Friday, June 30, 2017

Repeal Now on Table

And maybe you'll go away and never call
And a taste of honey's worse than none at all
--Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

Perhaps Rand Paul et al are making headway in the Oval Office as President Trump tweeted the below message this am:
Trump may see the writing on the wall. There is no way anything close to the current Senate bill will get passed with Paul, Lee, Cruz, et al in opposition. So let's do what Republicans promised on the campaign trail: repeal Obamacare.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Encoding and Misinformation

I know I could break you down
But what good would it do
I could surely never know
That what you say is true
--Information Society

In the past, we have discussed research in strategic information transmission and findings suggesting that information consumers can be fooled into believing falsehoods. Such research helps explain why belief in 'fake news' increases with intensity of media coverage.

Ecker et al. (2011) demonstrated the influence of encoding on the retention of misinformation in the face of subsequent retractions. Encoding can be viewed as the extent to which information is admitted to the mind and judged to be true at the outset. Intensity of encoding can be increased in various ways. In their experiment, the researchers studied the effects of both message repetition and changes in cognitive load (i.e., distractions) on encoding and subsequent retractions of falsehoods.

Their essential findings were that the stronger the misinformation encoding the stronger the retention--even in the face of subsequent retractions that admitted that the information was false.

For those seeking to spread misinformation, the implications are clear. Broadcast your lies as frequently and as compelling as possible at the outset. Even if you are subsequently forced to issue a public retraction and admit your lies, many will still believe you.

Obviously, purveyors of fake news and other charlatans have already figured this out.


Ecker, U.K.H., Lewandowsky, S., Swire, B., Chang, D., (2011). Correcting false information in memory: Manipulating the strength of encoding and its retraction. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 18: 570-578.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Time Stamp Time

"Time's up."
--David Levinson (Independence Day)

At a forum in London yesterday, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stated that she believes that the financial system is "much safer" today and that we are unlikely to experience another financial crisis in our lifetimes.

You'll want to time stamp those remarks. The crash clock is ticking.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Watch the SIG Pigs

I touch you once
I touch you twice
I won't let go at any price

Confused about how the revised Senate healthcare bill stacks up against Obamacare? One way to gauge relative differences is to note how various healthcare special interest groups (SIGs) that benefit from the ACA are responding to the proposed bill.

For example, various medical trade groups, such as the AMA and hospital associations, oppose the bill. Members of these groups get paid by Obamacare. We can surmise that they will get paid less under the proposed system.

AARP is also against the bill. AARP, formerly the American Association of Retired Persons, constitutes that largest non-profit, and lobby, for seniors. Seniors, of course, consume more healthcare resources than any other demographic. Based on AARP's opposition, we can surmise that seniors will have access to fewer healthcare resources and/or pay higher prices under the proposed system.

Health insurers have generally been silent w.r.t. the Senate bill. Insurers have benefited handsomely under Obamacare (as demonstrated by UnitedHealth Group's stock price above). A provision of the Senate bill allows that insurers will be subsidized (read: bailed out) for losses that they might incur under the new plan. It seems straightforward to conclude that insurers will benefit even more if the Senate bill is made law.

To understand the likely consequences of any proposal in the era of socialized medicine, watch the behavior of the SIG pigs as they wallow around the public healthcare trough.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Lunatic Fringe

'Cause you gotta blame someone
For your own confusion
We're on guard this time
Against your final solution
--Red Rider

Events over the past couple of weeks reinforce a tenet of social identity theory. Members of a particular group will underweight actions deemed undesirable by in-group members and overweight similar actions taken by out-group members.

One way to rationalize this form of cognitive dissonance is to classify in-group members performing undesirable acts into a subgroup called 'the fringe.' By doing so, people can distance themselves from bad behavior that otherwise would be linked to them by their association with the group.

Self-esteem is thereby preserved without having to admit complicity with the wrongdoing or having to leave the group.

