Saturday, October 29, 2011

Why Inequality is Not Necessarily Bad

In this video Law Professor Richard Epstein explains why inequality is good. While his argument is solid, I wouldn't have stated it that way. I would have said liberty is good and you can't have liberty without allowing for economic inequality as a possible outcome. However, when those with economic power extract economic rent from government through bailouts and other special rights then it is bad. But the solution is not to give government more power as many of the OWS crowd want but to limit the scope of government so it is not economically beneficial to lobby for corporate and union handouts. We need to end privatized profits and socialized loses. If a company or a union (GM, Chrysler, UAW, NEA, Bank of America, and so forth) makes bad decisions then they need to pay the price, not taxpayers. Corporatism, not capitalism, is what people should be upset against.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Is the US a Democracy or a Constitutional Republic?

When I was a young boy a visiting relative asked me if the US was a democracy or a republic.  I said democracy.  The led to a 30 minute lecture on why we are a constitutional republic.  She was correct, of course.  The founders never intended for the US to be a democracy.  They feared democracy because a true democracy does not have safeguards to protect liberty.  Here is a well done video from the Bill of Rights Institute.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie Part 1 DVD Release

With Atlas Shrugged Part I set for release on November 8, I thought I would share this YouTube review by BookofNick.  He does a really good job.  

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lyrics to Wilson Getchell's You're Gonna Pay

Old people government funded medication
Subsidized housing in the capital of the nation
3 trillion dollar deficit on top of a 15 trillion dollar debt
Bullet trains, windmills and monkeys on cocaine . . . monkeys on cocaine

You’re gonna pay!
You’re gonna pay!
You’re gonna pay!
. . . cause someone’s got to . . . pay

For Federally funded cowboy poetry
For Federally funded condoms for pre-teens
For Federally funded books and magazines
And Federally funded air to breathe


For the 21 Century entitlement state
Where there are crickets in the coffers and pensions to pay
We need less military presence throughout  Continental Europe
For more fiscally responsible punk rock music now

(Repeat Chorus)

For 70 million baby boomers'
Social Security, Social Security
70 million baby boomers'
Social Security, Social Security


For Federally funded cowboy poetry
For Federally funded condoms for pre-teens
For Federally funded books and magazines
For Federally funded air to breathe

Saturday, July 30, 2011

You're Gonna Pay . . . Someone's Got To

This music video is by Wilson Getchell.  The sound reminds me of Greenday or The Ramones but with a conservative fiscally-sound message.  I have always been surprised that many young people don't realize that they are the ones who will have to pay for all the government they support and their parents demanded.  They will pay through higher taxes and lower living standards.  Wake up grasshopper generation!  Regardless of what your helicopter mom told you there ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

My only criticism of the video is, how can you not include the cost of the two (or is it three?) wars the US is waging?  If you want to appeal to an idealistic younger generation, you have to include these misguided and prolonged wars when you talk about wasteful government spending otherwise you look like a shill for the neo-cons.  Which is more expensive to the billion millions, monkeys on coke or the kokane guns of Jamdown Town?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Grasshopper Generation

As a follow up to my post on Professor Rowley's claim that FDR turned a free people into a "people excessively dependent upon government" and "sowed the seeds for a  redistributive, rather than an entrepreneurial society."  I present the following statistics from The Economic Collapse Blog as evidence of our dependence on government.
-Over 44 million Americans are on food stamps.
-Over 50 million Americans are now on Medicaid which is one out of every six Americans.
-53 million Americans received $703 billion in Social Security benefits in 2010.
-Right now the U.S. government is either writing or guaranteeing well over 90 percent of all mortgages in the United States.
-Entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare now account for 58% of all U.S. government spending.
- Some experts estimate that the unfunded liabilities of the U.S. government for programs such as Social Security and Medicare are in the neighborhood of 60 trillion dollars.  Other experts claim that the total for federal government unfunded liabilities could be well over $100 trillion. 
 - U.S. households are now actually receiving more money from the U.S. government than they are paying to the government in taxes. 
Also from The Economic Collapse Blog,
"It really is hard to find the words to describe the true horror of the national debt.  The U.S. government has been on the greatest debt binge in all of human history, and a day of reckoning is coming that is going to be so painful that it is going to shock America to the core.  We have lived so far above our means for so long that none of us really has any concept of what "normal" is like anymore.  The United States has enjoyed the greatest party in the history of the world, but now this decades-old party is ending and the bills are coming due.  It was Dick Cheney who famously said that "deficits don't matter".  Well, try telling that to the nation of Greece right about now.  The horror that Greece is just beginning to experience is a preview of what is going to happen to us as well.  Only when it happens to us it is going to be so much worse, because when we go down we are going to bring the entire global financial system down with us. 
"What we have done to future generations is beyond sickening.  Previous generations entrusted to us the greatest economic machine in the history of the world and we destroyed it.  Now we are leaving to our children and our grandchildren an economic future that has been totally wiped out and a national debt of more than 14 trillion dollars that we expect them to repay."

