30 August 2011

Natural Consequences


ASI

The justification for pushing people around like this is the NHS. Shouldn’t people have to pay for their own illnesses? Well, yes – that’s how personal responsibility works. But having an NHS removes the personal responsibility, and artificial attempts to inject it into the system are doubly illiberal and wrong.
The government (and the electorate, for that matter) forces people to be in the NHS. You have no choice in the matter, and you can’t opt out of it. Jamie Whyte put it well: "first the do-gooders conjure up the external costs by insisting that no one should have to pay for his own medical care, then they tell us that they must interfere with behavior that damages our health because it imposes costs on others." This is perverse and illiberal. The tax would only affect the poor – rich people's spending habits wouldn't be dented. How easy it must be for doctors to pontificate about the need for a fat tax, knowing that such a tax would hardly affect them at all.
This creepy, controlling paternalism has plenty of fans in politics on both sides of the partisan divide. Doctors are the politicians' enablers, lending the weight of their “expertise” to the nanny instinct of the political class in exchange for the feeling of being important. No amount of expertise – medical or otherwise – should give somebody the right to interfere with another adult’s choices. Nor should democracy be used as an excuse to violate the sovereignty of the individual. If fat people are costing the NHS money, that's a mark against having an NHS, not against having fat people.

Sam Bowman is perfectly correct in noting that the problem with obesity is a mark against the NHS.  The NHS has essentially reduced people’s incentive to avoid unhealthy behavior and, unsurprisingly, people have engaged in unhealthy behavior.  If the NHS were abolished, people would revert to more healthy behaviors.  This is the basic economics.

However, regulating people’s diets and behaviors is the natural consequence of having the NHS.  If a government is going to dispense “free” health care, the only way to control costs is to limit health care and control individuals’ behavior.  If the government is going to provide something for you, it is eventually going to have to control you.  Government benefits and government control go hand in hand.

Therefore, if people do not wish to be controlled by their government, they must give up their benefits (and in this case pity can be offered to those in Britain because NHS is not opt-out, so there are likely some in Britain who are part of system they simply want no part of).  And if people desire certain benefits from the government, they must be prepared to cede control of themselves to the state.  Those are simply the natural consequences.

29 August 2011

Maybe It’s Time to Give Up on Africa

ASI:
Britain’s international aid budget costs the equivalent of 22 days of national borrowing from international markets. By 2015, British Aid will have increased by 34.2% to £11.5 billion per annum. Including personal donations and state spending, Britain gives 0.8% of GDP in international aid. With state aid increasing, more people should ask: Why are average per capita incomes in Africa lower than 40 years ago after $1 trillion of aid being given over that period?
If there is one thing I simply do not understand in this scenario, it would have to be why Britain feels compelled to help Africa at all.  The British government’s only concern should be with taking care of its citizens and acting directly in their best interest.  (Of course, as a libertarian, I’m inclined to argue that this can be accomplished simply by ensuring that property rights are observed, and that the taxation necessary to ensure this result is as small and painless as possible.)

I simply do not see how giving aid to Africa is in the best interest of British citizens.  Need cheap labor?  Asia is a good place for that, and doesn’t generally require near the amount of aid that Africa does.  Besides which, Asian labor is more reliable in terms of quality, and many Asian governments have made a point of developing their infrastructure.  So why care about Africa?

This question becomes extremely poignant once on also considers that African countries have not simply stagnated in spite of aid, but have actually regressed.  This being the case, it seems obvious that aid, if not hurtful, is at least irrelevant to African countries.  And if they can’t manage the money transferred to them from the pockets of productive first-world citizens, then how and why would anyone think that they are worth investing in?

Quite simply, it is time to cut the purse-strings to Africa.  They squander the generous gifts given to them time and again, and it appears that this trend isn’t going to change anytime soon.  If insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then the sane thing to do at this point might be to cut the aid and force Africa to stand on its own feet.  And who knows?  It just might be crazy enough to work.

28 August 2011

Free Trade Fallacies


I sympathize with the sentiment, but this is a dumb way to analyze free trade:

Decades of outsourcing manufacturing have left U.S. industry without the means to invent the next generation of high-tech products that are key to rebuilding its economy, as noted by Gary Pisano and Willy Shih in a classic article, “Restoring American Competitiveness” (Harvard Business Review, July-August 2009)
The U.S. has lost or is on the verge of losing its ability to develop and manufacture a slew of high-tech products. Amazon’s Kindle 2 couldn’t be made in the U.S., even if Amazon wanted to.

First, how can Gary Pisano and Willy Shih be sure of the keys to the future?  The eight-track used to be the way to the future of music; the laserdisc used to be the future of home movies (as did HD-DVDs).  How can anyone say with any degree of certainty that high tech products are the key to the future, especially in light of diminishing marginal returns?  The simple fact of the matter is that there is no way to predict what people in the future want, and there is no need, then, for this sort of histrionics.

Second, who says manufacturing is the key to future wealth?  What makes Apple products so popular isn’t their manufacturing specs; it’s how they’re marketed.  It may be that marketing is key to the future, especially if consumers become considerably more concerned with status.  As such, focusing on America’s ability (itself a logical fallacy) to manufacture certain products is shortsighted and unnecessary.

Finally, why is the ability to manufacture high-tech products considered a hallmark of American competiveness instead of domestic economic policy?  If one truly wants to understand why American manufacturing has declined, one need look no further than the federal government’s domestic economic policy.  It has become increasingly anti-business and anti-manufacturing over the past decades, and more supportive of foreign trade.  As I have demonstrated many times now, this combination is eventually going to prove fatal to American businesses.

Thus, the problem isn’t that “America can’t manufacture a Kindle,” it’s that American businesses are being increasingly hamstrung by the American government.  The solution, then, is to repeal the economically destructive laws put in place by the government; it is not lamenting over the decline of high-tech manufacturing.

The TSA: A Pervert’s Dream Job


Remember, the reason why TSA agents get to fondle pat down people is to keep us safe; it’s not because any of them are perverts:

A city officer arrested a Spring Creek man Wednesday morning at the Elko Area Regional Airport, where he works for the Transportation Security Administration, on a warrant charging six counts of lewdness with a child.

Well this is just lovely.  One of the people charged with keeping travellers safe appears to be a hands-on pedophile.

