Sunday, November 24, 2013

How bitcoin is going to fail and why it is not a gold equivalent.

Being a libertarian means I often get into discussions with other libertarians that non-libertarians simple do not have. Lately many of those discussions have been about bitcoin. In case you are normal and don’t know what a bitcoin (or BTC) is, it is a cryptocurrency that acts as digital cash and allows for easier more anonymous payments for goods across the internet. It was promoted by libertarians from the early days, nobody knows the true identity of the original creator. It has had a meteoric rise in value, less than a dollar a few years ago and recently had a high of over $900 before falling again, and there is an amazing amount of volatility.

There are a lot of great things about bitcoin, and that’s what makes it popular to those who know about it. Having a digital cash for the internet is probably the best thing about it.

Some people like to claim it is anonymous, but that is only partially true. Each bitcoin transaction is traced through the bitcoin network and each user has one or more “bitcoin wallets” and the transaction from one wallet to another wallet is tracked, this can be anonymous as long as the owner of the wallet remains anonymous.

Here is why I don’t think BTC is as good as gold and why it will eventually fail. The claim that bitcoin is limited is misleading. It is true that bitcoin itself has a limit of about 21 million bitcoins. However, it is not true that cryptocurrencies as a whole are limited. Bitcoin was invented by a person or persons and can be recreated by other people making competing versions of the cryptocurrency and this is why it is not like gold. Gold is gold, it is not man made and although many alchemists have tried to reproduce it, they have been unsuccessful. There is also always a true cost in mining gold, it is never free or easy to obtain more, this limits the new production automatically, even if there were some new vein found, that would not make it available until someone could extract it.

The fact it is man made and reproducible is why bitcoin is destined to fail. If the idea of a cryptocurrency gets popular enough, governments will create their own versions and will make their version easier and more legal to use, they will tie the digital currency to their own currency and will make it legal tender to pay taxes with. They will allow seamless transactions between whatever the regular currency is and the cryptocurrency and this will be done through the banking systems that are so regulated as to almost be an extension of the government already in most countries and are controlled by the government in other countries. Imagine this: The federal reserve comes out with their own version of the bitcoin, let's call it the “USDcoin”, they make a .001 (or some other arbitrary number) USDc the equivalent of $1 and they make it very easy to use. You can have these deposited into your existing bank account and they are immediately converted to dollars and when you send dollars out of your account they are immediately converted to USDc. Then the government also implements anti-bitcoin laws that make using bitcoin difficult or impossible to use. Of course they will claim bitcoin was being used for illegal purposes and money laundering. This will be the end of bitcoin. I do expect in the process some of the privacy aspects will be lost, but other positives will occur in the end the USDc will win out by a combination of making it easier and more attractive to use than BTC and by forcefully making it impossible to use other cryptocurrencies. Other countries will follow suit.

USDc or BTC won’t be a store of value and people who desire such a thing will go back to other options to retain their purchasing power. Since I am not truly talking about a separate currency and only a digitized version of the USD that operates on a diversified peering network that would be obvious to the banks and the federal reserve, but is transparent to the end user, the federal reserve and the banks could do this on their own without the government. It would operate like bitcoin on the network, but to users it would look like they are transferring USD directly without fees. Bank accounts that are already used would double as "wallets" for digital cash on the network and those accounts would be insured by the FDIC. If you don't think the government is thinking about this, you have to admit that the bankers must be thinking about this at the very least, they do not want to see bitcoin become a competitor.

Who knows what the final product would truly look like, but the basics would be that a new system would be created with the backing of the banks and the government and it will get adopted and not BTC as the digital currency of choice. BTC might still be in existence, but it would not matter and for all practical purposes BTC would be dead.

Backers of bitcoin often ask the wrong question, they understand the virtues of bitcoin and they hope one day it will be a widely circulated currency, but what they often fail to see is that it is reproducible and the if the federal reserve ever decided to make their own version, that would end the dream of BTC ever becoming a currency in the united states at least.

