Sunday, May 31, 2009

Monopoly Money

It only became a pun by accident. I hadn't meant to. I was really referring to the various classes of money that historically circulated in the US before we put all out eggs in one FIAT currency basket. I have more faith in the six classes of money that circulated prior to the Depression, and in particular the two that kept the fiat group from running wild like we do now. There were Gold and Silver certificates, each backed by metal of their face value. There were National currency of the Federal Reserve type and the various local National Bank type. There were United States Notes, our very own fiat currency, and there was the Federal Reserve Note (private corporation) fiat currency. Had the politicians and bankers not gotten greedy and played fast and loose with trying to get themselves more than their share of our national wealth, they would all still be in existence to ride herd over each other to keep our currency honest.

Now we have a monopoly on money, and our money is fast becoming Monopoly money, because our politicians and bankers truly believe it all belongs to them except what the suffer us to have, and that is becoming less.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

On Taxation Without Representation and the Laffer Curve.

Now we are being asked to pay for the shortfalls of the California state budget. The Legislature of the State of California has passed more laws than they can afford to pay for. Rather than either having only those laws they can afford, or taxing them-selves sufficiently to pay for the benevolence that they wish their state to provide; they come instead to the President of the United states of America, hat in hand, asking that he, President Obama, take money from you and from me to pay for their expenditures.
This is unquestionably taxation without representation. I did not have any representation in funding sea otter habitats, or local community theatres. I should not be required to pay for them.
I just watched Craig T. Nelson say on the Glenn Beck show that he will not pay taxes any longer if we continue on the current path. I do not know the true wisdom of that statement, but the Atlas Shrugged answer of reducing my participation and contribution in the system may be a better answer. If my return for my hard work is an ever-reducing return, there is no incentive in my going to work and attempting to earn the government more money than the same work earns me. I am reaching the point of diminishing returns.
If this sounds familiar, it is the thesis of the Laffer Curve. Dr. Laffer's thesis is dismissed by television pundits and other advocates of big government who think that economic laws can be readily dismissed since the complexity of variables do not make absolute outcomes. But the thesis itself is so simple that one can readily ponder where the point of the demand side will infringe on the desire to work and hence reduce the impetus to get out of bed and even try. If the total taxation burden of federal, state, local, becomes to onerous it will alter behavior. But if the revenue drops off on excessive demand, one can make one of two deductions - That the purpose of the increased taxation is for some purpose other than the generation of revenue or that the tax collectors truly believe that people will work continue to work harder for decreased benefit for themselves.
Early Retirement sounds better every day.

Treason Then. Treason Now?

See how many places in this document you can substitute the name Obama for the pronoun "He" and have it make good sense.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If Sotomayor Was A Referee ...

If Sotomayor was a referee, would we tolerate her bias? After all, what is a judge but a referee? A person whose job it is to make sure that the rules are followed; a person whose job it is to decide whether close calls are fair or foul; a person whose job it is to make sure the local rules follow the printed guidelines, in this case the United States Constitution. We have allowed ourselves over the years to believe the propaganda that the Supreme Court's job is to decide what the Constitution "really means", but that is a Progressive distortion of the true purpose of the decisions. The decisions are to decide if the law is true to the constitution, not if the Constitution is true to what we want the law to be.

We would not allow the umpire at the World Series to decide whether an over-the-wall home run was in the best interests of baseball. We would not stand for it. It really does not matter which team is asking for the decision. So why should it when the issue is discrimination? The issue is not who is claiming discrimination. The issue is did it or did it not occur. Judge Sotomayor with a wink and a nod says she will make the outcome what certain players expect it to be. At least with the Black sox Scandal of 1919, the referees weren't in on the cheating. Is that what our descendants will say 90 years from now?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

If I Only Were A Cartoonist.

President Barack Obama has nominated Sonia Sotomayor to fill the soon to be seat of David Souter on the United States Supreme Court. President Obama has spoken of empathy as an important criteria for the job, and Sotomayor has spoken publicly of "...the Court of Appeals as where policy is made. I know I shouldn't say that"; and at the University of California Berkely School of Law as a judge, "...a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life".
According to Title 28, Chapter I, Part 453 of the United States Code, each Supreme Court Justice takes the following oath:
"I, [NAME], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich, and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as [TITLE] under the Constitution and laws of the United States. So help me God.''
The cartoon I envision has the statue of Lady Justice pushing up the blindfold to peek out from underneath to see who it was she was going to find for.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yet Another Rant On Government Healthcare.