How has it not occurred to the brass at the TSA that maybe, just maybe, the jobs they offer are a pervert’s dream come true?  Did they not think that there are some people who would like to be paid to grope other people?  Yes, Virginia, there are some sick f**ks in this world, and at least one of them works for the TSA.

People in general don’t like being groped by other people.  They especially dislike it when the person groping them is a pervert.  You’d think the TSA would screen for this.  In fact, this incident begs a very important question:  given that the TSA has hired at least one pervert, how can travellers be sure that it hasn’t hired more than one pervert?  And how can travellers be sure that the person groping inspecting them as they go through security isn’t also a pervert?

There’s a reason the fourth amendment is in the constitution:  The founding fathers realized hundreds of years ago that the state and those in its employee had (and still have) a very strong tendency to abuse their power.  In this case, the government has given certain people the authority to grope citizens in the process of searching, without a warrant, those who simply wish to exercise their implicit right to travel.

Thus, here is yet another reason to abolish the TSA.  Not only is it unconstitutional and not only do its employees violate the constitution on a daily basis, but it also appears to be staffed with literal perverts.

25 August 2011

Pop Quiz


Q: Who said this:

Second, the idea that U.S. economic difficulties hinge crucially on our failures in international economic competition somewhat paradoxically makes those difficulties seem easier to solve.  The productivity of the average American worker is determined by a complex array of factors, most of them unreachable by any likely government policy.  So if you accept the reality that our “competitive” problem is really a domestic productivity problem pure and simple, you are unlikely to be optimistic about any dramatic turnaround.  But if you can convince yourself that the problem is really one of failures in international competition—that imports are pushing workers out of high-wage jobs, or subsidized foreign competition is driving the United States out of the high value-added sectors—then the answers to economic malaise may seem to you to involve simple things like subsidizing high technology and being tough on Japan.  [Emphasis added.]

A:  Paul Krugman (Pop Internationalism p. 16 [1996], The MIT Press, Cambridge).

In spite of his remarkable daily stupidity, Krugman actually correctly recognizes the problem of American competitiveness in international trade.  What hampers America is not foreign trade, but domestic productivity.  And one of the biggest hindrances to domestic productivity is government, both at the state and municipal level, and particularly at the federal level.  Thus, if one wants to know why Americans are losing manufacturing jobs, one need only look at domestic policy.  The federal government has increasingly hamstrung manufacturing jobs over the past several decades.

Furthermore, instead of allowing consumers to feel the pain that domestic production policy would naturally incur, the federal government instead decided to promote increased foreign trade (under, it should be noted, the auspices of so-called “free” trade).  This policy has then had the effect of subsidizing foreign production at the expense of domestic production because foreign manufacturers do not have to face the massive regulatory costs that domestic manufacturers face, giving foreign manufacturers a leg up on their competition.

As I have undoubtedly noted before, there are only two correct positions for a domestic government that presumably claims to represent the people over which it governs.  Either the government can highly regulate domestic business and place tariffs on imports that approximate the costs faced by domestic producers or the government can reduce the burden of regulation on domestic business in conjunction with the decreased cost of importing.  It is, however, quite foolish to do what the U.S. government is doing now:  highly regulate domestic business while decreasing the cost of importing.  Either a high degree of regulation is desirable or it is not.  If it is, whatever regulations that exist should be applied to every person and corporation that wishes to do business in America.  If it is not, the domestic market should be deregulated posthaste.  There is no excuse for the current state of affairs.

23 August 2011

The Insanity of IP


Stephan Kinsella details just how much trouble one can get into because of IP laws.  Please note that this doesn’t even include file-sharing:

In his paper Infringement Nation: Copyright Reform and the Law/Norm Gap, law professor John Tehranian explains how the normal activities (see pp. 543-48) of a typical Internet user–he takes an “average American, …take an ordinary day in the life of a hypothetical law professor named John”–someone who does not even engage in P2P file sharing–could result in up to $4.5 billion in potential liability annually, for copyright infringement. The acts include:
-having his email program “automatically reproduce the text to which he is responding in any email he drafts. Each unauthorized reproduction of someone else’s copyrighted text—their email—represents a separate act of brazen infringement, as does each instance of email forwarding….” (twenty emails in an hour: $3 million in statutory damages);
-distributing in his Constitutional Law class copies of three just-published Internet articles presenting analyses of a Supreme Court decision handed down only hours ago;
-absentmindedly doodling a sketch of the Guggenheim museum on a notepad during a boring faculty meeting, i.e. making an unauthorized derivative work;
-reading a 1931 e.e. cumming poem to his Law and Literature class, an unauthorized public performance;
-emailing to his family five pictures his friend took of a local football game–his friend owns the copyright;
-having a Captain Caveman tattoo and revealing it while swimming at the local university pool: violating Hanna-Barbera’s copyright by the reproduction and public display;
-singing Happy Birthday to a friend at a restaurant and recording it on his smartphone videocamera, an unauthorized public performance and reproduction of a copyright-protected work–as is the painting on the wall of the restaurant that is captured in the video footage; and
-reading on his email a magazine that itself has clips of interesting items from other publications, a contributory infringement leading to up to $7.5 million of liability.
Obviously, some of the scenarios are a little more far-fetched than others.  However, the very first item is very concerning:  copyright violations occur when you reply to an email?!  Are you serious?


Now, I realize that a lot of people view the opposition to IP as simply a bunch of nerdy white guys wanting to get out of paying for music.  And while this typecasting is undoubtedly true in some cases, it doesn’t change the fact that IP is a gargantuan monopoly system that presents a large number of problems for ordinary citizens who act in good faith.  Most people aren’t trying to rip someone off by responding to their emails, yet the laws in place operate under this very assumption.

It is obvious, then, that something needs to change.  You don’t have to support file-sharing to make a coherent objection to the current system.  Given that the laws ensure that every American is a lawbreaker, a good response would be to simply say that certain things shouldn’t be given automatic copyright protection (like email replies, for example).  Better yet, one could argue that copyright should be opt-in, which would minimize most people’s liabilities.  There is simply no sense in having a system that makes everyone a lawbreaker in order to further the economics interests of an elite, politically-connected few.