Best Paragraph on FDR I Ever Read

Most (all?) elementary and secondary school history books present FDR as America's savior who led us out of the Great Depression.  Most historians consider him one of the greatest presidents.  Charles Rowley - a former economics professor of mine - has managed to set the record straight in only one paragraph.
“Despite the existence of a financial panic, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected into office by Americans who retained a remarkable independence of spirit and  willingness to make their own way in life that had been the great legacy of the Founders and of all those freedom-seeking immigrants who had abandoned all they had to seek opportunity in the New World. By his actions while in extended office, FDR transformed a minor Panic into a Great Depression, and sowed the seeds of a  progressive socialism that slowly would throttle all enterprise out of  the capitalist system. By his pandering to the fears of the weakest remnants, and by his specious use of words of insincere comfort to those who had no desire to flourish as free individuals, FDR weakened the constitution of the People, made  the People excessively dependent upon governmment, and sowed the seeds for a  redistributive, rather than an entrepreneurial society. FDR was not only a traitor to his class. He was a singularly ill-informed and vacuous traitor to his nation.” Charles K. Rowley, June 25, 2011

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some Comments on Atlas Shrugged Part I

This is not a review of Atlas Shrugged Part I.  I am simply too emotionally connected to the book to review the movie fairly.  While it has been 30 years since I have read Atlas Shrugged (yes, I have purposefully avoided re-reading it for fear it wasn’t as great as I remember), its impact on my world view was so profound that no movie could live up to the book.  While I have cast aside much of Rand’s Objectivist philosophy and whole heartedly accepted Christ as the objective measure of morality, my political views continue to be guided by Atlas Shrugged.  Sure I was just an impressionable teenager growing up on a farm outside of Knoxville, Tennessee when I read Atlas Shrugged, but it inspired me like nothing else had before.  While Atlas Shrugged did not start my journey to libertarianism (reading Restoring the American Dream by Robert Ringer as a high school freshman did), it sealed the deal.  I have viewed politicians – from both parties – with suspicion ever since.
For me this is very similar to when the first Narnia book was made into a movie, I had to see it on opening day.  And I actually care that it makes a lot of money for reasons more than just because there will be sequels.  Strange I know.  I am no longer a middle school kid who cares if a song from my favorite band is in the Top 40 Countdown but it feels similar somehow.  Of course, there are differences between the two movies.  Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had a $180 million production budget and a $60 million advertising budget and was made by an established movie production company and distributed and promoted by Disney.  Atlas Shrugged Part I was made on a shoestring budget (by Hollywood standards) of $10 million.  Narnia opened in thousands of theaters.   Atlas Shrugged Part I opened on fewer than 300 screens.  And many of the theaters who showed it on opening weekend only show independent movies or are considered second tier theaters.  I saw it at a theater that decided to show it at the last minute due to all the calls they received asking for it.  (Thank you Regal Downtown West.)  Other than on the Internet, I have seen no advertisements, trailers or any other promotions for the movie.   Mostly it has been promoted by a few conservative talk shows. 
Given that the movie was rushed into production and filming reportedly was completed in only six weeks, I was afraid the movie would be underwhelming at best and embarrassingly bad at worst.  Well, I am happy to report that I enjoyed it.  While a few scenes would have benefitted from a few more retakes, the made-for-TV look early on disappears as the story takes over.  My biggest disappointment was that it was only 102 minutes and it even seems shorter because it is such a good ride.  I look forward to talking to people who have not read the book to get their reaction.
Go see it so the producers can make Part II and Part III.  

