Dale F. Ogden's Blog on
|Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! Patrick Henry, 23 March 1775|
2/29/2008: Health insurance (including Medicare) suffers from a basic flaw that assures no effort to "fix" can be successful until dealt with. Insurance is designed to indemnify for rare and catastrophic risks -- not everyday risks. This is why home owners buy insurance for storm, flood and fire, not for maintenance such as lawn care, and why vehicle owners buy insurance for accidents, not for oil changes.
I will begin to believe those trying to "fix" Medicare are serious when they begin to address this basic flaw.
John S. Ferguson, Richardson, Texas
2/28/2008: Michael Bloomberg takes to the op-ed page of the New York Times to deliver an anticlimactic announcement:
Just for the record, I'm not running for president either. I was going to announce this in an op-ed for the Times, but they won't publish it. So if you happen to see anyone who's a Times reader (a rapidly shrinking demographic), please spread the word.
2/28/2008: Hillary Falls Flat
2/28/2008: Why Hillary's in Trouble
...One reason Clinton femme is not doing well this election year is the widespread dread at the prospect of having to listen to her hopelessly wooden voice for the next four, even eight, years as Big Sister hectors the rest of us direct from the Oval Office. Always for our own good, of course, which of course she knows better than we ever could.
The big reason Hillary Clinton is in trouble is Hillary Clinton. Does the woman ever say anything original, striking, new? Her speeches seem little but a collection of tired slogans, flapping like tattered wash on a line. (Which is how Mencken the Magnificent described Warren G. Harding's oratorical style.) The lady is, however, safe from committing plagiarism. With her tinnest of ears, how would she recognize prose good enough to steal?
...There's a reason the word Clintonesque entered the language as a synonym for disingenuousness. It's also why Americans are rejecting the presidential candidate whose nomination, we were told not long ago, was inevitable...
2/28/2008: Quotes of the day...
2/27/2008: "Even before Sen. Barack Obama won his ninth-straight contest against Sen. Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin last Tuesday, wise old heads in the Democratic Party were asking this question: Who will tell her that it's over." - Columnist Bob Novak
2/27/2008: Barack Obama's FINAL APPEAL [note for brain-dead liberals: this is a joke, even if it sounds real to you]
2/27/2008: "The most dangerous man, to any government, is the man able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are." ~ H. L. Mencken (1919)
2/27/2008: Forget global warming: Welcome to the new Ice Age by Lorne Gunter, National Post, Canada, 2/25/08
2/26/2008: "There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him." -- Robert Heinlein
2/25/2008: The Virtues of Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide by Arthur Robinson [more proof that Al Gore's an idiot and a fraud] Complete peer-reviewed scientific references to the facts in this article can be found in the peer-reviewed article, Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide by A. B. Robinson, N. E. Robinson, and W. Soon available at www.oism.org/pproject.
2/25/2008: Quotes of the Day:
Unfortunately, vast experience has shown that the converse is not true. We can (and do) have many dexamples of dictatorships that are inefficient.
2/25/2008: McCain will self-destruct before the Republican Convention. His stupid campaign finance laws (just desserts) will keep him from getting any matching funds as the Dems have figured out that by keeping the FEC short of a quorom (not voting on nominees), there cannot vote to give his campaign any government money. The Reps will have one last chance to nominate Ron Paul and let his message of freedom and honesty outshine Obama's message of socialist utopia.
2/25/2008: Joke of the Day: Clinton Assures Donors After Losses
Sure she does...she hears that with increasing frequency from Bill (or perhaps from the little voices in her deranged head) who realizes that she will be even worse to be around after she loses Texas and Ohio both. Divorce will follow soon after her inevitable defeat...otherwise Bill Clinton will be the most miserable man on earth. It's hard to imagine but I might even feel sorry for Bill...NOT. He deserves it. Read the whole article; she is a pathological liar (the one thing she and Bill have in common).
