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Sunday, October 30, 2005

levitt on bernanke

Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt has this to say on the Federal Reserve:
If I had to guess, the Chairman of the Fed has a lot less impact on the day-to-day performance of the economy than most people think. Although Greenspan has been elevated to God-like status, I suspect that he has been at least as lucky as he has been good. One of the most important lessons of modern macroeconomics is that it is probably impossible at the present time to “fine tune” it. More or less, you just want the Fed to stay out of the way and not totally botch things. There is mounting evidence that the Great Depression (and maybe also the stagflation of the early 1970s) was due in large part to policymakers following exactly the wrong course of action.
I'm only an amateur economist, but it's nice to hear a professional one sum up the Fed in a way that closely matches my own gut feelings about the institution.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

bush, mao and nicholas kristof

I think Dubya is an awful president and I hold him responsible for the unnecessary deaths of 2000 soldiers in Iraq. Nonetheless, I wouldn't hesitate to praise him if he did something right. Similarly, I don't have a problem with people praising the good actions of a murderous dictator like Mao. My problem is with leftists like Kristof who search for the tiniest undigested kernel of corn in the turds of their favorite totalitarian and praise its tastiness after a single discovery.

I take seriously the postings of my co-blogger when he notes the role of Mao in the defense of the Chinese from the depredations of the Japanese in the early to mid-twentieth century, but Kristof isn't looking for nuance, he's looking for that tasty kernel.

looking at the whole figure is not soft-pedalling mass murder

A.W. View, from his post from yesterday on this site, is shocked that Nicholas Kristof could possibly have anything positive to say about Chairman Mao in his New York Times review of Mao: The Unknown Story.

I can't read the full review since I don't want to register at the NYT, but it sounds like Kristof doesn't dispute that Mao was a monstrous mass murderer. Why is it not correct to point out any good things Mao may have achieved? Was Mao pure evil, incapable of accomplishing anything constructive?

I may completely disagree with Kristof if I knew what he believes were Mao's good points, but for myself, I believe that Mao accomplished at least a couple of good things (and by no means do I believe this in any way absolves him of mass murder).

Firstly, the development of a common spoken Chinese language, i.e. Mandarin Chinese, was an excellent means to promote communication and interaction among the far-flung people of China, who shared a common written language but spoke widely differing dialects. This was a long-term goal, of course - the peasant farmers didn't drop their plows and take a crash-course in Mandarin, but the young were taught in Mandarin and most educated people in China today speak both Mandarin as well as their local dialect.

Secondly, the development of a simplified set of characters made the Chinese written language much easier to learn, and certainly led to an increased rate of literacy. As a perhaps unintended side benefit, it also made it easier for foreigners to learn Chinese, especially relevant today as Chinese language classes are attracting more and more American students (See here.)

And no, as a libertarian I don't believe governments should force any sort of language program on anybody, but the creation of the Mandarin spoken language as well as the simplified character set were worthy ideas in their own right, and Mao was instrumental in both projects.

As a related example, although I despise communism in all its forms, I do believe that the Communist party in China did some relative good in the beginning. In light of the brutality imposed on the Chinese people by the invading Japanese, it is not unreasonable that the Chinese would embrace the communists, who treated them far better than the KMT and offered them some protection from the Japanese thugs. See this ealier post I made on this site.

My main point in making this post is to dispute the idea that we can't rightly discuss both the negative and positive qualities of historical figures (or movements, for that matter), even if those negative qualities include mass murder. By not looking at the historical figure in his entirety, both good and bad, we run the risk of misunderstanding history itself, including, for example, why a historical figure became immensely popular. If I ever find out exactly what Kristof considers Mao's positive qualities, I may disagree with him to a fault, but I don't dispute his right to consider the whole character of Mao.

shostak on bernanke, and an apology from me

First off, I apologize for referring to Ben Bernanke as a moron in my earlier post. He clearly is not a moron, and as anybody who has been reading my posts knows, I normally try to be civil and at least somewhat polite. But I do feel that Bernanke is one of the worst choices for Fed chief, despite the views espoused on some "libertarian" sites that he's not that bad. This is because Bernanke seems to revel in the fact that the Fed can create money at will and believes that he can safely use that mechanism to monetize the debt, as can be seen in his "printing press" speech I referred to earlier.