Since we as a nation are so dead set on turning our healthcare needs, responsibilities, and rights over to the US Government just so we don't have to lick the envelope ourselves, (You don't really think you will get more back from the Government than You put in, do you?) I would ask you before you make the decision to support our Representatives and Senators on this that you go spend a day at the local county hospital emergency room.
I had the opportunity to do this yesterday. My mother had a stroke. She went to the distant County Hospital rather than the nearby University-affiliated private one we normally use because that's what the ambulance was told to do.
As a stroke patient, she got special treatment and moved to the front of the line for service, or at least getting moved into a room. I then spent the next hour filling out 37 papers requiring signature as her power of attorney - Lord only knows what they all were or why. Even looking at my copies after the fact, they don't all make sense. I got in shortly before the nurse came to introduce herself and take her vitals and draw blood. I am certainly glad it wasn't a life threatening condition ... oh, wait, it was. The did take her for a CT Scan shortly afterwards, but then they left her in the room primarily by herself for at least six hours, despite the fact that she was confused and kept trying to get herself out of bed. Finally, after shift change, a doctor came in to check her out. He sent her up to neuroscience to have further testing done and I went home to eat and crash.
This was a new emergency room since I was here last time when my daughter got hurt in Girl Scouts, but you couldn't tell it. No expense was spared in making it look shabby and be uncomfortable. The bench seating has armrests at every seat length to make sure no one lays down. This is a continuation of the practice they used in the old emergency room as I found when I brought my injured daughter in and waited for them to see her.* It is forbidden to bring magazines in and leave them as I found out later when I tried to correct the situation. Germs or some such. It made me pine for the old Reader's Digest in my regular doctor's office.
So check out the local Government run medical facility, check out the Post Office, check out the social security Office and then remember the last time you visited your family doctor. Is that the trade you want to make just so you don't have to write the check yourself?

*This is a story unto itself. I bought my daughter in and triage was busy filling out those 37 forms and not triaging the patients. After being admonished to wait our turn, and being admonished for laying my daughter down on the floor, and being admonished for getting blood on their floor, and waiting an hour; I went up front to the business office an asked "if we just went home, would we still have to pay?"
When I came back, my wife said "What did you do?" I asked "Why?" and she replied "The phone rang and after the call, the staff came out and rounded up all the waiting patients and took them back behind the closed doors".

News of the Future?

Police Slog Through 40,000 Insipid Party Pics To Find Cause Of Dorm Fire

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What can I say after this?

From George Will's Column

In "Democracy in America," Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated people being governed by "an immense, tutelary power" determined to take "sole charge of assuring their enjoyment and of watching over their fate." It would be a power "absolute, attentive to detail, regular, provident and gentle," aiming for our happiness but wanting "to be the only agent and the sole arbiter of that happiness." It would, Tocqueville said, provide people security, anticipate their needs, direct their industries and divide their inheritances. It would envelop society in "a network of petty regulations -- complicated, minute and uniform." But softly: "It does not break wills; it softens them, bends them, and directs them" until people resemble "a herd of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd."

Sound familiar?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Does anybody remember Rich Hall and sniglets?

I have been carrying one in my head like an 'ear worm' for years.

Showertia - That force which makes one put off getting into the shower (especially on weekends) and then prevents one from finishing the shower and drying off once one has started a shower. An object out of the shower tends to remain out of the shower and an object in the shower tends to remain in the shower.
Also applies to empty shampoo bottles.

"eBay Sellers Charge Too Much"

I have recently read (and watched) a number of complaints about the prices people ask for things on eBay and Craigslist. I do not understand the anger. Or maybe I do. The American People no longer understand free - as in freedom and free market. The only understand free as in without cost or without responsibility.
SouthernLibertyAmer complains of eBay seller charging too much for silver. The answer is simple - buy somewhere else or don't buy at all. There is no requirement that a seller must sell to you at a price you are willing to pay - just as there is none that you meet his. That is Capitalism. Contracts are a meeting of the minds.