22 August 2011

Ferdinand’s Big Mistake


Actually, there are three:

Let me explain. American conservatism is built on the myth of the American Dream – the belief that anyone can become financially successful so long as they work hard. This is the basis for conservatives’ masochistic worship of capitalism and small government – take away the American Dream, and the entire thing collapses. Unfortunately, hereditarianism professes that the key traits that determine whether someone is successful – intelligence, personality etc. – are largely pre-determined by genetics, which at the moment are almost completely impossible for humans to manipulate. In other words, if you’re born stupid, no amount of hard work is going to make you a success. Your fate was already sealed when your dad forgot to pull out that night.
Do you see the conflict here? If you truly believe that The Bell Curve got it right, you can’t in good conscience advocate for an ideology that presupposes that everyone is equally capable of making themselves successful. While I’m not a strict hereditarian, I’m a proponent of honest HBD research, and if HBDers are even half right, a free-market utopia would simply condemn one half of the bell curve to permanent poverty and ruin. And even if you’re a heartless libertarian who isn’t fazed at the sight of people starving to death on the street, you have to realize that allowing morons to run unchecked is bad for the economy.

I love Ferd, mostly because he’s an irascible diatribist with a generally keen insight into cultural decay. However, the afore-quoted post is simply nonsensical because it is founded on three fallacious assumptions.  (Note:  I’m a libertarian and an HBDer.)

Ferdinand’s first flawed assumption is that there is a connection between intelligence and economic success.  As Neil Postman once observed, there is no significant positive correlation between intelligence and economic well-being, on either a macro or micro level.  There is small but positive correlation between education and fiscal well-being on a micro level, but there is no way to tell whether there is a causal link between the two, and in which direction it runs.  Additionally, education is not a good proxy for general intelligence.  Quite simply, economic outcomes are dependent on more than simply general intelligence.

Ferdinand’s second flawed assumption is that Intelligence (at least of the general sort measured by the authors of The Bell Curve) is either solely or primarily related to success.  In one sense, IQ is not the only measure of intelligence, nor is it the only type of intelligence, which means that any attempt to link success to IQ is spurious because IQ cannot properly measure the full range and type of human intelligence.

But beyond that, as noted before, intelligence is not the only variable to explain success.  Personal motivation, opportunity, personal capital, networking abilities, and even government policy all play significant roles in determining one’s economic success.  Does intelligence play a role?  Definitely.  Does it play the only role?  Of course not.  Does it play the primary role?  Who knows.

Ferdinand’s third flawed assumption is that success (read: value) is objective.  Everyone is more than capable of making themselves successful if they all have different definitions of success.  For some, success in life is lighting up a crack pipe after a hard day of work at the 7-11.  For others, success may mean becoming a billionaire.  But to assert that not “everyone is equally capable of making themselves successful” is to either assert a blindingly obvious tautology or assume that there is some objective definition of success that conservatives have in mind.  If everyone has a different definition of personal success, then it becomes considerably more probable that people with below-average intelligence will become successful.

 Finally, note that Ferdinand largely ignores the effect of technology in increasing worker productivity.  Take spreadsheet programs, for example.  Spreadsheet functions make it ridiculously easy to perform complex calculations.  Even someone with a sub-average IQ can figure out how to type numbers into cells and click a couple of buttons.  Furthermore, their results are just as accurate (if not more so) than a professional mathematician’s would be if said mathematician was calculating manually.  Technology enables stupid people to approximate the intelligence of geniuses without having to be smart.  As such, even stupid people of today can be more productive today than the geniuses of two hundred years ago, if they choose to be.

Thus, the problem with stupid people today isn’t that they’re stupid; it’s that they’re stupid and lazy.  Thus, the veracity of hereditarianism is in many ways irrelevant to the question of whether the market should be free.

19 August 2011

Can’t Get Worked Up


I hate Ashton Kutcher for his smarmy moral posturing, but I am simply unable to fathom why this is such a big deal:

Kutcher guest-edited a special new online issue of Details Magazine in which he hypes four hot new internet startups. The problem? He fails to disclose he is personally invested in three: Airbnb, Foursquare and Flipboard (interestingly, the issue is only available on Flipboard and Facebook). By journalism standards, this is a big no-no. The bigger question is whether it constitutes a federal crime. [Emphasis added.]
In an article in the New York Times yesterday, reporter Nick Bilton investigates whether Kutcher violated S.E.C. rules by failing to disclose. If Kutcher's portfolio companies file to go public anytime in the next month—a highly unlikely scenario—his conduct would violate the S.E.C.’s “quiet period” which expressly forbids stock issuers from discussing a company 30 days prior to filing. The Times piece included a bureaucratic albeit tantalizing quote from the Federal Trade Commission: “It’s certainly a possibility a case like this could be investigated.”

First, is there anyone who thinks that people hawking certain companies and businesses aren’t already balls-deep in them?  I, for one, automatically assume that anyone advising me to invest in something in a certain way (e.g. short RIMM or long WMT) is already doing the same in the expectation that doing so will be quite profitable.  Yes, I understand that some people try to make money by lying to others in order to sway the market.  But this sort of thing is, comparatively speaking, rarely attempted, and even more rarely successful.  So, when someone says to buy a certain stock or to consider investing in a certain company, I assume that they're doing the same.

Second, why is financial advice considered less trustworthy when it comes from someone who has put their money where their mouth is?  Everyone makes a big deal over the need for the media to be objective, etc., but the facts of the matter are a) the media are incapable of being objective, b) there is no way to be objective about the market anyway, and c) people are more trustworthy with their advice when they have money riding on the outcome.

The media cannot be objective because they are run by human beings, all of whom are themselves biased, imperfect, and ignorant.  Being part of the media doesn’t eliminate this, or necessarily mitigate this.  Just accept this and move on.

Furthermore, it’s pointless for the media to be objective.  The value of any market thing is subjective.  Stock prices are subjective.  Commodity prices are subjective.  The value of any and all consumer products (whether we’re talking ketchup or social networking web sites) is likewise entirely subjective.  There is no way Ashton Kutcher can say with any degree of objectivity that Airbnb is better than Hotels.com.  He can only say that he, personally, prefers one to the other.

Finally, Ashton Kutcher’s recommendations are more trustworthy because he has invested in them.  Imagine someone recommends a restaurant to you and you ask him if he’s ever eaten there.  If he responds negatively, are you going to say that you should go there because he can be objective about the matter?  So, are you going to invest in something Ashton Kutcher recommends if he himself has not invested in it?  Of course not.  If it’s as great as he says, then why hasn’t he invested in it?

