Free Markets, Free People

Daily Archives: March 10, 2011


My book, Slackernomics, should be available for Kindle tomorrow

I’m happy to announce that sometime tomorrow my book, Slackernomics, will be available on Kindle at the Amazon store for the low, low price of $3. For those who don’t know, Slackernomics is a book on basic economics for people who think economics is boring. Instead of a bunch of charts and math, I present economics in a more enjoyable way.  For instance, here is a portion of my discussion on the role of prices:

Another feature of the price system is that it forces producers to put resources to their most valued uses. This is important because, quite often, consumers demand different goods that use many of the same components.

Let’s take petroleum, for example. People don’t just need gasoline; they need plastics to make computer keyboards and ugly furniture for college students. Businesses need chemicals for industrial production and dyes. Textile companies need artificial fabrics that don’t fade or discolor. Perverts need Vaseline.

So, in bidding for each of those items, their producers are also bidding for the petroleum required to make them. When more people buy Vaseline, Johnson & Johnson has to bid away some of that petroleum from refineries or textile mills. In turn, this increased demand in petroleum causes the price of oil to rise for everyone who uses it.

In order to keep buying oil, everyone now has to pay the price that Johnson & Johnson is willing to pay. As this raises consumer prices for these items, consumers are likely to buy less of them. For example, a consumer, noticing the increase in the cost of Vaseline, decides to spend Saturday night alone.

So, the price that Johnson & Johnson is willing to pay for oil becomes an added cost for all of the other businesses that use oil. If they want to bid away some of that oil, they have to be willing to pay the higher price. But since higher prices tend to mean lower sales, other producers will only bid away as much oil as they think they can use, now that sales are dropping.

The end result is that Johnson & Johnson ends up with a relatively larger portion of oil. In other words, the resource of oil has flowed to the highest valued product, an important…uh…medical lubricant.

Eventually, because there is an increasing supply of Vaseline, demand is affected. At some point, consumers are unwilling to buy it, because there’s enough of it on the shelves. And, of course, with all this petroleum bidding going on, the price has been increasing. So, some consumers may notice that the price of Vaseline has now increased relative to, say KY Jelly, and they may decide to purchase that instead.

Of course, either way, Johnson & Johnson wins.

So, if you’d like to get a better understanding of how economics work, and maybe get a few good laughs on the way, you can get it tomorrow for about 1/6 the price of the physical book.

I’ll provide the direct link to Amazon to purchase it when it becomes available tomorrow.


Pondering the “new civility”

As everyone knows, the “new civility” has been getting quite a workout since the Wisconsin thing has blown up.  Anyone who has kept up with it and read blogs covering it (like Althouse), know this hasn’t been an episode of peace, love and decorum.  It has been one of threats, violence and attempts at intimidation – not to mention a fairly unseemly tantrum. 

So, I have to wonder what happened to all the civility talk after the Giffords shooting?  Especially on the left.  It’s been rather quiet over there since Wisconsin has erupted.  And make no mistake about it, the threats, violence and attempts at intimidation, not to mention the frequent invocations of Goodwin’s law, aren’t figments of the imagination – they’re documented fairly thoroughly for anyone who wants to find them (unlike the MSM).

As the sort of cherry on top of the “new civility” sundae, here’s this email that was sent to every GOP senator (save the one who voted against the bill) by someone who is, and I dare you to tell me otherwise when you read it, deranged and apparently plans to visit violence on each and every one of them:

From: XXXX
Sent: Wed 3/9/2011 9:18 PM
To: Sen.Kapanke; Sen.Darling; Sen.Cowles; Sen.Ellis; Sen.Fitzgerald; Sen.Galloway; Sen.Grothman; Sen.Harsdorf; Sen.Hopper; Sen.Kedzie; Sen.Lasee; Sen.Lazich; Sen.Leibham; Sen.Moulton; Sen.Olsen

Subject: Atten: Death threat!!!! Bomb!!!!