Voila! The mental stress is thereby wiped away.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

College Free Speech

"Mr Hart, you're still not speaking loud enough. Will you stand? Speak louder, Mr Hart! Fill the room with your intelligence."
--Prof Charles W. Kingsfield Jr (The Paper Chase)

Updated ratings of colleges w.r.t. free speech. A rating of 75 or higher seems associated with a speech and idea environments that are favorable.

Very few institutions clear this hurdle. In this region, Kentucky rates highest at 55. Most regional schools have insufficient data to be included on the list at this time. However, those with partial data sets do not look promising.

Speech restrictions go on-in-hand with lack of ideological diversity to restrain learning capacities at higher ed institutions.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Repeal It Now

If it keeps on rainin'
The levee's gonna break
--Led Zeppelin

Extending yesterday's post, replacing Obamacare, instead of replacing it, is a fool's errand. We noted recently how insurance markets are drying up as capacity, predictably, leaves the system.

Pushing more people (read: demand) thru a system with withering supply naturally leads to higher prices (ECON 101). Bloomberg estimates that healthcare costs are likely to rise at triple the general price inflation rate. For seniors, that means spending $300,000 or more on health insurance premiums during their retirement years. Younger people, such as millennials, will shoulder a much higher cost as they subsidize health care expenditures of older people.

If the healthcare system continues to be state run, these estimates are likely to be too low.

Socialized medicine is a fantasy that will be destroyed either thru our own volition or by natural economic forces. Because those natural economic forces will take no prisoners in the name of re-balancing the system, better to repeal it now while we still have control and can avert true disaster.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Obamacare Plus

"I didn't realize this afternoon how much bargaining power I really had. It's not just that my 'no' keeps you out. My 'yes' puts you in."
--George Caswell (Executive Suite)

After a GOP faction was able to finally edge a version of their ill-designed healthcare bill thru the House last month, the Senate has been busy revising it in advance of its vote. Senate bill v.1 hit the floor yesterday.

It did not take long before the usual trio of Senators Paul, Cruz, and Lee along with Senator Johnson of Wisconsin to announce that they would not vote for the bill as written.

In a subsequent interview, Sen Paul explained that not only does the bill not repeal Obamacare as Republican campaigns promised, but it sprinkles in enough new goodies that instead of calling the GOP bill Obamacare Lite, it might better be viewed as Obamacare Plus.

Republicans cannot afford to lose more than two votes in the Senate, lest their bill dies on the vine.

Let's see whether the Tea Party line holds fast and stewards well the bargaining power in their possession.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Gold and Political Risk

There's a room where the light won't find you
Holding hands while the wall come tumbling down
When they do, I'll be right behind you
--Tears for Fears

As these pages have observed, gold is a bet on disorder. This article notes that this disorder usually stems from political causes. Governments, in their quest to get bigger and to acquire power, inevitably look toward acquiring resources via the monetary system.

In the U.S., much of this government action began with the initiation of the Federal Reserve in 1913.

1913 $2.50 PCGS MS64 CAC

Gold is a way for citizens to keep their resources from being robbed by government action. It is insurance against political risk.

position in gold

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cuban Reversal

Better get yourself together
And hold on to what you got
Once the music hits your system
There's no way you're gonna stop
--Miami Sound Machine

One of the few bright spots in the Obama administration was the lifting of sanctions on Iran and Cuba. Last week, the Trump administration began reversing those policies with Cuba and, effectively, putting previous sanctions back in place.

While not all of Obama's reforms will be overturned, Trump will reinstall travel restrictions and once again make it difficult for US business to trade with Cuba. The president argues that such restrictions are necessary to penalize Cuba for its poor human rights record under the current governing regime.

But the effect of these sanctions is to penalize US citizens who would otherwise want to travel and trade with Cuba. Moreover, the benefits of voluntary exchange are likely to strengthen Cuban appetites for governance that respects life, liberty and property rights.