Would the fed have as good of a product as bitcoin? Probably not, but history is filled with inferior products winning out if they have enough backing (public education). There are also benefits the fed and the banks in conjunction with the government could implement that would offset some of the negatives. By tying the digital currency directly to the dollar it eliminates the wild fluctuations BTC has, they could make it legal tender and it would get used at all stores if it were tied into existing bank accounts as well as debit cards and allowed for transaction-fee free money movement as it would be a digital version of existing cash, the cost savings of not paying a fee to Visa or Mastercard on debit card transactions would be the incentive to widely adopt for business. The elimination of competition would be the incentive for the banks and the fed to adopt and the government wants the visibility of digital cash transactions for taxing purposes.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Zimmerman not guilty, and should not have even been tried

This case seems to have really hit a nerve with me, not only because I see Zimmerman as the victim of an assault he was forced to defend himself against. But also because of the media and the liberals and race baiters and how they skewed this case, from calling Trayvon a "child" to calling Zimmerman a "white Hispanic". It all just gets to me. As far as I can tell Zimmerman was honestly trying to do his best to help stop crime in his neighborhood and Martin was a violent kid prone to beating people up who attacked Zimmerman because Zimmerman was following what to Zimmerman was a suspicious character. A 6 foot tall, 170 pound man who did not live in Zimmerman’s closed off neighborhood and was not with a resident and had no obvious business being there. This would make anyone suspicious and it was not because he was black like so many want to assert, and the suspicion was only heightened by the fact there had been recent burglaries in the complex. There were many ways to diffuse the situation if Trayvon felt fear of Zimmerman, but Trayvon decided to punch Zimmerman instead of engaging him in conversation or just going to his father’s apartment. I feel like Zimmerman being basically a weakling had little choice but to defend himself with a weapon instead of his fist once the fight started. Now Zimmerman's life is likely ruined, when all he was doing was to try and protect his neighborhood. In retrospect it is easy to say "Trayvon was unarmed", "Trayvon was most likely not going to burglarize a house" etc. How would Zimmerman have known any of that? Once Trayvon threw the first punch, he was the aggressor.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Unlike Bush Obama is too smart to not be responsible for his own actions

In some ways George Bush lucked out when the media and the left started portraying him as an ignoramus. It meant that he could get away with the most awful of political crimes and the liberal critics had to defer blame away from him, because to accept that he was responsible would go against their belief he was too stupid to pull off such tyranny and so they found others to blame, mostly Dick Cheney. Obama does not have that luxury, nobody accuses him of being too dumb to possibly be responsible for the actions of his administration. Instead he hides behind race, managing to paint his critics as racially motivated even when there is no evidence of such. I wonder if he can continue to pull that off as his crimes are becoming so numerous that even his allies on the left are beginning to turn against him for his attacks on civil liberties, his spying, etc. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

What takes me 5 minutes, takes the government 5 months

On the news this morning there was a story about daycare workers with criminal records. It seems that the way daycare's are expected to do background checks is to submit the information on their new hires to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, then 5 months later the CBI provides the criminal background for that employee. This was the big reveal on the news, that the CBI was taking 5 months to return a background check. The part I thought was more revealing was that the news said if you are concerned about your daycare, get the employees name and birth date and go to the CBI website and you can find their criminal record. What takes the government 5 months to verify, can be verified in a couple of minutes on the web. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Air traffic control; why does the government do this? And do it so badly?

Apparently the FAA has been delaying flights around the country and forcing pilots to make public announcements that the delay is due to the “sequester”. If a tiny cut in their budget at a time when there are fewer commercial flights than there were just a few years ago is going to cause so much trouble, then this is a good indication that the government has no business being in the air traffic control business. They should take their cue from Canada and turn that responsibility over to private industry. 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Bradly Manning should not be in prison

Bradly Manning should not be in prison, and if Obama was actually the caring, loving, person his followers claim he is, a full presidential pardon would have been issued years ago.

When I made a statement like this to a co-worker, my co-workers response was something like “well, Obama does not have the power you think he does”. I have to call bullshit on this, first off the president can pardon anyone. Then my co-worker said something to the effect of “Manning may have broke the uniform code of military justice” as if this makes it more difficult to pardon Manning. I simply cannot believe the cognitive dissonance some people have when it comes to Obama. We were both in agreement that Manning is not a criminal that should be in prison, and yet he refused to believe that the commander and chief of US military did not have the ability to pardon a military prisoner, when this is one of the powers of the presidency that has been long standing and should be common knowledge to even the most braindead Obama supporter. People if Obama cared about Manning, or any other political prisoners he would grant them pardons.   