As should be clear, the media’s attempt to criticize Kutcher for doing something that isn’t even illegal is simply an attempt to demonstrate their moral superiority.  Unfortunately, the media’s moral code is an ass.

Paragraphs to Ponder

This time from Stephan Kinsella:
I’ve blogged a lot lately about all the various patent battles in the smartphone and other spaces, leading to wasted money on litigation, patent acquisition, licensing, and so on–billions and billions of dollars. We have Google spending $12.5 billion on Motorola Mobility in part to obtain 17,000+ patents, to defend itself from patent threats by competitors like Apple and Microsoft. Patents are being “weaponized,” forcing even non-aggressive companies like Google to acquire patent shields.
This is good for Google–though a waste of its precious capital; think how many jobs and innovative research could those billions could have gone towards–but not everyone has the money or clout to acquire such patent arsenals for defensive purposes. Thus, the larger corporations are protected from competition from smaller players, leading to barriers to entry and oligopolies.
Perhaps one way to help jump-start the economy is to eliminate patent protection so businesses can hire people instead of toss money at the lawyers who write these regulations.  It's hard to imagine that the nation would not be better off paying people to make something instead of paying people to shuffle papers.

16 August 2011

On Riots


Thomas Sowell:

After mobs of young blacks rampaged through Philadelphia committing violence -- as similar mobs have rampaged through Chicago, Denver, Milwaukee and other places -- Philadelphia's black mayor, Michael A. Nutter, ordered a police crackdown and lashed out at the whole lifestyle of those who did such things.
"Pull up your pants and buy a belt 'cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt," he said. "If you walk into somebody's office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won't hire you? They don't hire you 'cause you look like you're crazy," the mayor said. He added: "You have damaged your own race."
While this might seem like it is just plain common sense, what Mayor Nutter said undermines a whole vision of the world that has brought fame, fortune and power to race hustlers in politics, the media and academia. Any racial disparities in hiring can only be due to racism and discrimination, according to the prevailing vision, which reaches from street corner demagogues to the august chambers of the Supreme Court of the United States.
Just to identify the rioters and looters as black is a radical departure, when mayors, police chiefs and the media in other cities report on these outbreaks of violence without mentioning the race of those who are doing these things. The Chicago Tribune even made excuses for failing to mention race when reporting on violent attacks by blacks on whites in Chicago.

If there are genetic-based differences in behavior, then it stands to reason that various genetic markers would correlate with behavioral difference.  For example, Asians have a long history of doing better than average academically.  Doing better than average academically is a behavioral marker, and its higher incidence among Asians means that the genetic marker of ethnicity correlates with the genetic marker of academic excellence.

This is not to say that being Asian causes one to excel academically.  Correlation has never been causation, after all.  But that doesn’t make correlation useless.  If one is simply attempting to acquire basic information as inexpensively as possible, correlation is a useful tool.  In the case of the riots, knowing that blacks have a greater than average tendency to riot, loot, and generally act criminally is helpful because one needs only a very small amount of cheaply acquired information (skin color, age, and gender) to make a generally reasonable decision.

Furthermore, discrimination against young black males isn’t necessarily racism (at least of the hardcore variety).  Given the cost of acquiring information, this discrimination is more than likely behaviorally based since there is a strong correlation between a young black male and negative behavior.

The Buffet Tax


Warren Buffet has a good idea for a new tax:

Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.

I think I can do Mr. Buffet one better.  How about a tax on all billionaires named Warren Buffet wherein all their assets are confiscated and liquidated and all future income is taxed at a rate of one hundred percent.  Furthermore, all billionaires named Warren Buffet will be prohibited from leaving the country at any point in the future, which ensures that any and all assets that they’ve socked away overseas will either be taxed eventually or left unused.  Finally, anyone who receives an inheritance from all billionaires named Warren Buffet will have their inheritance taxed at one hundred percent as well.  I think that this will ensure that all billionaires named Warren Buffet will certainly share in the sacrifice.

As an aside, I generally oppose tax increases, at least given the current tax rates.  However, if rich people want to pay more in taxes, I see no reason to say no.  It is difficult to find people willing to pay taxes.  And so, if there are people who are willing to do so, I see no reason to stop them.  After all, if a man thinks the government is better at managing money than he is, he’s more than likely correct.

15 August 2011

Random Thoughts


There’s been a couple of different things that I’ve felt like writing about, but every time I sit down to write a post I quickly realize that I don’t have much more than a paragraph’s worth of thoughts on the matter.  Anyway, here’s a roundup of some minor things that have caught my attention recently.

Environmentalists

One of the things that is most striking about some environmentalists is how often they appeal to Science, as if it is the highest authority one could ever appeal to.  More intriguing is their assertion that the environment would thrive in the absence of humans (or, alternatively, with a considerably reduced human presence).  Have they never heard of the second law of thermodynamics?

The New Supercongress

Like most things the federal government does these days, the proposed supercongress will be both ineffective and unconstitutional.  Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Iowa Straw Poll

Since Bachmann has run on a generally small government platform and Ron Paul has actually consistently defended small government principles, it would appear that the Iowa Straw Poll indicates, if nothing else, that the Republican base is simply tired of big government at this point in time.  What’s disappointing is how, in spite of a very close second-place showing, Ron Paul is getting minimal media attention.  He is a very strong candidate, but the MSM and Republican leadership seem intent on throwing him under the bus.  But I guess that’s not surprising since the one thing that the MSM and GOP leaders can agree on is that government should be bigger.

When She Wants You to Lead


I spent a good portion of this past weekend spending time with a girl.  During this time, I faced a fitness test that I wasn’t quite prepared for, mostly because I had never experienced anything like it before.  By way of background, the test came while were spending the morning and early afternoon just hanging around downtown.  I was interested in checking out some record shops I stumbled upon the day before (and, for what it’s worth, ended up buying several records).  We also went to an art museum.  While we were in one of the record shops, she mentioned that she was feeling a little hungry.  I ignored this because I was busy flipping through Wilco LPs, and then she mentioned a restaurant that was famous among the locals.

We then went to the art museum because I didn’t want to risk spending all my money on records.  As we came out of the museum, she asked me if I was hungry.

