Libertarian Jackass

"Life is short, but truth works far and lives long; let us speak truth." -- Schopenhauer

Sunday, March 13, 2005

HIATUS

Well I hate to do this but I probably won't return until at least April, if at all. If it's important, use the Blackberry address. Thanks for your patience and continued support of the Libertarian Jackass.

Liberty, love and peace,

LJ

DANCE, DANCE REVOLUTION

My brother recently introduced me to Dance, Dance Revolution.

LINK: http://www.ddrfreak.com/

Saturday, March 12, 2005

ARE THEY COPS OR CRIMINALS?

Two cops were allegedly Mafia hit men


NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two former New York City police detectives face a federal court hearing in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Friday after being indicted on murder charges for allegedly acting as hit men for the Mafia more than 20 years ago.

According to the indictment from a federal grand jury in Brooklyn that was unsealed Thursday, Stephen Caracappa and Louis Eppolito routinely passed confidential law enforcement information to the mob and killed rival gangsters.

The indictment alleges that the men's association with organized crime began in the early 1980s, when they started passing along information to high-ranking members and associates of the Luchese crime family, disclosing the identities of numerous cooperating witnesses and compromising several state and federal investigations.

JONAH GOLDBERG ECONOMICS

Jonah thinks the War on Drugs drives up the price of drugs thus reducing consumption.

Me:I find this not only to be childish table pounding, but completely off-point. When did I say we could "save" everyone? When did I suggest such was my goal? In fact, which of my points is this guy actually refuting? Or even trying to refute? The fact that these people are drug addicts despite the War on Drugs is a point I would make for my case. That some water makes it over the dam is not an argument against having the dam. That some people choose this "way of death" despite all of the barriers we throw up, does not demonstrate that there would not be many, many more people like this if we took those barriers down. Easier access to cheaper drugs would not create fewer addicts -- at least not in the short run (I am open to the argument that in the long run society might find an equilibrium). There are some people who become slaves to drugs very quickly and the only reason many do not become so enslaved is that it is a relative hassle to get them and use them in the open. Take away the hassle factor -- i.e. lower the price -- and you will increase the consumption.
Just because the price of Good A is rising doesn't mean consumption of Good A is reduced. That's what my theory tells me. Drug tests Alcohol tests

HOUSE SHOPPING

Did you know a detached condo -- without a garage -- will run you almost $700,000 in Orange County, Calif? Ridiculous.

THE END OF POVERTY

Jeffrey Sachs claims he can change the natural state of man with just $150 billion a year:
This is a story about ending poverty in our time. It is not a forecast. I am not predicting what will happen, only explaining what can happen. Currently, more than 8 million people around the world die each year because they are too poor to stay alive. Every morning our newspapers could report, More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty. How? The poor die in hospital wards that lack drugs, in villages that lack antimalarial bed nets, in houses that lack safe drinking water. They die namelessly, without public comment. Sadly, such stories rarely get written.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, theU.S. has launched awar on terrorism, but it has neglected the deeper causes of global instability. The nearly $500 billion that the U.S. will spend this year on the military will never buy lasting peace if theU.S. continues to spend only one-thirtieth of that, around $16 billion, to address the plight of the poorest of the poor, whose societies are destabilized by extreme poverty. The $16 billion represents 0.15% of U.S. income, just 15@ on every $100 of our national income. The share devoted to helping the poor has declined for decades and is a tiny fraction of what the U.S. has repeatedly promised, and failed, to give.
House review

Friday, March 11, 2005

Smart women don't get married

The bad news is coming fast for brainy career women. For one thing, they're less likely to get married—perhaps because (according to a study recently published in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior) men prefer to date and marry women who occupy subordinate positions in the workplace, or because (according to a survey carried out by four British universities) female intelligence itself reduces the odds of wedlock. (The latter study found that for every 15-point increase in IQ score above the average, women's likelihood of marrying fell by almost 60 percent.) And another study, led by a professor at Ohio State University, suggests that women who do get married and have children will see their job prospects diminish. Two hundred undergraduates were asked to make hiring and promotion recommendations for a law firm based on résumés that differed only as to sex and whether the applicant was married with children. The result: women with children were less likely to be hired and promoted than either men or childless women, whereas men with children were actually favored in hiring over their childless male counterparts.

