Friday Morning Ramble (March 19): The Prostitutes & ObamaCare Edition
Just when you thought it was a slow news week . . .
- At $200 per hour, blowing $3.4 million on prostitutes (if you’ll forgive the pun) works out at 17,000 hours--or around 5 hours a day for 9 years.
Blame Bernard Hickey for the arithmetic. Blame Steven Versalko for the thieving. And blame Cactus Kate for wondering whether Versalko’s wife should ditch him now, or after the lesser of 6 years or $3.4 million is paid back by his hookers.
- Productivity, productivity, productivity. “Ultimately, the idea of productivity is essential – and yet the statistics of it are not so useful.” Time to bring on a “Productivity Commission” then? Um…
- Education standards are still a political football, here and elsewhere.
Andrew Coulson explains why all age-based standards are bad:
The False Premise of National Education Standards
And Neil McLuskey explains:
You Always Lose with Top-Down Standards
- Meanwhile, over in the lucky country, “’health and welfare’ jobs have just overtaken the retail sector in terms of employment. Currently 1 in 9 jobs is in health and social assistance…"It will keep getting bigger," says labour market specialist Mark Wooden…”
- An interesting anecdote about the iPredict market on Roger Douglas's Private Member's Bill allowing the youth minimum wage shows just how good insider trading is at letting the market know the information it needs in a timely—almost instant—fashion.
Markets and information aggregation
- Remember all that kerfuffle a week or so back about a Ministry of Women's Affairs paper on salary gaps, about which press releases were issued telling us that it would tell us that all women are underpaid. Now that the paper is available, and the media has moved on, we find however that it doesn’t tell us that at all.
Reporting on pay gaps
- When did bad choices become “addictions”? About the time everyone wanted an excuse for evading responsibility. More evidence here that the bad habits people like to call “addiction” are a choice, not a disease, from “a research psychologist at McLean Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard [who] mounts a devastating assault on the brain-based model of addiction”:
Satel on Addiction
- There was more evidence of the following thesis just this week, wasn’t there:
Conservatives Hate Trial by Jury
- Andrew Sullivan, and many other Atlantic readers and writers I’ll be bound, gets schooled in Israel’s history by means of some scurrilous maps.
Andrew Sullivan Revises History (Again)
- And historian Scott Powell reminds us just how
bigsmall Israel is. No wonder the Arab World is complaining!
No Wonder the Arabs Are So Angry!
- Meanwhile, from the Department of Good News comes this:
CIA chief Leon Panetta says “more than half of al-Qa’ida’s top 20 commanders, and hundreds of militants, had been killed in Pakistan military operations and targeted attacks on the region over recent months.”
Which, as Andrew Bolt observes, is “good if true.”
- Peter Schiff takes on a point-by-point fisking of Paul Krugman. Magic.
- And in ObamaCare Week, Leonard Peikoff schools us once again on a basic fact:
Leonard Peikoff: Health Care is Not a Right
- Paul Hsieh points out that government-run health systems—any government-run health system, not just ObamaCare—necessarily pits doctors against their Hippocratic Oath. It “places your doctor’s medical conscience directly on a collision course with government bureaucrats.”
ObamaCare vs. the Hippocratic Oat
- Now that the Democrats’ have gone post-modern, with plans to simply “deem” Obamacare into law without even bothering to hold a vote on it, it’s clear enough, says Ed Cline, from the suicidal abuse of power that Obamacare is “not just about health care. It’s about power. It’s about tyranny. It’s about destroying America.”
Of Tom Hanks, the “Slaughter House,“ Polar Bears, and Bronx Cheers – RULE OF REASON
- “This whole idea of passing a bill 'without explicitly voting for it' is the greatest evasion of legislative responsibility, the most blatant expression of contempt for the public, that I have ever seen from Congress."
Robert Tracinski: "Now It's Up to the Bear"
- “Krugman is right about one thing: this takeover is the culmination of decades of US government intervention in healthcare.”
Reversing the takeover
- Quin Hillyer says “I told you so.”
“[Back in 2008] I warned about how if the Obamites couldn't win under the current rules, they would just change the rules or otherwise break them. The latest idea, the "Slaughter Solution," is just one such example.”
Didn't I Warn About Alinsky?
- Michael Hurd writes a letter to the editor:
Under the Constitution, two houses of Congress are required to pass a bill into law so that the President may sign it. Under the Pelosi Congress, the House merely needs to “deem” a bill into law without even being concerned about the Constitution. What’s the underlying premise here, aside from a desire to institute socialism and fascism at any cost? It’s the death of rationality as applied to our government. The United States Constitution was a document whose primary purpose was to put an objective check on men through elevating objective laws above the will of any one man (or woman). That Congress and the President are even considering such a proposal as “deeming” something into law – whether they ultimately get away with it or not – shows how far our nation has tumbled from any standard of rationality and objectivity.
