Thursday, May 22, 2008

Be a capitalist

Read my new blog. It's free (but if it is successful, that may change). It is an investing blog for young people who want to take a different path toward retirement from those who are content with their money being used to pay the fees of overpriced, mediocre money managers. There is a companion blog on CAPS, but that is geared mainly for CAPS members, whereas The Fleabagger Portfolio is for everybody.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another blog of mine

For those of you who want to read what I'm writing even if it has no relevance to what I used to write about in this space, click here.


P.S. Let me know if that doesn't work, but I will probably be quite a while in reading my messages here.

Monday, September 24, 2007

So this has all been leading Someone called this ball in this pocket long ago:

Proverbs 5:3-5
Proverbs 7:22-23
2 Peter 2:22


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The real problem hidden by America's obesity

Have you noticed that among all the jibba-jabba about obesity and America being too fat, there are still people who are trying to sound the alarm about how the horrible standard of beauty in our society is causing women to be anorexic? This is an excellent example of how stupid collectivism is.

First, we are to believe that it's "society's" fault that some women starve themselves in an effort to be thin. For one thing, these poor women would probably be doing this even if morbidly obese women were held up as the ideal of beauty. One friend of mine who struggled with anorexia confided that it was about control. She was depressed, and the one thing she could control was what she ate, so control it she did - with dangerous consequences.

Second, now that there are clearly more women (and men too) who are in danger of dying of obesity than of anorexia, that is "society's" fault too. And somehow, something in the culture made people become fat - this same culture that made some women dangerously thin! Now it takes a village (and universal health insurance, and bans on trans fats) to save America from this new threat. Mandated exercise and U.S. Attorney General-filed lawsuits against Mickey D's would not be amiss, would they?

Meanwhile, DoveĀ® is a modern-day hero for the "Campaign for real beauty" ads (at the moment they seemed to be focused on hair), which celebrate overweight women as beautiful. It's true that more Americans than ever consider overweight people attractive, and we shouldn't be judgmental (except about Manuel Uribe: it's okay to be judgmental about him), but some of the preachy people are telling us we need to get with the weight loss program. So who's right? The "society needs to get healthier and lose weight" scientists, or the "society needs to appreciate fat people (particularly women) for who they are and say that they're beautiful" feminists?

Surprise answer: they're both wrong! ...for butting into other people's business and framing a lot of individual problems as a societal problem. Yes, obese people would be better off if they lost weight. But that is their problem. If they ask me for my help, I'll help, but I'll also fight for their right to sit on their backsides and stuff their faces all day. Scientists arguing for government intervention in the obesity "epidemic" make the point that the obese will cause huge medical costs if things continue as they are. Good point, but my problem is not with their obesity, then, but with the Medicaid/Medicare/Social Security Disability they get... and their food stamps.

I should start a campaign: a Campaign for Real Freedom. We need to free people from these unrealistic ideals of "freedom" that are pushed by the media. "Freedom from want?" A "right to health care?" These misguided concepts of freedom are endangering true freedoms of the next generation of girls (and, incidentally, boys). They may grow up not knowing that they have a right bear arms that shall not be infringed. Not even infringed. They may grow up ignorant that their government is authorized only to make appropriations for those purposes enumerated in the constitution, not all things supposed to promote the general welfare.

The one thing that threatens more girls in America than anything else our politicians should be worried about: collectivist politics.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

Liberty or security?

I heard part of a radio show discussing whether we are leaning too far to security, too far to liberty, or striking a good balance. That's obscenely ignorant. That we are told we have to choose between liberty and national security means we have already lost far too much of the former (and the education to know about it), and could lose the latter at any moment.

Our national security cannot depend upon the wisdom and benevolence of the government. It is a matter of free, armed people defending themselves. Unfortunately, "liberals" want to take away our right to arm ourselves, and "conservatives" want to keep us from getting in the way of law enforcement (by doing something rash like, say, protecting ourselves).

Perhaps the most shocking instance of our government making us less secure by making us less free is federal control of our airports. This is inherently a violation of our property rights - that if we invest our money to build an airport and want to host some airlines and serve the people of our county or city in that way, the government takes that airport from us and installs TSA airport security to protect the passengers. But at least we are safer in the government's hands than in the hands of profiteering capitalists, right? Hardly.

I would literally bet my life that a capitalist would provide better airport security than the TSA, unless that capitalist were forced to follow outrageous government regulations. Which he probably would be - the government can't seem to let go of anything anymore.

If we had airports where our fellow citizens, trying to make a dollar, were buying terrorism insurance, you can bet your life the insurers would find all kinds of brilliant ways of keeping us (and their money) safe. If we were allowed to carry guns on college campuses, maybe shootings at college campuses would be as rare as they are at gun shows. If we armed public school teachers (and trained them to use their guns) as Israel does, maybe school shootings wouldn't happen here either.

If we were a well-armed people, free to defend ourselves (and each other) from enemies foreign and domestic, we would have national security. As Benjamin Franklin said, "those who yield essential liberty for a little temporary safety will have neither." We have neither liberty nor safety to the extent that we should, and and we could increase both with the same actions.


