Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Deadweight Cost of Teenagers

I've written before that I think teenagers are one of God's top three worst ideas. My wife argues that teenagers aren't one of God's ideas at all, but a creation of society. It used to be you were a kid until you were an adult. Now you're a kid until your parents die (and unfortunately for our national finances, the Baby Boomers just aren't dying like we need them to).

If teenagers are a social fiction, then we can do away with them. Why would we want to? Well, let's begin by addressing the costs they impose on others. A class of non-productive people in constant need of new entertainment is a massive resource drain. Entertainment serves a purpose if it allows a productive person to relax and thereby be more productive with the rest of his time. Relaxing to get ready for more relaxing doesn't produce a damn thing.

Much of what teenagers do for "entertainment" is destructive. Here's a story about a really pretty* girl with big ears who was mercilessly bullied by her peers. Now, it's true that if she could have stuck it out to college, she would have been just fine. No one was going to bully her anymore (assuming she didn't go to a community college, which is just an extension of high school), she would learn how to accentuate her positives, and she would have ended up happy and fulfilled. And if her peers were distracted from her ears by bearing actual cares of the world, she would have made it. But since everyone around her has every day off until they are 18, they had plenty of time to find something different about her and exploit it for "entertainment." And depending on the bullies' intensity and the girl's sensitivity, she maybe wouldn't have lived that long.

Why is there no cost-benefit analysis of prolonged childhood? Surely things like this would go on the "cost" side of the ledger. And where are the benefits? Are modern adults happier than their parents' generation? No. Is labor productivity higher? No. Are educational outcomes higher? No. I don't see any benefits from the modern teenager, but this girl's story highlights many of the costs.

* You might disagree with my assessment that she's really pretty in the "before" picture, but it's fairly obvious her "before" picture isn't her most flattering. She's beautiful in the CNN picture, and that's a result of just hair, makeup, and clothes, not her ears. Superficial things can't make you beautiful, they can just highlight the beauty that's already there.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Institutions and Culture

Mitt Romney dared attribute disparate outcomes between ethnic groups to something other than racism. Let the hyperventilating begin!

Specifically, Romney was talking about the relative wealth of Israel and the absolute poverty of Palestine. He cited Guns, Germs, and Steel and The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, meaning he did the required reading for my first semester macro class (well, that and Romer's Advanced Macroeconomics, but I'm just talking about the reading I actually read). He points out that, when the land's the same, it's got to be the culture that's to blame.

"Not so fast!" claim the overexercised. "Acemoglu and Robinson say it's institutions that are to blame!"

Are not institutions a result of culture? If you have a culture of corruption, you have corrupt institutions. If you have a culture of transparency, you have transparent institutions.

The different outcomes seen in Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora, are seen as proof that culture's not to blame. To which I ask, why can't American Hispanics have a very different culture from Mexican Hispanics? The Nogales/Nogales example is tacitly saying of two different groups of Hispanics, "You guys are pretty much all the same to me." That seems much more racist than suggesting, as I take Romney's criticism to say, "When you glorify violence and victimization, you get violent victims. If you want productivity, you start by being productive."

The Female Future

When will we stop hearing about the glass ceiling over women? Undergraduate education is now predominantly the education of women. Graduate school is now just about as heavily skewed, with even doctoral degrees going to women more often than men.

A man in his early 20s is more likely to be in a weening process from his parents' finances than a woman of the same age. As a result, expensive things (such as college degrees) are more-easily obtained by women than men, and with education being a large factor of success, we are transitioning into a world where women are management while men are labor.

I know some people are going to say, "Oh, I can't believe a man is complaining about women getting all the breaks!" I'm not complaining, I'm merely observing. At what point do we re-evaluate our dominant tropes driving public policy? (The history of farm subsidies tends to provide the answer of "never.") Might we end up in a situation where successful women are being aided by anti-discrimination programs that have more-than-corrected for whatever problems used to exist?

Anti-Journalism Stunt Journalism

So there's a new book entitled Trust Me, I'm Lying that's supposed to be an "exposé" of corrupt journalism practices. It might show that, but not as much as it pretends. Because when you lie about something that can't be verified, you can't point the finger of blame at me for believing you.

Here's what I mean: once I went to a ward activity (first mistake) for my BYU student ward (second mistake). I met a guy with the thickest Southern accent I've ever heard. I asked him where he was from, and he said, "I'm from Idaho." I said, "Oh, really?" He laughed derisively and said, "No, not really!" like I was an idiot to think something he told me was true was, in fact, true.