As do all policies grounded in sanction, the president's actions make both the US and Cuba worse off.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Disappearing Insurance Markets

Funny how I blind myself
I never knew
If I was sometimes played upon
Afraid to lose
--Talk Talk

Nice graphic showing time multi-year trend of insurers leaving the marketplaces arranged by the Affordable Care Act. Dwindling number of insurers means less supply and lack of competition to drive future efficiency gains.

As the articles suggests, some actions taken by the Trump administration are likely extending the problem.

But make no mistake, the negative consequences of Obamacare, including loss of supply, were all too predictable from the outset.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rhetoric of Death

In my head, the voice is waiting
Waiting for me to set it free
--Russ Ballard

Of the many strategies that have unraveled on the left, one that has been laid bare for all to see is the practice of accusing political opponents of 'violent rhetoric' that subsequently spawns violent action.

When Democratic congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot in 2011, leftists first claimed that the shooter had Tea Party ties which helped motive the crime due to the Tea Party's alleged violent underpinnings. When the associated mainstream media frenzy refused to reveal any Tea Party links to the shooter, accusations shifted to Republican Sarah Palin's recent communications that 'targeted' various Democratic political districts for action using a crosshairs motif. When it became clear that the alleged shooter had a long record of unstable behavior and affinities to the writings of Hitler and Marx, the party line shifted once more to the harsh political rhetoric alleged to be spewed by Republicans, and the potential of these words to compel unstable individuals toward violent acts.

The left has rolled out similar narratives in the face of other high profile events, including the Benghazi disaster and even the Boston Marathon bombing, to little avail.

That these narratives had no factual basis, of course, matters little to the left. They help rile the base thru processes of gaslighting and emotional capture.

Since last fall's presidential election, it has been the left that has been spewing increasingly violent rhetoric. The most eyepopping examples come from left wing entertainers. Snoop Dogg shooting a character dressed as Donald Trump in the head in a music video. Madonna confessing on stage that she has thought about blowing up the White House. A comedian posting a video of herself holding a bloody Donald Trump head severed ISIS-style. A NYC play depicting Trump as a modern-day Julius Caesar getting stabbed to death on stage.

Leftist groups have called for various programs of 'resistance' and even war. Demonstrations have morphed into riots.

Democratic politicians have gotten into the act as well. Claims to the effect that "People are going to die" have been uttered by Democrats in opposition to nearly all Trump and GOP actions. If Obamacare is repealed, people are going to die. If the US steps away from global warming treaties, people are going to die. Etc.

This past week, the tables turned even more on the left when a leftist partisan who was obviously plugged into this stream, as exemplified by his social media trail, shot up a GOP baseball practice and injured several, including the third ranking Republican in the House. Did someone who repeatedly heard that 'People will die' if Republican policies were implemented think that he could save lives by gunning down some GOP policymakers?

We'll never know for certain as the shooter is dead. And even if that shooter did take the words of others to heart, it is doubtful that he will be able to lay off blame for his actions when he stands accountable before God.

However, it is becoming apparent is that the derangement of the left is increasingly being expressed by a rhetoric of death, and that this rhetoric could inspire action. Individuals would be foolish not to prepare for the potential consequences should this behavior continue.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Red to Bronze

"You know what we get to do today, Brooks? We get to play baseball!"
--Jimmy Morris (The Rookie)

One year ago the Cincinnati Reds retired Pete Rose's number and inducted him into the Reds Hall of Fame. Yesterday, the Reds once again honored Rose with a statue of Charlie Hustle laying out into one of his patented head first slides.

Pete was there being Pete. No prepared remarks. Speaking from the heart. Mixing it up with his former Big Red Machine teammates. Even spending time in the TV and radio booths.

Several times he indicated that he would love to spend more time with team, talking, for example, about hitting with Billy Hamilton and others. He wished he could set foot in the Reds clubhouse.

Of course, Major League Baseball has banned Pete from doing any of this.

It may go down as one the most foolish moves in sports business history. Locking out the game's greatest living ambassador and prohibiting him from doing what he does best: dedicating his being to advance the game of baseball.