Frank Shostak has an excellent article at today entitled The Ascension of Bernanke Into the Clouds which exposes the fallacies of Bernanke's "great theoretical contributions to economics". He goes into much detail about Bernanke's philosophy of setting an "inflationary target", which I won't go into here, and he also touches upon Bernake's illogical fear of deflation:
What are the other problems with Bernanke's thinking? The man has a pathological fear of deflation, which he defines as fall in the price level. A fall in prices is regarded as dreadful news since it causes consumers to postpone their buying of goods and services. If people hold on to their money during deflation, he believes, its purchasing power will increase and this will enable them to buy more goods some time in the future. It is for this reason, so it is held, that people choose to spend less once prices are falling. Since consumer spending is almost 70% of GDP this means a cut in consumer spending would slow down the economy.

Consequently Bernanke holds that too steep a fall in the rate of growth of the price index could lead to a serious economic slump. This is another justification for having an inflationary target. To avoid falling into a deflationary "black hole" Bernanke believes that the Fed should try to preserve a buffer zone for the inflation rate...

...In short, it seems that the Fed is likely to act aggressively on any sign of emerging price deflation.

Despite the almost unanimous agreement that deflation is bad news for an economy's health, this is not at all the case. Deflation comes in response to previous inflation. This amounts to the disappearance of money that was previously generated out "of thin air." This type of money gives rise to various non-productive activities by diverting real funding from productive real wealth generating activities.
There's also an excellent graphic for this article, which I am reproducing below. As for my coblogger's argument that no self-respecting Austrian would accept the post of Fed chief, he may be right, but you can read my comments on his post.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

still soft-pedaling mass murder

What is it with leftists and murderous communist dictators? In a book review of Mao: The Unknown Story, Nicholas Kristof notes:
In that regard, I have reservations about the book's judgments, for my own sense is that Mao, however monstrous, also brought useful changes to China. And at times the authors seem so eager to destroy him that I wonder if they exclude exculpatory evidence
WTF? If Kristof were to review a book about Hitler, would he be concerned about "exculpatory evidence" as well or mention the wonders of the Autobahn? Sheesh!

mirror mask

I went to the local art house theater this weekend to see "Mirror Mask" and I can't recommend it enough. It's directed by Dave McKean and written by Neil Gaiman and is a wonderful, charming story with a beautiful visual style. Watch the trailer and then go see it!

well said

Excellent post over at Cafe Hayek, where Don Boudreaux explains some essentials to the New York Times:
Although I understand that changes in the demand for money, as well as innovations by financial institutions, complicate matters somewhat, the looming truth remains that inflation is not like a lion needing taming. It is, instead and overwhelmingly, a product of excessive monetary growth.

Because the Fed largely controls the supply of U.S. dollars, the Fed's role isn't to "tame" inflation. Rather, the Fed's role simply is not to generate it. It can achieve this goal very, very easily -- namely, by not increasing the money supply.

This is no difficult task.

But the popular account of inflation still portrays inflation not as something caused by excessive monetary growth but as some alien-like demon, or animal spirit, that visits us from time to time and needing "taming" by smart and brave central bankers.

still the gunshine state, thank goodness!

David Hardy reports some good news from Florida:
TALLAHASSEE - Representative Mitch Needelman (R-Melbourne) today announced the filing House Bill (HB) 285 to preserve the right of citizens to lawfully possess weapons during an officially declared state of emergency.
Florida has its problems, freedom-wise, but I'm proud to be living in a state that first in concealed carry reform, first to pass a "no retreat in public required" standard and, I hope, first to pass this new law as well.

