Archive for July, 2012


A history lesson

July 28, 2012

An interesting interview with John Barry, who wrote Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State and the Birth of Liberty. (Quite a mouthful, eh?)


Hear, hear!

July 27, 2012

Via Maggie’s Farm


This American life

July 27, 2012

The first third or so of a post at

34 glorious, American years

(Every year on July 20th, I celebrate the day my mother and I arrived in America. […])

In 1977, the year I was born and the year my father and many other Jews left the Soviet Union (my mother and I left in 1978, my grandmother and great-aunt left in 1976), the Soviet propaganda machine began circulating a rumor. It went, roughly: life in America is so terrible that the old people eat cat food.

This was… perplexing.

People didn’t quite get it: they have food specifically made for cats in America? What a country!

A lot of things about America remained beyond their comprehension.

A week after my father arrived in New York, he and a friend were walking around Manhattan in pure wonder. They got to midtown and stood in front of Bloomingdale’s watching well-dressed people come in and out. They discussed it amongst themselves that they would obviously have to show evidence that they had money, or proof of income, or some other paperwork to get inside. Surely this store for the wealthy wouldn’t just let them in. They watched and watched but didn’t see people getting stopped. They walked slowly through the doors and found no one gave them a second look.

Via Q & O


The right to keep and bear cameras

July 27, 2012

On the one hand, I think this is good advice. On the other, I think it’s a pity that distrust of police has become so widespread. That’s the impression I have, at least; not that I’ve ever experienced any police brutality. (The worst encounter I’ve had was a cop who tried to shake me down. He wasn’t abusive, he was just annoyingly persistent.)

The Best Way to Protect Your Rights is to Exercise Them

You have Constitutional rights by virtue of being a citizen of the United States of America. They have been bought and paid for with the blood of patriots who understood that freedom is anything but free. These rights do not depend on your income, race, religion, the clothes you wear or the car you drive. […]

Citizens should arm themselves with existing inexpensive audio/video recording equipment. This is what some term, “the right to keep and bear cameras.” When dealing with abusive law enforcement, proof of events is an absolute must if your rights are to be preserved. If you are arrested and charged with the typical quota-induced misdemeanor and choose to fight the relatively inexpensive charge, you need proof. While the state bears the burden of proof, according to the legal books, in reality the word of a police officer often trumps the word of the citizen regardless of the lack of evidence. The reality is today the citizen is guilty until proven innocent. Recording devices are helping curb this injustice.

This guy’s vehicle is definitely a ‘Project Car’. But there are some good suggestions in the clip without going whole hog and armoring your ride.


Tick, tick, tick…

July 22, 2012

28 minutes.

Via Breitbart’s Big Government


Five out of six isn’t bad

July 22, 2012

Here’s an interesting topic from NPR’s Planet Money: Six Policies Economists Love (And Politicians Hate).

Here’s the short list of policies; there’s explanation for each in the post so Read The Whole Thing. (Or listen to the epsiode here.)

    One: Eliminate the mortgage tax deduction.
    Two: End the tax deduction companies get for providing health-care to employees.
    Three: Eliminate the corporate income tax.
    Four: Eliminate all income and payroll taxes.
    Five: Tax carbon emissions.
    Six: Legalize marijuana.

I’d argue against #5 since I’m not convinced carbon emissions are the negative externality that many others think they are. But the rest of the list makes a lot of sense.

The corporate income tax in particular has never made any sense to me. What do we think we’re taxing? It’s either (a) investment capital that’s used for taxes so it can’t be re-invested or (b) it’s a cost that’s passed on to customers or (c) it’s individual income being taxed (i.e., lower dividends)… yet again. WTH?

Does anyone honestly think the government is better at making capital investments than the market is? And if you do think so, have you checked your Social Security account balance lately?

The economists on the show were an interesting mix.

Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C., and widely published blo “You could probably describe me as left of center. It’d be fair.”

Russ Roberts, George Mason University economics professor. “In the grand spectrum of economic policy, I’m a pretty hard core free market guy. I’m probably called a libertarian.”

Katherine Baicker, professor of health economics at Harvard University’s Department of Health Policy and Management. We simply called her a centrist on the show.

Luigi Zingales, professor of entrepreneurship and finance and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “What I like to say is that I’m pro-market, but not necessarily pro-business.”

Robert Frank, professor of management and economics at Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management. “I’m a registered Democrat. I think of myself as a radical pragmatist.”


Working in America

July 15, 2012

Here’s an interesting 8 minutes of opinion from the guy who does Discovery Channel’s show Dirty Jobs.


Six charts

July 15, 2012

From James Pethokoukis at the American Enterprise Institute site: 6 charts that show the Welfare State run amok. These charts and graphics come from […] Gary Alexander, secretary of public welfare for Pennsylvania. (Mileage in your state may vary, of course.)

Here’s one.

I suppose the spike at the left edge is due to the low number of Medicaid recipients when the program was launched.


Today’s lesson

July 7, 2012

The appearance of this makes me wonder whether it was really printed in some newspaper and then clipped and copied. But maybe I’m too suspicious; it may have come from the Miller County Liberal in Colquitt, Georgia.

It’s a good reminder, regardless of its source.

And, no, the point is not that we’re treating poor people like animals. The point is that all animals, including people, respond to incentives.

For example, I know a woman who worked for years and made good money – over $100,000 per year in her last job. She’s married to man who’s doing very well in his engineering career. (He earns more than she was earning.) Their children are grown. So when she lost her last job, it was a loss of income but couldn’t be considered a hardship by any means. Nonetheless, she collected unemployment compensation while she was eligible just because it was available. (I don’t believe she was actually planning to return to work but I may be wrong about that.)

And another point is that the USDA seems to be in overdrive these days about enrolling as many as possible in its food stamp programs. To me, that looks more like a bureaucracy trying to expand its empire than a compassionate agency taking care of needy people.

Penn Jillette wrote, "Helping poor and suffering people is compassion. Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness." In other words, people have responsibilities.

So Amen, Mr. Fleming.

Tip o’ the hat to Jeff G.

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