30 August 2007

Do All Dogs ...

Find wheels to be an offense against G-d and nature, or just mine?

29 August 2007

Hey There, Socialist

Originally, I was going to write a post about how the United States in 2007 is the Socialist utopia, as seen from 1900 -- and that's all true. But then I ran across the Socialist Party platform of 1916 and, although we're all socialists now, one party has clearly out done the other in boldly grabbing the mantle of the turn of the last century Socialist Party:
Socialist Platform of 1916

In the midst of the greatest crisis and bloodiest struggle of all history the socialist party of America re-affirms its steadfast adherence to the principles of international brotherhood, world peace and industrial democracy.

The great war which has engulfed so much of civilization and destroyed millions of lives is one of the natural results of the capitalist system of production.

The socialist party, as the political expression of the economic interests of the working class, calls upon them to take a determined stand on the question of militarism and war, and to recognize the opportunity which the great war has given them of forcing disarmament and furthering the cause of industrial freedom.

An armed force in the hands of the ruling class serves two purposes: to protect and further the policy of imperialism abroad and to silence by force the protest of the workers against industrial despotism at home. Imperialism and militarism plunged Europe into this world war. America's geographical and industrial situation has kept her out of the cataclysm. But Europe's extremity has been the opportunity of America's ruling class to amass enormous profits. As a result there is a surfeit of capital which demands the policy of imperialism to protect and further investments abroad. Hence the frenzy of militarism into which the ruling class has made every attempt to force the United States.

The workers in Europe were helpless to avert the war because they were already saddled with the burden of militarism. The workers of the United States are yet free from this burden and have the opportunity of establishing a working class policy and program against war. They can compel the government of the United States to lead the way in an international movement for disarmament and to abandon the policy of imperialism which is forcing the conquest of Mexico and must, if carried out, eventually plunge the United States into a world war.

The working class must recognize the cry of preparedness against foreign invasion as a mere cloak for the sinister purpose of imperialism abroad and industrial tyranny at home. The class struggle, like capitalism, is international. The proletariat of the world has but one enemy, the capitalist class, whether at home or abroad. We must refuse to put into the hands of this enemy an armed force even under the guise of a "democratic army," as the workers of Australia and Switzerland have done.

Therefore the socialist party stands opposed to military preparedness, to any appropriations of men or money for war or militarism, while control of such forces through the political state rests in the hands of the capitalist class. The socialist party stands committed to the class war, and urges upon the workers in the mines and forests, on the railways and ships, in factories and fields, the use of their economic and industrial power, by refusing to mine the coal, to transport soldiers, to furnish food or other supplies for military purposes, and thus keep out of the hands of the ruling class the control of armed forces and economic power, necessary for aggression abroad and industrial despotism at home.

The working class must recognize militarism as the greatest menace to all efforts toward industrial freedom, and regardless of political or industrial affiliations must present a united front in the fight against preparedness and militarism.

Hideous as they are, the horrors of the far-stretched battle field of the old world are dwarfed by the evil results of the capitalist system, even in normal times. Instead of being organized to provide all members of society with an abundance of food, clothing and shelter, and the highest attainable freedom and culture, industry is at present organized and conducted for the benefit of a parasite class. All the powers of government and all our industrial genius are directed to the end of securing to the relatively small class of capital investors the largest amount of profits which can be wrung from the labor of the ever-increasing class whose only property is muscle and brain, manual and mental labor power.

The dire consequences of this system are everywhere apparent. The workers are oppressed and deprived of much that makes for physical, mental and moral well-being. Year by year poverty and industrial accidents destroy more lives than all the armies and navies in the world.

To preserve their privilege and power is the most vital interest of the possessing class, while it is the most vital interest of the working class to resist oppression, improve its position and struggle to obtain security of life and liberty. Hence there exists a conflict of interests, a social war within the nation, which can know neither truce nor compromise. So long as the few own and control the economic life of the nation the many must be enslaved, poverty must coexist with riotous luxury and civil strife prevail.

The socialist party would end these conditions by reorganizing the life of the nation upon the basis of socialism. Socialism would not abolish private property, but greatly extend it. We believe that every human being should have and own all the things which he can use to advantage, for the enrichment of his own life, without imposing disadvantage or burden upon any other human being. Socialism admits the private ownership and individual direction of all things, tools, economic processes and functions which are individualistic in character, and requires the collective ownership and democratic control and direction of those which are social or collectivistic in character.