2/25/2008: Several Duke University campus organizations, including the Women's Center, the Student Health Center, and the Women's Studies Department, sponsored a "Sex Workers Art Show" on February 3rd, at which nearly-nude "artists" danced for students and others while vulgarly criticizing America via acts such as a woman's pretending to eat excreted dollar bills and a man's kneeling with an American flag inserted in his rear end. Two years ago, Duke's men's lacrosse team was vilified by the Duke administration and faculty merely for hiring two female strippers for a party (from which emanated false charges of rape and the eventual disbarment of the local district attorney). A University spokesman explained to a National Journal reporter that the recent show was acceptable because it was "art" and "social commentary," rather than male-bonding entertainment. [National Journal, 2-11-08; Raleigh News & Observer, 2-6-08]
2/23/2008: John McCain Is A Liberal Gun Grabber by
The last thing we need is another liberal neocon in the White House. If the Presidency of George W. Bush proved anything, it proved the hazard of electing phony Republican conservatives. At least one is able to clearly see a liberal for what he or she is when they have a "D" behind their name. But put an "R" behind the name and suddenly their liberal, Big-Government, anti-freedom agenda is barely recognized, which makes a liberal Republican much more dangerous than a liberal Democrat.
Let me say it straight out: a John McCain Presidency would be far worse than a Barack Obama Presidency. With a Democrat in the White House, conservatives and Christians suddenly find their principles and are able to offer resistance. Put a Republican in the Oval Office, however, and those same people become blind, deaf, and dumb to most any principle they profess.
Nowhere is McCain's chicanery and duplicity more jeopardous than in the area of the right to keep and bear arms. On issues relating to the Second Amendment, John McCain is a disaster! For example, the highly respected Gun Owners of America (GOA) rates McCain with a grade of F-. McCain's failing grade is well deserved.
John McCain sponsored an amendment to S. 1805 on March 2, 2004 that would outlaw the private sale of firearms at gun shows. According to GOA, the provision would effectively eliminate gun shows, because every member of an organization sponsoring a gun show could be imprisoned if the organization fails to notify each and every "person who attends the special firearms event of the requirements [under the Brady Law]."
John McCain also sponsored an Incumbent Protection provision to the so- called "Campaign Finance Reform" bill, which severely curtails the ability of outside groups (such as GOA) to communicate the actions of incumbent politicians to members and supporters prior to an election.
The GOA report of the 106th Congress reveals that out of 15 votes relating to the right to keep and bear arms, Senator John McCain voted favorably only 4 times. Put that into a percentage and McCain's pro- Second Amendment voting record is a pathetic 27%.
In addition, GOA warns that John McCain supported legislation that would force federal agents to increase efforts in arresting and convicting honest gun owners who may inadvertently violate one of the many federal anti-gun laws, which punish mere technicalities, such as gun possession.
For example, if John McCain's proposed legislation were to become law, a gun owner who travels with a gun through a school zone or who uses one of the family handguns to go target shooting with a 15-year old could be sent to prison. And a person who uses a gun for self-defense could be sent to prison for a mandatory minimum of five years.
But there is so much more to the McCain madness.
Former California State Senator H.L. "Bill" Richardson wrote this about John McCain, "He's [McCain's] proven his dislike for conservatives and would gut us at every opportunity.
"Why do I say that? Because of three decades of experience as a Republican California Senator and a fifty year activist in the conservative movement. I have first hand, in-their-face experience with elitist RINO's (Republican in Name Only) office holders. They are biblically ignorant, power hungry, status seeking egotists who have no difficulty aiding their liberal Democrat colleagues whenever their arms are politely twisted. The one thing they have in common with liberal Democrats is their dislike for all conservatives, especially those who are Bible-believing. McCain, as president, would stifle the voices of elected Republican leaders and try to legislate the conservative movement out of existence."
Senator Richardson went on to say that he would in no way vote for John McCain, if indeed McCain is the Republican nominee (which he obviously will be).
I wonder how many gun owners and other professing pro-freedom Americans have already fallen victim to McCain's phony conservative campaign? Do they not realize that they are giving a rope to the hangman? And that they--conservatives and gun owners--are the ones who McCain will send to the gallows? What is wrong with the American people these days? Have they not been betrayed enough by these phony conservative Republicans?
For example, President George W. Bush recently nominated Michael Sullivan to be Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Sullivan is one of the nation's most rabid anti- gunners. GOA's Larry Pratt describes Sullivan as being "as anti-gun as Ted Kennedy." Honest gun owners, lawful firearms dealers, and law- abiding gun show operators could have no worse enemy within the federal government than Michael Sullivan. We could expect no worse from Hillary Clinton. And a John McCain Presidency would doubtless give us more of the same.