Thankfully, MLB could not stop the conversion of the brightest Red of all into bronze.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Amazon's Shark

"Here we go, Fonz, I'm heading for the ramp. Are you sure you want to do it?"
--Richie Cunningham (Happy Days)

Market bubbles often climax with a 'jump-the-shark' moment. The dot com bubble jumped the shark when internet upstart America Online (AOL) ponied up nearly $200 billion to buy media giant Time Warner. This buyout nearly top ticked the market in 2000.

Yesterday, Amazon announced that it was buying grocer Whole Foods Markets (WFM) for about $13 billion. While the size of the deal is nothing like the AOL/Time Warner whopper of yore, it speaks to the veracity of mega cap tech companies reaching into industries unlike their core markets--leading to the perception that tech is 'taking over America.'

Perhaps. On the other hand, it could merely be symptomatic of hubris fostered by stock prices that have been on a multi-year moonshot that are likely to reverse sooner rather than later.

no positions

Friday, June 16, 2017

Anonymous Sources

People say believe half of what you see
And none of what you hear
--Marvin Gaye

Last night, the Department of Justice issued a short release warning Americans about news stories built on information obtained from anonymous sources. The release begins:

"Americans should exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous 'officials,' particularly when they do not identify the country - let alone the branch or agency of government - with which the alleged sources supposedly are affiliated. Americans should be skeptical about anonymous allegations."

Motivations for this release are unclear. However, we do know that the mainstream media have based their recent grapevine journalism campaign on anonymous sources. Anonymous sources cast an air of legitimacy to the publication of rumor, innuendo, and fiction as fact.

As the media has ratcheted up the anonymous source approach, awareness is growing among Americans about the risk of consuming information grounded in shoddy journalism. This is a positive development. People are learning to rely less on assumptions and second hand information in pursuit of truth.

Hopefully, the DOJ release helps speed that process.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Catch of the Day.

Ellen Brody: What am I going to tell the kids?
Martin Brody: Tell them I'm going fishing.

As leftists appear to have moved over to the obstruction of justice pond, they might want to be careful about where they cast their lines and nets. Not only are these people increasingly seen as desperate and deranged political hacks, but by fishing in the obstruction pond they may well hook themselves.

In his congressional testimony last week, former FBI director James Comey claimed that Obama AG Lorretta Lynch sought to influence how the Bureau communicated with the public about the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Among other things, she told Comey to water down the Clinton investigation rhetoric and refer to it as simply a 'matter.'

Couple this with other actions, such as Lynch's now infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton days before Comey publicly exonerated Hillary last summer, and you have the makings of a case that the Obama administration obstructed justice during last year's presidential campaign with Lynch acting as the point person to use law enforcement resources for political purposes rather than for purposes of justice.

Some legal experts, including Judge Nap, believe that enough evidence exists for a criminal investigation of Lynch into her involvement in the Clinton email investigation.

My sense is that the longer that Dems extend their fishing expedition, the greater the likelihood that they wind up as Catch of the Day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Bullets and Baseball

"How do you like someone shooting back at you?"
--Rafe McCawley (Pearl Harbor)

This morning a gunman opened fire on Republican congressmen as they were practicing on an Alexandra baseball diamond for the upcoming annual game against congressional Democrats at Nationals Park. One congressman, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) was shot in the hip. Several others, including two Capitol Police officers and an aide, were also reported as sustaining non-life threatening injuries.

Details are still emerging on the shooter, who was wounded and taken to a local hospital under custody where it is now being reported that he has died from his injuries. What does seem apparent from the accounts of several congressmen on the field is that the shooter was using an AR-type rifle and got off at least 50 rounds (implying multi mags) as players on the diamond scattered and sought cover.

The Capitol Police officers who returned fire and brought down the shooter were there because Scalise's leadership position merits a security detail when he travels locally.