We hold that this country cannot enjoy happiness and prosperity at home and maintain lasting peace with other nations so long as its industrial wealth is monopolized by a capitalist oligarchy. In this, as in every other campaign, all special issues arising from temporary situations, whether domestic or foreign, must be subordinated to the major issue—the need of such are organization of our economic life as will remove the land, the mines, forests, railroads, mill and factories, all the things required for our physical existence, from the clutches of industrial and financial freebooters and place them securely and permanently in the hands of the people.

If men were free to labor to satisfy their desires there could be in this country neither poverty nor involuntary unemployment. But the men in this country are not free to labor to satisfy their desires. The great industrial population can labor only when the capitalist class who own the industries believe they can market their product at a profit. The needs of millions are subordinated to the greeds of a few. The situation is not unlike that of a pyramid balanced upon its apex. Oftentimes this pyramid tumbles and industrial depression comes. There was such a crash in 1907. If the capitalist owners had been willing to get out of the way, industry could have been revived in a day. But the capitalist owners are never willing to get out of the way. Their greeds come first—the people's needs, if at all, afterwards. Therefore, business did not quickly revive after the industrial depression in 1907. Mr. Taft was elected to bring good times, but in four years failed to bring them. Mr. Wilson was elected to bring good times, but not all of the measures he advocated had the slightest effect upon industry. The European war has brought to this country tremendous orders for military supplies and has created a period of prosperity for the few. For the masses of the people there is but an opportunity to work hard for a bare living, which is not prosperity, but slavery. As against the boast of the present national administration that its political program, now fully in force, had brought prosperity to the masses, we call attention to the statement of the federal public health service that $800 is required a year to enable a family to avoid physical deterioration through lack of decent living conditions, that more than half of the families of working men receive less than that amount, that nearly a third receive less than $500 a year, and that one family in twelve received less than $300 a year.

The capitalist class for a great many years has been trying to saddle upon this country a great army and a greater navy. A greater army is desired to keep the working class of the United States in subjection. A greater navy is desired to safeguard the foreign investments of American capitalists and to "back-up" American diplomacy in its efforts to gain foreign markets for American capitalists. The war in Europe, which diminished and is still diminishing the remote possibility of European attack upon the United States, was nevertheless seized upon by capitalists and by unscrupulous politicians as a means of spreading fear throughout the country, to the end that, by false pretenses, great military establishments might be obtained. We denounce such "preparedness" as both false in principle, unnecessary in character and dangerous in its plain tendencies toward militarism. We advocate that sort of social preparedness which expresses itself in better homes, better bodies and better minds, which are alike the products of plenty and the necessity of effective defense in war.

The socialist party maintains its attitude of unalterable opposition to war.

We reiterate the statement that the competitive nature of capitalism is the cause of modern war and that the co-operative nature of socialism is alone adapted to the task of ending war by removing its causes. We assert, however, that, even under the present capitalist order, additional measures can be taken to safeguard peace, and to this end we demand:

Measures to Insure Peace

1. That all laws and appropriations for the increase of the military and naval forces of the United States shall be immediately repealed.

2. That the power be taken from the president to lead the nation into a position which leaves no escape from war. No one man, however exalted in official station, should have the power to decide the question of peace or war for a nation of a hundred millions. To give one man such power is neither democratic nor safe. Yet the president exercises such power when he determines what shall be the nation's foreign policies and what shall be the nature and tone of its diplomatic intercourse with other nations. We, therefore, demand that the power to fix foreign policies and conduct diplomatic negotiations shall be lodged in congress and shall be exercised publicly, the people reserving the right to order congress, at any time, to change its foreign policy.

3. That no war shall be declared or waged by the United States without a referendum vote of the entire people, except for the purpose of repelling invasion.

4. That the Monroe doctrine shall be immediately abandoned as a danger so great that even its advocates are agreed that it constitutes perhaps our greatest single danger of war. The Monroe doctrine was originally intended to safeguard the peace of the United States. Though the doctrine has changed from a safeguard to a menace, the capitalist class still defends it for the reason that our great Capitalists desire to retain South and Central America as their private trade preserve. We favor the cultivation of social, industrial and political friendship with all other nations in the western hemisphere, as an approach to a world confederation of nations, but we oppose the Monroe doctrine because it takes from our hands the peace of America and places it in the custody of any nation, that would attack the sovereignty of any state in the western world.

