Friday, April 1, 2011

Capitalism Versus Statism: Don't Shoot the Vendor, Even If It's "Snooki"

Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi is apparently laughing all the way to the bank today. The "Jersey Shore" television program's most famous character has (unless this is an April Fools' Day prank) snagged a $32,000 fee to speak at Rutgers University. That is $2,000 more than a Nobel Prize winning author received to speak at Rutgers and $12,000 more than Niall Fergusson normally commands. From what I have seen, a lot of the backlash is directed at Polizzi herself. You have to really ask why. Yes, she does not come across as that bright. She also spends a lot of time just drinking, dancing, having sex, and obambulating (wandering around aimlessly.) But lets' look at it this was. She is selling a commodity, herself. Polizzi did not hold a gun to the head of Rutgers, she gave them a price and they agreed to pay it. What's wrong with getting what you can, while you can, if you are getting it honestly? It is not her fault that a state institution chose to waste a large sum of money to bring in a young woman whose life experiences are basically confined to sex, alcohol, and rock 'n roll. Polizzi is just being a good capitalist. And is she really as dumb as she appears on television. Remember that Jessica Simpson made most of her fortune by playing dumb while still young and ultra-appealing. She'll live off of that characterization for the rest of her life, very comfortably I might add. Leave Snooki alone. She's a good capitalist, she's making her money honestly, and she's an Obama hating Republican. All those things maker her O. K. in my book.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Top Economist Explains Why Planning Commissions Are Bad

F. A. Hayek from The Road to Serfdom I am putting this up because some planning commission somewhere in Wilmington, Delaware decreed that basketball hoops near roads are some kind of nuisance, even in suburbal cul-de-sacs. They sent crews out onto quiet streets to take them down and haul them off. What a waste of taxpayer money! Planning and Power IN ORDER to achieve their ends, the planners must create power—power over men wielded by other men—of a magnitude never before known. Their success will depend on the extent to which they achieve such power. Democracy is an obstacle to this suppression of freedom which the centralized direction of economic activity requires. Hence arises the clash between planning- and democracy. Many socialists have the tragic illusion that by depriving private individuals of the power they possess in an individualist system, and transferring this power to society, they thereby extinguish power. What they overlook is that, by concentrating power so that it can be used in the service of a single plan, it is not merely transformed but infinitely heightened. By uniting in the hands of some single body power formerly exercised independently by many, an amount of power is created infinitely greater than any that existed before, so much more far-reaching as almost to be different in kind. It is entirely fallacious to argue that the great power exercised by a central planning board would be "no greater than the power collectively exercised by private boards of directors." There is, in a competitive society, nobody who can exercise even a fraction of the power which a socialist planning board would possess. To decentralize power is to reduce the absolute amount of power, and the competitive system is the only system designed to minimize the power exercised by man over man. Who can seriously doubt that the power which a millionaire, who may be my employer, has over me is very much less than that which the smallest bureaucrat possesses who wields the coercive power of the state and on whose discretion it depends how I am allowed to live and work? In every real sense a badly paid unskilled workman in this country has more freedom to shape his life than many an employer in Germany or a much better paid engineer or manager in Russia. If he wants to change his job or the place where he lives, if he wants to profess certain views or spend his leisure in a particular way, he faces no absolute impediments. There are no dangers to bodily security and freedom that confine him by brute force to the task and environment to which a superior has assigned him. Our generation has forgotten that the system of private property is the most important guaranty of freedom. It is only because the control of the means of production is divided among many people acting independently that we as individuals can decide what to do with ourselves. When all the means of production are vested in a single hand, whether it be nominally that of "society" as a whole or that of a dictator, whoever exercises this control has complete power over us. In the hands of private individuals, what is called economic power can be an instrument of coercion, but it is never control over the whole life of a person. But when economic power is centralized as an instrument of political power it creates a degree of dependence scarcely distinguishable from slavery. It has been well said that, in a country where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rand Paul Versus Barack Obama

