Monday, June 30, 2008

My turn: UPS, you're fired

Billy Beck recently linked to how John Walker fired Hewlett-Packard, and Don Luskin has received atrocious service (in product and customer satisfaction) from WildBlue.

I won't go into much detail, because I don't have the time, and reliving the full story would only make me more enraged. UPS knows what they did, or rather what they didn't do. All the rest of you need to know is that they might "guarantee" express delivery times, but the package I sent still hasn't shown up, though it was supposed to be delivered Friday. Neither their national hotline nor their local depot can tell me anything. The tracking number shows it arrived at the local center, but all they know is that it's with the truck. Yeah. Right. I've heard that one before from FedEx, who I've never voluntarily used since.

I am so livid right now, beyond the capacity of most people to imagine.

As I said to one of their supervisors, "Michael Price," UPS has lost me as a customer for life. For life, because of the biggest screwup possible with time-critical documents. I don't care about a refund, I needed the documents to arrive on time!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

There is no amount of pain and suffering I would not wish on these tyrants

Lots of people are talking about Robert Mugabe, who's now been sworn in for another term after the farce of an election. But what about our tyrants at home? We complain about our federal government, which is so bloated that it would take less than three months to blow through the three quarters of a trillion dollars that my employer is managing for our clients. And there are more at the state and local levels.

To hell with you and your minions, Michael Bloomberg. I hope your sorry carcass rots painfully in hell for all eternity. First it was forcing private property owners to ban smoking in their bars and restaurants. Now it's forcing private property owners, and their voluntary customers, to stop using trans fats so they can be "healthier." If we eat our properly made cannoli or bread, what business is it of yours?

Rot in hell, you miserable son of a bitch.

And to hell with you, David Patterson, and all in the New York State legislature who supported the online sales tax. As of June 1st, it's not just purchases from Amazon that are being taxed. I just renewed an online subscription with Electronic Arts, who has no presence in this state, and I'm being charged sales tax. Even if the law is struck down as unconstitutional, which it is, how will I get a refund? Considering this is New York, the legislature will spend twice as much as the original refunds to return the stolen money. You greedy sons of bitches just can't keep your grubby mitts off other people's money. I wonder how you'll like it when the devil won't keep his grubby mitts off your souls.

Since when is taxation with representation any better than without?

Again, there is no amount of pain and suffering I would not wish upon each and every one of these assholes. If they died unspeakably horribly, whether struck by a Mack truck, lightning or an angel of the Lord, I would laugh with not an iota of sympathy.

Update: as I've said in the past, tar and feathers are an American tradition we really ought to bring back.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The latest reason to ignore anything Warren Buffett says about the economy

Warren Buffett thinks the economy is already in a recession and will get worse. As I've shown before, he might be a great investor, but he knows nothinga bout real economics. In the last round, I debunked his "We're already in a recession claim." Actually, he debunked himself, telling El Pais the U.S. is not in a recession, after telling Der Spiegel that the recession's already here.

More importantly, while 1Q 2008 GDP was low by our standards (although "normal" by French standards), it was still positive. So have all other quarters of GDP since...2001. "Recession" means two consecutive quarters of economic growth, so how can we be in a recession when we haven't had a single negative quarter yet?

Could Buffett justify claims of a "recession" based on other economic indicators? Hardly. I debunked the latest job numbers a few weeks ago, which were because of 200,000 new entrants to the workforce. Hourly earnings and productivity are still up. Do people care about weakening industries and credit markets? No, they care more about what they bring home, and their employers care about how efficiently they produce. That's the remarkable resilience of the American economy: it still grows despite all the supposed weaknesses in construction growth and consumer spending. In the end, their changes are merely shifts in economic activity, because a decline in one can mean an increase elsewhere in the economy -- other growing industries the mainstream media doesn't like to admit are growing, and/or personal saving that fuels business investment. Obviously if construction spending and consumer spending fall, but economic growth is still positive, there are more-than-offsetting gains elsewhere in the economy.

Where's the recession, Buffett?