Please put your things in order because you will be killed and your familes
will also be killed due to your actions in the last 8 weeks. Please explain
to them that this is because if we get rid of you and your families then it
will save the rights of 300,000 people and also be able to close the deficit
that you have created. I hope you have a good time in hell. Read below for
more information on possible scenarios in which you will die.
WE want to make this perfectly clear. Because of your actions today and in
the past couple of weeks I and the group of people that are working with me
have decided that we’ve had enough. We feel that you and the people that
support the dictator have to die. We have tried many other ways of dealing
with your corruption but you have taken things too far and we will not stand
for it any longer. So, this is how it’s going to happen: I as well as many
others know where you and your family live, it’s a matter of public records.
We have all planned to assult you by arriving at your house and putting a
nice little bullet in your head. However, we decided that we wouldn’t leave
it there. We also have decided that this may not be enough to send the
message to you since you are so "high" on Koch and have decided that you are
now going to single handedly make this a dictatorship instead of a
demorcratic process. So we have also built several bombs that we have placed
in various locations around the areas in which we know that you frequent.
This includes, your house, your car, the state capitol, and well I won’t
tell you all of them because that’s just no fun. Since we know that you are
not smart enough to figure out why this is happening to you we have decided
to make it perfectly clear to you. If you and your goonies feel that it’s
necessary to strip the rights of 300,000 people and ruin their lives, making
them unable to feed, clothe, and provide the necessities to their families
and themselves then We Will "get rid of" (in which I mean kill) you. Please
understand that this does not include the heroic Rep. Senator that risked
everything to go aganist what you and your goonies wanted him to do. We feel
that it’s worth our lives to do this, because we would be saving the lives
of 300,000 people. Please make your peace with God as soon as possible and
say goodbye to your loved ones we will not wait any longer. YOU WILL DIE!!!!

I can only guess, by the sentence structure, single dense paragraph and spelling, that the person is product of public schooling, which explains why they’re so upset about those 300,000 people.  Some of those are Mr. or Ms. X’s teachers.

Apparently the person also signed the email indicating they may have had the opportunity to have each of those teachers for more than one year.

Regardless, this is not something I remember showing up at offices of politicians when the Tea Party was supposedly so “violent” and “uncivil”.  Maybe I missed it and someone will enlighten me.

And, of course, the new way of venting (“civilly” of course) and shouting out threats, Twitter, hasn’t been silent either.

I’m also wondering if the SPLC will designate the government unions of Wisconsin official leftist “hate groups”?  My guess is the SPLC will somehow find a way to claim they’re part of a militia movement or something.  Everyone knows militias are the ultimate evil – and right-wing fascists.  More likely, the SPLC will ignore it.

There is one consolation though – we won’t have to listen to any condescending, patronizing and smarmy lectures about “civility” anymore from the left. 

Will we?

~McQ


The wind energy scam

Why call it a scam?  Because, as you’ll see, it isn’t creating jobs, it isn’t contributing the amount of energy it was claimed it would, and, essentially it can’t survive without massive subsidies.

 

 

If you’re looking for innovation, what is most likely to produce it – a big payday if you come up with a solution, or government subsidy which encourages the status quo?

~McQ


The situation in Wisconsin

I’ve been busily reading everything I can about the Wisconsin situation as it stands right now.  It has been an interesting exercise.  Of course, one look at Memeorandum and you can instantly tell which ideological side a particular blog falls on.  Also interesting are the titles of some of the stories/posts.  Talk about sensationalist. 

Of course, that’s not to say that we’re not hearing the same thing from some of the participants on the protests and demonstrations.  Things like this:

“In 30 minutes, 18 state senators undid 50 years of civil rights in Wisconsin. Their disrespect for the people of Wisconsin and their rights is an outrage that will never be forgotten,” said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller. “Tonight, 18 Senate Republicans conspired to take government away from the people.”

