually nonexistent threat which of course means they are less focused on the real threat to their well being which is drinking too much.

Here's a video that summarizes the evidence.

They won't because in 1972 they were chasing Republican crime

Does anyone believe that had Dick Nixon been a Dem that WAPO would have given it's reporters free reign?  Or it and all other establishment papers featured the story on page one, top of fold day after day?  Sorry.  The reason that the IRS scandal isn't being pursued by the press is that the press is on the side of the IRS.  From

YEAH, BUT THEY’RE NOT JOURNALISTS NOW, THEY’RE DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES: Bob Woodward: Today’s Journalists Should Investigate The IRS Scandal Like Watergate.

Federal governance has become unjust governance

Fix it or dissolve the country.

 Law Lets I.R.S. Seize Accounts on Suspicion, No Crime Required

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000. The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report. . . . “How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Ex CBS reporter Cheryl Atkinson brutally takes down big media for bias

Hat tip to

Really eye opening:

Now that she’s no longer on the CBS payroll, this pit bull is off the leash and tearing flesh off the behinds of senior media and government officials. In her new memoir/exposé “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington” (Harper), Attkisson unloads on her colleagues in big-time TV news for their cowardice and cheerleading for the Obama administration while unmasking the corruption, misdirection and outright lying of today’s Washington political machine. . . .

Reporters on the ground aren’t necessarily ideological, Attkisson says, but the major network news decisions get made by a handful of New York execs who read the same papers and think the same thoughts.

Often they dream up stories beforehand and turn the reporters into “casting agents,” told “we need to find someone who will say . . .” that a given policy is good or bad. “We’re asked to create a reality that fits their New York image of what they believe,” she writes.

Reporting on the many green-energy firms such as Solyndra that went belly-up after burning through hundreds of millions in Washington handouts, Attkisson ran into increasing difficulty getting her stories on the air. A colleague told her about the following exchange: “[The stories] are pretty significant,” said a news exec. “Maybe we should be airing some of them on the ‘Evening News?’ ” Replied the program’s chief Pat Shevlin, “What’s the matter, don’t you support green energy?”

Says Attkisson: That’s like saying you’re anti-medicine if you point out pharmaceutical company fraud. . . .

“Many in the media,” she writes, “are wrestling with their own souls: They know that ObamaCare is in serious trouble, but they’re conflicted about reporting that. Some worry that the news coverage will hurt a cause that they personally believe in. They’re all too eager to dismiss damaging documentary evidence while embracing, sometimes unquestioningly, the Obama administration’s ever-evolving and unproven explanations.”

One of her bosses had a rule that conservative analysts must always be labeled conservatives, but liberal analysts were simply “analysts.” “And if a conservative analyst’s opinion really rubbed the supervisor the wrong way,” says Attkisson, “she might rewrite the script to label him a ‘right-wing’ analyst.”

In mid-October 2012, with the presidential election coming up, Attkisson says CBS suddenly lost interest in airing her reporting on the Benghazi attacks. “The light switch turns off,” she writes. “Most of my Benghazi stories from that point on would be reported not on television, but on the Web.”

Two expressions that became especially popular with CBS News brass, she says, were “incremental” and “piling on.” These are code for “excuses for stories they really don’t want, even as we observe that developments on stories they like are aired in the tiniest of increments.”

US Israeli relations "In crisis"

Of course under the lazy doctrinaire left wing leadership of the administration it's very dangerous to be America's friend.,7340,L-4584052,00.html

How can this be? Vox said we were "all going to burn"

Smallest proportion of weather stations recording 90 degree readings in US history. 4 of five lowest proportions have happened after CO2 reached 350 PPM. While "explanatory" "journalists" like Ezra Klein were shrieking that "we're all gonna burn".

Ezra Klein journolisted to the left for so long that now now upside down with reality with his ducky little legs furiously paddling the air. It's his reputation that's burning, not the world. Ivy league dumbasses are the dumbest dumbasses.

VOX will be a black hole for investors and reputations. Source here.

Record numbers are renouncing their US citizenship

Of course who in their right mind would want to be citizen of a brutal globe spanning kleptocracy if they could be citizen of a civilized country?

