September 2004

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Thursday, September 30, 2004

Space Tourism 

This is so cool!

Then, all we need are some privately-funded space elevators, and the sky will never be the limit again.


Monday, September 27, 2004

How Kerry Lost Ann Althouse 

This is a very interesting post that shows the thinking of an intelligent observer of the presidential campaign, who was trying to keep an open mind about both candidates, and how Kerry lost her.

About her final point regarding Kerry's disrespectful comments about Prime Minister Allawi: I also find it interesting that Kerry claims that his biggest foreign policy adavantage over Bush is that he knows how to get the support of all of our allies; and yet it seems that he wouldn't recognize an ally or know how to treat him if he came to this country and spoke to both Congress and the U.N. He's proven it.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Private vs. Public Property 

Alex Tabarrok asks and answers a great question:

You can't take it with you. A private owner of a natural resource, like a forest, therefore, will want to clear-cut the forest before he dies in order to maximize his consumption stream (assume the owner has no children or other bequest motive). True or False. Explain.

Social Security Itself is "A Rip Off" 

This really irritates me:

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry on Wednesday called President Bush's proposal to partially privatize Social Security "a rip-off" that would create a windfall for financial and investment companies but end up cutting benefits for senior citizens.
"The truth is, the only people who benefit from George Bush's Social Security scheme are the special interests," Kerry said in remarks prepared for a town-hall meeting in West Palm Beach, Fla., a battleground state rich in people keenly interested in the two pillars of retirement, Social Security and Medicare.

This bothers me so much because Social Security is a real problem that will affect a lot of people's lives to a large extent. It deserves a real solution, rather than to be used as a political football. What Kerry is doing is the worst sort of politics.

There are a lot of variables that will affect the timing of its failure, but Social Security is a major fraud and will not survive indefinitely in its present form. It should be privatized in a way that will protect people who have been forced into dependency on it to a great extent. Reform will involve pain no matter what, and delaying the reform will only increase the pain. So, the sooner we begin the better.

Kerry either knows all of this, or he should know it. Either way, his position sucks.

For information about the kind of Social Security reform that I support, see this site.


Sunday, September 19, 2004

The Inauthentic John Kerry 

Hugh Hewitt wrote an interesting post yesterday.

The bottom-line is that it has become very difficult for politicians to run phony races. There are now too many people who are able to question false claims and have those questions rise to the public's attention.

This is bad news for Kerry.

Winning high office requires many people to trust you. If you are repeatedly shown to be unreliable, then you'll have a lot of trouble winning that trust, or major elections.

It used to be fairly easy for a politician to lie repeatedly to different groups and have the mainstream press let this kind of thing slide (especially if you were a Democrat). The landscape has changed, there are many new sources of information, and getting away with this has become much more difficult.

I think that this is a good thing.


Friday, September 17, 2004

Perspective 

I'm going to follow Alice's lead and link to this Citizen Smash post of a letter he says is from a US Marine Corps major in Baghdad.

There has been a lot of depressing news and appraisals of the situation in Iraq lately. It can be hard to figure out what's true and what is exaggeration and herd-like agreement based on little evidence.

I don't know the details of the situation there better than anyone else. But, it's been my impression that our forces have been performing very capably and have learned to adapt to changing situations and still manage to achieve success after success. I also know that there are many Iraqis who are happy about the changes that our forces are bringing about, even if they'd prefer that the presence of foreign forces wasn't necessary. I don't know what the relative numbers of these people are, but I suspect that it's the vast majority, and I have lost much confidence in our press corps to report accurately about this.

So, while the situation could really change, I remain optimistic about our chances to strike many more successful blows against tyranny and for liberalization in the region, if bad political decisions don't interfere.


Wednesday, September 15, 2004

If Clippy Had Been Enabled 

This is pretty amusing.

Hat tip: Eugene Volokh.


Saturday, September 11, 2004

Yay Blogosphere! 