Housing bubble, not a result of the free market

I had a conversation the other day and I was told that it was the free market that created the housing bubble. This idea is so patently false I cannot believe anyone believes it. I don't need to know the minutia of what regulations were repealed or changed leading to what missteps by what banks to know that the root of the housing bubble was the government and the federal reserve.

I think everyone can agree that the housing bubble and subsequent crash was caused by people buying houses they really could not afford by getting loans for them, and when the housing prices dropped they went underwater and defaulted on their loans. They were led on by low interest rates and easy access to money for their houses.

In a free market the only money that can be loaned out, is money another party has saved and made available to loan. During the housing bubble savings rates were at a low, debt was at a high. This is a situation that can only occur in an artificial situation where the amount of money available for loans has no connection to the amount of savings available to be loaned out. This situation can only be created by the government. In a free market when savings rates are low interest rates are high, and when savings rates are high interest rates are low, in the years leading to housing bubble the opposite was occurring and this is just not possible in a free market. Therefor the only conclusion to be made is that the housing bubble was caused by the government and the federal reserve and not the free market. I can draw this conclusion without knowing what regulations were changed by the congress, what programs George Bush wanted, etc. 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Obamacare driving old people out of the country?

I met an interesting guy in Austin, he drove me from the car rental company to the hotel. His name was Carl; he told me that he was moving to Ecuador to retire because he cannot afford to live in the US any longer. He was a white guy and was in his early sixties. He said that he was doing pretty well until last August getting enough hours at Enterprise that he was almost bringing home full time pay, but in August they cut his hours back to 25 hours a week so they would not have to consider him a full time employee because of changes in the law related to “Obamacare” that would have required they provide him health insurance if he got more hours. He just cannot afford to live in Austin on his meager income and cannot go full time and at his age other opportunities are not really popping up, so moving to Ecuador where he can afford life on his social security payment made the most sense for him.  

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tom Smith And His Incredible Bread Machine

Here's an old poem about an entrepreneur and the government.
It was written by an engineer named R.W. Grant in 1966.
Thanks to the Whited Sepulchre for posting it:

This is a legend of success and plunder

And a man, Tom Smith,

Who squelched world hunger.

Now Smith, an inventor, has specialized in toys.

So, people were surprised

When they found that he instead

Of making toys, was BAKING BREAD!

The way to make bread he'd conceived

Cost less than people could believe.

And not just make it! This device

Could, in addition, wrap and slice!

The price per loaf, one loaf or many:

The miniscule sum of under a penny.

Can you image what this meant?

Can you comprehend the consequent?

The first time yet the world well fed!

And all because of Tom Smith's bread.

A citation from the President

For Smith's amazing bread.

This and other honors too

Were heaped upon his head.

But isn't it a wondrous thing

How quickly fame is flown?

Smith the hero of today -

Tomorrow, scarcely known.

Yes, the fickle years passed by:

Smith was a millionaire,

But Smith himself was now forgot -

Though bread was everywhere.

People, asked from where it came,

Would very seldom know.

They would simply eat and ask,

"Was not it always so?

However, Smith cared not a bit,

For millions ate his bread,

And "Everything is find," thought he,

"I am rich and they are fed!"

Everything was fine, he thought?

He reckoned not with fate.

Note the sequence of events

Starting on the date

On which the business tax went up.

Then, to a slight extent,

The price on every loaf rose too:

Up to one full cent!

"What's going on? the public cried,

"He's guilty of pure plunder.

He has no right to get so rich

On other people's hunger!"

(A prize cartoon depicted Smith

With fat and drooping jowls

Snatching bread from hungry babes

Indifferent to their howls!)

Well, since the Public does come first,

It could not be denied

That in matters such as this,

The Public must decide.

So, antitrust now took a hand.

Of course, it was appalled

At what it found was going on.

The "Bread trust," it was called.

Now this was getting serious,

So Smith felt that he must

Have a friendly interview

With the men in antitrust.

