Dec 10 2008

Is the president-elect an Evangelical?

Category: Obama,religionharmonicminer @ 11:27 pm

Is Barack Obama an Evangelical?

Is Barack Obama an Evangelical?

Read it at the link.

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Dec 10 2008

Nothing new here

Category: Uncategorizedharmonicminer @ 10:15 pm

Here’s a twenty year old article that could have been written yesterday. The money quote:

Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek has provided the answer: “It is through the mutually adjusted efforts of many people that more knowledge is utilized than any one individual possesses or than it is possible to synthesize intellectually; and it is through such utilization of dispersed knowledge that achievements are made possible greater than any single mind can foresee.”[9]

The market brings together the information possessed by all individuals in the market and, therefore, is able to make better decisions on questions of optimal resource allocation than can any group of bureaucrats. To try to identify “winners” and “losers” beforehand is folly.

Read the entire article, and ponder the fact that congress is about to get into the automobile manufacturing business. Other businesses will follow.

Are we about to learn, the very, very hard way, what European socialists already proved, namely that governments can’t run businesses and make them work? What they CAN do, of course, is interfere with business, and make it fail. That, in fact, is what happened in the recent mortgage finance debacle, and a large part of the reason for American automaker’s difficulties, namely the legal props for union muscle, and the requirements for various aspects of automobile design.

Dec 10 2008

Dividing the promised land part 1

Category: economy,environment,government,humorharmonicminer @ 1:16 pm

This is about our adventures in dividing a 5 acre lot into two 2.5 acre lots, in San Bernardino County in southern California.  It will include human folly, financial folly, governmental folly, economic folly, and environmental folly.  Plenty of folly to go around.

My family and I live on the south half of the 5 acre lot.  The lot is defined as “sub-dividable” by the county.  We bought it 6 years ago, had a house built on it, assuming that we could subdivide it when we chose, and either sell the other half, or build on the other half, then sell it.

You know what they say about assumptions.

We moved into the house a little more than 4 years ago.  As you may recall, the go-go real estate market was in full swing.  When we began to check into it, we discovered that the cost to subdivide the property into two separate lots was estimated at $14,000 – $15,000.  Wow.  Who knew?  We asked why, and were told about all the things that “had to be done” before the lot could be divided.

“But,” we protested, “we just bought the lot, and built on it.  Environmental studies were already done.  Drainage has been determined.  Percolation tests have been done.”  (Those are necessary to determine that the ground will tolerate a septic tank, since it’s a pretty remote area.)  We continued, “And the survey was just done to determine the exact limits of the property before we were allowed to buy it.  All you have to do is draw a line down the middle of it.  Nothing has changed in the last six years.”

The county employee smiled condescendingly and explained that it all had to be done again.  I asked why, and was told, “It’s the state law for part of it, and county regulations for the rest of it.”  Did I mention that it was going to be $14,000 – $15,000 to get all this stuff done again?

Basically, we were staying in Judah, and wanted to sell Israel. Unfortunately, the Assyrians run the county, and the Babylonians run the state.  We could wait for Sharia Law to take over, and pay the jizya, or we could just bite the bullet and pay tribute now.

Continue reading “Dividing the promised land part 1”

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Dec 10 2008

Pro-business isn’t the same thing as “free market”

Category: capitalism,economy,governmentharmonicminer @ 9:00 am

An article by Eric-Charles Banfield, from 1995, on Business–Government Collusion

Back when first cutting my teeth on the concepts of free-market economics, I was impressed by the argument that business firms have to satisfy their customers to survive. Firms have strong, natural disincentives against performing poorly or acting immorally because they would risk losing customers and going out of business. For some time thereafter, I defended “business” on those grounds. Business is not an evil, I argued; indeed, businesses are almost “slaves” to the shifting and elusive passions of the sovereign consumer.

But over the years, I found myself forced to refine my views regarding business firms. Three lessons stand out. First, being “pro-business” is not the same as being “free-market.” Second, regulation, which presumably works “against” business, goes hand-in-hand with special privileges and artificial protections “for” business. Third, the phenomenon of active and routine collusion between business and government made the business world seem less than the pure and benevolent social agent I once perceived. In short, I began to recognize that the concept of “the corporate welfare state” goes a long way to describe some of the problems we observe in the complex nexus between the market sector and the government sector. All too often, businesses lobby government for special privileges they would not have in a true, free market.

Read it all. We haven’t had “free market” capitalism in this country for a long time, if we ever did, as is made clear here.  If we ever do get it, we won’t just rent the world with option to buy, as we do now, we’ll own it.

As it is, this 13 year old article is disturbingly relevant today.

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