5. That the independence of the Philippine Islands be immediately recognized as a measure of justice both to the Philippines and to ourselves. The Filipinos are entitled to self-government, we are entitled to be freed from the necessity of building and maintaining enough dreadnoughts to defend them in the event of war.

6. The government of the United States shall call a congress of all neutral nations to mediate between the belligerent powers in an effort to establish an immediate and lasting peace without indemnities or forcible annexation of territory and based on a binding and enforcible international treaty, which shall provide for concerted disarmament on land and at sea and for an international congress with power to adjust all disputes between nations and which shall guarantee freedom and equal rights to all oppressed nations and races.

Working Program

As general measures calculated to strengthen the working class in its fight for the realization of its ultimate aim the co-operative commonwealth, and to increase its power of resistance against capital oppression, we advocate and pledge ourselves and our elected officers to the following program.

Political Demands

1. Unrestricted and equal suffrage for men and women.

2. The immediate adoption of the so-called "Susan B. Anthony amendment" to the constitution of the United States granting the suffrage to women on equal terms with men.

3. The adoption of the initiative, referendum and recall and of proportional representation, nationally as well as locally.

4. The abolition of the senate and of the veto power of the president.

5. The election of the president and the vice-president by direct vote of the people.

6. The abolition of the present restriction upon the amendment of the constitution so that that instrument may be made amendable by a majority of the voters in the country.

7. The calling of a convention for the revision of the constitution of the United States.

8. The abolition of the power usurped by the Supreme Court of the United States to pass upon the constitutionality of legislation enacted by congress. National laws to be repealed only by act of congress or by a referendum vote of the whole people.

9. The immediate curbing of the power of the courts to issue injunctions.

10. The election of all judges of the United States courts for short terms.

11. The free administration of the law.

12. The granting of the right of suffrage in the District of Columbia with representation in congress and a democratic form of municipal government for purely local affairs.

13. The extension of democratic government to all United States territory.

14. The freedom of press, speech and assemblage.

15. The increase of the rates of the present income tax and corporation tax and the extension of inheritance taxes, graduated in proportion to the value of the estate and to nearness of kin—the proceeds of these taxes to be employed in the socialization of industry.

16. The enactment of further measures for general education in useful pursuits. The bureau of education to be made a department.

17. The enactment of further measures for the conservation of health and the creation of an independent department of health.

18. The abolition of the monopoly ownership of patents and the substitution of collective ownership, with direct rewards to inventors by premiums or royalties.

Collective Ownership

1. The collective ownership and democratic management of railroads, telegraphs and telephones, express service, steamboat lines and all other social means of transportation and communication and of all large-scale industries.

2. The immediate acquirement by the municipalities, and the states of the federal government of all grain elevators, stock yards, storage warehouses and other distributing agencies, in order to relieve the farmer from the extortionate charges of the middlemen and to reduce the present high cost of living.

3. The extension of the public domain to include mines, quarries, oil wells, forests and water power.

4. The further conservation and development of natural resources for the use and benefit of all the people:

(a) By scientific afforestation and timber protection.

(b) By the reclamation of arid and swamp tracts.

(c) By the storage of flood waters and the utilization of water power.

(d) By the stoppage of the present extravagant waste of the soil and the products of mines and oil wells.

(e) By the development of highway and waterway systems.

5. The collective ownership of land wherever practicable, and, in cases where such ownership is impracticable, the appropriation by taxation of the annual rental value of all lands held for speculation or exploitation.

6. All currency shall be issued by the government of the United States and shall be legal tender for the payment of taxes and impost duties and for the discharge of public and private debts. The government shall lend money on bonds to counties and municipalities at a nominal rate of interest for the purpose of taking over or establishing public utilities and for building or maintaining public roads or highways and public schools—up to 25 per cent of the assessed valuation of such counties or municipalities. Said bonds are to be repaid in twenty equal and annual installments, and the currency issued for that purpose by the government is to be canceled and destroyed seriatim as the debt is paid. All banks and banking institutions shall be owned by the government of the United States or by the states.

7. Government relief of the unemployed by the extension of all useful public works. All persons employed on such work to be engaged directly by the government under a work day of not more than eight hours and at not less than the prevailing union wages. The government also to establish employment bureaus; to lend money to states and municipalities without interest for the purpose of carrying on public works; to contribute money to unemployment funds of labor unions and other organizations of workers, and to take such other measures within its power as will lessen the widespread misery of the workers caused by the misrule of the capitalist class.