link http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200504/primarysources

SALARIES OF THE top 30 NBA money earners.

http://www.hoopshype.com/salaries.htm

Shaq says he's never touched his basketball salary.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

What does the government have to do with steroids and baseball?

Congress has questions. Congress wants answers.

And while we'll have to wait for the scheduled March 17 hearing of the House Government Reform Committee for some of baseball's biggest names -- including Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, who were among the seven players issued subpoenas -- to explain themselves on the issue of steroid use, we asked ESPN.com's Jayson Stark, ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney and ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack to address 15 of the most frequently asked questions about the congressional probe.


What a ridiculous world. How am I supposed to rally against government meddling in money production when the government won't even stay out of a dumb sport like baseball?

DOING THE DOLLAR A FAVOR?

I'm a bit annoyed by the current flood of commentary and news coverage on the U.S. dollar. Now, why would a central bank dump dollars and encourage an appreciation of the domestic currency (against the dollar)? It seems to be in their best interest to continue to hold dollars.

BEST AGENCY TRACKING

terrorists is not a government agency but a private law firm.
Yet on the third floor of a glass office building overlooking the Cooper river is a locked room that is straight out of a futuristic thriller.

Inside, a series of control panels with flashing lights and whirring hard drives comprise the master computer of the world’s largest free-standing database of intelligence on Islamic terrorism. It could hold the key to dismantling Al-Qaeda.

“It’s the best database on Islamic terrorism in the world,” said a senior counter-terrorism official at the FBI.

The database is the pivotal tool in what those involved say will be the biggest class action in history: a $1 trillion lawsuit on behalf of the families of 1,431 of the people killed on 9/11 and 1,325 of the injured.

More than 100 of the clients are British. Yet while investigators building up the database have received government help in 19 countries, from Afghanistan to Syria, they have had none in Britain, according to Ron Motley, the lawyer behind the action.

“We’ve had zero co-operation from the UK,” said Motley, who works from an enormous yacht named Themis after the Greek goddess of justice. “They just don’t want to help their own citizens.”

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

DEFINITIVE EVIDENCE OF A REAL ESTATE BOOM?

Rental income is stagnant. Housing prices have soared, rents have risen only modestly:
The ratio of prices to rents is a sort of price/earnings ratio for the housing market. Just as the price of a share should equal the discounted present value of future dividends, so the price of a house should reflect the future benefits of ownership, either as rental income for an investor or the rent saved by an owner-occupier. To bring the ratio of prices to rents back to equilibrium, either rents must rise sharply or prices must fall. Yet central banks cannot allow rents to surge as this would feed into inflation. Rents directly or indirectly account for 29% of America's consumer-price index, so rising inflation would force the Fed to raise interest rates more swiftly, which could trigger a fall in house prices. Alternatively, if rents continue to rise at their current annual pace of 2.5%, house prices would need to remain flat for over ten years to bring America's ratio of house prices to rents back to its long-term norm. There is a clear risk prices might fall.

...

Rent asunder

Take a two-bedroom flat in London, which you could buy for £450,000 ($865,000). To rent the same flat would currently cost £1,700 a month. In addition to a 6% mortgage rate, a buyer would face annual maintenance and insurance costs of, say, 1.25%. In the first year, the rent of £20,400 compares with total mortgage interest and maintenance payments of £33,000, a saving of £12,600. Interest payments would be less if a large deposit were paid, but in that case the income lost from not investing that money elsewhere has to be taken into account.