“What’s at stake here is not merely politics, but philosophy. Philosophy refers to more fundamental concerns such as the nature of reality and the means by which we assess reality. Do we require facts and proof to make our claims? Or do we merely wish or “deem” to be true whatever we feel to be true? Philosophy answers these questions. And philosophy sets the terms for the kind of government we will have. Once people give in to the notion that reality is whatever anyone feels they want it to be, the way is paved for dictatorship. A philosophy based on objective reality and reason gave rise to the original American concept of freedom and individual rights; the demise of rationality means the fall of our government as we once knew it. This goes well beyond the disastrous consequences of socialized medicine. Pelosi’s law of arbitrary will is now the law of the land. The law of the land is no longer the law of objective justice; it’s the law of sheer will and power.”
- Duke Ellington’s 1927 masterpiece ‘Creole Love Call’ expresses the whole of love—from the sacred to the profane. Only jazz can do this. Here it is sung by Priscilla Baskerville for the movie Cotton Club.
- Where did all that gold go? Turns out China is buying its own.
China Buys its Own Gold
- And watch out. China has one of the world’s two big economic bubbles right now, says investor Jim Rogers. (And Rogers is always worth listening to.)
Jim Rogers Sizes Up Two Global Bubbles
- The Krazy Economy blogger continues his basic series explaining “how the Fed works to expand bank credit, the Fed’s massive expansion of Member Reserve Deposits, and the steady decline in bank loans.”
Good stuff to get you up to speed with what’s going on.
Fed and the Money Supply: Details
- Some people equate warmist science with the science on evolution. Some insist you’d have to be a moron not to believe in both (I’m looking at you, Pharyngula.) Whereas others insist you’re going to hell if you believe in either (we’re all looking at you, Garth George.)
Evolutionary Theory and the Global Warming Hypothesis are a World (of Evidence) Apart
- Where did all that warming go? Here’s how National Geographic presented mid-century temps before warming became fashionable. Now, of course, alleged scientists have become more adept at hiding the subsequent decline.
How did that cooling get massaged away?
- You can kill off the warmist hockey stick as many times as you like, but they still show up every time a warmist meets the press.
IPCC's John Houghton about ecofanatics: annotated version
- Perhaps this will help exterminate the thing permanently:
Hockey Stick Illusion: “Shut-eyed Denial”
It “deserves to win prizes” says Matt Ridley.
The case against the hockey
- According to M. Mitchell Waldrop, editorial page editor for Nature, “global-warming deniers . . . are sowing doubts about the fundamental [climate change] science.” Further, Waldrop argues in his op-ed “Climate of Fear, “scientists’ reputations have taken a hit.” Ignore the snarky reference to “deniers” and ask: is science and are scientists under attack? The answer is Yes.
But who’s to blame?
What Real Scientists Do: Global Warming Science vs. Global Whining Scientists
- “The Global Warming/Climate Change charade is falling apart faster than the Democrats 2010 electoral fortunes. Falsified data, omitted relevant data, unreliable sources – the most prestigious propagators of the global warming case are beset with scandal after scandal.”
Here are a few highlights from
The Wreckage of the “Climate Consensus”
- “The death rattle of the climate campaign will be deafening. It has too much political momentum and fanatical devotion to go quietly. The climate campaigners have been fond of warning of catastrophic “tipping points” for years. Well, a tipping point has indeed arrived–just not the one the climate campaigners expected.
“The lingering question is whether the collapse of the climate campaign is also a sign of a broader collapse in public enthusiasm for environmentalism in general. Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, two of the more thoughtful and independent-minded figures in the environmental movement, have been warning their green friends that the public has reached the point of “apocalypse fatigue.” They’ve been met with denunciations from the climate campaign enforcers for their heresy. The climate campaign has no idea that it is on the cusp of becoming as ludicrous and forlorn as the World -Esperanto Association.”
- I do believe I’ve found my next Screen Saver/Desktop, courtesy of Despair.Com.
- “On the surface, the US economy is recovering. Well, not even. It is stabilizing… Economists who never expected trouble, reacted to it in a predictably moronic way - they rushed to the rescue with more debt…. But here's the interesting point: by failing to address the real causes of the crisis, the feds only allowed those undercurrents to grow more powerful and more dangerous.
“Economists can't tell a government job from a private sector job...and can't tell $1 of government spending from a dollar spent by the private sector...and can't tell a dollar's worth of GDP from a dollar's worth of real prosperity...which means, they can't tell the difference between what's happening on the surface to what's happening underneath.”
Who Can Blame Consumers for Being More Ready to Spend Money?
- All the economists who either never saw the economic collapse coming or who actually helped to make it happen (these two groups overlap quite a lot, you understand) are still in there trying to “fix” what they never knew about anyway.
They seem to think that business cycles come out of the blue, like earthquakes or cyclones. Not so. Not so. They’re entirely man-made, and entirely easy to understand.
Business Cycles, Not Our Fault
- “The question of whether we are headed into an inflationary or deflationary environment is probably one of the most important, complex and difficult questions to answer right now. For investors, getting this call right or at least thinking about the potential possibilities is absolutely crucial…So where are we? Ahhh...if only it were that easy.”
Inflation or Deflation?
- Did someone say that China hasn’t been stimulating?