Yay, Florida!

ben bernanke is not a moron

In this post, my co-blogger asserts that Bush's pick is a moron. But who, exactly, should Bush have picked? No self-respecting Austrian economist would accept the job, and since they are the only true believers, the only ones left will be wishy-washy on hard money, at best. Does Bernanke's "printing press" speech prove he's an idiot? Not at all. The speech only indicates that Bernanke Bernanke accepts the political reality of the Federal Reserve and understands what it is: nothing more special than a printing press.

As Tyler Cowen explains here, Bernanke is, in fact, quite smart and not a moron and is probably the best one could reasonably expect and was a safe choice for Bush.

back online

Hurricane Wilma knocked out my internet for the the last day and a half. I was without a hardline for voice since I'm using Vonage for my phone. Thank goodness for cell phones!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

soul asylum is back!

Expect the new album in March. Full story here. Of course, the reason I like this band so much is because of their incredible live shows. I've seen them about 5 or 6 times, from '86 or '87 up to a few years ago. The've had some good recordings, but they never came close to the energy of their live performances. But, I'll take what I can get and hope they hit Chicago some time soon.

Monday, October 24, 2005

surprise, surprise: bush picks a moron for fed chief

Bush went ahead and did the expected, stupid thing by nominating Ben "Inflation Fighter" Bernanke as the next Fed chief. Here are some choice quotes from Bernanke's infamous speech entitled Inflation: Making Sure "It" Doesn't Happen Here, delivered on November 21, 2002:
Like gold, U.S. dollars have value only to the extent that they are strictly limited in supply. But the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press (or, today, its electronic equivalent), that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation, or even by credibly threatening to do so, the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to raising the prices in dollars of those goods and services. We conclude that, under a paper-money system, a determined government can always generate higher spending and hence positive inflation.

Of course, the U.S. government is not going to print money and distribute it willy-nilly (although as we will see later, there are practical policies that approximate this behavior). Normally, money is injected into the economy through asset purchases by the Federal Reserve. To stimulate aggregate spending when short-term interest rates have reached zero, the Fed must expand the scale of its asset purchases or, possibly, expand the menu of assets that it buys. Alternatively, the Fed could find other ways of injecting money into the system--for example, by making low-interest-rate loans to banks or cooperating with the fiscal authorities.
At least Alan Greenspan would every now and then pretend to believe in hard money, and he did write a decent article about gold and economic freedom, even if it was 38 years ago. If Bernake gets confirmed for the post, and he probably will given the stupidity and spinelessness of the U.S. Senate, we'll have the perfect figurehead at the top of Fed to represent a U.S. economic and financial policy that has completely abandoned any hint of reality. Reality won't be denied, of course, and it's only a matter of time before it comes crashing down on the U.S. dollar.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

guns and federalism

Dave Kopel reports on the passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act:
At approximately noon, eastern time, the House of Representatives voted to pass S. 397, 283-144. The bill, known as the "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act," has been endorsed by the White House, and now goes to the President for his signature.
Like anything Congress does, it's a mixed bag. It's a good ideal, but I would have voted against on federalism grounds, plus the fact that the Senate managed to add a couple of minor poison pills.

Naturally, statists everywhere are going nuts at the thought of the end of frivolous lawsuits against gun manufacturers:
Dennis Henigan, director of the legal action project at the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, called the legislation "such an egregious piece of special-interest legislation, it is almost shameless." He said the law would violate a basic premise of tort law because it "retroactively bars lawsuits against a particular industry, even if the members of that industry behave negligently."
D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams...said in a statement: "The entire community in the District is working hard to keep down gun violence. It's discouraging when members of Congress pass legislation that would inhibit our ability to hold accountable those individuals or corporate entities who contribute to the proliferation of firearms that are used in committing crimes."
The icing on the cake is the resignation of Michael Barnes, president and CEO of the Brady Campaign and Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, citing stress! Bwahahahaha!!!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