So, hat in hand, he went to them.

They'd surely been misled;

No rule of law had he defied.

But the their lawyer said:

"The rule of law, in complex times,

Has proved itself deficient.

We much prefer the rule of men!

It's vastly more efficient.

Now, let me state the present rules,"

The lawyer then went on,

"These very simple guidelines

You can rely upon"

You're gouging on your prices if

You charge more than the rest.

But it's unfair competition

If you think you can charge less.

"A second point that we would make

To help avoid confusion:

Don't try to charge the same amount:

That would be collusion!

You must compete. But not too much

For if you do, you see,

Then the market would be yours

And that's monopoly!"

Price too high? Or price too low?

Now, which charge did they make?

Well, they weren't loath to charging both

With Public Good at stake!

In fact, the went on better

They charged "monopoly!"

No muss, no fuss, oh woe is us,

Egad, they charged all three!

"Five years in jail," then the judge then said

"You're lucky it's not worse.

Robber Barons must be taught

Society Comes First!

Now, bread is baked by government.

And as might be expected,

Everything is well controlled:

The public well protected.

True, loaves cost a dollar each.

But our leaders do their best.

The selling price is half a cent.

(Taxes pay the rest!)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Extreme Cheapskates

I have been watching this show called “Extreme Cheapskates”. It is about people who are very tight with their money. I consider myself somewhat frugal, I don't go spending money willy nilly. However, often times these people are proving they are as economically ignorant as their spendthrift cousins. There is more to life than just how much something costs upfront, you need to factor in other things like time, like long term costs, like quality of life improvement. I have watched these people spend hours dumpster diving to come home with $10 worth of stuff, I suppose they saved some money but they obviously place a very low value on their time. I am not against pulling something from the trash if you need it, but unless you have a real plan then your time is likely more valuable than someone's used pans. There are many instances of this placing a few cents in savings as a value over time. In another episode they showed a lady who unplugs everything in her house before she leaves her house even if it is only for a couple of hours. Unplugging your stuff makes sense if you are not going to use it for a while, but really the time it takes to plug and unplug something you use often likely is more of a waste than what ever savings you get.

My father-in-law goes dumpster diving everyday, he does this for additional income and it makes sense. He is an immigrant from Mexico and is low skilled and low wage. He has found that collecting aluminum cans from the area dumpsters pays him several hundred a month in additional income. I use a community dumpster and if I happen upon something I could use I might grab it if it looks clean and in good working shape, but I don't waste my time digging through the garbage and I think that is a key difference. I understand that my time is more valuable than the few dollars of savings I might get from digging through the trash.

There are also several instances where the person being a cheapskate is actually being a petty thief and this is something I simply cannot accept as proper behavior. In one episode they showed a guy going to an ice cream shop and sampling every flavor and then leaving without buying anything, he really just stole some ice cream from the shop. In a different episode they showed him going into a fast food restaurant and taking dozens of ketchup packets without purchase, he is really just stealing ketchup. These things are not really showing that you are cheap as much as they show a low moral compass and a willingness to steal something that is offered for free, but with the unwritten understanding that this is actually offered free “with purchase”.

There have been many episodes where a person's personal life has suffered tremendously because of their obsession with not spending money. One example was a guy who went on a date and then basically demanded his date share her plate of food and he did not want her to order a drink, etc. She said she would not go out with him again. Another lady had her boyfriend move in and then she asked him to pee in a jar to save money, this is silly, if alone she spends $500 a month in household expenses and he moves in and the expenses got to $750, but he is willing to pay half then she is still better off in the long run, don't drive him away in an effort to save pennies as it will cost you dollars. Plus personal relationships have some level of value in and of themselves so a reasonable person has to weigh that as well.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Poor and the Broke

I believe there is a difference between being poor and being broke that people often do not grasp. Poor people can also be broke, but to be broke does not make you poor. To me a poor person is simply a person who makes very little money. If they live within their means, then they may be poor but they are not broke. I have never been broke, even when I was extremely poor. A broke person can make any amount of money but finds themselves over their heads in debt and bills and cannot make ends meet.

