Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

Burt Rutan Punches AGW Square in the Face

Thanks to KRust for the heads up on this.

As if having kick-ass burly sideburns and the skills to build carbon fiber composite space planes wasn't enough, there are still more reasons to worship Burt.

The guy who will help make space tourism a reality is also an active climate change skeptic (that is, a "climate denier" to coin a phrase).

Here are links to his material on Anthropogenic Global Warming: presentation slides, a planned report, and video of the presentation.

Having spent a lot of time staring at streams of numbers and scatter plots is not a bad background to have when looking at the IPCC's reports. This is something he, I, and thousands of other capable scientists and engineers have in common which gives us no reason to religiously accept "the consensus".

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Silent Majorities, Innocents, and Tyrants

My friend Justin forwarded me an email recently about a German who lived through WWII and witnessed that country's move to Nazism from the inside, and how it relates to radical Islamists. I did some poking around and I think the essay originated here:

Celestial Junk: Why the Peaceful Majority is Irrelevant

Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don’t speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.
This reminds me of an op-ed that Onkar Ghate wrote for ARI back in 2002: Innocents in War?. He says that once it has been established that a nation's government is a tyrannical aggressor, and must be beaten by force, there are basically three types of civilians: Active supporters, passive supporters, and the active opposition (the truly innocent).
Many civilians in the Mid-East, for example, hate us and actively support, materially and/or spiritually, those plotting our deaths. Can one seriously maintain, for instance, that the individuals in the Mid-East who celebrated by dancing in the streets on September 11 are innocent?

Other civilians in enemy states are passive, unthinking followers. Their work and economic production, however meager, supports their terrorist governments and so they are in part responsible for the continued power of our enemies. They too are not innocent-and their deaths may be unavoidable in order for America to defend itself. (Remember too that today's civilian is tomorrow's soldier.)


The civilians in enemy territory who actually oppose their dictatorial, terrorist governments are usually their governments' first innocent victims. All such individuals who remain alive and outside of prison camps should try to flee their country or fight with us (as some did in Afghanistan).


War is terrible but sometimes necessary. To win the war on terrorism, we must not let a mistaken concern with "innocents" deter us. As a free nation, we have the moral right to defend ourselves, even if this requires mass civilian casualties in terrorist countries.
How does this principle apply to the student protesters in Iran? Should we not act to support the REAL Green Revolution since there are so many innocents actively resisting oppression?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Letter to a Sincere Leftist

Dear Friend on the Left,

...I never thought I'd say this: let us join together in a common cause.

Let us work together to defeat the health-care bill that is about to be passed by the Senate. Although we've been on opposite sides on nearly every issue and have very different motives, I think we can find common ground in opposing this legislation. Please hear me out.

I have complained that the health-care bill is a big step toward socialism, but in the final form passed by the Senate, I have to admit that it is not a socialist bill, at least not in the form the contemporary left wants: a "single-payer" system in which government directly takes over the financing of medical care. Of course, it certainly isn't a pro-free-market bill, either. Instead, it's the worst monstrosity of all: a vicious intertwining of state power with nominally private corporations.

One of your own, Jane Hamsher, has offered a criticism that cuts to the very heart of what this bill does: she complains that it requires Americans to pay "8% of their incomes to private corporations who will use the IRS as their collection agency." That is the meaning of the "individual mandate," the requirement that everyone is forced to buy health insurance or pay a fine enforced by criminal penalties meted out by the IRS. She is right to point out the obscenity of the government forcing us to patronize private corporations, and she even understates the magnitude of the problem. Eight percent of our income is how much we will be required to pay before we can qualify for a government subsidy; above that point, insurance companies will get our 8% plus even more of our money paid directly to them by the government.

To state it precisely, what this bill does is to create a government-sponsored, government-subsidized cartel of private health insurance companies. It requires all new insurance policies to be offered on a government-created exchange regulated by a government bureaucrat, and it requires those policies to conform to certain government rules about how much the insurers can charge and about accepting customers with pre-existing conditions. In return, it offers the insurance companies a huge set of government favors, chief among them the individual mandate which is supposed to supply the insurers with a huge new captive market of unwilling customers.

This is the deal that the insurance companies made with the devil. They chose to become creatures of the state—so long as the state agreed to feed them. And that, my new friends on the left, is what ought to really provoke your outrage. The state is now committed to the care and feeding of its pet insurance companies.

I don't think this is actually going to work out so well for the insurance companies, by the way, but that's the theory about how it's supposed to work. And that's the ideal that the Democratic Party leadership is trying to sell to you.

At the risk of running afoul of Godwin's Law, I have to point out that if this is socialism, it is socialism on the fascist model. Wasn't it Mussolini who pioneered the system of creating state-sponsored cartels that controlled each industry, mingling public power with private profit?

Is this what you elected a Democratic majority to enact?

Let's be honest. This bill doesn't reduce health insurance premiums or make insurance more affordable. No one really believes that it's going to reduce health-care costs or improve the solvency of the government. But what it does do is to give the political elites in Washington a finger in the enormous multi-billion-dollar pie of the big insurance companies.