Regarding the Second Amendment, the American people have no better friend than Ron Paul. He has a 20-year proven track record of fidelity to the right to keep and bear arms. The GOA rates Congressman Paul with a grade of A+. According to GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt, Ron Paul has been a leader in the fight to defend and restore the Second Amendment. He has sponsored legislation to repeal the following: the Brady law; the requirement to lock up your guns; the law permitting the U.S. to be part of the U.N (which, among other attacks on American freedoms, seeks to ban privately transferred firearms); participation in UNESCO; federal prohibitions on any pilot wishing to carry a handgun to and in his cockpit; and the so-called "assault weapons" ban (prior to its sunsetting in 2004).
Ron Paul has also sponsored legislation requiring states to treat the concealed carry permit of one state the same as they do that state's driver's license. Dr. Paul also opposes a national ID card, which would be a tool of government to identify gun ownership.
Gun owners (along with conservatives and Christians of all sorts) should be ashamed of themselves for allowing an angry, gun-grabbing liberal such as John McCain to become the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, while rejecting the candidacy of one of America's most principled pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, pro- Constitution, and pro-freedom legislators of this generation: Congressman Ron Paul.
I say again, the last thing we need is another liberal neocon in the White House. John McCain may have an "R" behind his name, but he is just another establishment liberal: one America cannot afford.
2/21/2008: Interesting & Funny Math Videos
2/21/2008: Phony Sacramento Budgets Cuts Exposed
This is the truth about the budget cuts made by the Democrats and the Governor a few days ago: "Lawmakers did return to Sacramento, but the "cuts" were mostly spending deferrals, delays, transfers and other accounting gimmicks." Now we understand why, with the passage of these "cuts," the deficit expanded by another billion dollars. Obviously, those involved in the fraud think voters are too stupid to know any better. Still worse, the governor and his liberal cronies authorized selling $3.more 3 billion in bonds--which means the deficit goes up even more. The "non-partisan" Legislative Analysts Office wants to raise taxes, by taking away the mortgage interest deduction. This means the cost of housing for the poor and middle class will go up, at a time when foreclosures are rising to historic highs. After seven straight years of deficits, does anybody trust the Democrats and the Governor to be in charge of the public purse? After raising spending by 44% in four years, is this what we want from the Governor? We need someone in Sacramento to tell the truth. We do not need further phony budget cuts. We need real cuts. To begin with, next year's spending (not just the budget but actual spending) needs to be at or below this years' level. Many thousands of useless jobs need to be eliminated. The Attorney General needs to stop running for Governor again and start indicting corruption in LAUSD and all other government agencies. Those responsible for audits need to do their job. Why isn't the media telling this to us, why aren't other legislators speaking out. Why didn't the LAO yell about the phony cuts? Why aren't you angry and getting involved? Pass this along to your friends, let them know that leaders in Sacramento are lying, again to them.
2/21/2008: Our good friend and talk-show host Brian Wilson in Toledo, Ohio, forwarded this important breaking news story to us this morning.
The U.S. faces an unwelcome combination of looming recession and persistent inflation that is reviving angst about stagflation, a condition not seen since the 1970s. Inflation is rising. Yesterday the Labor Department said consumer prices in the U.S. jumped 0.4% in January [0.7% in the Los Angeles area] and are up 4.3% over the past 12 months, near a 16-year high. Even stripping out sharply rising food and energy costs, prices rose 0.3% in January, driven by education, medical care, clothing and hotels. They are up by 2.5% from the previous year, a 10-month high.
This is a common pattern when forecasters know they are wrong. They make frequent forecasts and change them a little each time. In my opinion, 1970's inflation is on the way. You can always count on government at all levels to take an extremely short-term view (and immoral) of the world. Tax increases and unrestrained increases in the money supply (the Federal Government creates money as they need it, reducing the value of everyone else's money) Translated, the 8th Commandment commands "Thou shalt not steal" not "Thou shalt not steal unless sanctioned by a majority (or plurality) of votes."
2/19/2008: Son of Spitzer: New York State Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo, a protege of Governor Eliot Spitzer [who, armed with the power of government, either as NY Attorney General or Governor, is clearly a menace to Society], has caught his boss's zest for meddling in private markets without much wisdom and is venturing beyond his explicit legal authority. In the process, he's helping to abrogate private contracts and may make the credit crisis worse. [Read more in the Wall Street Journal] I cast my vote for Eric Dinallo as the most irresponsible regulator of insurance in the United States, at least since John Garamendi's first term (1991-1995) in California.