Clearly, if guns were not on the scene to fire in a self-defense capacity, then this baseball field quite likely would have become a killing field.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Misplaced Celebration

Trim life shadows flicker and fall
But you still can't turn away
Get up and run before you stall
Before the edges fray
--Ric Ocasek

One of the more amusing vids I've seen in some time:

Also a lesson in misplaced celebration. The runner surely thought the crescendo of cheers as he neared the finish line was for him and he let up and lost his focus as he sought to pump up the volume.

No matter what the situation, stay the course and power thru the tape.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Obstruction by Design

Be running up that road
Be running up that hill
With no problems
--Kate Bush

During the Obama administration, Republicans were accused of obstructing political progress. Now, those on the Trump side of the ledger are decrying Democrat obstructionism.

Our founding ancestors would be pleased.

Their fear of democracy and discretionary rule by dominant coalitions motivated the framers to do what they could to make consensus difficult.

Despite what mainstream media and political pundits might have us believe, gridlock in Washington is not an exception to be overcome by unity and cooperation. Gridlock is the rule and by design.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Bad Mojo

"The truth is, we're all part of it now. Banks, consumers...we're moving around money in circles. We take a buck, we shoot it full of steroids, and we call it leverage. I call it steroid banking."
--Gordon Gekko (Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps)

On several occasions since he has taken office, President Trump has taken credit for increased stock prices. He is not the first president to do so. In fact most do--particularly when higher stock prices can be woven into campaign rhetoric.

But it is extremely bad mojo to do so.

As we know, interventionary forces designed to prop up markets ultimately give way to ever-persistent natural forces intent on wiping out excess and revising prices to reflect true value. The thing of it is, the timing of this 'decompression' is unknowable.

In the case of the Obama administration, enough drugs were shot into the system to prop markets up for virtually the president's entire tenure. In the case of the Bush administration that preceded him, the engineered housing bubble popped at an inopportune moment, thereby draining both asset prices and GOP election hopes in the 2008.

What makes Trump's end zone dance particularly foolish is that he is doing it so early in his tenure. Touting the effect of his policies on stock prices at this stage of the game practically guarantees markets will punish his hubris while he's still on the clock. Measuring nearly ten years in length, this particular phase of interventionary 'steroid banking' policy is so long in the tooth that markets could reverse hard at any time and for any reason.

When prices do begin to spill, of course, Trump's naysayers will take their turn at the podium and point fingers at the president for market declines.

All the while it will have been the cumulative efforts of a century of bipartisan interventions that rest at the root cause of the problem.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Fished Out

"Now what?"
--John Finnegan (Deep Rising)

Seems this lake's all fished out.

Where will Dems cast their lines next?

Friday, June 9, 2017

Independence Meme

Jim Malone: What I'm saying is, what are you prepared to do?
Eliot Ness: Anything within the law.
Jim Malone: And THEN what are you prepared to do?
--The Untouchables

In his commentary following yesterday's farcical congressional testimony of former FBI director James Comey, David Stockman discusses Comey's repeated invocations of the FBI's 'traditionally independent status in the executive branch.'

This is a false and dangerous view of any agency within the federal government--particularly one that possesses extraordinary police power. As these pages have recently observed, when federal bureaucrats are not directly accountable to voters, they are free to pursue their own agendas. They govern without 'consent of the governed.' 

Agencies such as the FBI must be politically accountable lest they become a policing arm of the deep state reminiscent of J. Edgar Hoover's feds.

As Stockman observes, however, Comey's behavior over the past year suggests that he doesn't believe the independence meme himself. He has subordinated his actions and those of the bureau to the political will of others. Indeed, it was his violation of protocol for the sake of politics that merited his dismissal by not one but two presidents.

Comey's behavior and his subsequent termination suggests that the state may not be as deep as some may presume.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Virginia's Resolution

Benjamin Martin: May I sit with you?
Charlotte Selton: It's a free country. Or at least it will be.
--The Patriot

Tara Ross notes that yesterday in 1776, Virginia statesman Richard Henry Lee introduced a resolution to the Continental Congress proposing that the colonies separate from Great Britain. Virginia legislators had been sensing that America was in 'a state of extreme danger' and concluded that they should either a) completely submit to the will of the British tyrants, or b) break away from Crown rule.