The rap against the left—from folks on my side of the political debate—is that you don't really care about principles or the good of the republic, that all of the left's programs are just intended to concentrate more power among the political elites and unelected bureaucrats in Washington, DC. And from where I stand, this rotten health-care bill serves as confirmation of that. Please prove us wrong.

I know a health-care bill is a longstanding dream of yours, and you are loath to let this opportunity—a Democratic president and a filibuster-proof Democratic majority in Congress—pass you by. But the dream is already dead, and your own political leadership killed it. You have already had to deal with the condescension of these leaders, who sell out your principles and then give you a line about taking half a loaf and being practical about political realities, and—say, we can still count your votes next November, can't we, fellas? And that's exactly what they think. They are actually counting on you to be excited and enthusiastic about this bill and to protect their jobs next year. As usual, they want your votes, your money, and your organizational energy—at election time. After which they will go about the usual business of tacking to the center and compromising and finding excuses to go along with the consensus. Believe me, I know what it's like. It's what principled pro-free-marketers have had to put up with for years from the leaders of the Republican Party. And you can see how well it worked out for us.

From my experience with the past decade of political disasters on the right, I can tell you that you are better off killing this bill, because all it will accomplish is to discredit your cause by associating it with a badly cobbled together, dreadfully unpopular piece of legislation. Tell the political leadership of the Democratic Party to drop this bill and start over again.

So let us join together, the pro-free-market right and the far left marching arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder to beat this bill. You object to it because it captures the power of the state for corporations. We object to it because it captures corporations for the state, so that these companies are no longer truly private actors in a free market. Our motives are different, but this is an issue on which we can find common ground: the unholy merger of state power and big corporations.

The libertarians in our ranks might opt for the motto: smash the power of the state. You might prefer: smash the power of the corporations. But here's one I hope we can all agree on: smash the state power of the corporations!

Robert Tracinski writes daily commentary at TIADaily.com. He is the editor of The Intellectual Activist and TIADaily.com.

The Cornhusker Kickback isn't the only kickback

In Health Bill for Everyone, Provisions for a Few

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Why I love being an Arizonan

Via Instapundit, I found a reason to be a little proud. Arizona May Abandon Speed Cameras on Highways. I definitely did my share of spreading the word.
Profits are far below expectations, a citizen effort to ban the cameras is gaining steam, the governor has said she does not like the program, and more and more drivers are ignoring the tickets they get in the mail after hearing from fellow speeders that there are often no consequences to doing so.

The Decade From Hell?

I read Andy Serwer's cover story in TIME in a doctors waiting room recently. (You don't think I would subscribe to TIME do you?) I took issue with a lot of it, not because I think everything was rosy over the last ten years, but because of why this author thought everything went the way it did.

It starts out with a two-page summary of all the crap that happened in the 00's. Then on the third page it gets into the how's and why's. The description of the events leading up to 9/11 isn't too far off base, leading back to the Soviet-Afghan war, through the Bush-Clinton-Bush years, to the turn of the millennium.

But then there's the financial crises of the decade, and why those happened. Serwer's reasons for this are strikingly similar to an article that appeared in Rolling Stone a few months back, which was a hit job on anyone who dared to make a buck at anything. In both cases, the favorite scapegoat for our problems is "deregulation", and especially Phil Gramm's repeal of the Glass-Steagall act.

It's funny, because saying the financial crisis happened because we had too much of a free market is like saying Rosie O'Donnell would be more charming if only if it wasn't for that small mouth and skinny thighs.

Our banking industry is heavily regulated. Banks can't make a single move without checking with their lawyers and accountants. The implementation of the SEC, Sarbanes-Oxley, and many more government entities like them are things that ANY public company has to put up with. For banks, add in the creation of the Federal Reserve, HUD, and the FDIC and it's plain that banks aren't just wildcat cowboys operating in an "unsupervised free-market free-for-all" as Sewer, I mean, Serwer, calls it.

The most laughable parts are the passages on the internet. Leave it to an old media establishment like Time magazine to blame the internet as a contributor to scandals and to the financial crisis. Their motives for making these allegations are painfully transparent.
The rise of all manner of new media and the lack of barriers to criticism from the blogosphere seemed to intensify every scandal and left very few public figures unsullied.
Later on...
Companies go belly-up all the time, but in this decade there were an inordinate number of bankruptcies. The creative destruction of the Internet had a part in this. While the Web opened up new worlds and created thousands of jobs at Amazon, Google and the like, it displaced workers at travel and government agencies, at newspapers and magazines and at stores like Circuit City and Tower Records — traditional distribution points for services, information and goods. Economists call that disintermediation.
Hmmm. "Disintermediation" huh? It's probably a real word. I bet there really are economists who use it. I don't really know if that's even an applicable use of the term. I'm not even going to check up on that one. Because it's plain this is a cry for help.

Others who shredded Serwer:
Ed Driscoll at PJM: Which Time Magazine Journalist Is That On The Cover?

Gene Healy at Cato Institute: "Holy hyperbole, hackman."