Industrial Demands

The conservation of human resources, particularly of the lives and well-being of the workers and their families:

1. By shortening the work-day in keeping with the increased productiveness of machinery.

2. By securing to every worker a rest period of not less than a day and a half in each week.

3. By securing the freedom of political and economic organization and activities.

4. By securing a more effective inspection of workshops, factories and mines.

5. By forbidding the employment of children under eighteen years of age.

6. By forbidding the interstate transportation of the products of child labor and of all uninspected factories and mines.

7. By establishing minimum wage scales.

8. By abolishing official charity and substituting a non-contributory system of old age pensions, a general system of insurance by the state against invalidism, and a system of compulsory insurance by employers of their workers, without cost to the latter, against industrial diseases, accidents and death.

9. By establishing mothers' pensions.

Something Known, Seen Anew

The 2007 Pocket World in Figures is here and I've been opening it at random. Today, I was struck by the table, Most Air Travel by million passenger kilometers per years. The US was number one, at 1,148,383 (1.15 trillion) passenger kilometers. What struck me was how far behind number 2, Japan, was at 243,982 (244 billion) passenger kilometers.

In other words, compared to other nations, we are uniquely populous and rich. I knew that, but seeing it in this context brought it home forcefully.

Where Do They Find Such Stupid Men

The Taliban attacked a allied convoy in Afghanistan. It didn't go well for them:

US troops 'kill 100 Taliban fighters' (Duncan Hooper and agencies, Telegraph.co.uk, 8/29/07)
More than 100 Taliban insurgents and allies have been killed in a major battle with US-led troops in southern Afghanistan, according to the US military.

The fighting erupted after a convoy of Afghan and US coalition forces came under attack in Shah Wali Kot district in Kandahar province and called in air support.

There were no civilian casualties reported but one Afghan security force member was killed and three foreign troops and three Afghan soldiers were wounded.

The Taliban didn't immediately confirm the account of the battle.
As AOG asks, why do people keep fighting for the Taliban? Also, you've got to love the last line. Somehow, I doubt that any report in the Telegraph from the front in WWII ended "Chancellor Hitler was not available to comment."

I Just Knew This Wasn't About Really Good Crime Solving

New head of Minneapolis homicide unit makes history

28 August 2007

Go Here

and watch this.

Half Of My Management Is Wasted

Charles Williams, of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke, has an interesting article in the September 07 Strategic Management Journal, available, I'm sorry to say, only to subscribers. Professor William's paper deals with what it means to say that an organization "knows" something and how organizations go about transferring knowledge.
The idea that organizational knowledge is tacit and ambiguous has played a central role in research on strategy and organization. [All citations omitted.] Causal ambiguity is inherent to most complex production processes, so firm members often do not understand the root causes of firm performance or the interaction between individual activities. Replication, which is effort towards exact copying of a set of activities, enables the transfer of those activities without the need to understand their causes, consequences, and interdependence. Thus, researches have proposed that firms replicate knowledge to transfer it in the face of ambiguity.

* * *

Most theorists locate organizational knowledge in the actions of the organization. [A remarkably Witgensteinian position -- DGC] Nelson and Winter 'propose that organizations remember by doing. [Emphasis original] Similarly, Spender emphasizes that knowledge is inextricably linked to collective action in organizations. Nonaka also suggests that 'knowledge is deeply rooted in action.' Thus, firms possess knowledge only if they can put it into action.

* * *

These aspects of knowledge suggest two key characteristics of organizational knowledge: causal ambiguity and context dependence. Causal ambiguity arises because knowledge is embodied in the repeated activities of the organization, known as routines. Routines link together the actions of organization members, who may not understand, or even be aware of, actions elsewhere in the chain. Since these chains are long and incompletely understood, no member of the organization will completely understand the relationship between an organization's actions and outcomes.
In other words, organizations, as opposed to the people who comprise them, can only be said to "know" through routine. But because knowledge becomes routine, no one really knows which parts of the routine are the important parts. My wife had two good examples of this. The first is an old joke about a mother showing her daughter how to cook a ham.
"First, we start by cutting off the end."


"I'm not sure, but that's how Grandma taught me to do it." Later, she asked her mother why she had started by cutting off the end:

"Because my pan was too small for an entire ham."
Her other example was from the practice of medicine. Different insurers have different record keeping requirements, so routines are changed to meet the requirements of a new insurer. Later, even if you stop doing business with that insurer, the new requirement has become routine and people keep meeting it, even though no body knows why. (Law, too, is very much like this.)