In many cases written up in the news articles about this book, that's just what the author, Ryan Holiday, has done. He supposedly showed the corrupt underbelly of modern journalism by lying about his insomnia. Now, what is the journalist supposed to do? Call Holiday's doctor? Ask for references? If Holiday tells the journalist, "Thirty percent of Americans have insomnia," then yeah, the journalist should totally check that crap out before reprinting it. But when he says, "I have insomnia," and then later says, "Ha ha, I totally don't, jackass!," that's not an exposé, that's being a dick.

According to Forbes, the "capstone" of his douchebaggery came when he lied to the New York Times about collecting vinyl records. Was the reporter supposed to demand inspection of the collection? Ask to talk to Holiday's friends? How can someone "fact check" what Holiday says he hears?

I haven't read the book and I don't intend to; I've got too many other things I'm supposed to read. But when I read people like Tyler Cowen give this book positive reviews, I want to point out that Holiday didn't expose anything but his own desire for easy celebrity. It does not appear he lied about anything that can be actually checked, such as being at an event. That would be newsworthy. Instead he lied about things that have to be taken on trust, and then blamed others that they thought he was trustworthy.

Holiday says he did it to "help change and improve journalism." You'll forgive me if I don't believe your justification, Ryan. See, you've shown nothing you say is believable, and the presence of your book deal makes your crusade appear slightly less altruistic. To paraphrase the Upton Sinclair quote Holiday uses, it's difficult to believe a man wants to end a problem when his salary depends on his not ending it.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Crazy Pills of Olympic Proportions

Why do I seem to be the only person on Earth who sees a connection between these two news stories?

Greece spent €7 billion on 2004 Olympics construction.

Greece is bankrupt.

So much for the golden goose of public works, eh?

Yes, you can find news stories that use the Athens experience as a cautionary tale for London, but not enough. Everybody on the planet should see the stupidity of the modern Olympic model. We should be back where we were in the 1970s, when nobody wanted the stupid things. "What?! How can you be anti-Olympics?!" I'm not; I love the Olympics, but I hate what the IOC has done to them. They are bloated extravaganzas that enrich the IOC at the expense of the "winning" bid country's taxpayers. When a fully-industrialized nation decides to waste real resources on velodromes, I guess that's their business; I also believe a fully-informed adult should be allowed to do drugs. But awarding the games to China and Brazil is unconscionable; literally billions of people could have been helped by the wasted money behind unproductive venues and overblown ceremonies. The IOC is telling the Brazilian poor, "Why don't you suffer in poverty some more so you can throw us a swingin' party?"

Is a stadium built today unusable in four years' time? (Ignore reports of the Bird's Nest being unusable for Chinese Super League matches.) Why do we need a new new stadium every four years? A rotation among three permanent Olympic sites (one each in North America, Europe, and eastern Asia) would be far more sensible than this traveling roadshow of poverty.

Sensible doesn't mean popular, though. Already there are a number of poor counties clamoring for the opportunity to spend money they don't have for people who won't lift a finger to help when the bill comes due.

The Gold Medal in Anti-Semitism

We couldn't have a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes killed in 1972, but we had two moments of silence for generic reasons that meant nothing at all. One was for victims of war, and the other was just for whomever happens to be dead.

Why did these two constituencies make the cut? Because no one in particular can be blamed for those deaths. When we pause to remember the dead of World War I, does anyone really get mad at Germany anymore? Everyone responsible is dead now. Germans aren't still agitating in the streets for more subjugation of the French. (They're too busy subjugating the Greeks. I keed, I keed!) But everybody knows who killed the Israelis, and who wishes it would happen again and again. And commemorating those deaths would be too much like saying they shouldn't have happened. And in the modern Olympic model, the lost revenue could never be replaced. Yeah, maybe the same can be said of lost human beings, but human beings never gave aristocratic parasites the chateaux and luxury cars that are due each member of the IOC.

The IOC probably thinks a moment of silence for the murdered Israelis would be politicizing the Olympics, indicating they are too stupid to see the murders already did that, and refusing to honor murder victims and perhaps--gasp!--offend the murderers and their comrades is politicizing the Olympics all over again.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Trend Setter

One day in junior high, shortly after Halloween, I was bored in English class with a package of Smarties. Intent on making their consumption as distracting as possible, I decided to crush them and eat them by licking my finger and sticking it in the pile of dust, like Fun Dip. My friend noticed that white Smarties looked like cocaine when crushed into a powder (at least, what he imagined cocaine to look like; we weren't especially gangsta in our junior high). When class wound down, I left a few lines on a desk for the next class to get a laugh. And that was how I got suspended for three days.

