January 27, 2018

Remy: Wedu Nagivafaka

Filed under: Government, Humour, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 26 Jan 2018

The classic Hawaiian-themed song ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ gets a government makeover.

Parody song written and performed by Remy. Produced by Meredith Bragg.
Music tracks and production by Ben Karlstrom. Steel guitar by Wayne Addleman.

Wedu Nagivafaka is the thing we say any bright Hawaiian winter day
You send an island greeting out to everyone saying nukes are on their way
But don’t clean out that desk quite yet and don’t you sob—
You work for the government, you’ll keep your job
Wedu Nagivakfaka is the way we say
There’s nothing that we will do to you

Wedu Nagivafaka if your kids can’t read when their senior year’s adjourned
Or if you make six-figures and you spend your days at your desk just watching porn
See you don’t have a normal job, you’ll be just fine
Come tomorrow morning you’ll be “reassigned”…

Wedu Nagivafaka is the way we say
There’s nothing that we will do to you
What else would I have to do?
There’s nothing that we will do
To you…

The difference between being “pro-free market” and “pro-business”

Filed under: Business, Government, Liberty — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

It’s a distinction that really does make a difference, argues Jonah Goldberg:

One of the most difficult distinctions for people in general and politicians in particular to grasp is the difference between being pro-free market and pro-business.

There are many reasons for this confusion. For politicians, the key reason is that businesspeople are constituents and donors, while the free market is an abstraction. Also, because capitalists tend to lionize successful people, we assume they share our philosophical commitments. But it is a rare corporate titan who favors a free market if doing so is bad for his or her bottom line.

Adam Smith recognized this in his canonical 1776 work, The Wealth of Nations. “People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion,” he wrote, without the conversation ending “in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”

This doesn’t mean that capitalists are evil; it means they’re human beings. Virtually every profession you can think of has a tendency to dig a moat around itself to protect its interests and defend against competition. A few years ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics came out against affordable health care for children. Retail chains like Walmart and CVS started opening in-store clinics to provide affordable basic health care like vaccinations. The pediatricians rightly saw this as a threat to their monopoly over kids’ medical care. Obviously, the pediatricians didn’t think they were villains; they simply found rationalizations for why everyone should keep paying them top dollar for stuff that could be done more cheaply.

Similarly, most teachers like kids, but that doesn’t stop teachers unions from doing everything they can to protect themselves from competition or accountability. Indeed, unions, by design, are conspiracies against the public to defend the wages and perks of their members. NIMBYism (Not in My Backyard) is another manifestation of this phenomenon.


Smith understood this too. After noting how people of the same trade conspire to raise prices, he added: “It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty and justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary.”

What both Smith and the founders understood is that such conspiracies can only last with the help of government. As the economist Joseph Schumpeter argued, in a system of free competition, monopolies cannot long endure without government protection.

Day 12 Cuban Missile Crisis – Black Saturday, nuclear war on autopilot…

Filed under: Americas, History, Military, Russia, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 7 Dec 2017

On October 27, 1962 a deal to resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis is ever so close, but then almost everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. Political confusion between the leaders, lost and shot down airplanes, errant nuclear armed submarines and exhaustion takes its toll. For those immediately involved it will go down in memory as the Black Saturday.

Burger King swings and misses in their first attempt at entering political discussions

Filed under: Business, Politics, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Tho Bishop explains why the second-rate burger business fails to convince:

For one, Burger King does not have a “Whopper neutrality” policy – and for good reason. If a family of five places a large order, while the next customer simply orders an ice cream cone, most Burger King employees will not refuse to serve up the dessert until after they fulfill the first order. The aim is to serve as many customers, as quickly as possible.

Similarly, a Whopper meal comes in various sizes – all with different prices – all so that customers have more flexibility based on having their food desires met. Imagine if a government regulator decided that since Americans have a right to have their thirst quenched – no matter its size – all fast food restaurants had to price all drink sizes the same? The result would be the prices for small drinks going up, while restaurants having to submit to occasional inspections by government agents to make sure no one was violating beverage neutrality laws. (This of course would still manage to not be the worst soda-related policy that’s been proposed.)

