Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Perhaps the title of this post is a little harsh as the stupidity is not particularly profound. As a matter of fact, the stupidity that Think Progress displays in this Twitter posting from November 20th is completely common.

First off, this is what we’d call a fallacy of false dilemma. The idea that believing in hard work and individual merit and believing in inheritance rights are mutually exclusive is ridiculous on its face. But there’s a much greater ignorance at work here.

The support of hard work and individual merit is actually stems from a support of free markets, as those two principles are keys success in such an economic environment. The bedrock of the free market is property rights. The adoption of a 100% inheritance tax would, to any thinking person, be a fundamental violation of property rights, as it assumes that upon death ones property reverts to state ownership rather than as they might have chosen to divvy it up while they were alive.

Understood this way, rather than being an indication of cognitive dissonance as Think Progress suggests it is, the belief in hard work and merit actually precludes the belief in a 100% inheritance tax.

Note: Before someone else points it out; yes, I’m well aware that assuming Think Progress’s tweets are generated by something other than a rhesus monkey mashing a keyboard with his fists is dangerous.


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Today, The Blaze reported on an op-ed penned by former SEIU president Andy Stern. In it, Stern attacks the very mechanics of limited government. As The Blaze reported:

“American democracy has layers of power and responsibility, which James Madison rationalized in Federalist, no. 51 as a check against possible tyrannical rule,” Stern writes. “Our Founding Fathers saw fit to divide power between two strata — state and federal. Then, within the federal structure, they codified a trifurcation of power to ensure that no single branch came to dominate government; and while power has ebbed and flowed between branches, the system of checks and balances has provided stability, and kept tyrannical rule at bay.”

But today, he goes on to say, that system is just so, well, old:

Now, however, in the midst of the transformative change of globalization and this third economic revolution, those layers have become an impediment to making the changes necessary to keep America competitive in the world economy. Today, America crawls along at a snail’s pace. [Emphasis added]

This is, of course, boilerplate progressivism. The idea that society and government owe more to Darwin than to Newton, and therefore cannot be hampered by mechanical processes that might inhibit it’s ability to evolve organically, has been part of the progressive faith since some of it’s earliest writings. It has therefore been part of the progressive program for years to subvert and undermine any of these barriers, whether that means bypassing the legislature and having the Judiciary set laws, or having the legislature pass punitive judgements against classes of people (this is what they refer to as “social justice”. Notice “justice” is meted out by the law giving branch of government in the case of “social justice”.)

So why were the founders inspired to base the mechanics of our constitutional republic on the baron de Montesquieu’s tripartite system? Clearly because they weren’t as smart as Andy Stern. Or maybe Mr. Stern believes that in the time that intervened between when Montesquieu wrote about them in “On the Spirit of Laws”, all of the evils that made the enlightened thinkers averse to the concentration of power vanished. Or maybe the nature of men and power has changed. I mean look at the 20th century, clearly this recent history shows that men, entrusted with enough power, will refrain from trampling on rights and truncating individual liberties to the point of non-existence.

No, all but the first answer give Andy too much credit. It’s pretty clear that Andy thinks he and his buddies are the smartest, most enlightened, most progressive motherfuckers to ever walk God’s green earth.

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Opponents of healthcare are Nazis. Tea Partiers are Klan-like. Palin is Pontius Pilate. So the right wing kills Jewish people, Blacks, AND the Christian Messiah? This narrative is as far a stretch as Palin being responsible for the AZ shootings. I’d imagine that it’s as offensive as it is rediculous to most Christians. Obviously Steve Cohen has a real problem shooting his mouth off about his political opponents.

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As mentioned on today’s Wilkow Majority, now you too can own a piece of history! The Tee Shirt that marked the kickoff of the 2012 election!

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This is the same reason that I’m lukewarm on the Balanced Budget Amendment. I don’t think that the amendment would truly lead to a balanced budget, but creative accounting. Put up a barrier between politicians and billions of dollars and they’ll find or invent a way around it. This from the New York Times:

No one was more critical than Representative Mark Steven Kirk when President Obama and the Democratic majority in the Congress sought passage last year of a $787 billion spending bill intended to stimulate the economy. And during his campaign for the Illinois Senate seat once held by Mr. Obama, Mr. Kirk, a Republican, boasted of his vote against “Speaker Pelosi’s trillion-dollar stimulus plan.”

Though Mr. Kirk and other Republicans thundered against pork-barrel spending and lawmakers’ practice of designating money for special projects through earmarks, they have not shied from using a less-well-known process called lettermarking to try to direct money to projects in their home districts.

Mr. Kirk, for example, sent a letter to the Department of Education dated Sept. 10, 2009, asking it to release money “needed to support students and educational programs” in a local school district. The letter was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the group Citizens Against Government Waste, which shared it with The New York Times.

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Jack Cafferty currently has a post on his blog complaining about the tiny pay raise that the military will be receiving this year; 1.4% to be exact. While this is indeed a shame, the hyper-partisan Cafferty takes the opportunity to link this small increase to the extension of the current tax rate for wealthy Americans and business owners. The logic goes, if the government can pay out to the wealthiest Americans, why can’t it give the military a greater pay increase? To this, I have two things to say to Mr. Cafferty.