Assume that rents rise by 3% a year, in line with wages, while house prices from now on rise in line with inflation of 2%. At the end of seven years (the average time before the typical homeowner moves), you would be almost £35,000 better off renting, taking account of the capital appreciation and buying and selling costs. In other words, even without a fall in real house prices—which many believe to be likely—buying a house in Britain today seems a poor investment.
House review

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THIS STORY MAKES ME WONDER

Does al Qaeda really exist?
"Individual operatives who possess a clean passport, have not come to the attention of intelligence agencies overseas, and lack a criminal record are unlikely to attract the attention of security agencies in the United States, unless they are in contact with known extremists," according to the report. "Al-Qa'ida has altered its operative profile, making it more difficult to screen visa applicants at embassies and individuals entering the United States at airports and other border crossings."

And the report suggests that instead of actual sleeper agents, lying in wait, al Qaeda may rely on disaffected Americans or other sympathizers, who might pick easier, softer targets such as shopping malls.

My new shoes adidas

The new adidas uses a tiny magnetic sensor beneath the heel to monitor changes in impact, speed and ground conditions 1,000 times per second, a microprocessor chip in the arch of the shoe reads the information and decides the adjustments to send to a tiny motor to adjust cushioning to meet performance needs.

www.adidas-1.com
A tiny magnet is installed in the outsole under the heel, and a magnetic sensor is positioned above it. As the runner's foot hits the ground, the sensor measures the compression. It relays the information to a 20 MHz microprocessor housed under the arch. The microprocessor compares that information to the optimum cushioning that's already programmed into its electronic innards.It then sends orders to a tiny electric motor connected to a cable. The cable either lengthens or shortens to limit or expand the amount of compression, according to the runner's needs. The cushioning also can be manually adjusted.
The whole thing's powered by a replaceable lithium battery good for about 100 hours.
INSTAPUNDIT'S THEME SONG!
Courtesy of the Suburban Homeboy, it's "Blog It Like It's Hot".

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

SPORTS STATISTICS

I can't stand sitting around listening to a bunch of guys argue about sports. They usually lace their arguments with worthless sports stats, most of them dug up while checking their Fantasy Sports League team. Well, ESPN has finally managed to get a regular contributor with at least some idea about sports statistics:

Care to guess who's having one of the best rebounding seasons in history?

Your first instinct might be to say Kevin Garnett, who's running away with the rebounding title. He's averaging 13.7 boards a game, which is nearly two more than his closest competitor. Considering his sizable lead, it seems heretical to suggest somebody else is the league's best rebounder. But it's true. Though hardly a household name, the Seattle SuperSonics' Reggie Evans is putting Garnett to shame with his rebounding exploits.

How did I arrive at this conclusion? It all starts with a simple premise: A player can't get a rebound unless somebody misses a shot. Following from that logic, the best way to rate rebounders is by the percentage of missed shots they reel in, not by the amount they pull down per game or even per minute.

Player A gets 10 rebounds in a game with 20 missed shots, while Player B nabs 20 in a game with 100 missed shots. Player B has twice as many rebounds, but is he really better? Player A grabbed a Herculean 50 percent of all the missed shots in his game, while Player B took in only 20 percent. We shouldn't hold it against Player A that there were so few missed shots for him to rebound.

This is where my tool called Rebound Rate comes in. By measuring the percentage of available rebounds that a player gets while he's on the floor, Rebound Rate makes Player A's superiority obvious.

To calculate a player's Rebound Rate, start by adding all the rebounds and opponents' rebounds in his team's games. Multiply that result by the percentage of the team's minutes that player has played. This gives you the approximate number of rebounds available while he was on the court. Finally, take his total rebounds, divide it by the available rebounds, and multiply by 100.

And there you have it -- a player's Rebound Rate.
Drug tests Alcohol tests

THE HOUSING BOOM

U.S. new home sales fell by 9.2 percent, median sales price dropped.