Additionally, Burger King certainly has the right to not prioritize delivering their customers food in a timely matter, just as customers have a right to avoid their services as a result. Whether or not the customers in the video were authentic or not, their reaction to the absurd fictional policy is how you’d expect someone to act. The video suggests that none of them would be excited about returning to Burger King if this had become actual franchise operating procedure. Once again, the market has its own ways of punishing bad actors.

Which is precisely why I will be avoiding Whoppers myself for the foreseeable future.

At Reason, Nick Gillespie comments on the video:

The joke in the video is that customers must pay $26 to get a Whopper “hyperfast.” If they go with the standard price, it takes forever. Because you know, Net Neutrality rules that were formalized in 2015 somehow magically altered the way internet service providers (ISPs) delivered data to their customers. Before 2015, the internet was a morass of shakedown artists who forced all of us to pay extra for this or that site. And now that Net Neutrality has been repealed, the ‘net has reverted to a Hobbesian world in which access is nasty, brutish, and metered.

Oh wait, in fact, the average speed and number of internet connections kept growing regardless of the regulatory regime. The FCC’s most recent Internet Access Services Report counted 104 million fixed internet connections, a new high. That number doesn’t count mobile or satellite connections. Eighty percent of census tracts had at three or more ISPs offering connections of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream and another 17 percent had two ISPs doing the same (figure 4). So 97 percent of America can go elsewhere when it comes to basic internet connections that allow the sort of streaming, surfing, and gaming we want. Just as customers do with Burger King, we can say, “Screw it, I’m going to McDonald’s.” In 2016, 56 million residential connections offered at least 25 Mbps upstream speeds. That’s up from about 22 million in 2013 (figure 8). How did that progress happen before the 2015 open internet order?

Watching the responses by customers helps explain why Net Neutrality rules as mandated by the FCC under Tom Wheeler were unnecessary. After all, for all the hysteria kicked up around the need for such rules, proponents went begging for examples of ISPs throttlng traffic or blocking sites in systematic ways. ISPs don’t actually enjoy pure-monopoly conditions, but even if they did, customers would raise holy hell if they were treated as poorly as Burger King acts in this video.

Econ Duel: Rent or Buy?

Filed under: Economics — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Marginal Revolution University
Published on 13 Sep 2016

Owning a home is a huge part of the American Dream. But is the dream of home ownership really all it’s cracked up to be?

In this new Econ Duel from Marginal Revolution University, Professors Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok weigh in on the issue. Each representing a side of the home ownership debate, the two professors ask what’s smarter — to rent, or to buy?

On the “buy” side, Tyler Cowen shares the tax advantages of buying a home as well as the effect home ownership has on one’s stability and savings regimen. Does buying a home force us into better savings habits?

Against those arguments, we have Alex Tabarrok, coming down on the “rent” side of the equation.

Among other points, he talks about the real beneficiary of tax breaks (hint: It may not be you!). Along with that, Alex tackles the trials and tribulations of home-buying, in places like San Francisco, New York, or Boston, where a combination of scarce building permits and increased demand drive up home prices. Plus, doesn’t owning a home — and committing a 20% down payment — break the diversification rule of good investing?

All that said, though, here’s the real question that matters — which side are YOU on? Watch and let us know in the comments!

QotD: “Hate” laws and other redundant bits of legislation

Filed under: Law, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

As a customary principle of politics, whether “electoral” or “appointive,” I think it unwise to adjust legislation, or offer to adjust it, in response to behaviour by the criminally insane. This confers too much power on them. Verily, it is a mark of our present social condition that “reforms” are guided more and more by the hardest and strangest cases. […]

The need, specifically, for new “hate laws” is zero, at most. Murder has never been an expression of affection, to any individual or group; specific hatreds have always been considered in the interpretation of motives. We have enough crimes already, without inventing redundant ones in accord with the latest fashions. The intention behind them is never exemplary of mental and moral hygiene.

Which points again to the deeper “problematic” (one tires of the misuse of this word) in politics as practised today. We not only legislate in response to the transient behaviour of the criminally insane. Worse, our legislators, though arguably sane to start with, get in the habit of indulging insanity, even within themselves.

David Warren, “Orlando”, Essays in Idleness, 2016-06-14.

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