06 Dec 2009

Wise as a Serpent

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Jesus was the whole package, as they say, and this means that sometimes people latch on to only one or a few of his traits. For example, some people (especially well-meaning non-believers who are trying to be cordial) have this idea that Jesus was a really sweet guy, and it was too bad that those awful religious leaders plotted to have Him killed.

But that is unfair to both Jesus and those who plotted against Him. They didn’t have a guy crucified merely for going around healing people. No, He publicly denounced them many times.

The reason the “aww such a sweetie” stereotype is unfair to Jesus is that it makes it seem as if He was Forrest Gump getting picked on by the bullies. Not exactly. Check out this exchange where the people trained in the Scriptures try to trap Him and must flee from His counterattack:

 1 Now it happened on one of those days, as He taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him 2 and spoke to Him, saying, “Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?”
3 But He answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: 4 The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?”
5 And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 6 But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.” 7 So they answered that they did not know where it was from.
8 And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.” (Luke 20:1-8, New King James Version)

05 Dec 2009

The SEC Is On Me Now…

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…because Scott Sumner blew my scheme wide open. In the comments to this post someone asked Scott:

How do you square TIPS with Gold? Does gold have better marketing, or are the TIPS measure of CPI skewed, and large number of market players think Gold is a better predictor of inflation? Maybe gold is a better prediction of worldwide inflation, people worried that the solution of cooperative money printing will come about (I think Eichengreen had thsi idea in a Vox EU paper).

A commenter Doc Merlin responded, and then Scott answered:

Doc Merlin, Even if supply was the cause of the higher gold price, the numbers you provide would not be expected to impact gold prices. This is because efficient markets priced in the data you provided a long time ago. Prices move on new information. So it must be the recent articles I have been reading predicting a sharp drop-off in future gold production. Again, past data from 2008 would have no impact on 2009 gold prices.

My hunch is that it is a combination of fast rising Asian demand, some Westerners who have been reading Bob Murphy’s blog, and sharply falling expected supply.

Bold added, of course.

05 Dec 2009

Jon Stewart on the Afghan Surge

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Jon Stewart is awesome. He was good on Climategate, but I think this one is more important and funnier to boot (HT2LRC):

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Health Care Crisis

Make sure you watch the movie clips at the end.

05 Dec 2009


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* Bob Roddis takes us back to a more pleasant time, before Rothbard started dating Yoko Ono.

* When Edward Gonzalez (occasional guest writer here at Free Advice) said that he didn’t consider himself an anarchist, he wasn’t kidding!

* An intrepid critic tries to blow up my Climategate post with a medical analogy. Doesn’t he know I’m the three-time heavyweight champ of medical analogies from people who know nothing of medicine?

04 Dec 2009

Can You Stand It? More Climategate

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Joe Romm hosts a conference call featuring Michael Mann (of hockey stick fame), Gavin Schmidt (RealClimate), and Princeton’s Michael Oppenheimer. I am not allowing myself to listen to the audio, since I have backed-up work from my last-minute trip to DC to appear on a panel discussing renewables. (I will post the YouTube of that when it’s available. Joe Romm would not approve one bit.)

Anyway the transcript is not yet available (though the full audio is, at the link) so Romm just posted some of the highlights. Who knows if they started out with apologies, but from the quotes these guys are as confident as Dick Cheney discussing no WMD in Iraq.

Yet besides the “no regrets” attitude, what most interested me was this quote Romm highlighted from Oppenheimer:

“From my point of view, the most important issue is whether anything has been added to or subtracted from the scientific picture of global warming. The answer is simple. Nothing has changed. It remains true that the temperature has warmed over 1.2 degrees last centeury [sic]. It remains true, that the sea level has risen by about 2 inches over the last centuer [sic], and that’s enough to erode 60 feet around average beech [sic?]. It remains true that glaciers are warming. And it remains true that the ocean is more acidic than it used to be because of the build up of carbon dioxide.”

This is simply fascinating; it perfectly illustrates the mentality I was criticizing in my recent MasterResource post.

Suppose for the sake of argument that every last word of Richard Lindzen’s recent WSJ op ed were perfectly true. Even in that scenario, every word in Oppenheimer’s quote above could be equally true.

In other words, the “scientific picture of global warming” that Oppenheimer describes is perfectly consistent with the non-alarmist, governments-don’t-need-to-do-anything-yet-with-CO2 view of Lindzen. And yet Romm–and possibly Oppenheimer himself–is clearly quoting this to show that the case for aggressive government action is just as “solid” as it was two months ago.

Oppenheimer’s summary of what we know–and Romm’s endorsement of it–is classic bait-and-switch. They are making it sound as if the only way you can question the urgent need for strong agreement at Copenhagen, is if you doubt that the globe has warmed or that CO2 has increased.

04 Dec 2009

Murphy Twin Spin

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I think I’ve probably covered most of the points already on Free Advice, but maybe some of you have relatives or co-workers who will read an “official” argument and you want to forward either of the below.

* I criticize the Administration’s “stimulus” record on job creation in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution.

* My thoughts on Climategate. This post has everything: Discussions of Isaac Newton and Richard Feynman, and I throw Rush Limbaugh under the bus.

04 Dec 2009

Who Said It?

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There is no doubt that the world monetary and banking system is unsound, and would be unbelievably better off if governments returned these vital institutions to the free market. For their part, my…critics have always agreed that tariffs and other government barriers to trade are immoral and inefficient.

Thus we all agree on the theoretical economics and the value judgments. Our real disagreement, then, is empirical. Namely, is the current situation really perched on the edge of a precipice?

I believe the answer is no, and that’s why I predicted that (absent a terrorist attack) the dollar would strengthen against the euro in 2007, and that (despite the inverted yield curve) there would be no recession, as officially defined. In making such predictions, I am fully aware that I run the risk of mimicking Irving Fisher’s infamous statements immediately before the Crash in 1929. — February 15, 2007

04 Dec 2009

Yet Another Murphy Sermon

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In the comments at Mario Rizzo’s Mises.org guest blog on “Peace,” I wrote:


Thank you for the courageous post. Some might think that is an odd term to use, but it takes courage to say what 95% know is the right thing yet could be construed as “wimpy.”

I think what all of us–and I myself played a part in the recent unpleasantness–need to remember is it’s not simply a matter of personally refraining from using profanity. There is also the matter of provoking a heated debate that then leads other people to “go too far.”

So I challenge all of us (who agree with Mario) to not merely ask before firing off an email or especially a blog post, “Am I being a jerk here?” but to up the ante and ask, “Will my email lead to a response, which will lead to a response, which will then provoke someone else to be a jerk and start another battle?”