nigeria: left-wing success story

Don Boudreaux points to a New York Times column by Nicholas Kristof that what wonderful job benefits are mandated by the Nigerian government:
local regulations stipulate that companies must give all employees six weeks and two days of paid vacation a year.
Naturally, leftists everywhere are singing its praises. Or maybe not:
Not surprisingly, there are almost no employers in Niger.
Those on the left believe in a massive welfare, regulatory state as the foundation of civilization, but Boudreaux correctly notes:
Commerce is the foundation of civilization, the font of prosperity, and the key to peace. Niger's government -- either because of foolishness or evilness (take your pick) -- squashes commerce in that country. No amount of aid, mosquito nets, op-eds by Sachs, or serenading of Bono and Paul McCartney will do Nigeriens any good until commerce is allowed to flourish there.

everybody plays the fool

One of my all-time favorite R&B songs, which I happened to hear on my way to work this morning, has to be "Everybody Plays the Fool", and I'm talking about the original version by "The Main Ingredient" from 1972. Aaron Neville's version is OK, but why bother to remake such a great song? For that matter, I'm really confused by the way Hollywood keeps remaking great movies! Why!? I love the original "The Fog", and purchased the DVD years ago. I don't know if I'll bother to see the new one or not, just because I'm pissed that they have to mess with the classics. Why don't they remake the bad movies, dammit! That would be providing a useful service; if they could turn something that had potential but failed into something worth watching, then we'd have something. So instead of remaking "The Fog", or any of the other great films John Carpenter directed from the first half of his career, why not remake one of the bad ones he's given us in the last fifteen years or so?

Anyway, back to the topic at hand. EPtF has awesome lyrics. It's not just the usual "oh, poor baby, somebody broke your heart". Nosireebob, it's more along the lines of "You idiot!!! What a fool you've been! Everybody could see that you were going to get dumped big time! But, that's OK, everybody's been there, so don't worry about it".

Besides the lyrics, of course, the song itself sounds great, with Cuba Gooding's vocals gliding effortlessly over the tidy but effective production, which includes, of course, the irresistable hook in the chorus ("do do do doot! do do do doot!").

I know I'm showing my age here, but give me this timeless classic over any of the crappy pop/R&B they're churning out nowadays.

worst. hurricane. ever.

I blame Dubya and global warming. Not really, but I know someone is going to say Wilma's intensity is because of Bush 43's inaction on Kyoto and I just wanted to be the first.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

donald sutherland for president

I've Tivo'd a recent episode of "Commander in Chief", but haven't watched it yet. I like Geena Davis, but the program just sounds awful. Gene Healy has the stomach to watch it and has an interesting tidbit to share:
Leave it to Lurie to make Republicans—fictional ones, at least—look good again. In episode three, as Mackenzie Allen gets ready to launch her second military action in as many days, she makes a courtesy call on her nemesis, GOP Speaker of the House Nathan Templeton, played with charmless creepiness by Donald Sutherland. She tells Templeton of her plan to capture Noriega-clone "General Sanchez," the dictator of "San Pascuale," who has been complicit in the deaths of six American DEA agents. Templeton complains about the frequency of post-Cold War military campaigns and pointedly asks how many of them have been worth "spilling American blood." And he notes that Allen's plan to spray defoliant on San Pascuale's coca fields will ruin a lot of poor farmers who have no other option for feeding their families.
Donald sounds like one of the Old Right!

what kind of killer am i?

Shouldn't be posting from work, but...

