13 Oct 2009

More Free Advice

All Posts No Comments

Yes I have a bunch of work to do, which is why I’m reading mass emails that my friends send me. Notwithstanding the below video, my advice to you is this: When a lioness is going to feed her newborn cubs, get the frick outta there.

13 Oct 2009

Potpourri

All Posts, Potpourri No Comments

I’m still way behind on my “real work” so blogging will be sparse this week… But here are some links:

* Gold keeps chugging.

* Speaking of gold prices, Robert Wenzel reproduces a great speech by GATA’s Chris Powell. Powell’s tone is great; he acknowledges that people think GATA is a bunch of black-helicopter kooks, and documents the government sources for all of their breaking stories. Basically, if you are willing to read what is (now) publicly available, the US government frankly admits that it has arrangements with other central banks to suppress gold prices.

* Ralph Raico passes along this story about a daughter rescuing her mother from a death panel in the UK. This isn’t taken from Glenn Beck’s nightmare; this is real news.

* David R. Henderson talks about Williamson’s Nobel in the WSJ. OK, why the heck do all of my colleagues get op eds in the WSJ but not me? Does it have to do with expertise and credibility–two things that are highly overrated in our culture? If someone wins a Nobel for sarcastic Irish blog posts, I had darn well better get my digs in.

13 Oct 2009

Glenn Greenwald Defends Republicans

All Posts No Comments

GG is awesome. After Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, and of course conservative pundits rolled their eyes, some Democratic honchos actually accused the critics of “siding with the Taliban” etc. (Naturally enough, the Taliban and others who are being targeted with Darth death drones don’t want to give Barack a high-five on his pacifism.) So here’s GG:

If George W. Bush had won the Nobel Peace Prize as [Joe] Klein suggested he might deserve [in 2005], would it have been the solemn obligation of every American — including liberals — to stand up and cheer, to hold a “national celebration,” to congratulate and express support, happiness and patriotic pride? Or would it have been appropriate even for Americans to make arguments about why that Prize was wrongly awarded? If Bush had won, surely the Taliban and Hamas would have objected, just like they did yesterday with Obama. Would Bush critics have been guilty of “casting their lot with the terrorists” if they echoed those objections? Karl Rove and Fox News would have done so, but would Media Matters have condemned liberals who questioned Bush’s Nobel Peace Prize as “unseemly and downright unpatriotic.” Please.

The difference between 2003 and now, of course, is that Democrats are in power and thus benefit from the rule that it’s unpatriotic and Terrorist-embracing to do anything but praise the President like some sort of college cheerleader. But that isn’t always going to be true. And there are many times when it is progressives who are making arguments similar to The Terrorists and Other Bad People; after all, there are only so many sides of an issue, and that is inevitable. Calling people unpatriotic and comparing them to Terrorists for failing to fulfill their solemn duty to praise the President on his Special Day and mindlessly support his accolades isn’t clever or tough politics. It’s weak, counter-productive, unprincipled, dumb and dangerous.

13 Oct 2009

Hope We Can Believe In?

All Posts No Comments

The first sentence of a CNBC article: “Bank failures are going to continue at a fairly strong rate but taxpayers hopefully won’t be asked to foot the bill, FDIC Chair Sheila Bair told CNBC.”

12 Oct 2009

Free Advice

All Posts No Comments

Sometimes on this blog I literally give you free advice. Today’s bit of wisdom: Just because you turn off the switch for your garbage disposal, doesn’t mean the blades stop turning. I didn’t draw blood or anything, but I wish I’d paid more attention to the rotational inertia lecture in my high school physics class.