And where were the Democrats?  In Illinois.  BTW, it was actually a few weeks and 30 minutes as the Democrats were invited, nearly daily, to come back from their self-imposed exile and participate.  A fact that James Joyner notes in his reply to the above quote:

Oh, nonsense. They were overwhelmingly elected in November and prevented from acting only by bad faith on the part of the Democratic minority. And the Democrats have the ability to either try to force Republicans out via the recall process or rally back to a majority in 2012 and undo this legislation.

That’s the process, isn’t it?  Just as it appears that the majority of the country thought that the passage of the health care bill in Congress was a travesty and made the point on November 2nd of last year, now Wisconsin voters – who put the GOP into the majority – have a process they can use to reverse what has happened.  But pretending that it was “disrespectful” to do what they did or a conspiracy to “take government away from the people” is, as Joyner notes, “nonsense”.

Apparently the move by the Republicans in the Senate was precipitated by two things as Christian Schneider at “The Corner” points out:

A letter Democrat Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller sent the governor today, indicating Miller’s unwillingness to further negotiate any details of the bill, was what prompted the GOP’s decision to take the bill to the floor.

“It was like, ‘I’m in the minority, and I’m going to dictate to you what your options are,’” said one GOP source about Miller’s letter. It was just three days ago that Miller had sent Fitzgerald a letter urging more negotiations, despite the fact that Governor Walker had been negotiating with at least two Democrat senators for nearly a week. “With his recent letter, it became clear that all he wanted to do was stall,” said the GOP source.

Another action that provoked the GOP senators to act was Democrat Senator Lena Taylor’s very public decision to have a spring election absentee ballot sent to her in Illinois. The spring election is scheduled for April 5th, which indicated Taylor’s desire to stay out of the state for another month. “That sure didn’t help,” said one GOP source.

Gov. Scott Walker has an Op/Ed in the WSJ that’s an interesting read.  One of the points he raises is about what unions are claiming and how unions are actually acting:

The unions say they are ready to accept concessions, yet their actions speak louder than words. Over the past three weeks, local unions across the state have pursued contracts without new pension or health-insurance contributions. Their rhetoric does not match their record on this issue.

Of course it could be said that they are simply establishing their negotiating position.  But my guess, given the outcry these past weeks, is that they feel they have the backing not to have to negotiate the cuts they previously said they were willing to make. 

Since the bill has been passed the uproar will most likely continue for a couple of days or so, peak and subside.  Outside forces have been attempting to finance and enable recall drives.  Under WI law, a politician has to have been in office for a year before he or she can be recalled.  Interestingly that applies to only 16 Senators, 8 GOP and 8 Democrats.  Even more interesting is every one of them has a recall petition being initiated against them.

As I understand it, Walker won’t be eligible for recall until next year.  Will the public still be motivated at that time to sign on or will it go the way of Indiana?

When Gov. Mitch Daniels repealed collective bargaining in Indiana six years ago, it helped government become more efficient and responsive. The average pay for Indiana state employees has actually increased, and high-performing employees are rewarded with pay increases or bonuses when they do something exceptional.

In fact, an oft neglected part of the story, which John Fund revealed recently, is why Walker and the GOP are taking the action they’re taking:

The governor’s move is in reaction to a 2009 law implemented by the then-Democratic legislature that expanded public unions’ collective-bargaining rights and lifted existing limits on teacher raises.

A state already headed for the financial shoals saw a Democratic legislature expand the “rights” of the unions that had help put them in office and lift the limits on pay for other government union members.  I have it on good authority that the GOP Senators, when faced with this legislation, didn’t flee to Illinois.

Recalls aren’t easy things to do, and, we’ll see how they work out in Wisconsin.  My guess is, after everyone has a chance to cool down a bit, the recall drives – for both sides – will meet with less and less success. 

And, of course, depending on which side is most successful is making the case for their side, voters will either return Democrats to the majority in 2012 and see the bill repealed or the voters will decide what was done wasn’t such a bad thing (we’ll see how the budget deficit looks next year) and leave well enough alone.

We’ll monitor and report.

~McQ