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Repeat after me, kids: "It's the tree-huggers' fault"

Sadie and Pyper, only 9 and 7 years old, are protesting high gas prices that made their parents cut out cable TV. Welcome to the real world, girls. Welcome to the lower quality of life that's inevitable when people let themselves be ruled by environmentalists. Those are the people you should be blaming, girls, not oil companies! Oil companies would love nothing better than to supply us with more oil and gas, and at lower prices: when you do the math, lower prices mean higher sales, so they earn more profit while we consumers still benefit from cheap, plentiful carbon fuels.

Instead of blaming the oil companies, Sadie and Pyper need to learn who's really at fault. Their parents are paying more for gasoline because the federal and state and local governments for 32 years have prevented new gasoline refineries from being built, because EPA regulations have forced the number of refineries to drop from 254 in 1985 to a mere 142 in 2007, because the EPA requires an area to use one of 42 different gasoline blends depending on local "air quality," because the federal government would rather keep Colorado shale as useless wilderness most Americans would never bother visiting (instead of letting oil companies turn it into useful energy), because California and Florida elitists want to preserve "pristine" shorelines that they don't like to share, because both Democrats and Republicans always block efforts to drill in ANWR (a place as barren as the moon), and because of the insanity to "protect" plentiful polar bears the girls will likely never see in their lives (and probably wouldn't want to anyway, since their "cuteness" disappears suddenly once you see the violent predators munching a seal).

Polar bears are cute, aren't they? Let's take a look at one in action. (image borrowed from Supanet)

My best friend doesn't send me polar bear stuff as often as she used to, but she's sent a lot over the years, from coasters to stuffed animals. Those are cute. Real polar bears are not cute. Knut was a cute little cub until you saw him eat his natural diet of meat, at which point a rational person realizes, "This is a predator."

I suppose the girls could be considered "spoiled," when countless millions of other children around the world would be grateful for just a few bits of food. God knows I've personally seen many Filipino children who may never know a full stomach. However, on further reflection, I'm more sympathetic than some of the comments in reply to the article. The Vance family isn't necessarily among the many idiotic people who think they should live like kings on one 40-hour per week income; there's nothing in the article to indicate either way. Also, the girls are misguided in their protests, but they're young and have yet to learn economics. Economics is the science of human choices and its consequences, or more specifically, the study of how we deal with scarcity. "You can't have everything."

If the girls like cable TV so much, their family can cut back on going to restaurants (including fast food) and the movies. Each month, two fewer trips for fast food, or one fewer outing to the movies, would probably cover their cable bill. Cutting back on cell phone plans, and settling for "freebie" phones when renewing contracts, is also a way to reduce expenses that many people overlook. Alternatively, the family can try to increase its income. One of the parents could get a part-time job, just two Saturdays a month to pay for cable. The girls could also try a paper route or babysitting. I don't expect them at their age to understand more advanced economic concepts, but they're not too young to understand that in the real world, you should work honestly and trade voluntarily for what you want.

But we shouldn't blame the family, because they shouldn't have to cut back or try to earn more money to compensate for what government hath wrought. If it weren't for government, oil and gasoline would be cheaper. The family still couldn't have everything, but they wouldn't have to cut this or that out of the family budget to afford to drive around. Putting aside any questions of whether the parents derive income from others without consent (i.e. "the redistribution of wealth" and "subsidies"), the parents have the income and possessions they have, and who has the right to tell them not to use it, or use less? That's what government is doing: it wants us to use less oil, so it's forcing changes in our behavior. I don't use "force" lightly, because in the end, it comes down to government doling out fines and prison time, enforced at the point of a gun.

The Orange County Register had an editorial last week with a great title: "You can't ride a polar bear to work." Contrary to Agent Smith's derision in the first "Matrix" movie, it's one of mankind's greatest strengths that we can adapt the environment to ourselves, whereas most other lifeforms adapt to their environment. We're not living in some state of nature, like buzzards or decomposer bacteria waiting for something to die, or lions waiting for an antelope to pass by, or squirrels that try to scavenge enough to survive the winter. We get out there and fight Mother Nature for what we have. My friend Billy Beck recently said something similar, I think, but for the life of me I can't find it right now. (The closest I can find are this and this but neither are it.)