2/19/2008: Inflation should be zero; anything higher than that is theft by the government exploiting its monopoly on money. Check out the latest inflation statistics (January 2008) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Compared to January 2007, the CPI is up 4.28% year over year with the one month change up 6.13% (annualized) over December 2007. In the Los Angeles area, the year over year CPI is up 3.92% but for January over December, it is up 8.79% (annualized). What this means is that, as a result of the profligacy and irresponsible actions on the part of government, including especially, the idiot in the White House and the thieves in Congress and the idiot in the California Governor's Office and the thieves in the California Legislature, and the irresponsible behavior of the Federal Reserve Board, real inflation-adjusted interest rates are negative, less than zero, i.e., you lose when you save. With the socialist government we now have, unconstrained by the limited powers granted to the government by our Constitution (which they routinely ignore), you and I are fools if we save money. Inflation is a tax on savings and frugality; wealth is transferred from savers to the government and then onto favored constituencies. And those favored constituencies include debtors, Wall Street and other deadbests and non-productive entities.
2/19/2008: The U.S. Senate adopted the theory that... lawsuits should not be permitted and voted to extend the Protect America Act. A clear majority of Members of Congress also would have voted to extend the Protect America Act. But Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, putting the demands of the Trial Lawyers and the MoveOn.org wing of the Democratic Party ahead of Americas safety refused to let the bill come to the floor for a vote. Leaving the rest of us unprotected. Rich Galen
Warming? New Data Shows Ice Is Back
Are the world's ice caps melting because of climate change, or are the reports just a lot of scare mongering by the advocates of the global warming theory?
Scare mongering appears to be the case, according to reports from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that reveal that almost all the allegedly lost ice has come back. A NOAA report shows that ice levels which had shrunk from 5 million square miles in January 2007 to just 1.5 million square miles in October, are almost back to their original levels.
Moreover, a Feb. 18 report in the London Daily Express showed that there is nearly a third more ice in Antarctica than usual, challenging the global warming crusaders and buttressing arguments of skeptics who deny that the world is undergoing global warming.
The Daily express recalls the photograph of polar bears clinging on to a melting iceberg which has been widely hailed as proof of the need to fight climate change and has been used by former Vice President Al Gore during his "Inconvenient Truth" lectures about mankinds alleged impact on the global climate.
Gore fails to mention that the photograph was taken in the month of August when melting is normal. Or that the polar bear population has soared in recent years.
2/19/2008: Hillary's Socialist Blueprint for Amerika
2/18/2008: "Inflation has now been institutionalized at a fairly constant 5% per year. This has been determined to be the optimum level for generating the most revenue without causing public alarm. A 5% devaluation applies, not only to the money earned this year, but to all that is left over from previous years. At the end of the first year, a dollar is worth 95 cents. At the end of the second year, the 95 cents is reduced again by 5%, leaving its worth at 90 cents, and so on. By the time a person has worked 20 years, the government will have confiscated 64% of every dollar he saved over those years. By the time he has worked 45 years, the hidden tax will be 90%. The government will take virtually everything a person saves over a lifetime." -- G. Edward Griffin
The above quote may need some explanation. Most people don't know that the Federal Reserve has the power to create new dollars out of thin air. It does. Most people also don't know that this is one of the ways the government pays its bills. The process is simple . . .
It's a neat trick. The politicians don't have to raise your taxes, but they have more money to spend.
What happens when this new money hits the economy? Apologists for the Fed use a clever supply-and-demand argument to claim that nothing at all happens. Here's how the argument works . . .
But there are two big problems with this argument. First, it assumes that the Fed will be able to determine the total supply of goods and services in the economy, and keep the money supply in balance with it. This assumption causes the argument to fail, instantly.
Total U.S. economic activity amounts to many trillions of productive events. No amount of reporting to the government could possibly measure this with any degree of precision. It's inevitable that the Fed will misjudge how big the economy is, and thereby misjudge how much money creation is consistent with avoiding price inflation. When the Fed causes the money supply to grow faster than productivity grows, supply and demand will be out of balance. There will be more money chasing relatively fewer goods. The result will be higher prices on the things you buy. Each of the dollars in your pocket will buy less than they did before. Your savings will lose value. This is one way you pay the government's inflation tax. Here's another way . . .