This story doesn't come up all that often these days, but it's coming up now because I just became aware of this news story: kids in Alabama are totally ripping off my idea. Although I was smart enough to not actually snort the crap. But idiots or not, they owe me royalties.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Geopolitical Similarities

Our kids have been learning states and capitals. Then today we looked at a slide show of Kim Jong-un at an amusement park. Articulate Joe asked, "Are North Korea and South Korea like North Dakota and South Dakota?" My wife and I answered simultaneously; she said, "Yeah, if North Dakota was at war with South Dakota," and I said, "Yeah, if North Dakota wanted to kill you."

Two Things I've Been Wrong About

I've written before about how an astute reader should interpret a long stretch of blog inactivity. I mention this here just as an explanation for my relative silence over the past week or so.

Often the public rushes to condemn some person involved in a news story, and when that happens I usually think the condemned is getting short shrift. Once more information is in, however, sometimes the public's initial condemnation appears justified.

When the Penn State abuse scandal broke, a lot of people criticized Joe Paterno's lack of reaction. I defended him, on the grounds that he seemed to have no first-hand knowledge and he passed along the report to his supervisors (yes, shockingly college football head coaches still have supervisors (nominally, anyway)). When that was all we knew, it seemed JoePa should have been left out of the attacks.

Now it seems Paterno recommended keeping the story under wraps, preventing a proper investigation from taking place. In this case, I think it is right to criticize Paterno. Vacating his victories back to Sandusky's first abuse, well before Paterno's first knowledge, is pointless and vindictive, though. I gather the reason to vacate victories is to say, "Had we known back when this first happened, you would have been fired then." So we're saying Paterno would have been fired in 1998 when Sandusky abused a kid? It would have been a shocking revelation to Paterno back then. Vacate back to the beginning of his inaction/cover-up, fine, but going beyond that is just mob justice. (In the words of Seymour Skinner, "Ah, there's no justice like mob justice!" I disagree.)

Another thing everyone freaked out about that it now seems they were right to freak out about is Octomom. (I don't remember her real name, and I don't feel like looking it up right now. Besides, if I'd used her real name, you all would've been, like, "Who?" and had to Google her and then been, like, "Oh, Octomom." So I just saved you some time and threw one small wrench in the works of Google's global domination. You're welcome.)

At first everyone was all, "This lady is terrible," and I was all, "No, she just likes kids." An element of her condemnation seemed anti-natalist to me, and I can't stand anti-natalism (as witnessed by the impending birth of our fourth child). I didn't want to carry any anti-natalist water, so I didn't condemn Octomom.

Now it appears she needs condemnation. Although I still can't decide if her attention-whoring is the cause or a symptom of her hyper-natalism. Having a lot of kids because you need attention is different from needing attention because you have a lot of kids. But either way, her "I won't do nudity or porn/I'll do nudity but not porn/I'll do nudity and porn" progression, all in a matter of weeks, it seems, is tiresome. Part of me still has reservations, though; this quick progression could just be a sign of how bad her finances are. Yes, her crushing need for cash is mostly the result of her decision to have a jillion kids (like mine could be the result of having four), but her need to have a lot of kids might be more a mental health issue, and it seems poor form to condemn a lady for having a brain problem. So I guess I'm willing to grant others their condemnation of Octomom, but I'm still not willing to go there yet, myself.

Why don't I invite comments on what other things you think I'm way off-base about? That should be fun. If anything, I'll have a lot of material to respond to in future blog posts.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bring on the Foreign Overlords

There's something refreshing about the mounting evidence that the president's birth certificate is a (rather crude) forgery: the floodgates are now open to anyone around the world who wants to be an American president. All they need is a Hawaiian birth certificate (which you can get without proof you were born in Hawaii), and they're in.

Allow me to make the first nomination: Hugh Hendry. He's a Scottish financial guy, but my affinity for Scottish financial guys (Adam Smith and David Hume, for example) is not the reason for the nomination. It is this quote of Hendry's.

We have reached a profound point in economic history where the truth is unpalatable to the political class – and that truth is that the scale and magnitude of the problem is larger than their ability to respond – and it terrifies them.
"The truth is unpalatable to the political class"--profoundly true. When the response to excessive government debt is more government debt, leaders are putting their fingers in their ears and wishing their false understanding of economics would come true.