You are an assassin.
That means you are a proffessional and do your job without mixing any emotions in it. In your life you have probably been hurt many times and have gotten some mental scars. This results in you being distant from people. Though many think that you are evil, you are not. What you really are is a person, trying to forget your pain and past. You are the person who never seems to care and that is why being an assassin fits you good. Atleast, that's what people think. Even if you don't care that much for your victims, you still have the ability to care and to generally feel. It is not lost, just a little forgotten. In crowds you tend to not get to noticed, and dress in black or other discrete colours. You don't being in the spotlight and wish people would just leave you alone. But once you do get close to someone you have a hard time letting go and get real down if you loose him/her.

Main weapon: Sniper
Quote: "The walls we build around
us to keep out the sadness also keep out the
joy" -Jim Rohn
Facial expression: Narrowed eyes

What Type of Killer Are You? [cool pictures]
brought to you by Quizilla

Spotted via Samantha Burns.

Monday, October 17, 2005

the real problem with nasa

In this interview with Dr. Bradley Edwards, there's lots of good info on the possibility of a space elevator, but also some insight into NASA's real problems. Regarding how research is funded, Edwards notes:
A lot of the budget is spent on one entity trying to play catch-up with whoever is leading. Instead of funding the leader, they’re funding someone else internally to catch up.
This is a problem with the way government funded research is conducted, not just NASA, but it is more evidence that NASA is intrinsically flawed.

Friday, October 14, 2005

goodbye goldie! (45 year old goldfish dies)

It makes me feel young to know that a goldfish lived to be 4 years older than my current age.
Goldie, said to be the oldest goldfish in the world, has died at the grand old age of 45.

Owners Pauline and Tom Evans from Bradninch in Devon, said the family pet had been out of sorts for a while, resting at the bottom of his tank...

...Goldie was one of three goldfish won at a fair in Budleigh Salterton by Mrs Evans' parents in 1960.
Full story here. Link spotted at

"casablanca" - model for resistance or pro-war propaganda?

On today's, Karen Kwiatkowski's column takes a look at the film "Casablanca" and sees a courageous struggle against brutal state power, especially as personified in the character of Rick Blaine.
I was disturbed when I watched Casablanca this week, because I realized that the Vichy French colonies in 1942 were freer than downtown Washington, D.C. today. I was disturbed when it dawned upon me that today Herr Strasser would be completely at home in New Orleans or American-ruled Iraq.

But in the example of Rick Blaine, I glimpsed a remedy for all that. We need more Rick Blaines to stand casually unimpressed by vicious, corrupt and unjust government. We need more Rick Blaines to refuse to be intimidated. We need more Rick Blaines to show us what real independence looks like.

By the end of the movie, Rick moves into a more active, perhaps more committed, phase of resistance. Rick’s opposition to centralized, brutal and immoral government power becomes violent and irreversible when he kills Herr Strasser.
However, a quite different take on the movie can be found in this piece by R. Cort Kirkwood, which also appeared at a couple of years back. Kirkwood argues that "Casablanca" was a war propaganda film, and I am inclined to agree.
Throughout the film, Ilsa works on Rick’s conscience, stirring dim memories of romantic derring-do for the Commies during the Spanish Civil War. This, their rekindled but ultimately inutile romance, and her anti-Nazi speech converts Rick. He gives Ilsa and Laszlo the exit papers. In telling her she must go with Laszlo, Rick says, "I’ve got a job to do too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of."

You know what that means: The newly magnamimous convert, formerly a bitter, sad isolationist, has joined the Crusade. What wonders a little love from a sultry Swede can do!
The two views aren't necessarily opposites, although they are conflicting. If we focus on Rick's character, we do find an admirable quality of self sacrifice to resist Leviathan, at least the variety dished out by Nazi Germany. But on the whole, I believe the movie does its best to demonize the isolationist position, and supports U.S. involvement in the affairs of Europe. I must confess that I do find this classic movie quite enjoyable from a purely entertainment perspective; regardless of its motives or effects on the public conscience, there is no denying that it was well-made.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

i work with conservatives

I continue to be astonished at the depth of conservatism displayed by some of my co-workers. DLA is a co-worker and neighbor who has been gracious enough to give me rides to work until I get a new car and some of the conversations we've had in during the morning drive have been quite enlightening.