Purchases dropped 9.2 percent during the month to a 1.106 million annual rate from revised 1.218 million in December that was higher than first reported, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The median sales price declined to $199,400, the lowest since December 2003, from $229,700.

Measured against sales, the supply of homes increased to 4.7 months in January, the highest since June 2000. A record number of homes for sale may limit new construction and restrain prices, suggesting waning pent-up demand. Sales are down 13 percent from the record high 1.27 million pace in March of last year.

Monday, March 07, 2005

IN CHINA, THE STATE OWNS ALL THE LAND

In a segment this evening on NPR, the reporter announced that, in China, banks, land planners, politicians and land developers conspire to influence land use decisions. The point was that property owners don't necessarily get to use their land as they see fit. I had to chuckle. The same scam goes on regularly in the Land of the Free.

Why men earn more than women

Not because of discrimination:
I asked Farrell, "But apart from the 25 nonsexist reasons men earn more, isn't sexism still a factor?" He responded, "There are instances of discrimination against both women and men, but on average, no. If you knew you could hire a woman for less than an equivalent man, you'd hire women to get a price advantage over your competition. Do you think businesses so hate women that they hire more expensive men even though they'd lose so much money?"

If you want to discriminate, you have to pay the cost. Of course, this is why we do not (nor did we ever need) a single anti-discrimination law. I suggest Lew Rockwell's "The Economics of Discrimination" for those of you with any remaining doubts.
link: http://www.lewrockwell.com/rockwell/economics-discrimination.html

SURFING

While out on the water yesterday, I remembered seeing a blog post last summer on Surfing and Property Rights: sure enough, here is is. Waves as scare goods? Homesteading a wave? Surfer property rights? Come on. You can't "homestead" a wave. You can't even claim a wave as your property. "Dropping in" is generally quite difficult and costly. It doesn't earn you very many friends. So, sure there are norms and customs, but all you really have are surfers who generally see the benefits of cooperation. That's why most of us choose to live in society in the first place (instead of a shack in the middle of Idaho). Big deal.

If there is a property rights issue with surfing it's that the beaches (surf spots) are publicly-owned. Any Tommy Tough Guy with a wetsuit can gain entrance at no cost. Public run-off pollutes the waters.

I think I have a blog post for tomorrow: Standing in Line for The Restroom (at a Sports Arena) and Property Rights. It will include insights on "No Cuts, No Butts, No Coconuts" and homsteading a urinal.

Sure to be popular in the libertarian blogosphere.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

NEOCON RUMOR

I heard a nasty rumor that the neocons are lobbying to change the calendar. They want the new calendar to start (Year Zero) with September 11, 2001. It's now Year 3 if you are keeping score at home.

TRAITOR

How long before the Republicans go after Warren Buffet for taking advantage of the declining dollar?

Saturday, March 05, 2005

THE REAL WAR HEROES

The soldiers who refused to serve.
Every War has its heroes, those who take risks to protect the values we cherish; this war is no different.

We honor those soldiers who risked loss of liberty, economic deprivation, and social ostracism. Each of these men and women of the military have at some point refused orders in this immoral, illegal, unjustified war the United States is currently waging in Iraq, or the occupation in Afghanistan. They obeyed their conscience over illegal orders.

Campaign against Alan Greenspan

THE LEFTIES are planning a smear campaign against Alan Greenspan. Brilliant!

INSIDE THE COMMITTEE THAT RUNS THE WORLD

From Foreign Policy:
Kissingerhas been heard to describe Rumsfeld as the “most ruthless man” he ever met while in government. It is a view that is disputed by almost no one. And nearly all who know Rumsfeld acknowledge that he is exceptionally intelligent, hardworking, and skillful. But his unique relationship with one of the most powerful vice presidents in history and the exceptional network that binds their offices and the rest of the administration has set the center of gravity wherever these two men are standing together, literally or figuratively.