Of course, not every foreigner is up to faking American citizenship. (You have to spend two (?) years at Columbia to learn that.) So our next task is finding Americans who will say these truths, and hoping a majority of voting Americans will support them. Now who's wishing his false understanding will come true?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Shady Captchas

Lately captchas have taken a weird turn. It used to be I was reading squiggly text, which made me think I was enhancing book digitization without getting paid. That's fine, I'm cool with book digitization. But the last couple captchas I've had to fill out had a picture component to them. Am I now volunteering to do surveillance work? This is starting to get a little creepy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lamentation Literature

A new Lamentation Literature is born. Here is the standard scenario: "I am a young, hard-working Latter-day Saint; six months ago I was well on the way to financial independence, following the admonitions of my elders. Today I am broke, and my children lack necessities. What went wrong?"

Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, p. 341

Growing up I imbibed the prevailing LDS attitude towards such losers: something must be wrong with you mentally or spiritually if you aren't living in a nice house and driving three nice cars. But now that I am such a loser, I have come to see the shortcomings of the ideology. However, comma, nobody else has, and now they all just continue to think their put-downs about me.

Against the Rules

George Lopez had a profanity-laced show on HBO over the weekend that included jokes about Mitt Romney. Of the jokes I've read in news stories, this is my favorite:

His father, his grandfather went to Mexico to create a Mormon colony. That don’t sit good with Mexicans when you want six wives to get twelve kids. F–king Latinos can have one wife and get twelve kids. Don’t f–king cheat.
I love the idea of polygamy being cheating in the race to 12 kids.

More Poor Sentence Construction

You know the end of About a Boy (a movie we used to watch about once a month, but which we've recently cut down to just once a quarter) when Will goes to talk to Marcus's mother and ends up saying in front of a S.P.A.T. meeting, "Please don't try and commit suicide again"?

What the hell is that even supposed to mean?

This is another example of why you should say "try to" instead of "try and." By using a conjunction between two verbs, Will is saying there are two things she shouldn't do again: 1. she shouldn't try again, and 2. she shouldn't commit suicide again. Because, you know, one tragedy's hard enough to deal with. It wouldn't be fair to Marcus if his mum was offing herself every couple weeks.

"Where At Least I Know I'm Free," Part 2

Debtor's prison is making a comeback in the U.S. Cash-strapped jurisdictions are billing for all kinds of "services" (including arrest and prosecution) they used to provide for free, and failure to pay the bill is a crime. ("Mr. Simpson please! Disparaging the boot is a bootable offense!") You can even be billed after you're exonerated.

And what's more, when you get sent to prison for not paying for your exoneration, you can be treated inhumanely, too.

Prison reform doesn't usually get much sympathy, because most people hear about the bad conditions in prison and think, "Serves 'em right!" Or we want bad prisons as a deterrent, so people say, "Prison is too appealing for me to try very hard to avoid it." But I'm reminded of the saying about judging someone's character by seeing how he treats those who can do nothing for him in return. By that criterion, the American character is severely depraved.

The Future of Healthcare

An interesting point from a blog I read:

This reasoning suggests that the penalty for failure to carry health insurance can count as a tax for constitutional purposes only if it is kept so small as to be ineffective. Justice Roberts has thus transformed what was effectively a “bug” in the ACA into a “feature” of the statute — one that is required for the Act to constitute a valid exercise of congressional power. He has damned the ACA in the process of saving it.
Lots of conservatives made the point in 2010 that the system created by the law is unsustainable, and the Roberts argument in favor of constitutionality requires it to remain unsustainable. So those who argue that Republicans are "wasting time" trying to repeal the bill are wrong; the bill will have to be repealed. Unfortunately, I disagree with Thom Lambert that this was a "bug" in the bill. He writes that these requirements now make it possible to completely replace private insurance when the ACA fails. I'd say it was written this way for that very reason. Single-payer wasn't going to pass Congress, so what we got instead was a house of cards that will require single-payer to solve its problems. This was a major reason that the most transparent administration in history told us we had to pass the bill to see what was in it; because even a cursory reading (can a reading of 2,000 be anything but cursory?) shows the law to be the pile of puke that it is.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Loudly Declaring Our Stupidity

I have a feature in my Firefox browser called "Pocket." It used to be called "Read It Later" because, well, it allows you to read stuff later. It puts a button in your browser's address bar, and when you click on it, the address gets stored for you to come back to later. It's a short-term bookmark.

Or at least the designers probably intended it to be a short-term bookmark. In my case, it's a very long-term bookmark. That's how today I got around to reading a Forbes article from just over a year ago about the statements policies make about our society.

