December 28, 2012

This week in Guild Wars 2

Filed under: Gaming, Gaming — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 11:01

My weekly Guild Wars 2 community round-up at GuildMag is now online. With Wintersday still ongoing (and the real-world holiday season at the halfway point), there aren’t quite as many blog posts, videos, podcasts, and fan fiction from around the GW2 community (but enough to keep you busy for a while if you want to get caught up).

The new Zero-Sum era of American politics

Filed under: Economics, Government, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 10:18

P.J. O’Rourke offers some mild congratulations to President Obama for a few accomplishments during his first term, then explains why the way he won his second term is a bad thing both for the United States and for the rest of the world:

You sent a message to America in your re-election campaign. Therefore you sent a message to the world. The message is that we live in a zero-sum universe.

There is a fixed amount of good things. Life is a pizza. If some people have too many slices, other people have to eat the pizza box. You had no answer to Mitt Romney’s argument for more pizza parlors baking more pizzas. The solution to our problems, you said, is redistribution of the pizzas we’ve got — with low-cost, government-subsidized pepperoni somehow materializing as the result of higher taxes on pizza-parlor owners.

In this zero-sum universe there is only so much happiness. The idea is that if we wipe the smile off the faces of people with prosperous businesses and successful careers, that will make the rest of us grin.

There is only so much money. The people who have money are hogging it. The way for the rest of us to get money is to turn the hogs into bacon.

Mr. President, your entire campaign platform was redistribution. Take from the rich and give to the . . . Well, actually, you didn’t mention the poor. What you talked and talked about was the middle class, something most well-off Americans consider themselves to be members of. So your plan is to take from the more rich and the more or less rich and give to the less rich, more or less. It is as if Robin Hood stole treasure from the Sheriff of Nottingham and bestowed it on the Deputy Sheriff.

But never mind. The evil of zero-sum thinking and redistributive politics has nothing to do with which things are taken or to whom those things are given or what the sum of zero things is supposed to be. The evil lies in denying people the right, the means, and, indeed, the duty to make more things.

You’ve all seen marching bands, but have you ever seen a dancing orchestra?

Filed under: Media — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 10:07

Movement and Music: University of Maryland Symphony Orchestra’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun.

H/T to Paul Wells for the link.

The Military-Industrial Complex leads to “a bloated corporate state and a less dynamic private economy”

An older article from Christopher A. Preble, reposted at the Cato Institute website:

The true costs of the military-industrial complex, they explain, “have so far been understated, as they do not take into account the full forgone opportunities of the resources drawn into the war economy.” A dollar spent on planes and ships cannot also be spent on roads and bridges. What’s more, the existence of a permanent war economy, the specific condition which President Dwight Eisenhower warned of in his famous farewell address, has shifted some entrepreneurial behavior away from private enterprise, and toward the necessarily less efficient public sector. “The result,” Coyne and Duncan declaim, “is a bloated corporate state and a less dynamic private economy, the vibrancy of which is at the heart of increased standards of living.”

The process perpetuates itself. As more and more resources are diverted into the war economy, that may stifle — or at least impede — a healthy political debate over the proper size and scope of the entire national security infrastructure, another fact that Eisenhower anticipated. Simply put, people don’t like to bite the hand that feeds them.

And that hand feeds a lot of people. The Department of Defense is the single largest employer in the United States, with 1.4 million uniformed personnel on active duty, and more than 700,000 full-time civilians. The defense industry, meanwhile, is believed to employ another 3 million people, either directly or indirectly.

What’s more, these are high paying jobs. In 2010, when the average worker in the United States earned $44,400 in wages and benefits, the average within the aerospace and defense industry was $80,100, according to a study by the consulting firm Deloitte. And 80 percent of that industry’s revenue comes from the government.

Colby Cosh: the hunger strike

Filed under: Cancon, Media, Politics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 09:49

In Maclean’s, Colby Cosh explains how hunger strikes should be run and why there are some serious concerns about the ongoing hunger strike in Ottawa:

For a hunger striker to appeal for personal funds — in this case, for contributions to a bank account that has her boyfriend’s name on it — distorts the perceived integrity of the enterprise and throws its basis into doubt. Supporters of the hunger strike are placed in the position of mere financial promoters, no matter how intensely they leer at the striking individual. To make matters worse, we’ve been confronted with a visible disagreement between two spokesmen for Chief Spence. The only source of personal statements from the chief is her Twitter feed, and she does not even appear to have complete control of that. Does she have a single designated spokesperson to exercise authority in the event she falls unconscious or becomes otherwise unable to communicate? Who is it? Is she taking the advice of a physician and having her health monitored? This is an important issue if she intends to forestall permanent physical harm in the hope that her demands will actually be met at some point.

Of course, if the demands aren’t in earnest and the whole thing is no more than a publicity ploy, there is no danger to the Chief and we can ignore the theatrics. In the meantime, give till it hurts, I guess?

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