Our fight for the last two centuries has involved a remarkable increase in how we use our surroundings, at a rate never seen before in human civilization. It's come at the price of altering our environment, and I for one see it as worthwhile. I, for one, am willing to make trades and use our available technology so that I do not have to live like an animal. And once humans don't have to live like animals, which means no less than "to struggle against nature," we don't have to worry about following a herd of prey, or living adjacent to water sources. We don't have to accept that it's "natural" for someone to die because we ran out of resources. We can actually worry about how to improve our already comfortable lives! If Drew Barrymore thinks it's "cool" to "poo in the woods," that's her choice. Same goes for that idiot Frenchman who wants to live alone on an island. If we all lived in such "natural conditions," we'd require far more land per person to feed ourselves. It's modern technology that allows us to plant and harvest more and more in the same land area. But I suspect he doesn't mind that, that he shares the same mindset as that bastard Jacques Cousteau, who envisioned an Earth with a controlled human population of only 100,000.

Many on the planet still struggle, but even they have supplanted "other species" like the more fortunate of us. And is that so wrong? What parent can rationally wake up without worrying about starting work at dawn, in dwellings at a comfortable temperature with non-dirt floors, with sanitary ways to excrete and bathe and cook, then worry that their children will never see dodo birds wandering up to them on the beach, or flocks of passenger pigeons? Besides the fact that Mother Nature killed far more species than man ever did, I see pigeons of all kinds every day. One extinct kind frankly doesn't make any difference to me. Huge flocks that darkened the sky, and entire trees filled? That only means that much more bird droppings.

Or as Billy said about the comparative worth of polar bears:
Take a good long look at your kids.

Tell me they're not worth more than a polar bear.

That's the fight that will now take place in all kinds of courts for years on end every time someone wants to deliver unto your dainty hands a single new gallon of fuel.
And elsewhere about the caribou-protectors,
I hope they freeze in the dark, listening to the cries of their children. The real sin in all this is how they take sensible people along with them on the ride.
Unfortunately it's Sadie and Pyper who are paying the price. It isn't oil companies' "gouging" that's preventing them from watching Hannah Montana. It's entirely the fault of government and the damn tree huggers, who are making oil and gas artificially more expensive. I can only wish that Sadie and Pyper's parents can pull them aside, show them pictures of polar bears at dinner, and say, "These cute things are why you can't watch Hannah Montana."

Then you have morons like this who actually say that $8 per gallon gasoline will be good for us. Why? Because it promotes behavior that he likes, never mind what you or I like. He talks about the "antiquated technology" that's driving automobile engines. Did he ever consider the "antiquated technology" called electricity that continues to power most of our modern comforts? And if higher prices are an economic "stimulus," why not hike all prices? Let's set tomatoes' price at $1 million per pound -- by his logic, that would spread prosperity throughout the economy as people have more money to spend! But in reality, it would wreck everything. The simple lesson is to let prices fluctuate on their own, similar to what Bastiat warned us in his Sophisms: "Has not M. Bugeaud uttered these words: 'Let bread be dear, and the farmer will be rich'? Now, bread can be dear only because it is scarce. Thus, M. Bugeaud was extolling scarcity." It follows, then, that it's a fallacy to think that because government makes something artificially more expensive, and an industry thereby becomes artificially more prosperous, that the prosperity will spread throughout. It simply won't happen: all prices will go up accordingly, and because of government's interference in setting prices, buyers and sellers will not be able to determine the correct prices for anything else.

Then the fool goes on about how oil producing nations have so much power over us, when in fact we should be worrying more about the federal government having power over us. It's the federal government who has greater control over our supply of oil, not Saudi Arabia or Hugo Chavez. And for all his talk about how wonderful public transportation is, how we'll eliminate urban sprawl, it comes down to him and other collectivists telling the rest of us how to live our lives. They like paying more for gasoline, they think it's a good thing, they value unused natural resources more than modern comforts, and therefore we all must follow them on the road to hell.

Sadie and Pyper, welcome to the 1970s.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Let's get some definitions straight

Shaquille O'Neal came out with a pretty awful rap against Kobe Bryant, and I can't blame Joe Arpaio for firing O'Neal from his sheriff's deputy position. It's questionable, but not unexpected, to discipline someone at his volunteer job for high-profile insults of a co-worker at his main job. But it's what Arpaio said to justify the sacking that was so stupid: "Because if any one of my deputies did something like this, they're fired. I don't condone this type of racial conduct."