Me (in a fit of foolish honesty):  Not really.

Her:  Do you want to go home and eat?

Me: I don’t care.

Her:  blah blah blah A bunch of other options that didn’t interest me blah bl-

Me (having finally realized what was really going on): Let’s go to restaurant X and stop overanalyzing lunch options.

Her: *swoon*

The way Roissy Heartiste described fitness tests led me to believe that all women are shrieking harpies that need to be put in their place.  As such, I’m constantly on the lookout for stupid/unreasonable requests that test just how much of a chump I am.  The test I faced this past weekend, though, was somewhat different in nature.  It was undeniably a fitness test because she wanted me to take the lead.  It wasn’t like a “normal” fitness test, however, in that it was not presented in an unreasonable manner.  She was hungry and wanted me decide what to do about it.  Since she wasn’t a bitch about it, I was almost blindsided by it.  Still, I passed it and, just to be safe, spent the rest of the afternoon negging her relentlessly.

The moral of this story is that you, as a man, need to constantly be looking for ways to take the lead when you’re with a girl.  And, when a girl wants you to take the lead, you had better do so.  Especially when she asks nicely.

Coda:  This incident reminded me of a wonderful post by Athol Kay that I can’t seem to find.  It was written in Springish of last year, and was about something like but not necessarily how he would end up in a submission deadlock with his wife when she asked where he wanted to go out to eat.  He literally didn’t care where they went, so he would defer the choice back to her, and she would defer back to him, and so on ad infinitum.  Anyway, he managed to end this by simply making a decision, which then ended up making both of them happier.  Basically, the point was that the man should simply take the lead on these things and not get caught up in making her happy about restaurant choice because what makes her most happy is simply following her man's lead.  I’m pretty sure that having read that post way back when is what helped me to recognize this test and pass it successfully.  It’s like the fifth paragraph of this post, but longer with more detail.  If anyone knows the specific post I’m referring to, share it in the comments.

12 August 2011

Chris Moody Is an Idiot


How else to explain this:

The rise of the tea party has breathed new life into the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states that all powers not listed in the Constitution should be left unto the states. But Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a staunch social conservative, is fed up with it. [Emphasis added.]

Anyone who has actually read the constitution knows that the tenth amendment states:
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Note that the tenth amendment says “are,” not “should be.”  The distinction is crucial, for the former language indicates that the final political authority is held by the states (who then delegate their rightful power to the federal government to act in limited, specific ways on the states’ behalf) whereas the latter language implies that final authority resides with the federal government and is then delegated to the states.

Of course, the latter interpretation is wrong because the very language of the constitution indicates that it exists to define and limit federal power, not state power.  The founders operated from the thesis that the states were sovereign, but found it useful to delegate certain acts to a federal body for sake of expediency.  All powers belong to the states, and they can collectively delegate whatever powers they wish to the federal government at any time.  The act of delegation, then, should not be construed as evidence of a lack of state power; rather, it should be an affirmation of state power.  After all, how can the states delegate power they do not have?

It may seem that this analysis is somewhat pedantic.  Unfortunately, the pedantry is necessary because there are yet dunces in this world, devoid of historical knowledge and incapable of reading beyond a fourth grade level.  Chris Moody is one of these dunces.

11 August 2011

Riots and Free Trade


Here’s a chilling excerpt from a paper entitled The Los Angeles Riot and the Economics of Urban Unrest:

What caused the 1992 L.A. riot?  While this question has no definitive answer, the evidence presented in this paper does suggest that South Central L.A. had some characteristics that made it more likely than other cities to explode into a large scale riot.  Our empirical results suggest that the ethnic diversity of South Central L.A., the high unemployment rates of young black men in that area, and the sheer size of Los Angeles all help explain the 1992 riot.  [Emphasis added.  HT: Chuck.]

One of the effects of free trade has been to increase unemployment in manufacturing industries.  Jobs in these industries are generally low-skill, and the proper domain of younger males, at least given the labor market value of young males (hint:  it’s really low since young males tend to lack intellectual capital, i.e. skills).  So, since there are fewer jobs available to young men as a result of free trade, and since young men without jobs are more prone to rioting, it would appear that free trade has a probable role in setting the stage for future riots.

Of course, it is entirely possible to avoid this possibility.  The government can either impose wage parity tariffs on all imports, which would have the effect of ensuring that any imported product would have the cost of minimum wage labor factored in, or the government can stop making illegal for young males to compete with foreign labor and production on price, which means eliminating minimum wage laws.  It is absolutely ludicrous for the government to have policies that hamstring domestic labor and favor foreign labor.  Something has to give eventually, and let’s hope it doesn’t take a large number of unemployed males rioting in the streets to convince the government to set a pro-domestic labor policy.*

* While I’m on the subject, I’d just like to note just how completely horrible it is that the government’s current economic policy is in the worst possible interest of the citizens it claims to represent.  Free trade only benefits domestic consumers because it enables them to buy goods at lower prices than they normally would.  Of course, the general price of goods wouldn’t otherwise be high in the first place if the stupid government hadn’t set policies that drove up the price of goods in the first place.  Between inflation, minimum wage, asinine “corporate” taxation, and incredibly cumbersome regulation, the government has managed to concoct a perfect storm of skyrocketing prices.

The only thing that obfuscates this fact is the presence of foreign trade, which the government welcomes because it helps keep consumers from knowing the true cost of government interference.  Of course, this charade can’t be kept up forever because foreign labor will eventually become more productive, leading to increased demand, leading further to increased prices (wages).  As this happens, the buying power of foreign labor will increase, relatively speaking, and drive up the price of goods on a broad, international level, meaning that Americans will eventually pay more for goods anyway.  By the time this happens, though, the American economy will have been so hamstrung as to become permanently crippled.

And that’s why I hate the American government and the politicians and bureaucrats that run it.  They are fools, every last one of them.  They, and I mean this literally, deserve to rot in the bowels of hell for all eternity for the fraud, deceit, and destruction that they have practiced against the American people.