China’s Currency Manipulation is a Form of Economic Stimulus
- More news on the GDP delusion:
Economic recovery: don’t trust the GDP figures
- Free-riders? Who cares about them, says Yaron Brook, when “positive externalities” are so enormous.
- Amy Mossoff talks about the experience of starting an Objectivist discussion group at her place, and the selfish value to her of doing it.
"I started thinking about this project when I realized that the most important thing I get from my friends is intellectual stimulation. I noticed that when Adam and I have friends over – friends who share our philosophical views and take ideas seriously – the conversations we have make me feel great for days. Sometimes I learn something new from the content of the discussion, but more often than not, the important thing is that the exercise of my mind refuels me and puts me into a more active-minded mode than I would normally be in. After these visits, I feel charged up, energetic, and on my game. Everything I do is more intense, and I enjoy my routine much more.”
There’s good stuff in the comments as well.
My New Hobby
- A few websites around the place have just discovered what was released in Ayn Rand’s journals back in 1996: that when the twenty-two year old Rand first arrived in the US from Bolshevik Russia, she planned a novel (which she never completed) based on a cold-hearted killer. Apparently that’s okay when you’re Truman Capote or Dostoyevsky, but not for Ayn Rand.
Find the truth about the story here:
Smearing Ayn: Rand, Nietzsche and the Purposeless Monster
Rand's views on murderer William Hickman
- I’ve just finished John Lewis’ magnificent book Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History, with lessons from history from Sparta to Hiroshima; from Sherman’s burning of Atlanta to the failure of pre-war appeasement of Hitler. Here he is talking on the lessons of that book for today.
“With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, America has accepted a permanent, institutionalized state of siege on its own soil. But is this the correct strategy? In this lecture Dr. John Lewis examines several examples from history—including Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome—in which great nations, facing attack, have acted defensively rather than with bold offense. The results are clear: such a policy is suicidal. Rather than bracing against further attacks at home or spreading “democracy” abroad, America should destroy her enemies.
“But this strategic lesson needs a moral foundation….”
WATCH HERE: The Failure of the Homeland Defense: The Lessons from History [66:41 min.]
- The integrator of the whole of economics is . . . Say’s Law! (Well done there at the back.) The estimable Steven Kates (who, as it happens, sits on Australia’s Productivity Commission) explains how Say’s Law integrates the whole of economics; and how John Maynard Keynes never even understood, let alone refuted it. And look just how underhanded Keynes was . . .
Watch Why Your Grandfather’s Economics Was Better Than Yours [57:00 min.]
- And good news: Kates’ classic book Say’s Law & the Keynesian Revolution has been re-released in paperback. One of the best explanations around of economics’ most basic law.
BOOK REVIEW: Say's Law and the Keynesian Revolution: How Macroeconomic Theory Lost Its Way
- Samizdata reports that “Western Australia has a population of 2.2 million people, and occupies an area of just over 2.6 million square kilometres. Just for reference, that is seven and a half times the size of Germany or alternatively ten times the size of Texas.
“However, average house prices are amongst the highest in the world, as there is a shortage of land.”
And wouldn’t you know it, there is: and it’s those same “smart-growth” arseholes that have made every other housing market so expensive who’ve done the same job in WA.
It's time misguided land starvation was stopped
- Here’s a neat idea for American history buffs—or for those who’d like to be. The project is called PatriotCast, and aims to be a “a real-time, online reenactment of the American Revolution. Or perhaps the best way to describe it would be a ‘Twit-enactment’.”
“That’s right, PatriotCast will be using the increasing popular mini-blog/ social networking site as its platform to provide real-time, daily updates on the events that shaped this nation’s beginning.
“Another way to think of it would be as if ‘Twitter’ were around during the 18th century and perhaps a large news corporation using twitter was following the politics and actions in America between the years of 1775 and 1783.
“PatriotCast will reenact and in a way mirror those years between the years of 2010 and 2017, with tweets coming usually everyday (often multiple tweets per day) corresponding with the historical date. The tentative start date for the Twitter feed to activate will be April 1st of 2010 which would correspond with the historical date April 1st 1775, and so on for eight years.”
Sounds like it’s worth signing up!
PatriotCast at Twitter
- Trey Givens takes on one of those difficult problems in modern manners:
Who Pays on Guy-Guy Dates?
- From JazzOnTheTube: Chick Corea tells the story of the great 1930s cabaret pianist Fats Waller acknowledging Art Tatum as he entered the club one night. He announced to the crowd, "I am just a piano player, but tonight God is in the house."
Born blind, it’s said that friends tricked him when he was a learning piano by buying a piano duet on disc and telling him it was played one-handed—which is how he went on to learn it.
Here’s Art Tatum with ‘Willow Weep For Me.’
- And for something completely different . . . here’s Daniel Barenboim with the world’s best-known piano sonata [hat tip Lindsay Perigo]:
- And finally, a cogent thought for the weekend—and, frankly, for any other time [hat tip Luke Setzer]:
Enjoy your weekend!
It’s the greatest sport in the world … even if they have to play AC bloody DC all through their bloody ads to help prove it.