24 Feb 2017

“If Ignorance Is Strength, How Strong Is Krugman?”

Contra Krugman No Comments

I picked the title this time for Contra Krugman (ep. 74), and I feel like Ralphie re-reading his essay on the Red Rider bb gun.

In this episode we have some fun, remembering all the diplomatic gaffes and serious policy blunders (such as the rollout of ObamaCare) under the previous Administration. The point isn’t to gloat or to say “But what about…” but rather it is to rebut Krugman’s refrain that right-wing Republicans have a monopoly on dumb moves.

22 Feb 2017

Documentary on Biblical Literalism

Religious 7 Comments

I am relaying a comment from my last Sunday post:

Bob – I sent you an email about this, but it didn’t occur to me until now to mention it on your site. There is a special showing tomorrow only (Thursday, 23rd) of Is Genesis History? at theaters around the country. It’s a documentary arguing for the six literal 24 hour days of creation in the Genesis account.

Website here in case anyone can still get tickets (some theaters added a second showing) http://isgenesishistory.com/

21 Feb 2017

Understanding the Economic Commentary on the Border Tax/Subsidy

Lara-Murphy Show, Scott Sumner, Trade 5 Comments

I was so happy with Scott Sumner’s post that tried to explain the border tax/subsidy issue, that I spent 45 minutes on an episode of the Lara-Murphy Show walking through its logic.

Scott’s post made it click for me, and I did my best to convey that extra comprehension to all of you folks too. So, if you’re ready to super geek out, then (a) read Scott’s post and (b) listen to my podcast.

19 Feb 2017

Moses Talks God Out of His Plan?

Religious 6 Comments

Of course that’s not what happened. But it’s interesting the way the Bible is written:

Exodus 32: 11-14:

Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'”

So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.

So the above is nonsensical if God is omniscient. How would He ever change His mind? He already knew before Moses was born, what he would plead at this moment.

Here is how Guzik explains it:

ii. Numbers 23:19 says, God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Some say that these two passages contradict each other, and that Exodus 32 shows God repenting and changing while Numbers 23 says God never changes or repents. We can understand these passages by understanding that Moses wrote with what we call anthropomorphic, or “man-centered” language. He described the actions of God as they appeared to him. Moses’ prayer did not change God, but it did change the standing of the people in God’s sight – the people were now in a place of mercy, when before they were in a place of judgment.

My own thought on this particular episode is that God wanted Moses to soften his heart. After this pleading, Moses walks down the mountain and absolutely flips out when he sees the golden calf that the people–under Aaron’s leadership–have created. Since Moses’ character flaw was his temper, I think one of the elements in this story is that God actually conditioned Moses to have mercy before he saw just how wretched the human condition is.

19 Feb 2017

Dan Carlin’s “Hardcore History”

History 2 Comments

I’ve only started listening to my first episode, but I’m 3 hours in (sic) and it’s amazing. This episode–which is 5 hours long–is ostensibly on the Cuban Missile Crisis, but so far we’re just up to the Bay of Pigs. If you’re interested in politics and history I strongly recommend it. Even if you don’t like Carlin’s commentary, he reads tons of source quotes that makes it worth your time, especially if you’re like me and have huge road trips every month.

18 Feb 2017

Glenn Greenwald on Deep State vs. Trump

Big Brother 2 Comments

GG is perfect for this position. If someone like me says this, people assume it’s because I hate poor people or immigrants. But when GG says he is not defending Trump, but rather is pointing out the huge dangers of letting the CIA take over the government, I hope progressives listen. (Plus some of the #NeverTrump libertarians too, if I can dream.)

18 Feb 2017

Latest Lara-Murphy Show and Contra Krugman

Contra Krugman, Lara-Murphy Show 10 Comments

I can’t remember if I posted this already, but in ep. 34 of the LMS, we talk about the general economic prospects of a Trump Administration.

In ep. 73 of Contra Krugman, Tom and I talk about tariffs and the wall. A quick highlight reel:

7:15 I suggest the layout of the show: We first talk about tariffs on Mexican products, whether this would “pay for the wall,” and then the broader GOP tax reform plan (swapping a VAT for income tax).

8:50 Tom discusses the Rothbardian point that businesses can’t simply “pass on” a new tax to its customers. It’s more nuanced than that.

12:30 Along the same lines, I explain that yes, Trump fans are wrong for thinking “Mexico will pay for the wall” because of a tariff. However, Trump critics went too far the other way when they said, “Ha ha, a tax on Mexican imports would just raise prices for Americans.”

20:40 I make my civil libertarian point that a giant wall gives me the heebie jeebies. NOT because all Earthlings possess a “right to immigrate,” but because a necessary condition for a future US police state is a border barrier keeping people in.

25:00 I discuss the Feldstein/Krugman article and how it kinda sorta validates the Navarro/Ross position on income taxes versus VATs, and how the US is at a disadvantage.

18 Feb 2017

Contradictory Trump Criticisms

Trump 35 Comments

Trump could be a bad president even if the vast majority of his critics are often making silly arguments. So my present post should not be construed as me saying, “Why’s everyone so upset?”

However, lately I’ve noticed that a lot of the criticisms of Trump aren’t even internally consistent. What’s even weirder is that I see a lot of truly the same people making these pairs of claims. (Note that some of these aren’t literal contradictions, but I hope you see my point with them.)

1a. The Trump/Pence Carrier deal was bad because it would lead to rent-seeking, with every US firm pretending it was going to outsource to try to get the same treatment.
1b. The Trump/Pence Carrier deal was bad because now businesses would be cowering, afraid to let the president know they were considering outsourcing and thus receiving the scrutiny Carrier got.

2a. Trump is Hitler and we need to stop him now before he becomes too powerful.
2b. Trump is a complete buffoon who doesn’t know where the pantry is in the White House.

3a. Trump is establishing a totalitarian state. Look at how he’s outlawing the press.
3b. Trump is a jerk for picking a Secretary of Education who will get the federal government out of the schools.

4a. Trump is a fascist.
4b. Trump is picking people who will deregulate business.

5a. Trump is a madman who will start a war with his bellicose approach to China.
5b. Trump is selling out American interests by cutting backroom deals with the Chinese in exchange for their concessions on his business interests.

6a. Trump is a monster for supporting Israel over the Palestinians.
6b. Trump is an anti-Semite.

7a. Trump is Putin’s puppet.
7b. Trump will start WW3.