Friday, April 15, 2011

Is the Atlas Shrugged Movie Suitable for Children? A Review

Just back from seeing Atlas Shrugged Part 1 and, as promised, I am going to attempt to “review” it from the perspective of a couple of my favorite sites that review movies for content and appropriateness for children.  I hope and will review the movie; they will do a more thorough review.  But until then, here is my review for appropriateness.  
First, it is a PG-13 movie so for parents who absolutely refuse to take any child under 13 to a PG-13 movie, this movie is not for you.  However, if you are a parent who allows your 11 or 12 year old to watch PG-13 movies or even watch many prime time TV shows, this movie is probably acceptable.   
So how does it rate on violence, profanity and sexual content?
Violence: Virtually no physical violence.  I am guessing would probably give it a 2 on a 10 scale for violence.  Of course there is violence against the entrepreneurs by the looters who use the power of government to take their property.
Profanity:  Some mild obscenities.  While I didn’t count the instances of profanity, I am guessing there were fewer than ten instances.  Kids-in-Mind would probably give a 3 on a 10 scale for profanity.
Sexual content: No nudity though there are two bed scenes, both involving Hank Rearden.  The scene with his wife ends humorously.  The scene with Dagny is more passionate.  Kids-in-Mind would probably give it a 6 of a 10 scale for sexual content.
Spiritual content: There is no religious content to speak of which might surprise some given that Ayn Rand was a vocal atheist.
In the next couple of days I hope to post a few more observations about the movie.

Edit:'s review 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Is the Atlas Shrugged Movie suitable for children?

I have tickets to see Atlas Shrugged Part 1 on Friday, April 15.  My review will be posted either late Friday or early Saturday.  The movie is rated PG-13 for “some sexuality” so it probably is not going to be appropriate for younger children but, of course, parents need to make that decision for their own children.  I have walked out on PG movies with my children (and demanded a refund) and I have been okay with some PG-13 movies.  Since my children are in middle school it is especially critical that my wife and I be aware of what is an acceptable PG-13 movie and what is not.
In the past I have been assisted by the reviews from and in helping me decide if a particular movie is appropriate for my children.   However, since Atlas Shrugged is an independent release, it will probably not be reviewed by or for a few weeks, if ever.  (I hope I am wrong.)  Therefore, I plan on reviewing the movie from the perspective taken by those two well-known movie review sites. 
Check back Saturday morning.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Answers to the Question: Why We Need Government

Professor Russ Roberts posts the following at Cafe Hayek:
The U.S. Government Printing Office has a web site to help kids understand our country. There are different sections for different age groups and grades in school. For K-2, here is how the site explains the role of government (HT: Gregory Adams):
Why do we need a government? Imagine what your school would be like if no one was in charge. Each class would make its own rules. Who gets to use the gym if two classes want to use it at the same time? Who would clean the classrooms? Who decides if you learn about Mars or play kickball? Sounds confusing, right?
This is why schools have people who are in charge, such as the principal, administrators, teachers, and staff. Our nation has people who are in charge and they make up the government.
Hmmm. Not quite what I’d say. Feel free to take a shot at a better explanation in the comments. Remember, this is for kids who are between the ages of five and seven years old.

You can follow the link to Cafe Hayek to see some very good answers.  I will post the best one or two responses after a few days.  I hope Professor Roberts doesn't mind.

EDIT: And the winner is . . .
From JS: You know the bossy little girl in your class? That's right, she's the one who gets angry and throws a fit when you play tag instead of hide-and-seek at recess. You know, the one who haughtily tells you that Big Bird is most certainly NOT green when you choose your favorite crayon during coloring time. And at lunch time, she probably told you that you shouldn't eat a grape jelly sandwich, because strawberry is so much better.

In the grown-up world, children with different abilities get different jobs. A strong, brave boy might grow up to be a fire fighter. A girl who loves to read might grow up to write books herself. And the little, bossy girl will grow up to work for the government. The purpose of government is so that when she grows up, she can get her way all the time.