I don't know, perhaps God failed him.

A story about boy who never found a home and was murdered at 18. Poignant.

The writer blames herself and the "system" but the "system" gave this boy chance after chance after chance and he still ended up dead outside a bar three years before he was old enough to drink. Perhaps God made him unlovable the same way he made Pharoah unpersuadable. Maybe God wanted us to see this lost boy and blame ourselves.

But of course we in our arrogance make an a priori assumption about God's perfection: that he's perfectly good in our sense of the word or what I call the Tri Perfecta God theory:  God is Perfect, Perfectly Good and Perfect for Us. But God is not required to please us to be perfect. Indeed for a transcendent God to be perfect he must please only himself.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What do you do when law enforcement takes sides in a political dispute?

The John Doe investigations in Wisconsin were a criminal travesty conducted by Dems with the express goal of intimidating conservative groups. This is the same thing as the IRS scandal except with battering rams and flash bang grenades.

It's not a free country if you're conservative.  Tragic. McCarthyite. And the press? Crickets. Except George Will. At the link.

Pot prohibitionists lie without consequence

They fabricate cannabis deaths to protect the tens of billions riding on prohibition. It's tragic when establishment rags like Bezos' Washington Post don't exercise more editorial quality control.

Reason has the sordid details.

Skink that you skinker

So I was walking one day when I was confronted by a skink.  You know, the little lizards - this one happened to be black.  The skink was boldly standing athwart the bike path, fully two inches in height and four long.  I raised an eyebrow, he raised his eye...fold, I raised my other eyebrow, he raised his.  Then realizing that we looked like bug eyed fools we lowered them.

I said "let me pass my good Spink!"
"Nay, none shall pass unless they defeat me in mortal combat. And it's Skink, not Spink". "
"You must be kidding."
"No, I swear, it's Skink, I'm a Skink"
"I know you're a Skink, I meant you must be kidding that you, a two by four inch Skink is going to stop me, a two by six foot man"
"You're not six foot"
"Am to"
"Are not"
"OK, five foot ten. Two inches, big deal"
"It is if you're a Skink"
"Ah, good point.  So what about it?"
"What about what?"
"Are you going to let me pass"

So anyway this Skink - who I'll call 'Little John' - and I went back and forth in this manner for quite some time as bikes whizzed by us - any one of which would have smashed this lingering little lizard had I not been there to divert them.  But give the Skink his due:  he had guts - about two cubic centimeters worth as a matter of fact - so instead of finding a tiny stave so that we could do battle on even terms I relented and walked into the grass and around him. He exulted:
"What ho craven knave! Hast thou been bested by a mere Skink?"
"You stink, Skink"

And to this very day I detour around badass Little John Skink's patch of bikepath.

'Cause I don't want no trouble.

Much more than State Farm, your family is always there

So there's a lot of talk about the postmodern 'family' replacing the actual blood and soil and DNA family.  Mixed families, ersaztz families, zero calorie families, you name it.  Jonah Goldberg reminds us that Families have been around a long time as the ultimate bulwark against chaos:

The whole point of certain institutions is that they are insurance policies against the unknown future (picture G. Gordon Liddy talking about gold, only replace it with “the family”). The phrase “you can always count on family” may not be literally true, but it is more true than “you can always count on your old college roommate.” When times are great, the demands of family (or religion, or good manners, or thriftiness, or a thousand other institutions, customs, and habits of the heart that we can throw under the bulwark of “tradition”) might often seem like too much unnecessary baggage to carry around. But when things hit the fan, family is there in a way that other people aren’t. Not because those other people are bad, but because your family is your family.

But it’s important to keep in mind that the family – or the Bill of Rights, or good manners, whatever – isn’t a catastrophic insurance policy. The value of these institutions is best understood during a time of crisis, but the influence of these institutions is constant, even in times of calm luxury. The fact that these institutions exist forecloses certain options and avenues for reformers who yearn for a blanker social slate.