Once the Virginia legislature had written its resolution, Lee forwarded it to John Adams of Massachusetts. Adams received it warmly and with some amazement, as he knew that other colonies were coming to similar conclusions.

In fact, Adams would later suggest that the fact that people in various states came to the same realization at the same time was no accident. It had to be the hand of Divine Providence that was guiding America toward liberty.

A more secular view might suggest that people in the various colonies were merely being driven by the same natural laws to throw off tyranny in favor of freedom.

In any event, after Lee presented the Virginia resolution to the Continental Congress, declaring that 'these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states," Adams seconded the motion.

A few days later three committees were appointed. One was to draft a declaration of independence, a second was to draft a plan for a confederation of the several states, and a third was to prepare a plan for allying with foreign nations. Meanwhile, delegates headed home to meet with their state legislatures and deliberate their authority to declare independence.

Less than a month later, our First Law was passed.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Deep State

"You just don't get it. These people can make us disappear."
--Nina Chance (Murder at 1600)

In a recent television interview, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned President Donald Trump about crossing intelligence officials: "Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community--they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you."

This is one way to view the 'deep state.' The deep state consists of unelected federal government bureaucrats who, because they are not directly accountable to voters, can pursue their own agendas without fear of reprisal. Bureaucrats and their agencies become more deeply entrenched as they accumulate power independent of elected officials. The Federal Reserve is an example of a deep state agency.

Intelligence agencies also possess capacity for deepness. Since they monitor communications of everyone, including government officials, they can accumulate 'dirt' that can be used against opponents that threaten deep state livelihood. Moreover, intelligence agencies are versed in counter-intelligence practices capable of deceiving large groups of people. They are also capable of inciting or committing acts of physical violence.

The primary goal of the deep state is to maintain power regardless of what political party holds elected office. Trump, being a Washington outsider who has signaled that he will not play ball with the deep state status quo, presents a clear and present threat to these bureaucrats.

Schumer knows it. Others in Washington know it.

However, the more the people of the US develop an awareness of the deep state, then the greater the likelihood that the deep state is in jeopardy.

Perhaps this is Trump's purpose.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Redistribution, Not Insurance

I can always find someone
To say they sympathize
If I wear my heart out on my sleeve
--Billy Joel

Prof Galles explains why state sponsored health insurance is not insurance at all. It is simply a program of redistribution.

Insurance, he notes, is about reducing risk in the face of uncertain events. Insuring things that would happen for certain, such as routine checkups in a doctor's office, offers no risk reduction. Yet coverage for such events is required under most state sponsored health plans.

Stated differently, regular health maintenance does not fall within the proper scope of health insurance policies. When healthcare resources are drawn from an insurance pool to service routine needs, the insurance is not reducing risk to society at large. Instead, costs are likely to increase as there are no added benefits to outweigh the added cost of insurance administration.

Risk reduction is also difficult because of the fact that healthcare services covered by insurance induces over-consumption. When most health care costs are borne by third parties, then those covered by those insurance policies will want more and better services causing them to consume far more resources than they would have if they paid out their own pocket. This is the essence of moral hazard.

As Galles observes, this is why 'lunch insurance' doesn't exist. If someone else is paying your bill, then you will be prone to order more extravagantly than you would otherwise.

There is also the problem of mandating coverage for services that some people would never pay for out-of-pocket. For example, people certain that they would not need them would not ask for a quote for birth control or addiction service coverage. Yet, state sponsored health insurance programs are full of such mandates.

Mandates that require coverage of those more likely to get sick, such as old people or those with pre-existing conditions, clearly demonstrate that state sponsored health care is not about risk reduction. Rather than pooling those with similar circumstances, state sponsored plans force healthy people into plans. Consequently, policy pricing cannot reflect actuarial risks as healthy people pay less and sick people more than they would otherwise. Healthy people are thus forced to subsidize the sick.

