August 2008

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Monday, August 25, 2008

American Liberal Prayer 

Ok, this video is just creepy.

People say I exaggerate when I claim that many channel the same impulse to irrationally devote themselves to a cause "greater than themselves" that would usually be reserved for religion into causes like politics or environmentalism.

But, there it is.

Maybe there's a demographic that will be inspired by this. But to me, it makes all of the participants look like imbeciles.

I don't expect much from most of these celebrities. But, somehow, I'm really disappointed in Jason Alexander.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

China and the Olympics 

I didn't watch very much of the Olympics. I caught some of the opening ceremony, and a few of the events, and watched some highlights.

But, I'm reading of people who view the beautiful ceremonies, and the organization, and the gold medal count with fear. They see China's growth and ability to put on such a spectacular show as a sign that we should be worried.

But, as I recall, the Soviet Union invested a lot in Olympic success; but, that didn't indicate an underlying strength. In fact, I think it was a desperate attempt to portray more strength and success than the underlying society had.

I'm not afraid of Chinese economic success. I welcome it, and hope that it will lead to more political liberty for the people of China, and more wealth for people there and for all its trading partners.

I find myself in complete agreement with Russell Roberts, responding to this idiotic Frank Rich op-ed, that:

Yes, China is growing quickly. Yes, they have mobilized a lot of resources to win gold medals in gymnastics and diving.
But they are a desperately poor country that represses their people too often, has filthy air, and has a massive problem dealing with an exploding urban population. Their mobilization of resources to win medals in gymnastics and diving is a scandal for such a poor country, not a triumph. Meanwhile, in the United States, we are suffering through a mild something, maybe a recession with unemployment at 5.7%. Our debt problem is minor. The fact that a lot of US debt has been purchased by the Chinese government that will be repaid in dollars that buy a lot less than they used to is tough on the Chinese not us.
And, mostly with this:
Finally, Chinese growth is good for the United States. The economic race is not like the Olympic race. It is not zero-sum. In the Olympics, if you win the gold medal, I can't. In economics, both countries can grow together.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Morale Boosting" Human Sacrifices 

I liked this post by Daniel J. Mitchell of the Cato Institute, responding to a story that a UK cabinet minister urged a "morale boosting" tax increase on the rich:

The UK Health Minister wants a big tax increase on the rich in order to boost morale and demonstrate that Labour Party officials “understand what it is like to cope with rising food, fuel, and utility bills.” But if punishing Britain’s most productive residents actually is a way to boost morale for the rest of population, why not build a big coliseum and feed them to lions instead? Wouldn’t that be an even bigger “morale booster”?

Unfortunately, I think that there are quite a few people who really do want to see successful people punished. One of the greatest obstacles to economic liberty seems to be that so many people have a sense of justice that prefers that outcomes be equal (or close) over being better for all.

I really hope that the vast majority of us can get past this mistake, but I'm not sure if it's the sort of belief that's amenable to reason and change. It might be just too deeply held. I know that I've never had much luck talking someone out of the feeling that it's just wrong for some to prosper much more than others, or that the others lacked the moral right to redistribute the loot.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

A Gassy Economic Plan 

Barack Obama has lost any credibility (with me) that he had gained by opposing the gimmicky gas tax holiday proposals by Clinton and McCain with his new incoherent economic proposals.

He claims to feel the pain of consumers who have been hit with higher gas prices and wants to respond by:

a) Subsidizing demand by sending additional $500/$1000 rebate checks

b) Inhibiting supply by punishing oil companies with a new windfall profits tax

c) Co-sponsoring a greenhouse gas bill that would add even more gas taxes

d) Opposing new domestic oil production virtually everywhere (he may be softening on this after seeing polls indicating popular support for more drilling)

Anybody who thinks these policies will lower gas prices or help the economy is an idiot.

Obama is not an idiot.

He likes high gas prices but isn't honest enough to admit it.