Superstition, too, is very much like this. A baseball player has a good outing and then tries to replicate whatever he did that day exactly. He eats the same meal, takes the same number of swings in batting practice, even wears the same underwear. His routine is causally ambiguous; he doesn't know which part he can safely give up. Montgomery Ward John Wanamaker supposedly said that he knew that half his advertising was wasted, he just didn't know which half. The problem is that you can't know which half of your daily routine is wasted: there's no telling which portion, if pulled, will start the avalanche.

24 August 2007

Words Fail

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have separate bank accounts, with a joint account for bills. Since we make roughly the same amount of money, the bills are split 50/50 through the joint account, and the rest of our personal paychecks are for ourselves to spend as we wish. About two years ago, we happily decided together to have a baby. I couldn't conceive, and the doctors put me on a cocktail of hormones. The drugs are not covered by insurance, neither are the ovulation kits and pregnancy tests. This is an expense I have shouldered on my own. It has added up, and I find myself more and more in debt. My husband has seen how much I spend on all of these treatments, but has yet to offer to help with the financial burden. I've tried to be subtle—I once asked him to pick up a pregnancy test on the way home from work, but he has never done it since—but now I just want to scream at him every time I come home with another prescription and he comes home with another man-toy! It's bad enough that I already feel like it's my fault we haven't conceived, but by not sharing in the financial aspects of this process, I feel even more alone. Am I off base to ask him to help pay for treatments for a problem that is "mine"? Or is it just the overabundance of hormones that make me want to freak out on him?

—Barefoot and Not-So-Pregnant
"Marriage" is not the right word.

In Defense Of Michael Vick

Conservatives should be uneasy about what's happening to Michael Vick. Not because dog fighting is a long-standing, time honored feature of western civilization; I'm perfectly content that we find dog fighting morally repulsive and gratified to see how eager people are that our moral sense be enshrined in law. Nor am I defending animal cruelty; so long as we keep the distinction between animal and human firmly in mind, I'm all for cruelty being punished. But Vick is not being charged with cruelty to animals. He's not even being charged with dog fighting. He's being charged with dog fighting in interstate commerce, and there's the rub.

Here is the federal indictment of Vick and his friends. They're being charged with violating 18 US Code § 1952 (Interstate and foreign travel or transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises) and 7 USC § 2156 (Animal fighting venture prohibition). These are not federal crimes simply because dog fighting is bad. The federal government has no power to punish acts simply because they're bad. They are crimes only, and only to the extent, that they involve interstate or foreign commerce because the Constitution gives Congress the power to regulate interstate and foreign commerce. The Commonwealth of Virginia, on the other hand, has the power to punish acts simply because they're bad, and dog fighting is a crime in Virginia.

Once we've focussed on the actual crimes with which Vick is charged, the indictment and our response to it become troubling. As everyone knows by now, the indictment lists various ways in which Vick and company killed dogs that failed to show the proper fighting spirit. People are outraged by this cruelty. But it's not illegal to kill dogs you own and, in particular, it's not relevant to Vick's guilt or innocence of the crimes charged. The only reason those particulars are in the indictment is to stir up hatred and revulsion directed at Vick and, in that, the government has been successful. (If, in fact, the dogs suffered unduly from being electrocuted or shot or slammed to the ground, then Vick may well have violated Virginia anti-cruelty statutes but that's not at all clear. Shooting, in particular, is the traditional humane method for people who need to put down their own dog. It was sad when they shot Ol' Yeller, but the point wasn't that it was cruel.)

But the government using irrelevant detail to wind up hatred of a criminal defendant wouldn't be a particularly conservative issue if the government in question were the Commonwealth of Virginia. The problem for conservatives is federalism, and paying it more than lip-service. The federal ban on dog fighting is just one of the myriad examples of the Congress using its power to regulate interstate commerce as an excuse to subvert the states' general police power. In the Vick case, the dog fighting was primarily a Virginia enterprise and Virginia was perfectly able to take action. It would not have been stymied by the fact of Vick traveling from Georgia or some of the dogs coming from North Carolina. There's no need, here, for the federal government to act.

There is nothing we do in our modern lives that doesn't, in some way, involve interstate commerce and thus there is no where Congress can't go and nothing it can't do unless we find a way to leash it. Conservatives have to decide if we really care about federalism, a limited federal government and the original understanding of the Constitution. If so, then this case should bother us. If not -- if our expressed concerns about federalism are just a fig leaf to justify particular policy results we favor -- then we're as bad as Congress.

