Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Remembering Payne Stewart

I didn't realize until today that I missed it: two days ago was ten years since Payne Stewart died tragically in that terrible plane crash. A co-worker had heard it on the news and told me (he didn't even know who Stewart was, only that it was a top golfer), and I was so shocked that I immediately called my father.

My parents and I were always big fans. How could you not be of the most colorful dresser on any tour, who was known for style, graceful conduct and charity?

I'll never forget his Sunday outfit at that one British Open, with his shirt based on the U.S. flag. I forget how Nick Faldo joked about it, all in good fun.

Stewart reputedly said, "That's why I'm very proud of being American. I'm proud to pay taxes. I pay a lot of taxes, but it sure beats the alternative." Well, nobody's perfect. Fortunately he stuck to golf instead of going into politics.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Leftists: enslaved in a false reality by their own limited thinking

A while back, I pointed out that my troll had no imagination: because he can't see the possibilities of a free market, therefore it's not possible in his mind for a free market to deliver certain goods and services. Similarly, Cafehayek's frequent commenter "muirgeo" (an unapologetically overt socialist) has a vivid imagination when it comes to "greedy capitalists" but no imagination when it comes to the possibilities that can and do proceed from free markets. In fact, he's known for the absurd and paradoxical viewpoint of blaming everything on free markets but also denying they exist.

He recently made a comment typical of socialists' misunderstanding and misuse of the word "force." I left this reply, but it seems to have gotten stuck in a moderation filter:
"Everytime you go to a store that uses credit cards the price of the products you buy all have increases in them relflected in the fee charged to the store."

You're still not being forced. Go somewhere that accepts only cash, or will give you a discount for cash. I've gone to such businesses, and I've helped manage one.

People who drive large vehicles need more fuel, which increases demand, so by your logic, they're "forcing" the resulting higher prices on us. But again, nobody is being truly forced.

"This sort of thing kills small merchants and makes even libertarian minded people not as independent as they think they are."

Again, small merchants are not being "forced" into accepting credit cards. If their profit margin is that small, then they'd better go with cash and possibly check -- or make their operations more efficient so they can afford credit card fees.

Why did "we" (that business is none of your business, BTW, but it's a good example) finally start accepting American Express cards? Because they finally offered us a good rate, in fact a surprisingly decent sub-3%. But your ignorant belief is that merchants are somehow hostage to credit card companies, which is clearly false.

Your use of "independent" is absurd. You're talking about pure self-sufficiency, the lack of trade. That's as idiotic an implication as you've ever made here.

Credit cards may have higher fees, but they have distinct advantages that are worth some, if not all of the fees:

1. Credit cards are very fast, for both sides. Haven't you ever stood in line behind an elderly person who fumbled with bills and/or counted out a lot of pennies?

2. Credit cards prevent cashiers from making errors in returning change, or stealing by pocketing the cash and surreptitiously voiding the transaction. A lot of NYC eateries have posted signs advising that if you didn't get a receipt, tell a manager and your meal is free.

3. Credit cards prevent counterfeiting with no recourse. If a store accepts a fake C-note, that's all she wrote. (I once identified someone via security tapes, and he was likely the one passing counterfeit bills all around town, but the police couldn't do anything. They have to be able to prove he knew the bills were fake.) It's true a credit card can be stolen, but merchants won't lose money on the sale, and law enforcement will at least have some way to track it. The bank will eat the loss because it's overall worth the fees they receive.

The Maverick gas station chain once offered a discount for cash payments. Guess who put a stop to it? The Utah state government, because it was "anti-competitive practice."

"billion dollar bonuses"

Show me who received such a sizeable bonus. And even if it happened, so what? What's it to you? Why are you so jealous, so covetous of what other people earned? Go out and do it yourself, or better yet, pull your head out of that orifice and show us "greedy capitalist" how to do it.

If you'd open your eyes, you'd see we ARE working a lot less for what we produce. Only a century ago, a large portion of our population worked from at least dawn to dusk, hoping to harvest enough to keep the house. Today, in 50-60 hours a week, I can accomplish what would have taken ten people maybe as recently as 25 years ago. That's why I have so many more material goods and can purchase many more material services than a middle class fellow of my age in 1983.