In related news
http://www.economist.com/displaystory.cfm?story_id=3700336,
criminal gangs are on the rise in the U.S. and around the world.
Is America's gang problem getting worse? The Justice Department says there are now 30,000 gangs with more than 800,000 members. The National Youth Gang Centre (NYGC), which conducts an annual survey that is funded by the Justice Department, gives lower ones (see table). It concedes that every town of 250,000 people now has a gang problem, but it thinks the tide has turned: the number of rural counties and small cities reporting gang activity dropped considerably between 1996 and 2002.

I HATE REPUBLICANS

Rick Santorum says raising payroll taxes "might be the price" Republicans have to pay to get their private accounts.

Down with private accounts!
Sen. Rick Santorum, the conservative from Pennsylvania who ranks third in the Senate Republican leadership, said yesterday that he was willing to discuss increasing the Social Security tax rate as a way of helping to assure the program's solvency.

Santorum said on NBC's "Meet the Press" that raising the Social Security payroll tax might be the price Republicans have to pay for Democratic support for diverting some of the tax revenue to private retirement accounts, as President Bush has proposed.

Santorum's comments on raising the Social Security payroll tax rate come at a time that the public appeared to be reacting negatively to Bush's private accounts.

In holding out an olive branch to Democrats, Santorum went one step further than the president.

Bush last month said he would consider raising the cap on annual wages subject to the tax, but he has repeatedly ruled out an increase in the tax rate.

Social Security is supported by a 12.4 percent tax, shared equally by employer and employee, on the first $90,000 of annual wages.

STATISTICS LIE

The rate of inflation is much higher than officially reported.
LAST week, for the first time, America's Federal Reserve published its forecast of inflation over the next two years. Many observers took this as a sign that the Fed had moved closer to setting an inflation target, as many other central banks have done.

http://www.economist.com/finance/displayStory.cfm?story_id=3690986
(This article is premium content.)

Friday, March 04, 2005

SATURATED: THE WORLD'S GIANT MONEY PRINTING-PRESS

Excellent little comment this week in The Economist on measuring the global money supply:

HOW loose is the world's monetary policy? One gauge is that real interest rates in America and other countries are still negative. Another is that global liquidity has been expanding at its fastest pace for at least 30 years. This deluge largely reflects the combined effects of American and Asian monetary policies.

Our measure of “global liquidity” consists of the sum of America's monetary base (notes and coins plus banks' reserves held at the Federal Reserve) and foreign-exchange reserves held by central banks around the world. In both 2003 and 2004 this rose at annual rates of more than 20%. In no other two-year period since 1975 has liquidity increased by so much (see chart).

America's easy-money policy of recent years has spilled abroad. Low American interest rates have encouraged large inflows of capital into emerging economies, especially in Asia, as investors have sought higher returns. Central banks have then tried to resist the consequent upward pressure on their currencies by buying foreign exchange, mainly dollars. When a central bank does this, it credits domestic commercial banks with deposits (ie, the monetary base expands) encouraging banks to lend more.

Central banks are supposedly the guardians of money. Yet between them they may have created the biggest liquidity bubble in history.

THE CASE FOR THE DRAFT

Impose slavery now to ensure freedom in the future:
Traditional conscription has its obvious downsides. On a practical level, draftees tend to be less motivated than volunteers. Because they serve for relatively short periods of time (typically two years), any investment made in their training is lost to the military once the draftees return to civilian life. And despite the current manpower shortage, there's no foreseeable scenario in which all 28 million young Americans currently of draft age would be needed. Above all else, there's the serious ethical problem that conscription means government compelling young adults to risk death, and to kill--an act of the state that seems contrary to the basic notions of liberty which animate our society.