How conservative is Mr. A? Apparently newly appointed Chief Justice John Roberts is too liberal for his tastes and the nomination of Harriet Miers has DLA declaring that President Bush should just change his voter registration to Democrat!

OK, at least I can understand the ultraconservative mind, even if I don't agree with it, but today produced what I can only describe as disturbing. This morning everyon in my division had to go to an "all hands" meeting at a nearby visitors' complex. Alas, they have a "no knives" policy and a metal detector so I was forced walk back to the car to drop off my Leatherman "micra" knife. Naturally, as we drove back to work afterwards, I grumbled about what a silly rule it was. As if I was going to take over the visitor center and crash it into a building! Now, since I've known about DLA's ultraconservative nature, I've been pretty quiet about my own classically liberal attitudes, but my complaints this morning prompted DLA to label me an anarchist! Of course, I am an anarcho-capitalist, but DLA didn't know that! Later in the day, I bumped into him again and pointed out that I didn't actually break any laws, I just argued against a particular regulation, but apparently that was enough.


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

get rid of copyright

Interesting post over at about the problems documentaries have obtaining permission to use copyrighted works.

It's things like this that are slowly driving me to Stephan Kinsella's radical position that we should just dump intellectual property laws.

Friday, October 07, 2005

man in coma for 2 years heard, understood everything

From this Guardian Unlimited story.
A man who began speaking again after two years in a coma says that he had heard and understood everything going on around him. Salvatore Crisafulli, 38, has had great difficulty in speaking since recovering, but, asked if he could remember the past two years, he replied "yes" and wept. In true Italian style, his mother told reporters that his first word had been "Mamma".

The recovery is being hailed as a miracle in his home city of Catania in Sicily, and came to light on the day Italy's bioethics committee was voting on whether to feed patients in a persistent vegetative state.

The committee backed a motion, supported by rightwing government parties, that ruled against suspending feeding. "To feed an unconscious patient through a tube is not a medical act," said the committee's president, Francesco D'Agostino. "It's like giving a bottle to a newborn baby who can't be nursed by its mother." Earlier this week a Vatican bishops' synod reiterated the Catholic view that everything possible should be done to keep patients alive.
Good article, but I don't think that last sentence is an accurate summation of the Catholic view. I believe it is more along the lines that food and water should never be withheld, even if they must go in by a tube. The analogy to a baby receiving a bottle is a good one. I believe the Catholic Church allows for pulling the plug on a heart or lung machine in certain cases, as this is considered extraordinary means of keeping a body alive. Being in a coma and unable to feed yourself is a much different thing entirely.

the police officer is your friend

Here are two stories recently about police abuse. One involves a man in a wheelchair, trying to get a police officer reported for parking in a handicap spot and ending up abused and arrested. The second involves an elderly man who broke some traffic laws and ended up suffering a micro-Waco standoff because of a a missed court date. A commenter to one of the stories says:
You really should do what you can to bring some justice crashing down on their heads. but, you shouldn't lessen your respect for cops in general. Not only do they have one of the harder jobs you can have, they keep society intact.
This is a lie. Police forces, as we know them, didn't really exist prior to the 19th century and they were created to deal with vice problems, not to keep society intact.

on biting the hand that feeds...

A 25-year-old woman in Melbourne, Fla., was treated at a hospital Thursday after an alligator jumped out of the water and bit her hand as she tried to feed it by hand, according to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission news release.

The 3-foot alligator bit Danielle Rivera, of Palm Bay, Fla., Thursday afternoon at Crane's Creek in downtown Melbourne.