Carden's point is that price controls are intended to make the statement "we're a society that cares about the working poor" or something like that, but what they really say is "we're a society that doesn't understand economics." Because when the unintended consequences of a policy can be easily foreseen, then just how "unintended" can they really be?

In the year since Carden wrote, there have been plenty of other examples. The cautionary tale of Europe is being studiously ignored by nearly all Americans. "What do you mean we can't have things we can't afford? Somebody get this bozo out of here; he's harshing our buzz." (Yes, in my mind, the collective voice of America uses terms like "bozo" and "harshing our buzz." Maybe we're all 70s disco freaks or something.)

The other night I did a little Wikipedia research on African political developments. I wanted to check for anything new in places like Somaliland, Western Sahara, and South Sudan. I browsed about 20 pages or so, and I found out that Somaliland and Puntland are engaged in a sporadic armed conflict (even though they both want autonomy from Somalia to limit the negative consequences of continual violence), and "South Sudan is at war with at least seven armed groups in 9 of its 10 states...." This despite its status among the absolute poorest of nations. As if they aren't spending enough money fighting wars, South Sudan is also building a capital city.

I can't blame these African leaders. After all, they've been hearing for 80 years how war and monument-building are roads to prosperity. They aren't, incidentally, but--oh!--that's one of those statements only a bozo would make! Let's just bury jars of money in the sand and watch the prosperity roll in!

The largest statement about society being made by current policy is how stupid we all are. Nobody thinks to ask critical questions anymore. Obama is going to give you health insurance for life and nobody asks, "How?" Oh, well, by bending the, um, something-or-other; listen, do you want the free stuff or not? And we keep clamoring for more free stuff, revealing just how stupid we all are.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Someone to Watch Over Me

A few weeks ago there was some talk regarding this article about terrible children and the terrible parents who raised them. In it, Elizabeth Kolbert writes

So little is expected of kids that even adolescents may not know how to operate the many labor-saving devices their homes are filled with. Their incompetence begets exasperation, which results in still less being asked of them (which leaves them more time for video games).
But there's no reason to limit this discussion to only children (other than Kolbert's requirements to not turn in 500,000 words). American adults want in on the helpless act, too.

Witness the new guide published by the Centers for Disease Control entitled "Planning for the Big Day! Wedding Health and Safety Tips." Yes, people managed to get married without spreading diseases from about 5,000,000 BC up to earlier this year, but now the government is going to step in. And not a millennium too soon! Who knows how many diseases weren't being controlled at weddings these days?! (I once attended a reception at a very shady-looking Elks Lodge. Maybe that's where I got my case of rickets.)

Most Americans can't conceive of their lives without a government agency to "help" them live it. How do I get a job without a government case worker? How do I buy food without food stamps? How do I buy a house without Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? How do I get health insurance without President Obama? How do I make sure my TV doesn't stop working without a voucher to buy a converter box? How do I educate my children without a public school? How do I attend college without state schools and government loans? In the complex modern world, how do I survive without someone to watch over me?

Time was, the watching figure was God. Now it's government. Is it any wonder the president has a Messianic complex when he single-handedly manages the salvation of over 300 million people? Who needs God when you have the dictator covering your every need, including how to get through your wedding day without getting sick?

"Where At Least I Know I'm Free"

Hidden in highway funding laws are definitions of tobacco companies that will force the closure of legal small businesses.

Unilateral declaration is so much easier than legislation, says the Obama administration. "Way ahead of you," says Lucius C. Sulla.

Here's the thing about the president: he doesn't blink. Anyone who tries to stare him down will lose, because he will raise the stakes as high as it takes. And the stakes don't get much higher than the Constitutional crisis it would create should he be impeached and refuse to leave office.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sam Cooke Had a Word of Wisdom Problem

Whenever I'm hungry

I tell her fix me something to eat.

Ah, she rushes in the kitchen and fixes me a dinner

With seven different kinds of meat.

The True Cost of Information

If everyone is rational, why does everyone else make such stupid decisions?

It must be that, because they are closer to their own decisions, they have more information than I have when I'm over here judging them. And not just any information, but information that makes the difference between me seeing their choice as wise or foolish. This is probably the most-pertinent information, and it must be the least-obvious information, as well.