Note: the Franklin quotation was originally misattributed and not word for word. (I was in a hurry at the original writing, and I apologize.) It has been corrected.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The important housing sector

The idea that there is some inherent "importance of the housing industry to the overall economy" is so commonplace, it is glossed over in an article on a conservative periodical's website. This idea seems self-evident, and perfectly in keeping with conservative ideals of private property, family, and individual prosperity.

Upon closer examination, however, the idea of "importance" in one segment of the economy implies that the economy can be segmented and those segments, in turn, can be assigned different levels of importance. These ideas, particularly the latter, are mistaken and dangerously close to the flawed reasoning that puts government in the role of protector of the stock market, banks, farm policy, energy policy, air travel, airwaves, and (sadly) more. For if something has primacy in the economy, it cannot be allowed to suffer a downturn or collapse, as some industries do from time to time. Housing is key to the economy, the thinking goes, so if people are defaulting on their loans, losing their homes, and/or unable to take out a mortgage to get a new home, something must be done! Particularly, government must act!

It was government action to try to help out stock investors in 1929 that caused a recession, and government tariffs, wealth redistribution, minimum wage laws, forced employment and such that turned that recession into the Great Depression. One bad policy followed another as new ideas turned a fast-growing, opportunity-rich economy into a shambles in which people were starving as the government bought crops and destroyed them, and the poor couldn't get jobs in a private sector that was terrified of the caprice of the Roosevelt administration (which was even worse than the lamentable Hoover administration).

Some of you are perhaps arguing that the causes of the Great Depression are more complicated than that. The causes of the Great Depression are indeed numerous, as numerous as the interventions Hoover and Roosevelt tried. It is a sad coincidence that the stock market correction of 1929 took place under an interventionist presidential administration. Had Coolidge been president during such a correction, it is doubtful any government action would have been taken, except perhaps to lower taxes. In that case, the correction would have been corrected, recession (let alone the Great Depression) would have been averted, lives would have been saved.

Why did Coolidge take such a passive stance with the economy? Because he viewed it as a whole, capable of adapting and changing to fit its environment. Imagine that Woodrow Wilson said that blacksmiths were an important sector of our economy, and that they had to be saved from wage suppression caused by a move away from horses (and horseshoes) to the auto car. What if he had limited car production to achieve this, or had the government buy horseshoes to destroy them? He would have been considered crazy, wouldn't he? (That seems to testify to the immense propaganda power held by Keynesians and other FDR types, doesn't it?) Government "solutions" have likewise always bound adaptivity and stifled innovation in the economy, and the Great Depression was no different. Doesn't any FDR fan wonder why it was so long?

More to the point, here we are in the 21st century, looking at the housing sector and worrying about the damage that might be done to the economy if this "important sector" is allowed to suffer. Well what damage might be done to the economy if we get the government to fix these problems? Getting government help with a sector of the economy seems to me to be like getting Jason Voorhees to cut your hair, because "it's a disaster." To paraphrase Groucho Marx, if you think the economy's bad off now, just wait till they get through with it.


Monday, July 23, 2007

[Working title]

Does anyone see what's wrong with this paragraphlet:
Others say the effect on the economy will be negligible. A PNC Economic Outlook survey done in April reported that three out of four small- and middle-market business owners said raising the minimum wage would have little or no impact on their businesses. "In a tighter labor market, they already raised wages to be competitive," said Stuart Hoffman, the chief economist for PNC Financial Services Group.
If you said that an author shouldn't gloss over a drop in employment at one out of four small- and middle-market businesses, you might have what it takes to be a capitalist. If you follow the link that I preserved in the quotation, you'll see that the report goes on to paint the numbers a different way than the pro-minimum wage author who quoted it.
35 percent of retail and wholesale business owners say the federal minimum wage hike would "greatly or somewhat adversely impact" their business within its first six months. Among the concerned owners in these two industry sectors, the impact would be felt by customers and employees alike: 34 percent of these owners would raise selling prices and 29 percent would reduce hiring.
As always, businesses cut employment costs or pass them on to their customers as necessary and as much as possible. Is that wrong? I don't think it would be even if they were fabulously wealthy, but some of them are middle-class folk struggling to provide for their families. There's nothing immoral about them starting a business instead of working for someone else's existing business. But back to my original point: politicians (and the irresponsible writers who laud their worst acts) never look at all of the consequences of minimum wage laws (or any other law), they just look at the people it will help or the people they imagine it will help, and pat themselves and each other on the back. Meanwhile, 29% of retail and wholesale business owners reduce hiring. (Hiring whom? The poor.)

I don't mean to imply that the government should look only at the consequences when it chooses its course of action. I'm just saying that what it should do (protect private property rights and allow the citzenry their freedom) happens to have better consequences.


P.S. Even the author of the sleight of hand piece admits that the only reason three out of four employers will be unaffected by the minimum wage hike is because they already pay their employees more. That is, to the extent that a minimum wage doesn't cause unemployment, it was unnecessary and redundant anyway.

P.P.S. All wages in America would be a lot higher if it weren't for the high cost of OSHA compliance, EEOC liability protection, and accounting-intensive, labyrinthine tax law. That is, except OSHA and EEOC bureaucrat wages, and tax accountant/lawyer wages. Those would be lower because of lower demand.
Subscribe to Backlog Bob's strong right straight