Rivera told a FWC investigator that she was trying to feed an alligator when it bit her hand instead of the food. She said she did not realize it could propel itself out of the water.
Full story here.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

harriet miers, christians and gambling

At the Lew Rockwell blog, Laurence Vance rightly criticizes evangelical Christian leaders for their blanket endoresement of Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers in this post:
Regarding the Harriet Miers nomination--Pat Robertson and James Dobson have both praised the nomination. Who cares? What makes them so special that we should listen to their judgment on a Supreme Court nominee? They like Miers because she is another crony of Bush who claims to be an evangelical Christian. That's it. The fact that they know nothing about her views on the Constitution or that she has never been a judge doesn't seem to be much of a problem for Robertson and Dobson.
However, Vance then goes on to make this particular claim regarding Christians and gambling:
... just today I happened to tune in to Dobson's radio show and who was the guest--Bill "The Bookie of Virtue" Bennett. I thought Christians were opposed to gambling. It didn't seem to impact Bennett's relationship with Dobson.

Has Dobson told his followers that Harriet Miers was appointed by Bush to be the head of the Texas Lottery Commission and that she stayed in that post for five years? I thought "deeply committed Christians" were opposed to all forms of gambling?
The "The Bookie of Virtue" line is hilarious - hadn't heard that one before. However, as a Catholic who occasionally enjoys an evening of blackjack or poker, I take issue with Vance's claims. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church Part 3, Section 2, Chapter 2, Article 7 we find this statement:
Games of chance (card games, etc.) or wagers are not in themselves contrary to justice. They become morally unacceptable when they deprive someone of what is necessary to provide for his needs and those of others. The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement. Unfair wagers and cheating at games constitute grave matter, unless the damage inflicted is so slight that the one who suffers it cannot reasonably consider it significant.
I believe that there are enough legitimate reasons to criticize the Miers nomination and her knee-jerk support among conservatives and Christian leaders; we don't need to bring the non-issue of gambling into the picture.

a note about the google ads

Google is an amazing company. When everyone thought the search engine market was mature, they came in out of nowhere and proceeded to dominate the field because their product was an order of magnitude better than the competition. Not content to stand still, they continue to roll out one new innovative product after another, and they have my immense respect.

With the opportunity to make a little money, I signed up for the Google Adsense program, and hence the ads you see at the top of the page. I just want to point out that, in general, Leviathan Slayer neither endorses nor condemns any specific ads that might appear in the future, as we have no way of knowing what new ads will come along. We do have the ability to filter out specific ads, and this I do when I see one come along that supports an organization that I specifically disagree with. For example, if I see any ads that support a policy of war and aggression, I add them to the filter so that they will no longer appear. I do the same for ads from any organizations that support or encourage women to abort their unborn children.

Some ads are in a kind of gray area. For example, some may focus on opposition to the war, but when you click through you get inundated with with pro-Democratic Party material, which I would not support. These I typically do not filter, as it is too much effort to try to ascertain the ultimate aims of the sponsor. I figure that if the ad focuses on opposition to the war, it can stay. As a general rule Leviathan Slayer does not support any specific political parties, though we may support individual candidates regardless of party. Very few, of course, since most politicians are swine!

While my coblogger A.W. View may have different opinions about certain ads than I would, I am in charge of the ads so filtering ads will continue to be my responsibility and will ultimately reflect my personal views. Since I cannot constantly monitor the ads, please understand that there will be some which directly oppose the philosophies and views espoused by this site. Now click on some ads, dammit, so we can make some money!! Just kidding, hey hey, and thanks for reading this disclaimer.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

confusing money with savings: real bills, phony wealth

Professor Antal Fekete makes the case that savings are not sufficient for production, but that Real Bills, i.e. Bills of Exchange in a clearing system, are alone sufficient to fund production without savings. Robert Blumen handily shatters this ludicrous theory by exposing it to the light of economic reason, drawing on both classical and Austrian economic theory, in this column at
As an inflationist in good standing, Fekete’s theory is firmly anchored in the confusion between money and wealth. Fekete starts with the true premise that clearing increases the efficiency in the use of cash, to the false conclusion that it allows production to be funded by a bill alone.