Shaq certainly conducted himself in a manner unbecoming a gentleman, and Arpaio apparently wants his people to be professional on- and off-duty. But "racial conduct"? Geez, times have surely changed. It's "racial" for a black man to call another black man a "nigga"? (Is it also "racial" when a black rapper refers to his "ho"?) I guess two black men I heard one night weren't friends, but racial or perhaps racist toward each other? They greeted each other with "Sup nigga" and "Hey nigga." By Arpaio's logic, I guess they were engaging in "racial conduct."

Were I O'Neal, I'd say about being fired, "Fine by me. I don't want to work for a man who can't get simple definitions straight." Does anyone seriously believe that he used "nigga" to insult Bryant based on race? Clearly O'Neal was using a word that many blacks use to refer to each other, and very insultingly, but there was nothing "racial" about it.

I'll preface this, and I really shouldn't have to, by clarifying that I'm not condoning truly racist or bigoted behavior. I'm merely laying out some clear definitions and pointing out misuse. "Racist" and "racial" are thrown around so often today that most people don't know what the words mean. It's also a crutch for "ethnic minorities" who don't get jobs, aren't accepted into a college, etc. It seems that anytime a less-qualified black or Hispanic doesn't get a job, well, that must have been because of racism! Today there's the seemingly omnipresent insinuation that you're racist if you don't vote for Obama (but it's not racist for blacks to vote for him because he's black). But does anyone remember John Thompson, the former Georgetown basketball coach, who staged a two-game walkout in 1989? He said the new C-average requirement for freshmen was "racist." And even my own mother, some years back, said in the parking lot afterward that the rude waitress in a restaurant was "racist."

"Racism," properly used, means a belief that one race is superior to another, whether it's David Duke or Louis Farrakhan. (For this very reason, blacks and Hispanics should be ashamed of affirmative action, because it's inherently racist by assuming they're inferior to whites and Asians.) If we're talking about hatred of someone based on race, that's "bigotry." While this seems like semantics, it's an important distinction than throwing around "Racism!" all the time. The two typically overlap but aren't necessarily synonymous: a racist typically believes other races to be inferior, but he may not hate them. A bigot, though, does typically hate other races because he believes them to be inferior. Some people, however, hate other races but don't find them necessarily "inferior."

Then there are the words "discrimination" and "prejudiced," whose meanings have been completely perverted. "Discrimination" is simply the act of determining differences between two or more things. But the modern politics of "victimhood" have given it such a racial overtone that it's used a crutch, like "racism": "You didn't give me that job because you discriminated against me!" "Prejudiced" can overlap with racism and bigotry, but it isn't necessarily racist. Hillary Clinton recently spewed, "There are no acceptable limits and there are no acceptable prejudices in the twenty-first century." The first is self-evident: "no limits" is the entire Clinton philosophy of big government at any and all costs (meaning your costs). The second is simply illogical, because it's logical to prejudge certain people, especially when it's your money and/or safety at stake.

When I see someone who looks straight from the ghetto with an oversized sports jersey and backwards baseball cap (particularly when the brim is tilted to one side to show his gang affiliation), speaking atrocious "English" to his "bros," I'm going to prejudge him. When two thug-looking teenagers sat across from me one evening on Metro-North, I prejudged them and kept a close eye on my bag, lest one try to grab it just before disembarking. My attitudes are often misconstrued as "racism," when in fact I'm prejudging people with no regard for their race, but their probable behavior based on their appearance. Also consider what Jesse Jackson supposedly said about being relieved that the people behind him on a dark D.C. street turned out to be white.

Recently, my friend Karol said about someone, "everyone already knows she's the most racist person on the web." I've met this person only once and don't know personally if she's "racist," but I know Karol knows what is and isn't racist, so I'll take her word for it. I've also mentioned the Republican idiot who thinks my opinion isn't as valid as his, because he assumed my half-Asian ancestry and accent means I haven't lived in the U.S. very long. That's racism and prejudice, although not bigotry. Let's also not forget Nuthead, who's clearly racist and probably bigoted too.

Later, I'll talk about the faux "outrage," the spectre of "racism," that the Obama campaign is creating.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The 2008 JP Morgan Chase Corporate Challenge

This was my second year doing the 3.5-mile Corporate Challenge; my thanks to JP Morgan Chase and its co-sponsors for hosting the event. For most of the race I was on pace to post a better time than last year. At the 3-mile marker, knowing I could push myself for the last half mile, I got too excited and started getting too bouncy. Suddenly, I felt the shock of a bad step in my right knee. BAM! Not being one to quit, I forced myself to limp to the end, still managing to post a time of just one minute slower than last year. Well, it didn't seem that bad until I got off the Metro-North train at my town, but bending my right knee must have strained things even more. This morning the pain was excruciating enough that I couldn't make it to work. It's a bad sprain, and having lasted all day, tomorrow I should see a doctor to check out the ligament.

I won't bother doing the Corporate Challenge again. I'm a weightlifter, too heavy to be a competitive runner, so it's fun to push myself to finish it. It's not that I injured myself this time: I'm just turned off by the sheer rudeness of so many pure walkers. There are clear signs so runners can start in the appropriate pace group: sub-6-minute miles, 6-minute miles, 8-minute, 10-minute, 12-minute. I started in the 12-minute group. As clearly specified in the pre-race instructions, "All walkers must start at the back of the field. They may not start in front of any runners, and may not start the race early." Anyone above an idiot should understand that walkers slow down runners if they start together. Besides, walkers clearly aren't competing for the fastest time possible, so why should they care about starting ahead? Yet many don't give a damn, and this year was worse than last year. It took me eight, nearly nine minutes just to cover the 100 yards before the actual starting line, and for the first half-mile I was still passing these asswipes. That tells you how far ahead they started. It makes you unnecessarily more fatigued to weave in and out of runners, especially when five of them lock arms and walk side-by-side. To boot, that can add an additional eighth of a mile.

JP Morgan Chase really should enforce this better. I'd love to be a volunteer for next year, just to dash in and pluck out obvious walkers: "Good job! Your whole team's disqualified, and barred from the Challenge from now on!" Such disqualifications are threatened for other offenses, and it would deter walkers from ruining it for the runners.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Idiocy abounds with complaints about checked-baggage fees

Professor Mark Katz is the latest to complain about some airlines starting to charge for checked baggage. It's truly disappointing to see someone from such a good school hold such a misinformed opinion. Maybe he needs to talk to Don Boudreaux or Russ Roberts in the Economics Department, to gain an understanding of basic microeconomic principles.

Katz wrote,
On the surface, [charging for checked baggage] seems like a reasonable rationale and business strategy. But anyone who flies regularly knows what a disaster this will be.

Many passengers will simply avoid the fees by stuffing more and more of their belongings into the cabin. With overhead compartment and seat space already scarce, this policy could turn many flight boardings into a running of the bulls.

The new fees are also bad PR at a time of economic uncertainty. In most cases, they won't even apply to laptop-toting business travelers and first-class patrons. Instead, they'll end up being a heavy tax on families and other economy-class travelers.

It doesn't have to be this way. Instead of charging for checked bags, airlines could probably raise more revenue and improve the quality of the flight experience by doing just the opposite: charging for carry-on luggage.

Under this arrangement, flyers determined to keep their bags within arm's reach can pay a premium to do so. And those who want to save money can do so by checking bags free of charge.
Katz showed that he simply doesn't understand why airlines are charging the fee: it's to discourage you from checking in luggage. That's it! As I wrote last month (emphasis added here),
Because I am a rational person who understands that I'm not being "forced," my "hide" doesn't "chap" at all at what many airlines are doing. American Airlines will soon start charging economy passengers $15 for the first checked bag, unless you bought the full-price fare, but nobody's being forced into it. What it really is is a $15 across-the-board increase for economy passengers who buy discounted tickets, but with a $15 discount for bringing only carry-on baggage. Take the difference between 50 and 15 pounds, multiply it by a few hundred people, and that saves fuel.
I should have said, "and that saves a not insignificant amount of fuel." Katz is concerned about space, but he doesn't realize that airlines are concerned about weight. Every pound is significant now, especially with fuel prices doubling in the last 12 months. People have pointed out that airlines will probably start enforcing the size and weight limitations that they've specified for carry-ons. You betcha. Airlines in the Philippines strictly enforce cabin baggage restrictions, and Americans had better get used to that.

The weekend after American Airlines announced its new fee, one of its spokesmen was a featured guest on the "Money Talk" radio show. He made a logical, reasoned defense of the new fee for checked luggage, and the host indicated he disliked the fee but nevertheless extended an open invitation to return anytime. It was a very gracious offer. By contrast, nearly every caller protested the fee, using such words as "unfair" and "ridiculous," besides accusing airlines of "nickle-and-diming customers." People gripe and complain, acting like it's their "right" to fly. As I said before, any "rights" are purely contractual. When an airline sells you a ticket, you don't have to accept the terms.

It's a basic principle of microeconomics that if marginal revenue exceeds marginal costs, the firm will shut down until that situation changes or when it's believed the situation will change at an acceptable future point. Airlines were hit hard by 9/11, it's true, but their woes started before. They just weren't charging enough to cover costs. They should have been charging higher fees years ago, at that optimal point where revenue is maximized. Or perhaps there was no optimal point, if there was no way to achieve net marginal revenue because higher fees would drive enough passengers away? In such a situation, an airline should properly fail. Unfortunately the federal government's handouts (at our expense) prolonged their failures, when the airlines should have been left to their own, whether to succeed or die. If the latter, then their fleet, hangars, routes, terminals, etc., could have been liquidated and sold to efficient airlines, or to any other part of the economy willing to absorb the remnants.

Instead, we have the feds mucking up what could have been an efficient merger between Delta and Northwest, requiring assurance that the merger won't affect capacity. What's the point of the merger, then, but for the new airline to cut or expand as it sees fit? And that's not the only way that the federal government sustains what should be left alone. Airlines have no choice but to reduce flights and sometimes even cut entire routes to many smaller airports, because it's no longer efficient for them to maintain the old level of service. But thanks to the subsidies known as the Essential Air Service Program, "those cities and towns would continue to have air service even if it became unprofitable for carriers." It's all too easy to declare something "important" and "in need of government aid" when it's someone else's money you're throwing at the problem.

These smaller cities and towns are like New Orleans' residents, saying they're too important to the national economy and deserve government money. The very fact that government must give them money that's forcibly taken from others is proof that they aren't that important. If they were, the private sector would have already invested in them, to "spur on" the economic activity that they claim credit for. Unfortunately the subsidies will likely continue, but if only they'd stop, so that these "communities" will survive on their own. Their residents will have to learn to drive a few hours if they want to fly somewhere, rather than the convenience of local airports paid for with others' money. Or if there's enough demand (meaning they're willing to pay enough), and entrepreneurs can keep a successful operation going, the residents can have their own regional service that isn't funded by stealing money from the rest of us.

On the other hand, when airlines raise fares and/or institute new fees, while it's not in a true free market situation, at least that's their own business decision borne of competition. That last article summarizes the airlines' revenue dilemma:
To help put the aviation bind into perspective, think about this: In 2000, the average one-way ticket in the United States cost $175, according to Boyd. In 2007, the average was still $175, but 12 percent less of that now goes to the airlines because government fees have jumped. Airlines' fuel bills, meanwhile, have soared. In 2000, passenger and cargo carriers spent $16 billion on jet fuel. Last year, they spent $41 billion. They're expected to pay $61 billion this year.
Hard numbers, and hard decisions for airlines to make. So the difference after a mere 8 years is that airlines are expected to shell out $45 billion more for fuel. How do people expect airlines to refrain from a combination of raising fares (including fees for baggage) and cutting costs?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The second Golden Rule: do not force me, as I would not force you

Over at Three Sources, we're talking again about gold, sparked by an Amity Schlaes column in the Wall Street Journal. My comment, reproduced below, pretty much sums up my philosophy on the gold standard, and more:
I don't mind paper money *inherently*. My problem is that there are people who are not accountable to me in the slightest, who have the power to create more of something I use as a medium of exchange (which means devaluing what I've saved).

