Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: July 28, 2010


Dale’s Observations For 2010-07-28

The Fed's Beige Book report on economic activity disappoints investors, economists. http://bit.ly/a3he8L #RecoverySummer #

And yes, I said VAT. A national sales tax like the Fair Tax is a non-starter. No high rate sales tax has ever worked, anywhere in the world. #

The Chicago boys and Bruce Bartlett-finally!-have accepted my long-held position of scrapping the income tax for a VAT. http://bit.ly/bcFfIx #

Panasonic Launching 'World's First' Consumer 3D Camcorder, which can shoot in 3D or HD. http://bit.ly/be08Gu #

Durable-goods orders fell by 1.0% in June to a seasonally adjusted $190.5 billion. http://bit.ly/cHAZ8h #RecoverySummer #

What Would Happen if the Bush Tax Cuts Expire? http://bit.ly/bxe76e #

U.S. cities and counties will have to cut hundreds of thousands of jobs. http://bit.ly/9jU2ZE | They say that like its a bad thing. #

Once again, Massachusetts does its bit to ignore the bits of the Constitution liberals don't like. http://bit.ly/bwRN3a #


Why "science" has a problem

It’s a fairly obvious reason that Kenneth P. Green and Hiwa Alaghebandian, writing in the Journal of the American Enterprise Institute, point to as the problem – in some areas, science and scientists have gone from being neutral observers of facts and purveyors of information developed through the scientific method to attempting to assume an authoritarian and activist role in our lives. Not all of science, obviously, but certainly a visible and loud minority. And that causes problems for all of science:

In the past, scientists were generally neutral on questions of what to do. Instead, they just told people what they found, such as “we have discovered that smoking vastly increases your risk of lung cancer” or “we have discovered that some people will have adverse health effects from consuming high levels of salt.” Or “we have found that obesity increases your risk of coronary heart disease.” Those were simply neutral observations that people could find empowering, useful, interesting, etc., but did not place demands on them. In fact, this kind of objectivity was the entire basis for trusting scientific claims.

But along the way, an assortment of publicity-seeking, and often socially activist, scientists stopped saying, “Here are our findings. Read it and believe.” Instead, activist scientists such as NASA’s James Hansen, heads of quasi-scientific governmental organizations such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, editors of major scientific journals, and heads of the various national scientific academies are more inclined to say, “Here are our findings, and those findings say that you must change your life in this way, that way, or the other way.”

The two authors took a look at phrases scientists have been quoted as using over the years in statements they’ve released or how the media has interpreted them.  And make no mistake – in many cases the media aided and abetted these activist scientists.

So here’s what they found:

[A]round the end of the 1980s, science (at least science reporting) took on a distinctly authoritarian tone. Whether because of funding availability or a desire by some senior academics for greater relevance, or just the spread of activism through the university, scientists stopped speaking objectively and started telling people what to do. And people don’t take well to that, particularly when they’re unable to evaluate the information that supposedly requires them to give up their SUV, their celebratory cigar, or their chicken nuggets.

In essence we had the confluence of “save the world” journalism meeting activist “save the world” scientists and the result was more agenda driven partisanship (and partnership) than objectivity.  Some scientists felt compelled to save us from ourselves and many journalists shared that desire.  The most obvious result of that has been the sham science of “global warming”.

The authors conclude by pointing out how science has, in some cases, become the “regulatory state’s” lap dog and what it has to do to redeem itself:

If science wants to redeem itself and regain its place with the public’s affection, scientists need to come out every time some politician says, “The science says we must…” and reply, “Science only tells us what is. It does not, and can never tell us what we should or must do.” If they say that often enough, and loudly enough, they might be able to reclaim the mantle of objectivity that they’ve given up over the last 40 years by letting themselves become the regulatory state’s ultimate appeal to authority.

They’re absolutely right – and, every time we see an activist scientist getting into the “what we must or should do” nonsense, we need to call him or her on it.  And we need to continue to be highly skeptical of the state’s appeal to science as the final authority when doing so is decidedly in the state’s favor.