The reason I think the distinction needs to be made is that often when broke people hear a politician say he “is going to help the poor” they assume the politician is talking about them because they are broke. However, the politician has no intention of helping broke people. In fact they love broke people, these people are the ones who are in debt slavery and will desperately try to earn more money to pull themselves out of debt but will be hampered by ever higher tax burdens.  

Monday, May 14, 2012

Fester on marriage, gay or otherwise

If you treat a marriage license, not like a government permission slip, but like a contract between two people who wish to be legally recognized as a single unit, then I cannot see the justification for exclusion.

The simple solution to this whole debate over gay marriage is to abolish the marriage license. A license is the government giving permission to do something that would otherwise be illegal (i.e why James Bond had a "license to kill"). If you believe the government should still involve itself in marriage, then the marriage license should be changed to a more complete marriage contract instead of the less complete marriage license. That would allow two unrelated people to sign a contract that legally binds them together as a single family unit. The the only restrictions would be those already in place for contractual agreements, which is simply that the parties involved have to be mentally fit enough to understand the terms of the contract when signing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Taxation = Theft?

I get into an argument about whether or not taxation is theft on a semi-regular basis.

 I believe that when an armed person demands you give them money against your will and makes it clear that they will hurt you or your family if you do not comply, this is theft, it is always theft, I don't even see how this is deniable. However, when I try to explain this to my liberal friends, I get the response that if the person doing the threatening works for the government then it isn't theft because the stolen money will be used to purchase "essential services" (i.e.shit my liberal friends like). I have to always wonder, when did the standard for determining what is and is not theft, become how the money that was stolen is spent? When did the act itself stop being how you determine if it was theft or not?

Not only does this logic seem crazy to me, but I hear it the loudest from people I know are too poor to actually have any serious tax liabilities, so them advocating more taxes to pay for more services they use works out great, they pay nothing and get a lot, this comes across as selfish and evil to me, especially when they are accusing people who pay millions a year in taxes as being “evil” and “greedy”.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Who gets that first TV?

I heard this cool little argument to make for a Marxist on the Peter Schiff show, it was an argument his father Erwin had used. The Marxist says "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need." Erwin then posed the question, "Suppose the television has just been invented, who gets that first TV?". Obviously in a capitalist society the answer is simple, whoever is willing to pay the most for the TV gets it. However, since nobody really NEEDS a TV and nobody currently has one, everyone has the same need and desire for a TV, how do you decide who gets the first one? In the story the Marxist answered that the government would have to make enough TV's for everyone and then distribute them to all at the same time.

This is one of the most absurd ideas ever. I guess the Marxist would think that producing millions of TV's and placing them into storage until they had made enough for everyone and then distribute them is a good idea, but then what happens if you have 20 million people in your communist society, but can only make 1 million TV's a year, and 5 years after you started making these TV's and storing them to eventually distribute to the population, Color TV was invented (probably by the neighboring capitalist society), then what do you do? Do you continue to make the black and white ones for another 15 years, give everybody a black and white TV and then start the process over with color? Do you throw away the 5 million TV's you have in warehouses and start making enough color TV's to give everyone a color TV, setting back the date when everyone will get a TV another 5 years? Do you change to color but then giver 5 million people black and white TV's and 15 million color TV's and if so doesn't this defeat the idea? Would you even get approval to make TV's for everyone as the usefulness would be suspect on a new invention?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Permanent Portfolio ETF

In the past I have offered a bit of financial advice, mostly related to my philosophy of living below your means and saving for a rainy day. I generally stay away from offering exact investment advice as I do not believe I am good at predicting the future and have any sort of clue about what investment are likely to work out for you in the long run. With that said, a big influence on my investment strategy was the late, great, Harry Browne. He developed what he referred to as the "Permanent Portfolio", this was basically a plan that said you should allocate your savings with 25% bonds, 25% stocks, 25% cash, and 25% gold, for your investment portfolio and this will give you the most stable returns possible. Over time his plan has worked, it is what I base my investment strategy on. However, even though his plan is simple, some people still find some of the details complicated, like the re-balancing aspect of the plan. So I am happy to see this new ETF, I like what I see in it so far, and think if you are looking to invest in an ETF or mutual fund with the goal of low volatility this is one to look into. Of course you will want to consider all your options and decide what is best for you, as every circumstance is different.