People still feel "poor" today because, first, they're taxed to hell and back in all different forms. It would be a far different and better economy if they could actually keep and spend what they earn. And after that, Americans tend to blow their money on a house they can't afford, that new car they shouldn't have purchased, cable/satellite TV packages, and especially the latest electronic gadgets like cell phones and MP3 players.

"If you are a working class person and you think that 400 people having $1.5 trillion dollars of wealth doesn't effect how hard you need to work in some way then you are a fool or more liekly ignorant of the details of how this all works."

Your imagination is so deficient. You cling to this myth that they're hiding the money. In fact, the money flows right back into the economy. Who do you think lends money for mortgages and auto loans? Not the poor and middle classes, but "the rich." Who do you think saves the trillions of dollars that businesses need for investment capital?

So go ahead, wipe out the wealth that "the rich" have, and you'll be scratching the ground for potatoes like your ancestors.

If anyone here is a "serf," you are -- enslaved in a false reality by your own limited thinking.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The new parable of the virgins

My comment over at Three Sources. (In case you never heard about it, the last sentence is to Obama being called a "lightworker."):
Clearly the WSJ is run by right-wing extremists who bitterly cling to guns and religion. They will be the first to go to the Saint Obamus Re-Education Camps for the Economically Insensitive.

Saint Obamus hath promised much unto the 95%, and yea, do any of ye doubt him?

Indeed, the parable of the virgins is now thus:

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto twenty virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom, Obamus.

And one was wise, but nineteen were foolish.

They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:

But the one wise took oil in her vessel with her lamp.

While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.

Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.

But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for me and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.

And Obamus appeared and said, Verily I say unto you, unfair are you to the others, and I shall take of your oil and redistribute unto them. It mattereth not that you have been faithful and watching, for lo, thou hast been economically insensitive in not giving despite their foolishness.

And so Obamus took her oil, and it being insufficient for the needs of all, soon all their lamps went out and none had any light.

("Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people's money." - Margaret Thatcher)

And there was much weeping and gnashing of teeth, for they realized that Obamus had no light of his own.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

"And the crowd went bananas"

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Links for today

"This is what awesome looks like"

What else did you expect when government gives away others' money?

How do you say "idiotic goobers" in Arabic?

Mark Sanford is such a goddamn hypocrite.

Fang Zheng proves that Communist China took his legs but not his spirit.

Is it surprising that one of Roman Polanski's biggest defenders is a pedophile? "Fucking frog-eating French faggot." It rolls right off the tongue.

• Via Michelle Malkin, the Obama White House is displaying blatantly plagiarized art. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to buy something from Ward Churchill?

"As members of the Congressional Black Caucus, we support our colleague, Charlie Rangel..." That's not racist, huh.

• In 2006, I called Mohamed ElBaradei "The world's biggest idiot" for what he said about Iran's nuclear ambitions: "Our assessment is that there is no immediate threat." Madeleine Albright seems to want to take the title away from him. Remember, she's the same goddamn bitch who called the Lockerbie bombing "that terrible, terrible accident."

• I wouldn't shed a tear if these "wildlife watchers" get eaten by bears someday. That would be poetic. The hunters could have very well saved their lives, and for their act one was given a criminal citation for a "weapons violation"?

The nature-worshipping leftists claim, "The hunters could have missed!" But it didn't happen, no more than every American could "possibly" kill someone every time he/she gets behind the wheel of a car. When the mathematical chance of an event is not zero, it's "possible" but does not mean it was anywhere close to occurring. For example, Obama making real tax cuts -- well, actually, bad example, since that's a zero chance there.

Blubbering Barney Cockslurper wants to move up the date when the feds exert more unrighteous authority over credit card companies. He wants "quick movement"...like his diarrhea of the mouth?

The legislation already hurts honest consumers while "protecting" the irresponsible. Now it will hurt the former even more. Credit card companies won't have the time to evaluate risk and accordingly raise rates and lower credit limits, so some may very well raise rates and slash credit limits across the board.

Don't worry: the feds will spend borrowed money, but it will...save money!

I commented over at Three Sources about the health care "public option":
I knew it wasn't dead. Baucus said that the lack of a public option was a victory, because as he unequivocally stated, he just wanted something that will pass the Senate.

In other words, he didn't care that he got everything, just that he got something at this stage. The boiled frog doesn't notice the temperature gradually rising, remember?
I also made a point that the news hasn't made about something it's touting:
By the way, did you see the latest Big Lie? This is as egregious as anything in months.