10 August 2011

Speaking of Chutzpah…


It takes a lot of it to write something this asinine:

Let’s start with S.& P.’s lack of credibility. If there’s a single word that best describes the rating agency’s decision to downgrade America, it’s chutzpah — traditionally defined by the example of the young man who kills his parents, then pleads for mercy because he’s an orphan.
America’s large budget deficit is, after all, primarily the result of the economic slump that followed the 2008 financial crisis. And S.& P., along with its sister rating agencies, played a major role in causing that crisis, by giving AAA ratings to mortgage-backed assets that have since turned into toxic waste.
Nor did the bad judgment stop there. Notoriously, S.& P. gave Lehman Brothers, whose collapse triggered a global panic, an A rating right up to the month of its demise. And how did the rating agency react after this A-rated firm went bankrupt? By issuing a report denying that it had done anything wrong.
So these people are now pronouncing on the creditworthiness of the United States of America?

I’m actually in agreement with The Krugster on the trustworthiness of S.&P.’s credit ratings.  However, you have to be either extremely wedded to an utterly foolish ideology or completely retarded to think S.&P.’s tendency to overrate the creditworthiness of organizations in general is somehow evidence that S.&P. is now underrating the U.S. Treasury’s ability to repay its debt.  It is generally foolish to extrapolate a trend from one piece of data, as The Krugster does here; it is a heretofore unknown level of complete stupidity, however, to extrapolate a trend that goes in the opposite direction of the one piece of data you happen to have.  And yet, that’s exactly what Krugman did.  The New York Times needs to fire this clown.

08 August 2011

Caylee’s Law Revisited

As I originally suspected, there is a very good chance that this law is very prone to abuse and misuse.  Wendy McElroy reports on a potential problem:

The laws being drafted from Florida to California vary in their specifics. For example, some laws demand that a parent or guardian notify the authorities of a child's death within one hour; others allow two hours. The proposed bill in Florida, which is ground zero for Caylee's law, can be viewed as a model.
Under the proposed bill, HB37,
A caregiver who willfully or by culpable negligence fails to make contact with or otherwise verify the whereabouts and safety of a child in his or her care who is 12 years of age or younger for a period of 48 hours and to immediately report the child as missing to law enforcement after this 48-hour period expires without contact commits: (1) A felony of the second degree if the child suffers great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement while missing; or (2) A felony of the third degree in any other circumstance.
According to Florida statutes, a second-degree felony is punishable by a $10,000 fine and 15 years imprisonment; a third degree felony is punishable by a $5,000 fine and 5 years imprisonment. Similar penalties befall those who make false statements to the police or do not report a child's death within two hours. (There are some exceptions, such as deaths occurring in a hospital.)
Fifth, as libertarian commentator Radley Balko observed,
It isn't difficult to come up with other scenarios where innocent people may get ensnared in Caylee's Law.… You're camping with your family when your son goes missing. One of your other children says she last saw him swimming in a lake. You spend several hours frantically looking for him before discovering that, tragically, he has drowned. You call the police. Under Caylee's Law, is this a "missing child" case, or a "dead child" case? Do you get charged with a felony for not notifying authorities within an hour of your son's drowning, or are you afforded the 24-hour window from the time you noticed he went missing?

Now, what do you think the odds are that this legislation is used to ensnare innocent parties while being impotent to address the truly guilty?  America has gone mad with legislation.  Citizens have time and again allowed themselves to be persuaded into supporting tyrannical laws.  For too long they have listened to the inane nattering and manufactured outrage of a media to puerile and shallow to understand anything deeper than base, fleeting emotions.  The American people, therefore, deserve the oppression that will inevitably be visited upon them.

The Innocence of Youth

Katie Kieffer, ladies and gentlemen:

I specifically love rich people who live in a capitalistic society like America. The richer they become, the richer, healthier and happier everyone else becomes. Unlike rich rulers in a monarchy or, worse yet, wealthy dictators, American capitalists are the average person’s best friend and entrepreneurial inspiration.
Wealthy Americans do not rule over other Americans. The Constitution does not grant them special privileges or royal titles. Unlike Queen Elizabeth II, who tried to tap into a fund for low-income families to heat Buckingham Palace, rich Americans don’t receive public funds to heat their mansions.

Young Katie hasn’t lived long enough to get over her love affair with capitalism, which has blinded her to Adam Smith’s observation that “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices…”  This should indicate to young Katie that businessmen are no more worthy of her respect, trust, or adoration than any politician.  Anyone who has even a precursory knowledge of lobbying firms in America understands that large and small corporations alike are more than interested in using the government to stifle competition, to defraud innocent citizens of their money via the process of corporate welfare, and to impose laws or fund organizations that encourage consumption of their product (think of the coincidental unity of the diets recommended by the FDA and Big Ag as an example).  Quite simply, many, if not most, rich people are quite happy to destroy the wealth of others in an attempt to accumulate wealth for themselves.  They are human, and have the same flaws and vices as everyone else.

Also, the claim that wealthy people do not rule over other Americans is quite ludicrous.  A brief glimpse at the personal wealth of senators and representatives should be enough to disabuse young Katie of this foolish notion.  And citing the constitution as proof of her claim is also stupid; the constitution may as well be toilet paper these days in light of how often it is ignored not only by elected officials but also by the idiots citizens who elect them.

By the way, Katie, rich Americans can receive public funds to heat their mansions.

No, Just Pointless

ASI asks if Clare’s Law is just:

Though it might now be mistaken for a political class cage fight, the News of the World scandal is really about privacy. Interesting, then, to see another public debate swinging wholly against the right to privacy. This Monday, a campaign was launched for Clare’s Law, a proposal that would force the police to reveal, upon request, an individual’s history of violence to his or her partner.
The law is so-named in memory of Clare Woods, who was murdered in 2009 by a man with previous domestic abuse complaints. The proposal enjoys the support of Victims Commissioner Louise Casey, former Home Office Minister Hazel Blears, and the victim’s father. Reportedly, Home Secretary Theresa May is also reviewing the proposal (though her plate is rather full at the moment).
According to Casey, the law will help women avoid abusive relationships. She says, ''This seems common sense to me. Our priority should not be protecting a perpetrator's privacy at the expense of costing a woman's life.” 

Given that women tend to be attracted to douchebags and bad boys, and are thus easily capable of recognizing them, this law seems downright pointless.  The women who are supposed to take advantage this won’t, and the ability to request a (male) partner’s history of violence will thus be wasted, and will have no effect on decreasing domestic violence.  Also, has it ever occurred to the clowns proposing this law that maybe, just maybe, some women like to be treated violently?