In the same way I don't want others to force me to use paper money, I don't want to force others to use gold-backed currency. What I do demand is that we have the freedom to use gold if we want. Paraphrasing Lincoln on being a slave and being a master, the beginning of true libertarianism is when a person realizes, "So as I would not be forced, so as I would not force you." Now, U.S. law makes Federal Reserve notes artificially competitive. We aren't required to use it, but there's artificial confidence (borne of an implied government-backed guarantee) in Federal Reserve notes, and most people (including Schlaes?) don't know that the Gold Clause Resolution of 1933 is still in effect -- you can't insert a clause into a contract stipulating that repayment be made in gold. It's not necessarily a criminal act, but your contract can be ruled null and void. Why shouldn't people be able to receive payment in gold if they so desire, without being made into criminals? And didn't the other person enter into the contract freely, with the clause right there to read? So Congress legislatively blackmailing mortgage lenders into freezing rates is not the first time that the federal government forced the rewriting of contracts (especially when detrimental to those expecting repayment).

Resultingly, the Fed's control over our money supply is virtually a monopoly. A true monopoly, unlike this myth of Microsoft's "uncompetitive practices." Thus it's much harder for us to use other mediums of exchange, whether we're buying or selling. We've been *bred* to like paper and look funny at hard metal. Again, the former isn't inherently bad, but the people in charge can render your savings less valuable, if not worthless like in Zimbabwe. Think about how oil prices would impact you less if you could have used gold-backed money issued by private banks. As gold prices increased, indicating an increase in demand but more so the weakening dollar, people who saved in gold could better afford $4/gallon gasoline.

Bringing this back to Schlaes, she wrote a good piece, but why must she hold back? Of course the federal government had no regard for property rights -- it was clear to anyone who had gold and was forced to sell it, or else face prison time and fines. And FDR, that evil bastard who I hope to God is rotting in hell as we speak, *lied* during 1932 campaign, campaigning on a platform that advocated sound, gold-backed money. Mere days after he was inaugurated, he issued Executive Order 6102, making it a crime to hoard more than $100 in gold unless for "collecting" (which has been gradually done with firearms). It's just like Ayn Rand said:

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. When there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Does the latest jobs report means a recession? Hardly!

A little note I sent to Don Luskin yesterday:
Leave it to the AP's "economic reporters." I basically ascribe zero credibility to anything Martin Crutsinger or Jeannine Aversa write, like this.

So this article says:
The 5.5 percent rate is relatively moderate judged by historical standards. Yet, there was no question that employers last month sharply cut jobs in manufacturing, construction, retailing and professional and businesses services. Those losses swamped gains elsewhere, including in the education and health fields, government, and leisure and hospitality.
As you and I know, this unemployment rate is normal by historical standards. During the Carter years, 5.5% would be called a "boom."

Now, there's absolutely NO WAY that a loss of 49,000 jobs could account for 0.5% unemployment. That implies there are only 9.8 million jobs in the whole country, which is absurd. A mere 49,000 jobs compared to the U.S. workforce is barely over 0.03%. So clearly the dramatic increase in unemployment is from an influx of new workers who can't find jobs, NOT because the economy has shed jobs. It's graduation time, right? So this is perfectly expected. In fact, for being so "bad," the economy has gained jobs overall for the last 12 months:
The government said the number of unemployed people grew by 861,000 in May — rising to 8.5 million. The over-the-month jump in unemployment reflected more workers losing their jobs as well as an increase in those coming into the job market — especially younger people — to look for work, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said.

A year ago, the number of unemployed stood at 6.9 million and the jobless rate was 4.5 percent.
The "year ago" figures imply there were 153,333,333 jobs -- 6.9 million divided by 4.5%, right? The present figures imply 154,545,454 jobs. So the economy has gained 1.2 million jobs, year-over-year. Not terrific, but not bad, either.

So when the article says this,
So far this year, the government said, job losses have totaled 324,000.
I know what the truth is. Hey, if people think our economy is really doing so bad, let them move to France and pray their car doesn't get torched overnight. Or Germany, whose present 8% unemployment is a 15-year low!
I sent that to Don during my lunchtime. I'm not sure when Don gave his remarks on the unemployment report to Larry Kudlow, but he says the same thing too.

It just needs a little clear thinking, folks, and maybe a little bit better perspective than the average bear. Think about it: how can 49,000 people be equal to half a percent of the workforce? Ergo, there's another explanation for it.

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