This is bad news for my own decision making. It means that I can't just cut off my information-gathering at an arbitrary point, because the pertinent information may still be outside my grasp. As for rules-of-thumb, their usefulness might be enhanced by this view (why do a lot of intensive information gathering when I can just use the heuristic?) or diminished (decisions are too important to rely on a rhyming couplet devised by someone who maybe didn't gather all the information first).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gold

Joseph Smith was commanded to see the gold plates as plates, not as gold (JS-H 1:46). When he couldn't do that, he was placed on four years of probation (Hinckley, Truth Restored, p. 12).

How would I react? Probably the same way. And some of that might be the result of spending my life talking about the "gold" plates. Interestingly, nowhere in the Book of Mormon are the plates referred to that way. Nephi says he makes plates of ore without specifying which ore.

Maybe we should limit our focus on their gold content, which would require a new name for them. Given that they are a collection of three* different sets of plates, no one name jumps to mind. Perhaps the Plates of Moroni, since he compiled them all? In any case, a name besides "the golden plates" might be useful.

*: based on my reading of Morm. 8:5. Moroni goes from not having room on the plates to repeat a simple point Mormon previously made, and not having ore to produce new plates, to writing the entire sealed portion of the plates (Ether 4:4-5), which is said to be about 2/3 of the entire volume (JD 3:347). It seems reasonable that Mormon handed Moroni nearly-full plates, and that later, once Moroni managed to shake the 5-0, as it were, he found ore and made many more additional plates. This would mean somewhere around 70% of the total project was the work of Moroni.

A Kid's Perspective

There's a scene in the abysmally-named movie The Pursuit of Happyness where Will Smith's character is explaining to his son why they aren't going to sleep in the subway bathroom anymore, even though he had previously done his best to make it sound like an appealing place to live. He says something like, "You know how something is fun the first time you do it, but not so much after that?" and his son responds, "You mean like riding the bus?"

Our car is very nearly dead. Yesterday we got to ride our bikes to the library (and wait out an hour-long rainstorm before riding back). This morning my oldest son, Articulate Joe, and I had to ride our bikes to mow a friend's lawn. Articulate Joe said, "This is fun; it's like we're in China, using our bikes to get everywhere!"

Yea, it's fun to live like the developing world! We'll see how long he maintains that perspective.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Team-Building Exercise '99!

A few days ago, I had a revelation: team-building exercises are even stupider than we all thought. You see, they build commeraderie between current team-members, but do they actually change anything you take with you to your next interaction? I don't believe so, or else they wouldn't have to be redone every time a team had a new composition. Wouldn't the time and effort be better spent on something that produces a lasting change? Teach me how to get along with others in general, not with my current team-members in particular.

Title from Business Time by Flight of the Conchords.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

He'll Change His Tune in Fewer Than Five Years

Articulate Joe: Are breasts the things that babies eat at?

A Random Stranger: Yeah.

AJ: Blagh! They're gross! I don't like breasts.

Voluntary Inequality

A few days ago, I read this point from Hugh Nibley.

Brigham Young also noted, however, that if the wealth were equally distributed one fine day, it would not be long before it would be as unequal as ever, the lion's share going to the most dedicated and competent seekers for it (Nibley, Approaching Zion, 243).
I don't think I've ever thought before just how intrusive non-voluntary equality would be. It wouldn't just redistribute income once, but it would have to restrict all behavior to prohibit the return of inequality. (Unless, of course, we respected the rights of the individual to determine on his own when he is willing to trade wealth for comfort or security, but fat chance of that).

The redistributionist utopia would last only momentarily, until the very first person bought productive resources and created wealth for himself. All statist social engineering projects, from Social Security to the Affordable Care Act to the progressive income tax, are in the name of an ideal that, even when realized, will immediately disappear. That's quite the modest pay-off.

The only lasting way to remove inequality is to remove the desire for it. When I love my fellow man as I love myself, I will value his welfare as much as my own. Forcing us to have equal welfare is the fool's solution to the problem.

Monday, July 02, 2012

America: Not Much to Get Worked Up About

Am I the only person who can't get into the Fourth of July this year? Just what am I suppose to be celebrating? I recently had to sing "America the Beautiful" and "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and those songs are meaningless to me now. Well, not quite meaningless: they now represent what Americans no longer have. They are elegies, depressing reminders of what used to be. But with no restriction on Congress's ability to destroy all who don't comply with its wishes, it's a blatant lie to sing of a "land of liberty."

What a Difference an S Makes

We were caught up in the middle of a worn-out dream

I knew we were in trouble, but baby I almost screamed

When I saw you dancing on the moon now

I watched him spin you round and round

Brandon Flowers, "Jilted Lovers & Broken Hearts"