But beyond this, Clare’s Law seems remarkably superfluous in that violence, at least as is evidenced by a criminal record, should be publicly available anyway.  I’m not well-versed enough in British privacy laws to know the ramifications of this particular bill, but it appears that this law simply requires the police to compile public information on someone which, if he is a criminal, is something they should have already done anyway.  I don’t see how this bill makes the current situation worse.

Finally, note that the outrage over this proposal is mired in the fallacy of a “right to privacy.”  The right to privacy does not exist.  People can share whatever they want about anyone else.  It’s called freedom of speech.  If you don’t want people to know you have a history of violence, don’t have a history of violence.  If you’re going to get the police involved (or any other government organization, for that matter), what you do is going to be matter of public record.

Incidentally, I doubt that the fine folks at ASI would claim that women should not be allowed to ask private entities whether the men they’re seeing have histories of violence, which would indicate that the fine folks at ASI are essentially saying that the one entity that shouldn’t be open and honest is the government?  How, exactly, is that libertarian?  Especially in a democratic/representative society like Britain’s?

The simple fact of the matter is that one only has a right to one’s life and one’s property, and any use thereof that does not infringe on anyone else’s rights.  If you want to beat up someone else, you have to deal with the consequences.  That might mean jail time, that might mean neighbors gossiping about you behind your back, or that might mean your criminal record is made public.  One does not have any right to tell others they can’t talk about one’s self because doing so might have negative consequences.  One’s rights never impose a negation of another’s rights, which is why there is no right to privacy, at least as envisaged here by the ASI.

Personally, I think this bill is another pathetic attempt by tired, aging shrieking harpies feminists to capture the attention of alpha bad boys, or possibly an attempt by the aforementioned feminists to deprive pretty young women of the most desirable men. Given the general pettiness of feminists, is most probably the latter.  Either way, you can tell this piece of legislation is proposed by aging feminists because it’s pointless and ineffectual, and exists only to create meaningless drama.  And that’s enough to buy my opposition.

06 August 2011

What a Surprise

More like USAA+, amirite?

The United States has lost its coveted top AAA credit rating.
Credit rating agency Standard & Poor's on Friday downgraded the nation's rating for the first time since the U.S. won the top ranking in 1917. The move came after Congress haggled over budget cuts and the nation's borrowing limit -- and failed to cut enough government spending to satisfy S&P. The issue has contributed to convulsions in financial markets.
The drop in the rating by one notch to AA-plus was expected. The three main credit agencies, which also include Moody's Investor Service and Fitch, had warned during the budget fight that if Congress did not cut spending far enough, the country faced a downgrade. S&P said that it is making the move because the deficit reduction plan passed by Congress on Tuesday did not go far enough to stabilize the country's debt situation. Moody's said Friday it was keeping its AAA rating on the nation's debt, but that it might still lower it.

Just in case someone doesn’t understand how credit ratings work, it should be noted that the reason US debt was downgraded was not due to Congress’s inability to borrow a couple trillion more dollars but rather it was due to questions about the federal government’s ability to repay its debt.  For some reason, ratings agencies find it problematic when an entity borrows an increasingly astronomical amount of debt year after year without increasing revenue or cutting spending.

It’s sort of like how a doctor might doubt the longevity of a patient who continues to drink like a fish after being brought into to be treated for alcohol poisoning.  Sure, the patient could recover and kick his habit, but the current situation suggests that this is an unlikely hypothesis.  Likewise, as the federal government lives increasingly beyond its means, simple linear mathematics would suggest that there will come a point when repayment is going to be less than guaranteed.  And that is why US credit has been downgraded.

Copyright Versus Technology


Consumers are watching as many – if not more – films than ever for less money and time than ever, for a third of the cost. The money that had been spent on (now unneeded) overheads can go on other things. Be sure to avoid the broken window fallacy – the saved money will go into other productive things that people want. As Blockbuster falls, something else people want will rise. And, at the margin, lower costs mean that there should be more movies made per dollar spent.
I think this pattern might hold elsewhere, too. Since getting a Kindle e-reader in June, I've read more books than I did in the entire year up to that point.
Although costs aren't falling yet – it's a proprietary Amazon device, and they're keeping the costs high while subsidising the cost of the device itself – the shift to e-readers means that authors will eventually be able to bypass publishers and significantly increase their profit-per-purchase. Like the rise of Netflix, this will probably mean less money spent on overheads and more spent on actual content.

Recall that those who defend copyright laws on utilitarian grounds argue essentially that the purpose of granting creators a temporary monopoly license is to ensure that people have an incentive to create.  This being the case, one reasonable proposal to be offered to the utilitarian sect of copyright defenders is to decrease creators’ state-granted monopoly powers as technological innovation increases.*

Technological growth reduces publication and distribution costs for creators, enabling them to not only sell directly, but to increase their profit margins while decreasing prices.  As such, monopoly protections are less necessary (if not altogether unnecessary) in the face of technological growth because technology makes it easier for creators to turn a profit, which, it should be remembered, is the whole point of having copyright laws in the first place.  Thus, if creators can make a profit without doing much to protect their product, then it seems obvious to conclude that copyright is largely unnecessary, and certainly does not draconian enforcement.

Note:  Software is a nebulous entity that is somewhere between copyrightable and patentable in terms of classification.  As such, it is not covered under this proposal because it would drive this proposal.  If it absolutely must be given IP status, it should be considered its own entity with longer terms than patents but shorter terms than copyright.  Furthermore, it should also have the novelty prerequisite of patents.  Given the complexity of this subject, though, this discussion is best reserved for another post.

Car Shopping

Because I’m an automotive enthusiast, my parents recently asked me to go with them to help them find a new car.  I was happy to lend them my expertise, so we went to a Mazda dealership and a Kia dealership, as well a couple used car lots (but only because we were also looking for a car for one of my younger brothers).  They eventually decided on a Kia Soul, although they spent a good portion of their time looking at a few different Mazda cars.

Anyway, the reason I bring this story up is because I wanted to say that, in my experience, everything that is said about car salesmen appears to be false.  The guys we dealt with weren’t shady and didn’t try to sell us unnecessary crap, or try to take advantage of us in any way.  This was true about the salesmen at both the Mazda and Kia dealerships.  The salesmen at both were honest and straightforward, and we got a great offer on the Kia Soul and really good offer on a Mazda5.  Of course, it probably helped that my parents provided their own financing, and that I was carrying a copy of Consumer Reports’ New Car Buyer’s Guide while we were browsing vehicles.  As such, I have come to a few conclusions.