All of this has been compounded by government misinformation that has masked massive income redistribution as programs for overcoming insurance market failures and reducing heartless harm on the sick. Honesty is, of course, impossible when trying to promote state sponsored health care.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Dems Suddenly Like Debt Ceiling

"That's right. Brantley is Whitfield. Whitfield is Brantley."
--Brantley Foster (The Secret of My Success)

Hard not to chuckle in amusement over the blatant hypocrisy. Democrats now threatening to not raise the debt ceiling in an effort to thwart Republican tax cut proposals.

In any event, here's hoping that Dems are successful at keeping the debt ceiling where it is, and that Republicans retaliate in the future by not raising the debt ceiling in lieu of future progressive-led agendas.

While things are upside down, perhaps Dems will ultimately lead the way in reducing the debt ceiling...

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Partisanship and Hypocrisy

"Listen, I'm a politician, which means I'm a cheat and a liar. And when I'm not kissing babies, I'm stealing their lollipops."
--Jeffrey Pelt (The Hunt for Red October)

The blatant hypocrisy exhibited by politicians and their partisans has long captured my attention. But I shouldn't be surprised, really. People who belong to groups are likely to use different yardsticks for assessing behavior depending on whether they are judging in-group vs out-group members (including themselves).

Moreover, as political stakes escalate, groups are increasingly prone to pulling out all stops in order to maintain control over the strong arm of government and to keep power out the hands of their opponents. This would include eliminating all scruples about acting with duplicity.

The greater the political stakes, the greater the political partisanship. The greater the political partisanship, the greater the hypocrisy.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Climate for Change

Look in the mirror
And you see how you've been taken
You won't surrender
But now your heart is breakin'
--John Waite

A primary objective of the Left is to throw so much 'chaos' at the Trump administration that the president is so busy dodging blows that he can't get his agenda accomplished. The mainstream media narrative would like people to think that this strategy has been successful.

However, Trump has already delivered on several promises. Appointment of a supreme court justice is probably number one of the list. On his first full day in office, Trump pulled the US out of the Trans Pacific Partnership. He has also rolled back various regulations by executive order.

In his latest accomplishment, last week Trump withdrew the US from the Paris Accord. The Paris Accord is a non-binding agreement among nations to adopt 'clean energy' sources and reduce fossil fuel emissions in the context of the 'global warming' proposition.

Trump's rationale for leaving is that the agreement hinders US jobs and economic growth.

Of course, the president's move has left watermelon socialists aghast worldwide.

How can Trump simply withdraw the US from the Paris Accord by executive order? Because that's precisely how we got into it. Rather than submitting the agreement to Congress for approval, then President Barack Obama, per his constitutional authority regarding treaties, simply signed an executive order to commit the US to the agreement.

Because the agreement never went thru the legislative process on the way in, the previous president essentially empowered his successor to do the same on the way out.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Snake in the Grass

You can't concern yourself with bigger things
You catch the pearl and ride the dragon's wings

Easy to understand example of how licensing keeps people out of work and protects incumbents from competition. A teenager mows neighborhood lawns in an Alabama town. Someone working for a rival service threatens to report her to town officials because she is cutting grass without a license. A license costs $110.

The teen either has to pony up the fee and manage associated bureaucracy or leave the industry.

It should be readily apparent that licensing limits entrepreneurial actions of upstarts. It also tends to impact marginal workers the most.

Which is fine news for those already in the industry.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Whack-A-Mole Censorship

I try so hard not to get upset
Because I know all the trouble I'll get
--Til Tuesday

Make no mistake, current efforts by the Left to shut down media commentators that they do not like is an admission that the Left cannot compete in the market for ideas. They fear that their own ideas will be rejected in uninhibited exchanges of thought. Therefore, they seek to interfere in markets where competing designs are likely to be judged superior.

Unfortunately for these people, the market for ideas has never been less controllable. Shut down a voice on one venue, and the voice subsequently pops up elsewhere.

The Left is playing a game of whack-a-mole censorship.