The family, like marriage, is an institution that predates our Constitution and the very concept of democracy, never mind modernity. That is not to say that it hasn’t evolved and changed or that conservatives should never, ever contemplate further changes and greater evolution. It is simply to say that we should do so carefully, reservedly, humbly, in full knowledge that tomorrow may look as little like today as yesterday did.

I was partners with some Pakistanis.  They have very strong family ties to the extent that the Eldest son is expected to marry but stay at home and care for his parents.  My rich partner lived on the third floor of his parents house with his wife and kids.  He was married to his first cousin.  Family ties are so strong in Pakistan in part because the state and civil institutions are so weak.  You need a strong extended family to protect you against the outside.  We're safe right now in the west but you never know when the kimchi is going to hit the fan and even more than guns or gold, family is a last refuge. Invest in it.

And another reason I like Jonah Goldberg is because he quotes Chesterton and is that cool or what?:

“In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, ‘I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.’ To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: ‘If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.’”

– G.K. Chesterton, The Thing

So what's wrong with fair trade? Aside from all the middlemen, monopsony and hostility to innovation and expansion, that is.

I've been seeing "Fair Trade" and "Ethical" coffee, chocolate and so on popping up in my Mom's church and on the web at other Christian organizations.  And being a real rat bastard contrarian it rubbed me the wrong way.  Particularly the words 'fair' and 'ethical'.  I've always held that anytime someone comes to you talking fair you know you're getting the snow job and if they add in ethical you'd better get the snow blower out before you get buried. But not wanting to prejudge I decided to
go to the (very trendy, very left wing) Guardian of London and see what the case for Fair Trade was.  Only to find that the Kumbaya left isn't particularly fond of this particular scam.

But first of all a definition:  at its simplest Fair Trade is defined as trade in which fair prices are paid to producers in developing countries. Which in practice means a price above market clearing price.  Fair trade also refers to a whole combine of certifications, organizations and farming practices that are enforced on those developing country farmers who receive the 'fair' price. So what could be wrong with paying poor farmers a higher price for their products if they sign up with Fair Trade?

Well it turns out a lot, including:

1. By guaranteeing a minimum price above market clearing, Fairtrade encourages market oversupply, which depresses global commodity prices. This locks Fairtrade farmers into greater Fairtrade dependency and further impoverishes farmers outside the Fairtrade umbrella. Economist Tyler Cowen describes this as the "parallel exploitation coffee sector".

2. Fairtrade Coffee farms are limited to twelve acres and are not allowed to employ any full-time workers. This means that during harvest season migrant workers must be employed on short-term contracts. These rural poor are therefore expressly excluded from the stability of long-term employment by Fairtrade rules. And the size limit means farms never get to scale so the farmers remain poor and subsistence. Imagine how poor American farmers would be if they were limited to twelve acres vs. the 400 plus they average now.

Economist Paul Collier argues that Fairtrade effectively ensures that people "get charity as long as they stay producing the crops that have locked them into poverty". Fairtrade reduces the incentive to diversify crop production and encourages the utilisation of resources on marginal land that could be better employed for other produce. The organisation also appears wedded to an image of a notional anti-modernist rural idyll. Farm units must remain small and family run, while modern farming techniques (mechanisation, economies of scale, pesticides, genetic modification etc) are sidelined or even actively discouraged

3. Fairtrade commodities are middle income country products. Mexico is the biggest producer of Fairtrade coffee with about 23% market share. Indeed, as of 2002, 181 of the 300 Fairtrade coffee producers were located in South America and the Caribbean. As Marc Sidwell points out, while Mexico has 51 Fairtrade producers, Burundi has none, Ethiopia four and Rwanda just 10 – meaning that "Fairtrade pays to support relatively wealthy Mexican coffee farmers at the expense of poorer nations".