Last night, we saw two voices on today's U. S. foreign policy. One seemed unsure, defensive, and unable to answer the basic questions. The other charted out where our foreign policy will be going in the next several years whether we like it or not. I have always favored a muscular American foreign policy, along the lines of Reagan. In short, sometimes you have to use force in targeted situations to remind the world that you can. George Schultz used to say that force should never be the last resort. If it is, don't let anyone know. Obama used force against Libya without thinking it through. What does it mean to aid Libyan rebels, but not Syrian? Did we ever establish who these people are, or whether they deserve our help. Libya only produces 3% of the world's oil. Ramped up production in Alaska over the next year could compensate for that. There just seems to be no real reason to strike. Rand Paul took issue with Obama's use of force against a country that did not directly threaten us. I don't necessarily agree that we should always confine our use of force to such situations. He also argued that Obama should have, in some fashion, consulted Congress. At the very least, it is good politics to talk to congressional leaders of both parties before making such a move. Obama spoke to no one, except ESPN. The more restricted foreign policy guidelines laid out by Paul will have to be our national norm. We simply cannot afford to play as large a role as we have played. It is time to push Europe, India, Japan, and other responsible nations forward into shouldering some more of the burdens. We have a debt crisis at home that needs solved. That in itself is a world issue. If we default, and our economy collapses, we take down the world. It is time to get our house in order. If nothing else, we must be ready for the next major world challenge. Right now, we could not face it as we did in 1941. The Republican Party itself, by selecting Rand Paul as the response, is moving back to the less aggressive days of the 1920s. In essence we are moving away from Reagan's foreign policy (which is essentially that of Truman and Kennedy) and back towards Calvin Coolidge. This is no longer an option, given our debt crisis. We need to scale back on foreign policy and future military actions.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Is Joe Biden Eccentric Or Crazy?

Is Joe Biden eccentric, or is he a lunatic? Don't ask me. Ask reporter Scott Powers, who was put in a closet during a fundraiser under guard. The links below were posted on the Republican National Committee Facebook page, but as you can see, they link some liberal and neutral sites as sources. This is much stranger stuff than not being able to spell "potato." Biden’s Staff Put A Pool Reporter In A Storage Room “To Keep Him From Talking To The Many High-Profile Guests” During A Fundraiser For Senator Ben Nelson. “Scott Powers, a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, was serving as the pool reporter for a fundraiser in Florida, where Biden was appearing to raise money on behalf of Sen. Bill Nelson on Wednesday. But to keep him from talking to the many high-profile guests at the event, a member of Biden's staff stuffed Powers in a storage closet and stood guard outside the door until she deemed it ‘safe’ for Powers to emerge.” (Jack Mirkinson, “Biden Team Apologizes To Reporter Scott Powers For Keeping Him In Closet During Fundraiser,” The Huffington Post, 3/28/11) “‘The Protocol Is They Didn't Want Me To Talk To Anybody,’ Powers Told ‘Good Morning America’ Reporter Matt Gutman In An Interview On Monday.” (Lucy Madison, “Biden Team Apologizes To Reporter For Making Him Wait In A Closet,” CBS News, 3/28/11) Biden’s Staff Apologized For The Choice Of Hold Room. “‘Scott - You have our sincere apologies for the lack of a better hold room today,’ wrote Vice President Biden spokeswoman Elizabeth Alexander last Wednesday to Orlando Sentinel reporter Scott Powers.” (Jake Tapper, “Biden Team Apologizes To Report For Sticking Him In Closet,” ABC News’ “Political Punch” Blog, 3/27/11) “‘Lack Of A Better Hold Room’ Is An Interesting Way Of Putting It.” (Jake Tapper, “Biden Team Apologizes To Report For Sticking Him In Closet,” ABC News’ “Political Punch” Blog, 3/27/11) Powers Was Kept In The Closet For Over An Hour Waiting For Biden And Senator Nelson To Speak. “Any time he stuck his head out he'd been shooed back inside. He said he was held for more than an hour in the closet, was allowed out for 35 minutes of remarks by Biden and Nelson, after which it was back into the closet until the VP left.” (Jake Tapper, “Biden Team Apologizes To Report For Sticking Him In Closet,” ABC News’ “Political Punch” Blog, 3/27/11) “Forcing Reporters Into Closets Is Generally Not The Tradition Of Politicians In The US.” (Jake Tapper, “Biden Team Apologizes To Report For Sticking Him In Closet,” ABC News’ “Political Punch” Blog, 3/27/11)Read more: