Friday, November 19, 2010

Why be a Libertarian?

To my mind it's hardly a question.  Once I learned the difference between Right and Left, and Democrat and Republican, the realization that I was neither, but was libertarian, was instant.  However to most, the decision remains a choice between one side or the other, attempting to fit themselves into one mold or the other.  In this fantastic video, David Boaz of the Cato Institute explains Liberals, explains Conservatives, and further explains how libertarianism is the root of our country's history.  Enjoy the video, and then ask yourself a question.  Don't ask yourself "why be a libertarian?"  Rather, ask yourself, "why be anything but?"

Sunday, November 14, 2010

So You Want to be an Architect?

A little personal enjoyment on this one since I got out of Architecture early on in my college career in favor of Engineering and eventually Construction Management.  I love being a contractor instead of being on the design side, and this pretty much explains it all.

Combine this video with the Quantitative Easing video I posted yesterday, and Xtranormal is quickly becoming a must-visit website!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quantitative Easing for Dummies

The Fed's printing press, explained by a cartoon.  Awesome.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tom Ricketts Thinks You're a Moron

Over the course of the last year, Tom Ricketts purchased the Chicago Cubs.  He's put about $10 million into stadium renovations so far, primarily to the bathrooms, which he made a pretty big deal about being very proud of.

Now the other shoe is dropping, as Ricketts is asking the State of Illinois, which, if you haven't noticed yet, is broker than some whole countries, for $200 million to make further renovations.  He would like to pitch this to the public to have us believe that it's a zero-sum game:
The family’s plan calls for the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, which owns U.S. Cellular Field, to float up to $300 million in bonds. The bonds will be paid over 35 years through amusement taxes that Wrigley Field customers already pay.
In 2009, the Cubs paid $16.1 million in amusement taxes to the City of Chicago and Cook County through the 12 percent levy on each ticket, the team said. The city and county will be guaranteed this amount for the duration of the bonds. Growth in amusement taxes beyond $16.1 million — through increased ticket sales or prices –  will be redirected to pay the bonds. The family says the incremental growth in the tax will cover the bonds.
Since the State doesn't have any money, the State needs to borrow the money, which it will then give to Ricketts.  Ricketts will then repay the money over the course of 35 years.  The problem is that this is most definitely not a zero-sum game.  First of all, the State is collecting $16.1 million a year from the entertainment tax.  This is revenue.  If this $16.1 million is redirected each year to pay off outstanding loans, that is a net loss per year of $16.1 million in revenue to the State.  With a $15 billion deficit, the State can ill afford any losses in current revenue.
Beyond the fact that Ricketts' plan would further aid in bankrupting the State, he's thumbing his nose at the State, and all of its citizens.
To deflect criticism, the family said it will spend about $200 million of its own money to redevelop land around Wrigley Field, which will create jobs and future sales taxes.
Ricketts did not provide specifics Thursday about the development plans outside Wrigley.
Yes, you caught that right.  Tom Ricketts wants the State of Illinois to foot the bill for HIS stadium, so he can turn around and spend his own $200 million buying up and renovating the surrounding properties, putting more money in his own pockets.

I have been a Cubs fan since I was eight years old.  I was excited when a lifelong Cubs fan bought the team away from the Tribune company.  Finally, it looked like we'd have someone that cared about putting a winner on the field, instead of making money off the history of the stadium.  While Tribune might not have cared much about putting a winning team out there, they never went so far as to tell the fans they were mongoloids.

Tom Ricketts just did.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Dick Van Dyke Rescued by Porpoises

The point to take away from this story is not that porpoises forged an incredible and instantaneous bond with a human, and saved his life.  The point is, obviously, that old people can fall asleep ANYWHERE.
On screen, Dick Van Dyke has been rescued from untimely death by flying cars and magical nannies. Off screen, the veteran star of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins had to rely on the help of a pod of porpoises after apparently dozing off aboard his surfboard. "I'm not kidding," he said afterwards.
Van Dyke's ordeal began during an ill-fated trip to his local beach. "I woke up out of sight of land," the 84-year-old actor told reporters. "I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought 'I'm dead!'"
Van Dyke was wrong. "They turned out to be porpoises," he said. "And they pushed me all the way to shore." The porpoises were unavailable for comment.
Damn ultra-private sea animals.

Gimme a Carton of Low Birthweights

The FDA has announced that they are going to require visual imagery on cigarette packaging to represent the dangers of smoking.  The thought is that putting graphic images on the packaging will further dissuade people from wanting to buy the product.  I'm immediately reminded of late Bill Hicks' priceless rant on smoking, particularly about the warning labels.
You can imagine how thrilled I was...any smoker would find out there's a different warning on each pack.   Mine say "Warning!  Smoking may cause fetal injury or premature birth."
Fuck it.  Found my brand.  Just don't get the ones that say lung cancer, you know, shop around!
It seems to me the FDA just made it that much easier for smokers to find their brand.  Hell, it's going to be even easier now for cigarette companies to market to kids with this.  You don't even have to be able to read anymore to be able to pick the packs that suit you best.  I'll bet these even become collectors items, a la the garbage pail kids.  Let's take a look at which ones might suit your kids the best.


What child doesn't love a good puppet show?  Look kids, if you like puppets, you'll love these cigarettes!  Sure they're addictive, but in a fun, Sesame Street kind of way!


This looks vaguely familiar...oh yeah!  Your baby, too, can be this bad-ass...


A friend of mine has a boxed picture frame that is meant to be filled with used wine corks.  Any takers on the challenge?


What better way to encourage kids learn about Zeus and other Greek mythology than to give them lightning bolts to carry around with them everywhere they go?


Kids love bubbles!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rand Paul vs. Elliot Spitzer

The gloves come off and political fists start flying in this interview.  Spitzer is brutally transparent in his attempt to hang Rand on his across the board cuts by singling out specific federal dollars currently funded to Kentucky, as if any politician in the world would answer this a week after being elected.  Remember when all the Left needed to hear was "we're going to go through the budget line-by-line," as if it was some sort of magic elixir pouring forth through the Chosen One's lips?  Now that it's coming from the mouth of a popular libertarian Senator-elect, however, it's not possible to be specific enough.

Rand is patient, but finally levies the blow everyone dreams about near the end.  If this is a sign of things to come, we're in for a hell of an entertaining few years.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Boehner Mans Up

Well it looks today like John Boehner is starting things off by making himself a man of his word, and over the highly important issue of the raising the debt-limit ceiling, at that.

About a month ago I noted that John Boehner, anticipating the Republican wave, and making his own power play of sorts for Speaker of the House, had either stepped in it, or stepped up, in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, where he outlined the following:
I propose today a different approach. Let's do away with the concept of "comprehensive" spending bills. Let's break them up, to encourage scrutiny, and make spending cuts easier. Rather than pairing agencies and departments together, let them come to the House floor individually, to be judged on their own merit. Members shouldn't have to vote for big spending increases at the Labor Department in order to fund Health and Human Services. Members shouldn't have to vote for big increases at the Commerce Department just because they support NASA. Each Department and agency should justify itself each year to the full House and Senate, and be judged on its own.
I said a month ago that he had either really stepped up, or stepped in it, simply because this is a different kind of day and age in politics.  People are awake, their eyes are open, and they are watching everything.  I said then that "Boehner has got to realize that if they don't act on what he laid out, the retribution will be as swift and as forceful as has been the anti-Democrat wave over the past two years."

It looks like, for the immediate future anyway, we can expect him to act as he says, as he has thrown his stones on the chopping block.
The House Republican leader, Rep. John A. Boehner of Ohio, will give lawmakers a chance for a direct vote on raising the debt limit, spokesman Michael Steel told the Washington Times.
That would be a break with the recent tactic of burying the debt limit increase in parliamentary maneuvers — a way to shield vulnerable lawmakers from having to take the unpopular vote — and would instantly give leverage to those in Congress hoping to impose immediate spending cuts.
Ed Morrissey at the link at HotAir points out that Pelosi has the chance in the lame duck session to take a suicidal position for Democrats and attach a debt ceiling increase to the lame duck budget.  Nevertheless, Boehner has thrown down the gauntlet, and has followed through on what he said he would do, issuing legislation one item at a time, each item to be voted upon on its own merits, rather than forced through by tying unpopular nonsense to other "must pass" items.

It's a good start, and let's hope it continues!

Goolsbee Goes Down

Dan Mitchell of the Cato Institute takes apart Austan Goolsbee's ludicrous pro-tax increase video from a week or two ago.  As is the norm for these Center for Freedom and Prosperity videos, take the time to pause and backtrack when necessary to keep up with the statistics and studies that back up what Mitchell is talking about.  He's got a lot more than just some dots on a whiteboard, after all.  Enjoy, and pass it along!

Rand Paul Puts Everything on the Table

Rand Paul is the Senator-elect, and the muzzle is off.  On ABC's "This Week," Paul sat down with Christiane Amanpour and put every federal department on the table for budget cuts, and made his intention to introduce a balanced budget amendment crystal clear.  Amanpour tries her Liberal best to hang him on the issue of entitlements, but Rand handles it very well, with the only real common sense explanation of how to handle cuts to Social Security that's been put out there, and balancing it with calls for cuts at the Pentagon.  It's a great look at what Rand's agenda is going to be once he hits the Senate, and it's fantastic to see Amanpour struggling to attack someone with answers to everything. Excellent interview.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hayek vs. Keynes Part Deux

Back in January, released a now famous video of a rap battle between FA Hayek and John Maynard Keynes.  The video, "Fear the Boom and Bust" set the Austrian vs. Keynesian theories on the economy to a brilliant rap battle, and was a great video to boot. is following that release up with another sometime in the near future and a live sneak peak was on display at The Economist Buttonwood Gathering.  Both videos are below, for those of you that may not have seen the first one.  Enjoy!

Fear the Boom and Bust

The Economist Buttonwood Gathering

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

That Damn Rand Paul

I came across this video on a liberal acquaintance's Facebook page.  The clip is of Rand Paul discussing economic interconnectivity in a post-election interview.  My acquaintance's comment was "easy words coming from a middle aged white man with money, power and legacy."  A friend of her's commented that this was a "damning video."  I hope they, and you, will allow me to explain why there is nothing damning about this at all.

First of all, even from a Liberal's standpoint, I'm not understanding how it's damning that he doesn't believe taxes should be raised on anybody.  We are in a position economically that raising taxes at any level will, not might, will, hurt the economy.  Beyond that, a discussion on interconnectivity is warranted.

Economically speaking the idea of interconnectivity is more true than untrue.  If interconnectivity has decreased over time it's because the government has gotten in the way of it, becoming the primary source of income for many of the poor, rather than incentivizing them to go to work.  Ideas like interconnectivity are economic arguments of efficiency.  Is it more efficient for a poor or middle class person to receive money for services rendered in the private market, or for the government first to tax the higher income person more, collect that money, then distribute back out to the poor person?

The answer to that question is answered within the question.  Of course it's faster for someone to have a job in the private market where he or she is paid every week.  The problem has become that government programs assume by default that the poor cannot rise on their own within the private market, when in many cases, history bears out that the inefficiency created by said government intervention has made it worse for the poor, rather than better.  The Chicago Housing Authority for instance, segregated black poor into the south and west sides, and cut them off almost entirely from the city's normal flow of economic activity, forcing them eventually to rely on government subsidy.  It was not the intended consequence, but it was the consequence, nonetheless.  Now the CHA is rehousing everyone, and is insisting that their tenants be spread all throughout the city, in order that they be more likely to be within the normal flows of economic activity.  They are requiring interconnectivity and promoting efficiency.

Contrary to what the folks at Kos may believe, Rand Paul does not believe that there are no poor people.  There are poor people.  Always have been, always will be.  His intent is to move us away from thinking in terms of the status quo of class warfare.  His intent is to move us away from thinking in terms that the government is the only entity that can possibly be responsible for aiding the poor.  It's an idea of economic efficiency, and an idea of promoting more self reliance within our culture, generally speaking.  And both of these are good ideas.

Greektown Belongs to Us Now

Not to toot my own horn, but, well....I suppose I can pat myself on the back with this one, since I called it WAAAAAY back on July 13, 2009.

As you can see by the map (from CNN), it was a massive red wave everywhere in Illinois except Chicago and down by East St. Louis.  This one really was "State of Illinois" versus "State of Chicago."

In the words of Jimmy Darmody, I think you'd agree that Greektown belongs to us now!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Low Tide on the South Side

In the 2008 primaries, and in the 2008 general election, voter enthusiasm on the left side of the aisle was at a fever pitch.  At my polling place in Bronzeville, even for the primaries I waited in line.  Bronzeville is in a heavily black, heavily Democrat district.  Bobby Rush is our rep and lives about a block and a half away from me.  For the general, I stood in line outside the small church that is my polling place for half an hour before I could get inside, and then spent more time in line inside.  This was first thing in the morning.

What a difference two years makes.

This morning, I strolled into my polling place wondering if they were really even open yet.  I got inside, and aside from me there were a grand total of two voters.  First thing in the morning 2008 versus first thing in the morning 2010.  The highest of high tides, versus perhaps the lowest of low tides for the left.

Surf's up, people.  Ride the wave!