Your wages will rise slower than prices will. It's much easier for a super-market to change a price tag on a carton of milk than it is for your employer to adjust your compensation. Your standard of living will decline as your paycheck buys less. This is another way you pay the inflation tax.
How do we eliminate the hidden inflation tax? Congressman Ron Paul has developed a simple approach to this. He wants to end the Fed's monopoly over the money supply. He wants to make the Fed compete with other forms of money, such as gold. This competition would reduce the Fed's ability to inflate the dollar supply. Toward this end . . .
He first proposed the "Honest Money Act," which would repeal the legal tender law and provide people with increased legal security to make transactions in other forms of money, such as gold. Now he has a new bill, designed to remove the federal government's monopoly control over the creation of coins. This new bill is called the "Free Competition in Currency Act."
[from Jim Babka, President, DownsizeDC.org, Inc]
2/13/2008: Camille Paglia on Hillary Hillary's gonads must be sending out sci-fi rays that paralyze the paleo-feminist mind -- because her career, attached to her husband's flapping coattails, has sure been heavy on striking pious attitudes but ultra-light on concrete achievements. [Read more]
2/12/2008: States of Opportunity - Wall Street Journal; Page A16
An old adage says high taxes don't redistribute income, they redistribute people. For new evidence look no further than migration patterns within the United States, as documented in a new survey by the moving company United Van Lines.
...The only Pacific Coast state to lose migrant population in 2007 was California, which has the highest state income tax in the nation. This is the continuation of a dismal 10-year performance with nearly one and a half million Golden Staters leaving what was once the premier destination state in America.
Meanwhile, next door, Nevada was second among the states in new families -- and a big percentage of the new arrivals are Californians. Nevada has no income tax. High income Californians can buy a house in Las Vegas for the amount of money they save in three or four years by not paying California income taxes. [read more]
2/11/2008: Mortgage rates are lower, leading lots of homeowners to want to refinance, CNNMoney reports. But it's harder to get a refi than it used to be:
The headline on the story is: "Refinancing: Only for the Privileged Few." So if you've taken care to keep your finances in order and your credit score high, it seems you're "privileged."
2/11/2008: [A] wise and frugal government... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. Thomas Jefferson
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot help small men by tearing down big men. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot lift the wage-earner by pulling down the wage-payer. You cannot help the poor man by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot establish security on borrowed money. You cannot build character and courage by taking away mens initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves. William J. H. Boetcker
...and since Obama likely will be the Democrats' nominee for President, I'll stop picking on Hillary and allow her yto slip into well-deserved obscurity as the Socialist Senator from New York.
[Barack] Obama [has said] the top priority of the next president should be the creation of a more lasting and equitable prosperity than achieved under Presidents Bush and Clinton. Obama apparently missed the class that teaches government doesnt create prosperity; people do. During [a recent] debate with Hillary Clinton, Obama said he would pay for his proposed new programs, including mandatory health insurance, by imposing higher taxes on the wealthy and raising the tax on Social Security wages. He added, What we have had right now is a situation where weve cut taxes for people who dont need them. Should government determine how much money people need? This is Marxism: from each according to his ability; to each according to his need. Sen. Clinton expressed similar sentiments on ABCs This Week when she said if people refuse to buy health insurance under her plan she might garnish peoples wages. One reason this socialistic mind-set resonates favorably with many is due to the shift in the last half-century from promoting hard work, self-sufficiency, marriage, personal responsibility and accountability and living within ones means, to a mentality that I am entitled to the fruits of other peoples labor. That used to be called robbery before government started doing it more than a century ago through the income tax... How many politicians today talk about looking out for ones self, not relying on government? Cal Thomas
Are What You Spend"
WITH markets swinging widely, the Federal Reserve slashing interest rates and the word recession on everybodys lips, renewed attention is being given to the gap between the haves and have-nots in America. Most of this debate, however, is focused on the wrong measurement of financial well-being.
Its true that the share of national income going to the richest 20 percent of households rose from 43.6 percent in 1975 to 49.6 percent in 2006, the most recent year for which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has complete data. Meanwhile, families in the lowest fifth saw their piece of the pie fall from 4.3 percent to 3.3 percent.
Income statistics, however, dont tell the whole story of Americans living standards. Looking at a far more direct measure of American families economic status household consumption indicates that the gap between rich and poor is far less than most assume, and that the abstract, income-based way in which we measure the so-called poverty rate no longer applies to our society.