1. Ask yourself, why isn’t military pay on par with that of other federal employees? As the Washington Examiner reported:

Data compiled by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis reveals the extent of the pay gap between federal and private workers. As of 2008, the average federal salary was $119,982, compared with $59,909 for the average private sector employee. In other words, the average federal bureaucrat makes twice as much as the average working taxpayer. Add the value of benefits like health care and pensions, and the gap grows even bigger. The average federal employee’s benefits add $40,785 to his annual total compensation, whereas the average working taxpayer’s benefits increase his total compensation by only $9,881. In other words, federal workers are paid on average salaries that are twice as generous as those in the private sector, and they receive benefits that are four times greater.

So while those who put their lives on the line are neglected this year, federal pencil pushers and bureaucrats continue to live high on the hog. This is the true outrage, as government workers are clearly being paid over and above what the market would bear and are tying up valuable resources that could otherwise be used to increase the pay of soldiers.

The answer is simple Jack; the military has no SEIU or AFL-CIO constantly lobbying Washington or spending nights in the Lincoln bedroom in order to secure increased pay for its members.

2. Please stop pretending that maintaining the current tax rates for the wealthy, and thus not taking in the revenue raising them would otherwise have generated, is in any way effecting military pay. If you’ve been paying attention, it would be very apparent that government revenue has very little bearing on government expenditure. If it did, we wouldn’t have 1.3 trillion dollar budget deficit and a national debt nearing 14 trillion. To make the claim that the Federal government can’t find room for a higher pay raise for the military because they have failed to adequately adjust their revenue, especially in light of all of that borrowing and money printing they have no problem engaging in for other expenditures,  is the height of dishonesty.

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Originally published at Parcbench.com.

The comparison of economics and “global climatology” might at first glance seem odd, but it becomes less so when you consider that the study of complex systems will share certain features no matter what the individual field is. This comparison seems even timelier when you consider that we live in an age in which the economy and climate, we are told, are inextricably linked. Under careful scrutiny, the idea that “global climate” can be simplified and explained by a single relationship, between CO2 and temperature as it were, seems highly unlikely.

The study of economics is as old as civilization itself, starting with the first monetary systems in the ancient world. Economic thought evolved and took the shape we see today over several millennia of observation, trial and error. The cumulative results of all of these years of economic study have led to great leaps in the quality of human life. The development over time of the free price system for example led to more efficient distribution of scarce resources and rapid economic development in the western world.

But in addition to all of the wonderful advancements that came about as a result of the study of economics, it also gave rise to just as many crackpot, dead end theories. One such theory was postulated by a chronically indebted German writer named Marx, who proclaimed with scientific certainty that the era of free market capitalism would whither away under the weight of the workers will to claim the means of production. Of course, this would be followed in short order by the rise of the proletarian paradise and equitable distribution of goods and services.

What the heck was that guy thinking?

The study of the global climate on the other hand is still a study that’s in its infancy by comparison. The first climate model for example didn’t appear until the 1950’s, and even then the first global climate model didn’t take shape until the 1970’s.

To compound this, we need to address the incomplete nature of the data at our disposal for studying the global climate. We have little reliable data before the early 20th century, and almost none before the mid 19th century because few would have thought to collect it.

Consider also that the global climate is also not only a system that is more complex than any economy; it is arguably the most complex system on earth.

When we question the accuracy of the doomsayers though, we are told that computer models have predicted rising global temperatures, hurricanes, and various other conditions that could lead to the extinction of the human race. We are thought to be fools for not accepting that the apocalypse foretold by the machines is nearly upon us. We’re compared to those who question the holocaust and are labeled “deniers”.

But this reliance on computer models as the foundation of their argument is suspect to say the least; and here too economics has tread.

Shortly before his death in 1965 famed polish economist Oskar Lange published an article entitled The Computer and the Market. In it, the socialist Lange pronounces that the both government planning and the free market price system had become obsolete as a means of calculating the demands of the market. With the computer, Lange argued, the vacillations of the market could be predicted with a higher accuracy than any human institution could ever hope to.

We now realize that there isn’t a computer in existence that can predict the choices of millions of people participating in a market. Even computers that are infinitely faster than Lange could ever have envisioned in the 1960’s fail to do so. If such calculations were possible, Wall Street would never have a losing day.

This isn’t to say that computer models are useless in either field, as they are successfully employed every day in both. What is apparent though is that even the most powerful computer is limited in its output by the limitations of individuals who are responsible for its input.

Anyone who is familiar with the study of complex systems understands that the relationships found within those systems are rarely simple. Yet day after day, we are being bombarded with news stories that attribute nearly every naturally occurring phenomenon to a singular relationship between temperature and a trace gas in the atmosphere. In time though, it is likely that most rational people will say the same thing about Gore as they do about Marx.

What the heck was that guy thinking?

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