~McQ

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Promises, promises, promises …

Randall Hoven, over at American Thinker, provides us with one of the most succinct and powerful posts I’ve seen is quite a while.

Remember this quote?

“If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined.  Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem.President Obama, September 2009.

That was the “promise” that Obama made – pass health care reform and pass deficit reduction.  Except, as usual with this man, it appears the opposite is actually true.  And that is to be found in a CBO graph.

So the projection shown in the graph is that if we were to spend on those programs at the March 2010 baseline (as the law reads now) from now till 2020 we’d spend about 400 billion, but with the new and improved ObamaCare, that goes to over 600 billion?  Yup, real “deficit reduction” in that package, huh?

We’re also seeing the stirrings of a move from the left to dramatically and drastically cut military spending.  Already the war in Afghanistan has gone from the “good and necessary war” per Democrats to one they don’t want to fund anymore.  Apparently the military is the area of choice within which the Democrats want to “cut spending”.    Again, Hoven, looking at CBO numbers, provides some context to the debate:

Hoven’s Index for July 26, 2010

Medicare and Medicaid spending as percent of GDP:

1970:  0.7%

2007:  4.0%

2020:  5.9%

Defense spending as percent of GDP:

1970:  8.1%

2007:  3.9%

2020:  3.6%

Source:  CBO.

The bottom line is, of course, that ObamaCare is the biggest “deficit reduction” hoax foisted upon the citzenry of the US since the debate about income tax which claimed it would never rise above 2%. And, in fact, it is the rise of entitlement spending – not military spending – where our problem lies.

And for those of you who bought into the monstrosity of ObamaCare under the “deficit reduction” premise – shame on you. Why is it you demonstrate common sense when email scammers from Nigeria try to get your bank account number, but you fall right into the largest legislative scam in recent history based on vague and nonsensical promises that most 5th graders could see through?

Of course you’re most likely among the same people who bought into the hype surrounding this empty suit we now have as a president, so I shouldn’t be that suprised I suppose.

~McQ

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DISCLOSE act defeated … for now

But Chuck Schumer is promising a “flurry of votes” on the bill until it finally passes.  Republicans held solid on this attempt to get around the Supreme Court ruling that found the former campaign finance bill unconstitutional on 1st Amendment grounds.

Senate Democrats were only able to muster their 59 votes, which, of course has Ezra Klein and others calling for an end to the 60 vote Senate rule for cloture.

I say the act is defeated for now for a reason.  And that reason, as usual, is Olympia Snow (R-ME):

Olympia Snowe (Maine), whose vote was closely watched on the issue, said the bill wasn’t in a position yet where she could support it.

Key word is “yet”.  The promise in that word is Democrats can do something that will put her in a position to support it.

But back to Schumer.   He, of course, claims the “health” of our democracy rests on its passage.  Actually the health of our democracy rests on removing Senators like him from office, but here’s his statement:

"It’s the amount of money, not who you are, that is affected. And so we’ve seen a campaign of desperation, of full muscle, to try to do everything they can to stop this bill because they realize, as already in some campaigns we have seen, how this will fundamentally change the balance of American politics," he said. "It will make the average citizen feel more and more remote from his or her government. It will hurt the fabric of our democracy."

I would posit that the average citizen couldn’t feel more remote from the government than they do now, and this bill’s passage or non-passage has absolutely zero to do with that. 

In fact, the average citizen finds the more and more it hears from Senators like Chuck Schumer and sees them in action, the more that citizen realizes that they have little use for the Constitution – except to wrap themselves in it when it is politically expedient to do so – and will take every opportunity to attempt to insert government control where that document promised government wouldn’t be allowed.

It isn’t refusing to limit the 1st Amendment that’s damaging to the “fabric of our democracy”, it’s Senators and other lawmakers who attempt to do it that are the threat.

~McQ

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