The top fifth of American households earned an average of $149,963 a year in 2006. As shown in the first accompanying chart, they spent $69,863 on food, clothing, shelter, utilities, transportation, health care and other categories of consumption. The rest of their income went largely to taxes and savings.
The bottom fifth earned just $9,974, but spent nearly twice that an average of $18,153 a year. How is that possible? A look at the far right-hand column of the consumption chart, labeled financial flows, shows why: those lower-income families have access to various sources of spending money that doesnt fall under taxable income. These sources include portions of sales of property like homes and cars and securities that are not subject to capital gains taxes, insurance policies redeemed, or the drawing down of bank accounts. While some of these families are mired in poverty, many (the exact proportion is unclear) are headed by retirees and those temporarily between jobs, and thus their low income total doesnt accurately reflect their long-term financial status.
So, bearing this in mind, if we compare the incomes of the top and bottom fifths, we see a ratio of 15 to 1. If we turn to consumption, the gap declines to around 4 to 1. A similar narrowing takes place throughout all levels of income distribution. The middle 20 percent of families had incomes more than four times the bottom fifth. Yet their edge in consumption fell to about 2 to 1.
Lets take the adjustments one step further. Richer households are larger an average of 3.1 people in the top fifth, compared with 2.5 people in the middle fifth and 1.7 in the bottom fifth. If we look at consumption per person, the difference between the richest and poorest households falls to just 2.1 to 1. The average person in the middle fifth consumes just 29 percent more than someone living in a bottom-fifth household.
To understand why consumption is a better guideline of economic prosperity than income, it helps to consider how our lives have changed. Nearly all American families now have refrigerators, stoves, color TVs, telephones and radios. Air-conditioners, cars, VCRs or DVD players, microwave ovens, washing machines, clothes dryers and cellphones have reached more than 80 percent of households.
As the second chart, on the spread of consumption, shows, this wasnt always so. The conveniences we take for granted today usually began as niche products only a few wealthy families could afford. In time, ownership spread through the levels of income distribution as rising wages and falling prices made them affordable in the currency that matters most the amount of time one had to put in at work to gain the necessary purchasing power.
At the average wage, a VCR fell from 365 hours in 1972 to a mere two hours today. A cellphone dropped from 456 hours in 1984 to four hours. A personal computer, jazzed up with thousands of times the computing power of the 1984 I.B.M., declined from 435 hours to 25 hours. Even cars are taking a smaller toll on our bank accounts: in the past decade, the work-time price of a mid-size Ford sedan declined by 6 percent.
There are several reasons that the costs of goods have dropped so drastically, but perhaps the biggest is increased international trade. Imports lower prices directly. Cheaper inputs cut domestic companies costs. International competition forces producers everywhere to become more efficient and hold down prices. Nations do what they do best and trade for the rest.
Thus there is a certain perversity to suggestions that the proper reaction to a potential recession is to enact protectionist measures. While foreign competition may have eroded some American workers incomes, looking at consumption broadens our perspective. Simply put, the poor are less poor. Globalization extends and deepens a capitalist system that has for generations been lifting American living standards for high-income households, of course, but for low-income ones as well.
W. Michael Cox is the senior vice president and chief economist and Richard Alm is the senior economics writer at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
2/8/2008: The Goal Is Freedom: The Crazy Arithmetic of Voting by Sheldon Richman
In the political season we are told over and over that "every vote counts." Great sums of money are spent to get out the vote. It is an unquestioned article of faith that the more voters who participate the better. Low turnout is considered a tragedy, record turnouts a reason for declaring a national holiday.
Why? What is it about voting that sends people into rhapsody? On its face voting doesn't seem to be a good way for individuals to get precisely what they want. It's more like going to a supermarket and choosing between two shopping carts, each pre-loaded with different goods.
Leoni's essay takes a realistic look at the democratic process. The results won't hearten Chris Matthews and other cheerleaders of the current political process. An excerpt:
2/8/2008: For those of you enjoy scary movies, here's a real nightmare... Hillary as President. Click on the image to view a full-size graphic, with 32 really scary images.
Guarding presidential candidates 24 hours a day, Secret Service agents know better than almost anyone what they are really like. Among Secret Service agents, no protectee evokes more disdain than Hillary Clinton. Secret Service agents assigned at various points to guarding Hillary during her campaign for the Senate were dismayed to find her two-faced and perpetually angry.