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last few days, you must be aware of the recent controversy concerning the authenticity of documents used in a 60 Minutes episode that were first seriously questioned in the blogosphere.

If you'd like some background, please check out the original thread (serious doubts begin at comment #47), and other related posts here, here, here, here, and here. I'm sure you can find many others.

It's pretty sweet to see public events so strongly affected, so quickly, by weblog readers and writers. Particularly after many have criticized the Internet as being such a poor source of information, and advising people to put their trust in professional journalism which specializes in separating truth from fiction. Hopefully, people will be more respectful of the power of many smart, interested, distributed analysts to get to the truth of matters such as this.

One interesting thing I noticed was the NPR report on Friday night hinting that perhaps this was a right-wing conspiracy because people on the net seemed to begin questioning the authenticity of the documents before the show was over and the documents were available other than a quick appearance on television:

Finally, the questions about the memos have raised some questions themselves. The first doubts about the documents' authenticity were apparently raised on a weblog at 8:59 Wednesday night, just as the "60 Minutes" broadcast was ending. The blogger, according to the ABCNEWS web site, raised almost immediate questions about the font of the memos and the spacing of the letters, all of which would have tricky to determine based on a fleeting appearance on a TV screen.

I had seen the chronology of events and was pretty sure that this was false.

Fortunately, I see that this has been addressed by the blogosphere as well (it was an error at interpreting a timestamp). Apparently ABC News has since corrected their mistake, but the false claim is still spreading among those who would rather believe it than check it out.

Anyway, I congratulate the blogosphere for displaying its tremendous ability to analyze facts and reveal the truth. And, I thumb my nose all of those who think that we should leave these tasks to the mainstream media.

UPDATE: Steve Horwitz at Liberty & Power has a nice post relating the incident to Hayek's "Use of Knowledge in Society".


9-11 

Well, it's September 11, again.

It's been three years since that September 11, and we seem to be doing alright.

There hasn't been a major attack on our soil since then, we've done a lot to disrupt the activities and leadership of Al Qaeda, and have begun the process of opening up the Middle East to better ideas and alternatives for would-be terrorists. We're both destroying current terrorist groups, and trying to prevent new ones.

I'm not usually big on arbitrary traditions, but I do think that an anniversary is as good a time as any to reflect on the meaning of major events, and to try to put things into perspective.

I don't really have anything eloquent to say about 9-11, but if you want that, you might check out James Lileks' Bleat from last year.


Friday, September 03, 2004

What's He Going To Do About It? 

I thought the Republicans put on a pretty good convention. They had speakers to appeal to most of the groups who might potentially vote Republican.

I found John Kerry's response quite weak, though:

For the past week, they attacked my patriotism and my fitness to serve as commander in chief. We'll, here's my answer. I'm not going to have my commitment to defend this country questioned by those who refused to serve when they could have and by those who have misled the nation into Iraq.

That's his answer? To refuse to be questioned???

I don't even really understand what it means when he says "I'm not going to have..."

Does he mean that he's going to do something to settle the issue? Does he mean he's going to cover his ears and refuse to listen? Is he going to pretend that the questions aren't being asked and hope everybody else plays along? What???

And, I'm getting a bit tired of every Republican criticism of Kerry characterized by the press as an "attack", while Kerry's criticisms (which are often less substantive and more personal) characterized as a mere response, or "fighting back".

Perhaps the press is happy to go along with his fantasy and make it look like Kerry is getting unfairly picked on. But, I suspect that his whiny attitude about every criticism is making many people question his ability to lead the free world.


Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Cheney's Speech 

Wow.

I didn't watch or hear it, but the text of Dick Cheney's speech seems pretty impressive to me.

I suppose I'm biased because I supported the war already, but it seems to me that this message will convince quite a few people that the country will be more secure with Bush as president rather than Kerry.

I disagree with quite a few things that Bush has done and has indicated that he would like to do. But, other than gridlock, I can see very few reasons to prefer Kerry and many to prefer Bush.