23 August 2007

I'll Never Understand Libertarianism

Glenn Reynolds points us to this article at Reason Magazine on how universities should be pro-intellectual property piracy because information wants to be free. This (hopefully faux) naivete about what Universities are is grating, but I'm more puzzled by the idea of a pro-piracy libertarian. I thought that property rights are the foundation of libertarianism. Authors own their products in the most basic way possible -- they created them. I would expect libertarians to want property rights to be absolute but apparently I would be wrong.

22 August 2007

The Eternal Leftist

Ignorant selfishness marching under the banner of intelligent compassion. (To be clear, I'm referring to the comments, not the post.)

Profit v. Rent

If I were the king of viscera, the one visceral truth I would try to drive home is the difference between accounting profit and economic rent.

Accounting profit is simple. (Well, actually it's not at all simple. But for our purposes here today we're going to ignore the difference between cash flow and income, and depreciation and other things that make the following sentence wrong.) If you have a business, and the business has more money at the end of the year than at the beginning, then the difference is profit. To many people who don't understand the difference between profit and rent, profit seems suspicious. If you didn't have any profit, you could charge less and consumers would have more money. People would be better off. Rich trust fund babies would have to go out and earn their money, rather than just cashing checks eukered from the pocketbooks of honest working families. It's only selfishness that causes sellers to charge more than cost.

Economists look at it differently. Let's consider a business worth $1,000,000 on January 1 and $1,050,000 on December 31. The company accountant (and the IRS) tell the owner that he made a profit of $50,000. He feels pretty good.

[Completely tangential aside: People sometimes object at this point that the owner is paying himself a salary, and that's profit, too. Owners sometimes think this, too. They're kidding themselves. If the owner wasn't working for the company, the company would have to hire someone to do whatever the owner does. The owner would have to go out and get a job. Whatever the owner's market value is counts as a legitimate cost of business and not profit. It's true that, for tax reasons, some owners pay themselves above market rates. But, oddly, I've seen more business owners (particularly restaurant owners) who pay themselves below-market rates because, otherwise, the business would fail.]

An economist would point out that, had the owner taken his $1,000,000 and bought a one-year Treasury, he would have made about the same amount of money with much less risk. The economist then says that it isn't sensible to say that the owner "profited" if he took on more risk without getting more money. For the economist, a supplier of capital hasn't really profited unless he has made a greater risk-adjusted return than he would have gotten from the next best use of his money. Because the word "profit" is taken, and because economist love to confuse, this concept is called "economic rent."

One of the key implications of the concept of economic rent is that capital is an input like any other. It has to be paid for and, if scarce, the price has to be bid up. Riskier investments have to pay more than less risky investments. In this way, capital is attracted to the best (most lucrative) investments first. In other words, much of what is presented as "profit" in accounting reports is better understood economically as a cost that, like the cost of raw materials or machine tools, can't be avoided.

Where this distinction (or people's failure to make this distinction) has bite is when it comes to discussions of regulating or nationalizing some industry for the good of the people. One argument that is always made is that the evil private businessmen are, gasp, making profit and, after regulation or nationalization, the company won't make a profit (or, at least, a outsized profit) and that money can be returned to the people. This is exactly like saying that, for example, the pharmaceutical industry spends lots of money on new pill making machinery and, if we stopped them from spending that money, pills would cost less. In both cases, pills will soon cost nothing, but not in a good way.

Nor does taxation make any difference. If the government decided that it didn't want to pay for the steel it uses to make bombers and so it just stole the steel, the steel is still being paid for, albeit not be the end-user. Since any end-user will use more steel if it's free, the result is that a greater cost is being paid with less return than if the government just paid for it. That is a dead-weight loss. Exactly the same is true with taxation.

Finally, even if we can recognize economic rents when we see them, we still can't appropriate them without shooting ourselves in the foot. Outsized returns are a signal that supply is too limited. It attracts entrants into the market; investors can make more money there than elsewhere. The only exception is when there are barriers to entry that can't be overcome. The most common barrier? Government regulation.

21 August 2007

I Highly Recommend

Zappos.com. We ordered two pairs of shoes Saturday night and received them, with free shipping, Monday morning.

What Did They Cut Off Eight Days After Construction?

Funny, it doesn't look Jewish.