The health care bill will still cost over $800 billion over the next decade, but it will actually be reducing the deficit!

They will be spending $82.9 billion a year for 10 years, but because there will supposedly be $81 billion total over those ten years cut here and there, they can claim it will "reduce the deficit."

Anyone who claims this is a liar condemned to hell, and anyone who believes this should follow.
I thought the claim of "reducing the deficit" would be based on the new bill being "only $829 billion," when the original proposal was $864 billion. The new reason is even bigger horseshit.

Only in New York

This morning, walking along a stretch of Sixth Avenue that's reserved for waiting taxis, I observed some idiot, apparently an Asian tourist, who was parking in the way.

A cop was trying to explain to the guy that he had to move, and there was one cabbie in particular who got out of his car and was very, very upset. The latter screamed a number of things, including, "Go back to Korea!" In a thick Oriental accent.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Some links to keep you entertained

Someone suggested that with the various links (mostly news items) I send him daily with no more than pithy comments, I should try the same on my blog. It's never been my style to not dissect an issue and refute anticipated objections, but until I can put out a "real" blog post, here you go:

SNL had better be careful, lest they be at the top of the censor list in the New Order. The Obama is not as forgiving as Bubba was.

Moron milk farmers in Brussels. Instead of cutting their own production and thereby drive up prices, they want production quotas. This means they want the government to force production limits, which by definition will be arbitrary.

And you can always count on France to produce bigger morons than anyone. It's bad enough that some people might be foolish enough to believe pictures are 100% untouched, but the bigger fools are the government officials who want to "protect" the former.

A truly amazing picture.

One of the funniest things I've ever seen on YouTube.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Barney Frank: "There will be death panels enacted by this Congress"

Not health care "death panels," but in this article on Geithner pressing Congress on "financial reform," the blubbering cocksucker (the "D" in "D-MA" stands for "Dumbass") makes quite an admission:
Frank also said it was crucial to deal with the problem of institutions deemed "too big to fail." The administration wants to subject those firms to tougher oversight and have the ability to seize and dismantle them if they're on the verge of collapse. Regulators now can do that with banks, but not with other financial institutions, such as insurance companies.

"We will be providing a mechanism for putting nonbank financial institutions out of everybody's misery," Frank said before borrowing a term from the healthcare debate to hammer home his point. "There will be death panels enacted by this Congress, but they will be for nonbank financial institutions that will not be considered too big to die."
In other words, the federal government will make it its business to euthanize any non-bank financial institution that it thinks must die, unless the feds think it's too big to allow.

Frank is the same blubbering asswipe who complained that AIG was paying hundreds of millions in bonuses...made possible by the bailouts he voted for. He's the same statist who said, "The government should not interfere with people's liberty unless there is a very good reason." Really, and just who gets to decide what a "very good reason" is?

Thomas Jefferson said, "Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual."

So never mind competition determining insolvency: federal bureaucrats will decide which non-banks can continue and which must be shut down. This shouldn't surprise any of us who are paying attention. Starting with IndyMac in July 2008 (thanks to Chuck Schumer's rumors), the FDIC has been shutting down banks left and right. Every time I see a news article on another bank being shut down, it's easy for me to see past the lies. When a bank is suddenly seized by the FDIC (which declares "insolvency" based on bullshit accounting rules that were designed to make banks failures on paper) and sold within hours to its main competitor without any bids, what do you think is really happening?

It was bound to creep to non-banks as well. Don't think for a second that "Pay Czar" Kenneth Feinberg will limit himself to banks that received TARP money.

Who ever doubted that Katie Couric is a dumb bitch?

Iran's president, aka Madman Mahmoud the Used-Camel Salesman, showed her up with bullshit.

If Couric had any brains, she'd have quickly retorted something like this:

"Marwa wasn't killed by her own government, you lying dromedary-fucking terrorist."

