Thursday, January 29, 2009
Reuters had the following headline yesterday:
"Egypt attacks Iran and allies in Arab world"
This leads to many possible questions:
-Why did Egypt attack Iran?
-Did it involve a land invasion, or merely air sorties?
-Did Egypt attack Iran's allies, or its own allies?
-Why haven't I heard more about this in the news?
-Who the hell approved this headline?
Although the headline does its best to mislead us, the described events were much less dramatic. Basically, an Egyptian diplomat gave an interview in which he said that Egypt used diplomatic pressure to prevent a January meeting between other Arab diplomats from taking place.
But, I have to admit, the thought of missiles flying back and forth between Cairo and Tehran sounds a lot more exciting.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
"Feds say Bernard Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme was worst ever"
Worst ever? I can think of a bigger one.
Wikipedia: "A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors out of the money paid by subsequent investors rather than from profit."
The money withheld from each of my paychecks for Social Security does exactly that. The whole system has always been set up to work that way.
Wikipedia: "[Ponzi schemes are] destined to collapse because the earnings, if any, are less than the payments."
Social Security is only different in the sense that you go to jail if you don't participate.
These plans works like magic, as long as the number of new investors/suckers steadily increases. But when the number of new investors/suckers invariably slows down...well, then you have a problem. This is why Social Security is unworkable, and always has been.
People like to think the government thought it through before passing it, or at least that the government has a plan to fix it, but that's simply not the case. The only "fixes" offered are cutting benefits, and increasing the age at which benefits begin. The most these measures can accomplish is delay the inevitable collapse, while simultaneously decreasing the program's efficiency.
Because the government has ignored reality and perpetuated an unsustainable redistribution of wealth for decades with Social Security, it's no surprise the government is desperately throwing good money after bad to try to prop up overpriced homes.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Another example of government intervention creating a preposterous situation: tobacco subsidies. We've given taken hundreds of millions of dollars from all taxpayers, and spent it to prop up the tobacco industry. The government is directly supporting an industry against which it spends millions in advertising.
Does this make sense to you?
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
College tuition continues to outpace inflation. Check out this quote from the article:
"We're probably going to have to take some options off the table (for the other children) unless things change," said Kopec, who works in book publishing. "It's not easy." She hopes President-elect Barack Obama will implement campaign promises such as offering college grants in exchange for community service. Low-income students in particular could also get help from Obama's proposed economic stimulus package, which may include measures to improve college affordability, such as increasing the amount of Pell grants."
These options do NOT make college more affordable. In fact, they do the opposite.
Some time ago, the government wanted to make it possible for more people to attend college. To achieve this goal, the government implemented a number of policies, including Pell grants, and federally backed loans. By increasing the amount of money available to spend on college tuition, these types of policies increased the availability of money within a subset of the market (i.e. college tuition). This increase resulted in artificially increased prices. No one who understands basic economics should have been surprised at the result: rapidly increasing costs associated with secondary education.
Don't believe me? Think about this next paragraph:
Some time ago, the government wanted to make it possible for more people to own homes. To achieve this goal, the government implemented a number of policies, including tax credits, legislation such as the Community Reinvestment Act, and artificially low interest rates. By increasing the amount of money available to spend on housing, these types of policies increased the availability of money within a subset of the market (i.e. housing). This increase resulted in artificially increased prices. No one who understands basic economics should have been surprised at the result: rapidly increasing home prices.
Those paragraphs are nearly identical because the situations are nearly identical.
Home ownership is a good thing. So is a college education. Therefore, when the government promises to help people own a home or get a college education (or get health care) it sounds like a great idea. Anyone who complains about the costs associated with socialist/redistributivist ideas like these seems selfish and small-minded. However, this type of policy always leads to increased costs, with tragic results. For example, we could be dealing with the fallout from the current financial crisis for decades.
As another example, my dad could pay his way through college, simply by working and saving his money. Now, that's simply impossible. The current system eliminated the possibility of paying your way through college, and replaced it with nearly unavoidable student-loan debt obligations, which often exceed $100,000.
If given the choice between delaying college one year to earn the money to pay for it outright, or working for 10 years after the fact to pay off your student-loans, which would you choose?
Also, the increased supply of people with college degrees decreases the value of a college education. If everyone has a college degree, you need a post-graduate degree to set yourself apart. And while arguments extolling the virtues of an educated society seem compelling, it's no secret that the requirements of a college degree have become far less rigorous than they once were. College has been dumbed down to meet the decreasing abilities of its increasingly average clientele, at the same time that its cost has risen.
Students (and their parents) are paying far more for far less, thanks to well-intentioned, but misguided government meddling.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
"After the Philadelphia Eagles beat the New York Giants, the Cardinals hosted their first NFC Championship game in Arizona. They went on to defeat the Eagles 32-25, and will play in Super Bowl XLIV."
It appeared in 2 minutes or less after the game ended.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
He seems to say the right things. I hope things are turning around.
Monday, January 12, 2009
Bonus points if you can spot the tiny Jayhawk 2008 National Championship banner. Thanks, Tom.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
It's very impressive. If you'd like to purchase one, drop me a line. It's a ton of work to do, but it's pretty large. $350 with the paint. A solid color would be cheaper, but I'd have to check into it to get an exact amount.
Here are a couple more. I'll try to take some better pictures when I get a chance.
Monday, January 05, 2009
$700 billion apparently hasn't helped. What's the next logical step? For Congress, it involves moving the decimal point.
WASHINGTON (AFP) – Democrats in Congress hope to approve a massive president-elect Barack Obama by early February, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said on Sunday.backed by
The Democrat confirmed the size of the package would be somewhere in the range of 775 billion to a trillion dollars.
"Clearly, it needs to be very substantial. Every economist from right to left, Republican, Democrat, advises that it has to be a very substantial package if, in fact, we're going to accomplish the objective which is, of course, to stabilize the economy and try to start bringing it back."
Despite Mr. Hoyer's assertions, I know of a few economists who don't think it's a good idea. Not to mention common sense. Our nation, both collectively and individually, is grossly overextended with debt. How can adding so much more help?
Where will we get $1,000,000,000,000? Supposedly Obama doesn't plan to raise taxes on "working families." Can he tax the corporations? If they could afford it, we wouldn't have given them trillions in bailout money. So, there are two real options to get the money:
1) Print it.
2) Borrow it from other countries.I suspect we'll do both, as we've been doing for the last few decades. Both are terrible solutions. Printing money creates inflation. Period. Borrowing it will only be tenable until the creditors (i.e. China) cut us off, or worse, call in their chips. This will happen. If you're one of the pie-in-the-sky people who think otherwise, I have a Ponzi scheme I'd be glad to sell you.
Friday, January 02, 2009
Guess who we flew to LA with? The little one. Seriously. He was across the aisle from Hillary. She didn't know who he was, but told me she thought she had seen him running down the street in a diaper one time. I told her it was Wee Man, from Jackass. That tickled her memory banks.