During the listening tour, she planned impromptu visits at diners and local hangouts, a former Secret Service agent told me for my book A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush.
The events were all staged, and the questions were screened, the former agent said. She would stop off at diners. The campaign would tell them three days ahead that they were coming. They would talk to the owner and tell him to invite everyone and bring his friends. Hillary flew into rages when she thought her campaign staff had not corralled enough onlookers beforehand. Hillary had an explosive temper.
2/6/2008: Lego Turns 50 [from The Onion]
The Lego, invented by a Danish toy manufacturer, turned 50 last week. Here are some highlights from the history of this popular interlocking brick:
2/5/2008: What Kind of "Experience"? By Thomas Sowell
The front-runners in both political parties -- that is, Hillary Clinton and John McCain -- are making "experience" their big talking point. But what kind of "experience"?
Both have been around in politics for decades. But just what did they accomplish -- and how did it benefit the country? Whether in Arkansas or in Washington, Hillary Clinton has spent decades parlaying her husband's political clout into both money and power. How did that benefit anybody but the Clintons? For those people whose memories are short, go on the Internet and look up Whitewater, the confidential raw FBI files on hundreds of Republican politicians that somehow -- nobody apparently knows how -- ended up in the Clinton White House illegally. Look up the sale of technology to China that can enable them to more accurately hit American cities with nuclear missiles. Then look up the money that found its way to the Clintons through devious channels. Look up Bill Clinton's firing of every single U.S. Attorney in the country, which of course included those who were investigating him for corruption as governor of Arkansas.
It may be old-fashioned to talk about character and integrity but
they can have a lot more to do with the fate of this nation than "experience" at
playing political games.
The nation as a whole is stronger when it can trust its President who, after all, has vastly more knowledge available on both domestic and international problems and threats. It would be hard to find two people less trustworthy than the Clintons or with a longer trail of sleaze and slime.
Senator John McCain is also touting his "experience," both in politics and in the military. Senator McCain's political record is full of zig-zags summarized in the word "maverick." That is another way of saying that you don't know what he is going to do next, except that it will be in the interests of John McCain. While you are on the Internet looking up the record of the Clintons, look up John McCain's record, including the Keating Five, the McCain-Feingold bill, and the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill.
Senator McCain's trump card is his military experience. Some say his military experience is especially valuable when we are under threat from terrorists. But is it? John McCain's military service was both honorable and heroic. But let's not confuse that with experience relevant to being President of the United States. John McCain was a naval aviator, an important and demanding job. But a naval aviator is not like Patton or Eisenhower. A naval aviator does not plan battlefield strategy, much less global military strategy, which a President must oversee, with the help of experienced generals and admirals.
Franklin D. Roosevelt was Assistant Secretary of the Navy in the First World War. But he depended on General George C. Marshall for military strategy in the Second World War.
Give McCain credit where credit is due: He supported the "surge" in Iraq, which rescued a deteriorating situation. But so did George W. Bush, who has never touted his military service and Dick Cheney who was never in the military. The most charitable interpretation of Senator McCain's constant touting of his military service is that he is simply milking it for political advantage. It would be truly dangerous if McCain really considers himself a military expert, who can therefore ignore the advice of real military experts as President of the United States.
A man like McCain, with a history of being headstrong and shooting from the hip, is the last thing we need as President, in an age of complex global threats, including terrorists who may get nuclear weapons within the next few years.
2/2/2008: STUPID IS AS CONGRESS DOES
"On Tuesday, the U.S. House voted on H.R. 5140, the Economic Stimulus Bill. As you may know, I was one of only 25 Republicans to vote against the bill. Every American knows that the Federal government does not have the money to pay for these rebates. We will have to borrow it. It makes absolutely no sense to me to go give away money we don't have." Rep. John Shadegg (R-Ariz.)
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Other Information about Dale F. Ogden
Dale F. Ogden & Associates
Actuaries & Management Consultants
Dale F. Ogden, Libertarian, for
California Insurance Commissioner, 2006
Dale F. Ogden, Libertarian,
California State Senate, 2004
Dale F. Ogden, Libertarian,
California Insurance Commissioner, 2002
Dale F. Ogden,
California State Assembly, 2000
Dale F. Ogden, Libertarian,
California Insurance Commissioner, 1998