The economics of open source software

In comments here, I started talking about the nature of open source, and how people will come together spontaneously to create things:
Did government direct that MacOS or Windows be created? What about the uncountable pieces of open source software? Open source is in fact the best example, because in order to get a whole product, some people put in a considerably larger share of resources than others, because they value the whole product that much. If one person contributes merely one line out of millions, and another contributes 20% of the whole, it was hardly "unfair" to the latter: he'd rather put in 20% so he could have the whole.
Here, I made a comment about Linux that set off an interesting discussion on open source:
I am Linux on anonymous hardware. I take what others willingly leave me to use, and incorporate the best into myself. I am free to be myself without harming others.
Boulder Refugee disagreed. With respect to a good guy, doesn't quite understand the nature of open source. Go read the whole thing to get the flow of the discussion, but here at my replies that illustrate the economic basis of open source:
Forced collectivism is clearly immoral. However, as JK pointed out, open source development is voluntary association. In open source development, you are free to use what others have freely given away. You are also free to not participate, to develop your own commercial product that you can copyright and sell.

Nothing about open source can be compared to the "public option" or health care "cooperatives." Open source funding comes only from willing participants. By contrast, the "public option" by definition will be partially funded by non-participants' taxes. "Cooperatives" will by definition be "seeded" with government money, again funds that are forcibly taken from non-participants.

You cannot copyright open source that you've modified, but you also cannot take a pamphlet whose use license mandates free distribution, modify it, then copyright it as your own.

Open source code in and of itself is not always "capitalist," but only in that a lot of open source code is created with no expectations of profit. OpenOffice is one of the most amazing modern examples of Hayekian spontaneous order: "The result of human action but not of human design." Was it intended to compete with Microsoft Office? Of course, but is it not people's right to give their creation away for free if they want? In principle, it's no different than a commercial competitor charging less. So "sticking it" to commercial companies is not inherently evil.

And yet there are plenty of capitalists who make a living off open source development. My oldest friend and his partners develop open source databases for clients. The clients get to keep the database code for themselves. They could even have their own staff examine the code and modify it themselves, deciding that they don't need my friend's team any longer. But their services are competitive enough that clients will generally retain them.


Nothing prevents you from doing as my friend does, selling your services instead of code. But you cannot sell the fruit of your labor when you have agreed to give up that right. Remember that the giving of open source is based on a license, even though it's free. Not a license in the sense of government granting permission, but a private, binding contract that defines permitted use of a product. For example, when you buy a media disc or book, the physical product is yours, but you didn't buy the music, video or the words -- you bought a license to use the product according to the seller's terms. (This is the only way copyrights work, otherwise there would be no way to enforce them once you bought the copyrighted product.) If you don't like it, then don't buy it.

I could offer you an apple only under the condition that you eat it yourself and not give it to someone else, even eat it yourself while standing on your head and humming Beethoven's Ninth. This agreement would be hard to enforce if you broke it, but it's still a contract. It's a license for use. And breaking the contract does not require measurable harm done to one party, only that a term of the contract is broken.

So like the licensing of a CD, if you don't like that an open source license limits what you can do, nothing prevents you from designing and selling your own product from scratch. If you are demanding "the right" to modify someone's freely given open source and sell it, even with full disclosure that it wasn't entirely yours, you are in fact the one encroaching on another's rights. You are the one imposing your will on another person who did not consent.

Most people don't have access to the kind of information required to fund, market and distribute software through regular commercial channels. No matter how "good" their product is, they'll find a lack of investors, marketing networks, distributor networks, etc., extremely limiting to their enterprises. Open source, then, can be the cheap(er) alternative for them to develop and distribute their product.
My programmer friend had a couple of comments, and he's as much of an authority as anyone on the planet on this:
Well, you do have copyright the parts you create when you make a derivative work of an open source piece of software. And OSS is by definition capitalist, IMO. Private property and control of how it is disposed of. Just that since the reproductive costs are near zero, they're very liberal about others giving it away.

And, in fact, it's interesting how many people have more faith in the stuff when you actually charge them for it :)
Never having been in a position to do that, I was unaware of the possibility of copyrighting your own portion of the code. He replied,
Well, just add your copyright to it. There are advantages to having multiple copyright holders, too, IMO. There was some dude who wanted to buy a private license to the linux kernel for $50,000 and not have to follow the normal license rules. But, since there are so many damn contributors and copyright holders, it's impossible. :) Take it with the current license or no other deal.
And he granted me permission to reprint his comments:
Feel free. I hearby grant a non-exclusive perpetual royalty-free license to use those words any way you see fit. Just don't twist them into shit and then try to re-attribute them to me. :)