America has become a short-sighted nation, and stingy too. This stinginess gives us the WalMart effect, choking out customer service and ultimately our own livelihoods. We give no thoughts to the expenses and profit of those who provide services to us. We are entitled to the fruits of their labor. Profit is the eighth forbidden word. Sellers are "the evil rich". BUT, when they consider it uneconomical to sell, they withdraw their services, they cease. And we are the poorer for it. Take away their profit - you take away their reason to exist, their reason to do the work necessary to provide for you. They have something you want or need and you feel they must give it to you on the basis of your need. You wish for them to be your slave. Once more, there is a word for that - Communism.

For the record, I have never sold any silver nor offered any for sale.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

What Is Money?

As I was doing my presentation on historical currency and inflation the other day, I was asked by an enthusiastic listener: "You mean we should invest in Gold".
I responded "Actually, No. Gold is one thing you could use to keep your wealth. So is silver. So is real estate. But so are nails, or 1/4-20 by inch and a half hex-head bolts. And virtually anything but shrimp and lettuce or the FRN."
I realized I was on to something. The first consideration of preserving your wealth was that it should be physical and non-deteriorating.

Officially, money is anything that is generally accepted as payment for goods and services and repayment of debts.[1] And the main uses of money are as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, and a store of value.[2] The principal use of money is as a medium of exchange. Even the shrimp would suffice for this. And a pound of shrimp could well be a unit of value, but it is declining in value almost as fast as the Federal Reserve Note.

But we know that money is really the physical manifestation on your life and labors. You trade that part of your life for it. To take it from you is to take that part of your life. Whether by inflation or taxation, [especially that taxation that provides no thing to you in return] your loss of wealth is theft of your life and freedom - That is slavery.
[1] Mishkin, Frederic S. (2007). The Economics of Money, Banking, and Financial Markets (Alternate Edition). Boston: Addison Wesley. p. 8. ISBN 0-321-42177-9.
[2] Mankiw, N. Gregory (2007). Macroeconomics (6th ed.). New York: Worth Publishers. ISBN 0-7167-6213-7.

Who regulates the regulators?

From an article by James R. Cook about plagiarism (sic) of the work of Theodore Butler on silver comes this paragraph that is one of the most pithy on Government regulation I have ever read. I am visualizing every regulator (or fire marshal or building inspector) I have ever sat down across the desk from - A person barely half my age whose only experience is finding fault while drawing '$15 an hour and all the people you can bully'.

"Ted Butler knows more about silver and the workings of the silver market than anyone on earth. He's proved to be an embarrassment to the regulators at the commodity futures Trading Commission because he knows more than they do. He's got the experience they lack. This is an example of the shortcomings of regulation. Every industry is complex and it takes years to become an expert. That's why regulation fails so often. The government is regulating industries they know very little about compared to those experts who work within the industry. That's why an argument can be made that it's better to have minimal regulation where the citizens look out for themselves rather than expect the government to look out for them. Bernie Madoff would have never got out of the starting gate if individual investors scrutinized him rather than trusting the SEC to do the job."

Thus the origin of my signature block on all my e-mail:
"All jobs are equally easy to the person not doing the work".
I call it Holt's law, although Dave Holt says I am the one who said it to him in the late 1960s, and that he merely quoted it back to me ten years later.

Interesting That Progressives Think We Are the Barbarians.

"The book that permanently made me a sadder -
and hopefully, wiser - man was Edward Gibbons'
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
To follow one of the greatest civilizations of
all time as it degenerated and fractured,
even before being torn apart by its enemies,
was especially painful in view of the parallels
to what is happening in America in our own times.
The fall of the Roman Empire was not just a matter
of changing rulers or political systems.
It was the collapse of a whole civilization -
the destruction of an economy, the breakdown
of law and order, the disappearance of many
educational institutions. It has been estimated
that a thousand years passed before the standard
of living in Western Europe rose again to the
level it had once had back in Roman times. How
long would it take to recover from the collapse
of Western' civilization today - if we ever recovered?"
Thomas Sowell

Friday, May 1, 2009

Chrysler is being taken over by Fiat

The best Headline pun since the Clinton Herald in 1965 ran with "Yanks Beat Off Cong Troops". President Obama is somehow now the supreme executive officer of Chrysler and has declared that Chrysler is to be taken over by Fiat.
Of course, they mean the auto company, but I prefer definition 3) "an authoritative or arbitrary order" or definition 1)"a command or act of will that creates something without or as if without further effort". From the Latin for let it be done.
Yep, that about sums it up.