4. Almost all the incremental money goes to rich middlemen (Surprise, surprise!). The vast majority of the money from Fairtrade sales remains in the west – with only about 5% of the Fairtrade sale price actually making it back to the farmers. As Philip Oppenheim says, "any intelligent person will ask why I should pay 80p more for my bananas when only 5p will end up with the producer". Fundamental to the failure of wealth transfer are issues such as the fact that while 90% of the world's cocoa is produced in the developing world, only 4% of the chocolate is produced there. Developing countries remain locked in the primary sector commodities market, while the west cashes in on their value-added conversion.
5. Fairtrade is run by political organizations for political reasons.  Their incentives are not to minimize the cost of distribution but maximize the political effects.  The result is a high cost distribution model. Which of course hurt the farmers and consumers who use it. Colleen Berndt of George Mason University details how Fairtrade membership can also be high. The costs take in not just certification and annual inspections, but also the wider compliance with Fairtrade organisational structures. In Guatemala, an executive at Fedecocagua, the country's biggest Fairtrade co-operative, admitted that "after paying for the co-operative's employees and programmes, nothing remained of the Fairtrade premiums to be passed on to the individual farmers".

You see this expensive politicization when you examine the accounts of the independent charity Fairtrade Foundation, which licenses the use of the Fairtrade mark in the UK. In 2008, of a total income of £7.2m, the largest expenditure was on "public education and awareness" at more than £2.1m. Fairtrade is an expensive brand to maintain because it relies solely on consumer awareness campaigns, and these costs eat into the Fairtrade premiums that farmers can receive.
6. Fairtrade doesn't raise farmers out of poverty, it locks them into a genteel poverty preferred by the NGO-chiks that run the operation. Rich western liberals in essence say: "you stay poor and cute and photogenic and all and we'll throw you a few nickles here and there so we get to be 'charitable' and 'authentic'. Ultimately, Daniel Jaffee concludes [see footnote – Ed] that "Fairtrade ... does not bring the majority of participants out of poverty". He suggests the small increase in farmers' wages is at the expense of further entrenching the agrarian status quo, disadvantaging migrant workers and those outside the Fairtrade organisation. Steve Daily, of WorldWrite charity, condemns the movement for having horizons that are far too low, and for not focusing enough on actual agricultural reform. Berndt concludes that Fairtrade coffee can provide a useful short-term hedge against commodity volatility, but that in the long run it "represents at best a Band-Aid to the problems that coffee producing nations face".
After reading just how much informed lefty economists hated Fairtrade I concluded that it must be a GOOD THING or these mango chewing kumbaya yadda yadda-ers wouldn't hate it.  So I went over to my favorite thoughtful libertarian economics blog - Marginal Revolution and damned if they didn't say the same things.  They summed it all up by describing Fairtrade (and all the 'ethical' blather around it) as:  "A Marketing Gimmick"

Anyway, it's probably something that people who say they care about the poor should stay away from.  Although I would have to say that about many NGO's and most lefty proposals to 'save' this or 'rescue' that.  As I said before:  Fair and Ethical are in practice two of the most unfair and unethical concepts in the world today.  Consider.  Beware.  Try not to look stupid.

How colleges cornered the market on aptitude testing and rooked us out of trillions.

A lot of jobs that in 1970 were available to high school graduates who could pass an aptitude test are now only available to college graduates And you still need to pass the aptitude test but now it's  to get into college because practically speaking only colleges can legally administer aptitude tests.

You won't be surprised to discover that this system which emerged after business aptitude tests were banned by the Supremes due to "disparate racial impact" has the very same disparate racial impact plus a gender one to boot. Except now to get to the same place tens of millions must spend 125 to 250k an 4 to 5 years of their lives. Which is another 125 to 250k foregone.

I wonder how much of the juvenilization of American life is due to all these kids being forced to defer adulthood until well into their twenties? And then being too pounded by government debt to live like adults thereafter? And I wonder how much of the world leading college inflation is due to this state sponsored aptitude certification cartel?

Another ghost from the oh so progressive sixties and seventies. God bless our glorious Federal stupor state. Tragic details here.

Food has replaced sex as the great tabu

Which is odd since study after huge longitudinal study (not to mention common sense) show that humans thrive on a wide variety of diets, none of which can be characterized as ideal.

Unfortunately some humans also thrive on power and the coercion of others which has been shown to be destructive. Modern liberals are the new Puritans. And their comstockery has breached it's coastal fever swamp quarantines and is spreading inland.

There is no logical or philosophical limit to statist coercion once you buy in to the notion that the state's job is to make people "better". More Cotton Blathering here.