12 Oct 2009

Scary CBO Chart

All Posts No Comments

You know those CBO projections getting bounced around, saying the debt as a share of GDP is supposed to double in the next ten years? Well, things don’t exactly turn around after that. (That’s one of the reasons that Krugman’s “Why worry?” posts on the deficit projections are misleading. He does show that it wasn’t simply a cut in WW2 expenditures that allowed that figure to fall, but right now Medicare etc. are runaway trains. The economy isn’t going to simply outgrow them, unless Ron Paul becomes president in any event.) Here is the CBO’s long-term budget outlook, as of June:

Here’s the CBO’s explanation of the two different scenarios:

The figure on the cover shows federal debt held by the public under the Congressional Budget Office’s alternative fiscal scenario and its extended-baseline scenario. The former incorporates some changes in policy that are widely expected to occur and that policymakers have regularly made in the past; the latter adheres closely to current law, following the agency’s baseline budget projections for the first 10 years and then extending the baseline concept for the rest of the projection period.

And keep in mind that government forecasts typically underestimate how much tax hikes and other interventions will kill revenue collection. If I’m right, and the economy has not yet begun to recess, then I don’t even want to think about how high the dotted line should be…

That’s why Obama is going to legalize–and tax the heck out of–marijuana.

UPDATE: Sorry, the above is ambiguous. (The CBO description on the inside is better, and I didn’t realize pasting in the explanation for the front cover wasn’t as clear.) The line referring to the Obama administration’s plans is the top (scary) line! To see this, look at the forecast for 2019. The top line is the one hitting 80% or so; that’s the number the press is reporting, when they say, “CBO says Obama will double debt in a decade.” The bottom line means, if Congress does nothing ever again, and let’s stuff run on autopilot. So that means no health care (which adds trillions in expenditures over a few decades), no cap and trade (which CBO says will shave off GDP growth), expiration of Alternative Minimum Tax exemptions on the middle class, expiration of Bush tax cuts, etc. Note that this is my quick explanation, and I leave open the possibility that I am wrong about the different things going into the assumptions. But I’m pretty sure that if you ask, “Where is the Obama administration taking us?” then the CBO points you to the bigger debt line.

12 Oct 2009

"A Cherry-Picker’s Guide to Temperature Trends"

All Posts No Comments

Assuming his numbers are right, Chip Knappenberger has posted the single best piece summarizing the recent global temperature trends that I have ever read. It really is a tour de force.

Chip takes on both sides, accusing a RealClimate guy and Richard Lindzen of cherry picking to bolster their claims. Here’s Chip’s overall message:

What I can say for certain, is that the recent behavior of global temperatures demonstrates that global warming is occurring at a much slower rate than that projected by the ensemble of climate models, and that global warming is most definitely not accelerating.

If you are at all interested in the climate change debate, you need to read Chip’s post.

12 Oct 2009

Airport Lounges

All Posts No Comments

I am blogging from an Admirals’ Club in the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. (I’m actually writing the post late Sunday night, but I’m delaying it so as not to detract from the main Sunday post.) I have two items:

First, if you travel a lot but are too much of a cheapskate to sign up for access to these things, I strongly encourage you to take the plunge. I actually get access as one of the perks from my AmEx business card. But oh man, when you have a canceled flight or–like me tonight–you take a much later flight thanks to one of Milton Friedman’s* good ideas, then it is heavenly to be able to hang out in these lounges as opposed to the main airport, amidst the riffraff. You don’t have to be as paranoid about someone stealing your stuff, the restrooms are not as big germ factories, you don’t have CNN blaring into your skull, there are nice workstations, and you even can get free liquor!

Second: For those who are amongst the elite and frequent these lounges, let me ask you something: Have you ever snuck into the Children’s Lounge to play the Dora the Explorer computer game? I’m not saying I want to do it or anything, I just like to stay on top of things. So is it fun? I mean, maybe my kid will be traveling with me one day. That’s why I ask, really.

* Actually, Google informs me that it was Julian Simon who was the workhorse on voluntary seat auctions for overbooked flights–not Friemdan. Didn’t a bunch of you, dear readers, think it was Friedman who invented the idea? I guess he coasted after withholding and the negative income tax?