In practice, however, our republic has decided many times throughout its history that a draft was necessary to protect those basic liberties. Even if you disagreed with the decision to invasion of Iraq, or think the president's rhetoric is demagogic and his policies disastrous, it is hard to argue that Islamic terrorism isn't a threat to freedom and security, at home and abroad. Moreover, any American, liberal or conservative, ought to have moral qualms about basing our nation's security on an all-volunteer force drawn disproportionately, as ours is, from America's lower socioeconomic classes. And the cost of today's war is being borne by an extremely narrow slice of America. Camp Pendleton, Calif., home to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, is also home to approximately one-seventh of the U.S. fatalities from Iraq. In theory, our democracy will not fight unpopular wars because the people who must bear the casualties can impose their will on our elected leaders to end a war they do not support. But when such a small fraction of America shoulders the burden--and pays the cost--of America's wars, this democratic system breaks down.

Nor are the practical considerations of a draft impossible to overcome. A draft lottery, of the kind that existed in the peacetime draft of the 1950s, with no exemptions for college students, would provide the military an appropriate and manageable amount of manpower without the class inequities that poisoned the national culture during Vietnam. Such a system, however, would not avoid the problem of flooding the military with less-than-fully-motivated conscripts.

[...]

Whichever option they choose, all who serve would receive modest stipends and GI Bill-type college grants. Those who sign up for lengthier and riskier duty, however, would receive higher pay and larger college grants. Most would no doubt pick the less dangerous options. But some would certainly select the military--out of patriotism, a sense of adventure, or to test their mettle. Even if only 10 percent of the one-million young people who annually start at four-year colleges and universities were to choose the military option, the armed forces would receive 100,000 fresh recruits every year.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

UNNECESSARY WAR

Can't pass this one up: Uday was going to topple Saddam anyway. This is also a lesson for all the libertarian clowns out there that go around acting as if Saddam held a gun to the head of every citizen in Iraq in order to keep his grip on the chains. Nonsense. Every dictator has support of at least sufficient political resources to stay in power. You don't last 35 years through violence alone.

THE FEDS ARE AFTER BLOGGERS

Yes, in these dangerous times, when the future of our dear nation (the only glimpse of liberty the world has ever seen) hangs in the balance, the Feds are going to crack down on bloggers. Hilarious.
Bradley Smith says that the freewheeling days of political blogging and online punditry are over.

In just a few months, he warns, bloggers and news organizations could risk the wrath of the federal government if they improperly link to a campaign’s Web site. Even forwarding a political candidate’s press release to a mailing list, depending on the details, could be punished by fines.

Smith should know. He’s one of the six commissioners at the Federal Election Commission, which is beginning the perilous process of extending a controversial 2002 campaign finance law to the Internet.

In 2002, the FEC exempted the Internet by a 4-2 vote, but U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly last fall overturned that decision. “The commission’s exclusion of Internet communications from the coordinated communications regulation severely undermines” the campaign finance law’s purposes, Kollar-Kotelly wrote.

Smith and the other two Republican commissioners wanted to appeal the Internet-related sections. But because they couldn’t get the three Democrats to go along with them, what Smith describes as a “bizarre” regulatory process now is under way.

WE'RE GOING TO HAVE TO DO BETTER THAN THIS

Heh. Yes, I'll keep repeating this if I have to: Glenn, if you don't trust the government to produce your Corn Flakes, what the hell makes you think they can protect you from bio-terrorists?

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

President closes hospitals

President Niyazov orders the closure of all hospitals except those located in the capital city. Why? He's running low on cash to fund other important projects: "spending millions of dollars of public money on grand projects, such as gold statues of the leader and a vast marble and gold mosque, one of the biggest in Asia."

Ain't public spending grand? Heck, how else should he spend the money?

Previous Stories

» Human race will 'split into two different species'...
» Random Thoughts on Our Tax System
» The Problems of Pro-Trespassing Libertarians
» Bush tours Latin America to isolate Chavez...
» Internet Gambling - THE END?
» H.R.4411 - The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcem...
» APOLOGY
» JUST WAR THEORY
» IRAQ AND CONSERVATIVE IDIOTS
» POLITICS AND DATING