While the premise is true, the conclusion is false. Clearing has economic benefits, but it has nowhere near the magical properties that Fekete would have us think. Fekete's extravagant claim regarding the ability of bills to substitute for actual savings is entirely erroneous.

Financing is not funding. Economizing the use of cash is not the same as economizing scarce real factors. Land, labor, and fixed capital do not come into being through the establishment of clearing systems. Economizing cash only enables the existing supply of factors to trade at higher money prices.
The whole column is much longer and well worth a read.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

injun summer in chicago

Oops, sorry, I mean Native American summer. It's a great feeling to be living in Chicago in October and hear that the low for the night will be in the 70s, as it was last night and will be tonight. You feel like you're beating the system somehow, and for the duration, you forget about all those ridiculously cold days you suffer through from November through April. Right now it is 81 degrees at 9 pm! Woo hoo! Last night, after the kids were asleep, I sat out on the balcony drinking a Goose Island Octoberfest and smoking a Hoyo de Monterey Excalibur, my ears plugged into my iPod.

Tomorrow will be the last abnormally hot day before reality sets in on Thursday. Sure, all you folks from the southern states like my coblogger A.W. View take it for granted, but we really know how to appreciate a heatwave around here.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

the real reason

Talk Left says, "I want to know why the Democratic members of Congress don’t have the guts to at least introduce Articles of Impeachment" and supplies his own answer, natch: "I think I know the answer to the latter: The Republican “swift-boat” apparatus. Anybody who would take out Max Clellan, a triple amputee Vietnam War veteran for supposedly being “anti-veteran,” has no moral scruples at all."

Sorry, TL, but you are dead wrong. The real reason the Dems don't introduce articles of impeachment is that to them, preserving the legitimacy of the state, specifically the "power" of the president to go to war without consequence, is far more important than getting rid of a disaster like Bush. The Dems fear, perhaps only unconsciously, that if they tried impeachment against Bush, then a future, Democratic, President would have his hands tied if he thought it was desirable to go to war. They don't want a future Republican Congress to say, "You tried to impeach Bush, now we are justified in impeaching the current President because he did the same thing". Unlimited power for that hypothetical future Democrat outweighs any benefit to impeaching Dubya in the present. The Democrats (and yes, the Republicans, too) worship the State and that is ultimately the foundation for all decisions.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

diplomacy as a setup for a nuclear punch

The Bush Administration is gearing up for its next two wars, and they're going to be hot ones, according to Paul Craig Roberts' latest column.
Mired in interminable conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush administration is moving toward initiating two more wars, one with Iran and one with North Korea. With no US troops available, the Bush administration is revamping US war doctrine to allow for "preventative nuclear attack." In short, the Bush administration is planning to make the US the first country in history to initiate war with nuclear weapons. The Pentagon document, "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations," calls for the use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear adversaries in order "to ensure success of US and multinational operations."

In the case of Iran and North Korea, the Bush administration is using diplomacy not for diplomatic purposes of reaching agreements, but in order to set the two countries up for nuclear attack. In the case of Iran, the Bush administration's plan is now obvious. The Bush administration is leveling false charges against Iran, just as it did against Iraq, of conspiring to make nuclear weapons. These charges are known to be false by the Bush administration and by the entire world.
I think Roberts raises a good point about how the Bush administration has shown a pattern of using "diplomacy" simply as a means of making baseless assertions and ridiculous demands, in order to set a foreign power up for attack. Bush's father did the same thing back in the days before the first Iraq war. I hope he's wrong about the nukes - that's too scary to contemplate. But unless Bush is raising a secret clone army, I don't know where the troops are going to come from for a traditional non-nuclear invasion. Nothing shocks me any more about the levels of depravity that Bush and the neocons will resort to in their plans for global hegemony.