First, always provide your own financing.  Dealers make a good deal of money on financing, and will usually try to negotiate monthly payments that you can afford and are willing to agree to.  If you have your own financing, you are unlikely to be taken advantage of, and are more likely to get a good deal.

Second, know a fair price for the new vehicle you want to buy.  This is where Consumer Reports comes in handy, for it provides the dealer’s invoice price, which is basically how much the dealer has to pay the manufacturer; knowledge is power, after all.  If you finance separately, you are not going to buy the car below invoice (unless it is a very unpopular model, which indicates that it is probably a turd), so it is helpful to know how low they can go on price.  Invoice plus a couple thousand is a fair price, depending on the specific car you’re buying, and you shouldn’t begrudge them their profit; they are providing you a service, after all.

Third, negotiate a trade-in separately from the purchase of the car.  Get a fixed price on the car you want and assurances of said price, and then get your trade-in appraised.  Negotiating a trade-in and purchase at the same time is a good way to get ripped.  That said, you should know the Blue Book value of your car before you enter the store.  You should also be prepared to accept a fair price for your trade.  The cars we traded in were, in all honesty, crap.  We got a decent amount for them (far more than we deserved, I thought), and we were happy with that.

Car buying should not be a difficult process for anyone.  Take of your own financing in advance, be as informed as possible about the car you’re buying and the car you’re trading in, and negotiate each aspect of the transaction separately and fairly.  Basically, be shrewd but fair.  If you do this, car buying should be hassle-free, and you won’t really have to be worried about being ripped off.

The MSM is Catching On

One can only hope that this is indicative of the future:

For all the rancor, there were good intentions behind the recent deal to cut government spending and start reducing the national debt, which stands at about $14.3 trillion, nearly the size of the entire U.S. economy. The debt problem is a real issue, not a partisan one; if it keeps growing unchecked, America's debt will become unsustainable, requiring far too much taxpayer money just to pay interest on all the money the government borrows. The Budget Control Act that President Obama signed on August 2 will begin to address the problem, with widespread spending cuts that will be modest over the next two years, then intensify.

The article then goes on to note six unintended consequences of the deficit deal passed by CONgress that include another round of inflation (aka “Quantitative Easing”), loss of confidence in political leaders, more pressure on the federal debt, and additional uncertainty.  Really, it’s a miracle that any journalist in the MSM was able to pull their head out of their butt long enough to think rationally and abstractly about the long-term ramifications of the deficit deal.  It’s a pity they waited until after it was passed, though; the time to think about consequences is before action is taken.

Please Explain

This is my request for Tyler Cowen, who wrote this turd of a paragraph:

The Republican Party made a big, big mistake passing up a chance for a “grand bargain” with Obama.  It’s time to be a realist about revenue increases, rather than signaling ideological purity.  And let’s get a better rather than a worse version of revenue increases, combined of course with significant spending cuts and a good, credible long-term fiscal plan, enforced by tough triggers.  A lot of Republican or conservative intellectuals know better on revenue increases, and have said as such, but corruption, intellectual and otherwise, prevented their voices from being heeded in the larger political context.

There has never been a point in the history of the United States where the federal government’s revenue has exceeded 21% of GDP.  Never.  The methods of taxation have varied, as have the rates, but federal revenue has never exceeded 21% of GDP.

If Cowen wants the deficit to be cut in half annually (i.e. go from roughly 40% of GDP to 20% of GDP) then federal revenue will need to be equal to approximately 23.5% of GDP, at least as things stand now.  If Cowen expects the GDP to be eliminated in its entirety, then federal revenue will need to be nearly 29% of GDP.  And there has never been a tax policy that came close to touching the former, never mind the latter.  So what sort of policy does Cowen think will achieve the desired result?

Furthermore, given the general veracity of the Laffer curve, why does Cowen take the Republicans to task for defending low tax rates when it is already well-established that tax rate hikes do not necessarily lead to corresponding revenue increases (and certainly not linearly), and have the potential for actually decreasing revenue?  People dislike paying taxes (duh), and make a point of avoiding paying taxes when possible.  The incentive to avoid taxes increases in direct correlation with tax rate increases because the benefits of tax avoidance increase as well.  This is not rocket science, yet Cowen acts as if human behavior will not change in response to systemic tweaks.  It is a glaring oversight, and worthy of ridicule.

In all, the claim that the Republicans aren’t serious about revenue increases is specious and predicated on a shockingly shortsighted fallacious assumption.  Furthermore, Cowen’s analysis is devoid of historical perspective, and completely ignores human nature.  It is not worthy of being discussed further.

03 August 2011

Other Sites

I have a new post up at In Mala Fide, wherein I take on the current debt ceiling fiasco as well as the federal budget in general.  It's mostly a conglomeration of my past posts on this issue, albeit in a more concise and better argued form.  I'm getting sick of the issue, so i expect this to serve as my official position on the issue for a while.  Here's a sample:
As such, the federal government must do three things to fix the mess it’s currently in.
First, the government must reduce its liabilities. This means eliminating a large number of federal bureaucracies including, but no limited to the Social Security Administration, the National Credit Union Administration, and the FDIC. These agencies were created by fiat** and can be eliminated in the same manner. This is, in a sense, a form of default. But this is unavoidable. The promises politicians made about these organizations were false, and there was no way they ever could have been true. The American people are idiots for believing that the federal government could guarantee income for everyone in old age, or that it could guarantee everyone’s bank deposits.
Second, the federal government must actually cut spending to be at or below revenue levels. The federal government can no longer afford to live beyond its means. Borrowing is expensive, and as the federal government’s future becomes more uncertain, the cost of borrowing will go up. And if revenue declines while America’s macroeconomic growth stagnates, the amount the federal government needs to borrow will simply increase. Eventually, if left unchecked, servicing the debt will cost more than is collected in taxes, and the federal government will either to default or hyper-inflate the currency to pay it off. When that happens, the federal government is done.
Finally, the government must also eliminate the debt. This means that the federal government must not only stop issuing new debt, but should also buy back the existing debt and retire it. Debt is toxic, and must be eliminated, pure and simple.