BTW- I have no dog in this race. I just think this looks like a good way for those interested in doing the PP to get into it without having to do much work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Having guns pointed at you, now normal part of life in US Police state

As I am driving to get lunch I see some guy pointing a gun at me! He was alone on a sidewalk. He was in all black and wore sunglasses, pointing a large gun. Creepy as fuck.

As I got right up on him, I could see around the corner from where was standing and could see down a small side street and I was able to figure out that the lone crazy with a gun aimed at me, was not actually alone, but part of a larger more pervasive violent gang. He turned out to be a cop with a radar gun. However, until I was right at the corner he appeared to be a lone shooter. Once I could see down this little side street, I could see that there were several cop cars hidden from view on the main street and they were flagging people and having them drive onto the side street to be terrorized and threatened with various forms of kidnapping, abuse, and extortion. Are we supposed to think that a guy who appears to be alone on a sidewalk pointing a gun at people as they drive by is perfectly acceptable? I found it creepy as hell. Luckily I was in a crowd of cars and not one of the stragglers they appeared to be picking off. Go police state, make the creepy and scary a daily part of life in America.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

29% of Coloradoan's have no savings

This morning there was a news story that said 29% of Coloradoan's have no savings, they cannot weather an unexpected expense. This type of story saddens me tremendously. But these stories also piss me off! They piss me off because the blame is always put on the poor person who doesn't save. To some extent this is where the blames lies, but to a large extent the blame truly lies with the failed monetary policies of the federal reserve and the government.

Currently on Bankrate the highest one year CD earns 1.08% with a 25k minimum! What kind of idiot thinks that investing in savings is a worthwhile mechanism for maintaining or growing wealth? Even by the governments own distorted accounting, inflation is closer to 3% which means every dollar getting a 1% return is losing 2% in purchasing power, and frankly the government is lying about the inflation rate and the true inflation rate is much higher. The incentives are all wrong. If interests rates were higher it would encourage more savings, but the government is forcing interest rates lower than inflation, which encourages more debt and less savings. This policy works out great for those who don't save and have access to borrow at these absurdly low rates, but poor people cannot get into this game, their debt comes mostly in the form of high interest credit card debt, which means the credit card companies are borrowing from the federal reserve at rates at 1% or below and then using that money to pay off their customers credit card charges, and then charging their customers 10-30% interest rates on that money they also borrowed, it is a scam of magnificent proportions.

In a free market interest rates are determined by the availability of money. The more savings that are available to be lent out, the lower interest rates will be, the less savings available to be lent out, the higher interest rates will be.

At the end of the article, they also suggest putting money in savings through a company 401k, this defeats the entire concept of the rest of the article which focuses on the need for savings in the case of emergency. Money saved in a 401k is not useful if your car breaks down, or you have an unexpected medical issue, or lose your job. For these kinds of expenses you need a more liquid form of savings.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Fester's financial advice: Don't count on a tax return

One quick piece of financial advice. Don't plan on getting a tax refund from the government until after you have filled out your taxes. The tax code constantly changes, your life situation constantly changes, deductions come and go, rates change from year to year, a tax refund is simply not something you should count on getting each year.

With tax season upon us I have heard more than one person say something along the lines of “I hope to get my W-2's soon since, I cannot wait to get my tax return”. I believe this is folly, counting on a tax return before you have actually done your taxes is not a good idea. A tax return should be treated in the same way you might treat a win at the casino, it is nice to get the extra money, but nothing you should plan on getting. Even if you have gotten a return every year for the last 10, don't count on one for this year. You are likely to have forgotten some fact that will change your tax liability. It can happen to anyone, a friend of mine only now realized that he owes taxes on his unemployment income which didn't have taxes automatically deducted and he has gone from being confident in getting a return, to possibly having to write a check to the government.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Big Waste

I watched this show on food network called “The Big Waste” and it was about the huge amount of food that is wasted everyday in America, thrown out, discarded and otherwise going to waste. The primary point seemed to be to scold the consumer for being too spoiled for perfect produce and other foods. However, when looked at it from the perspective of an economist and libertarian all the waste seems perfectly natural given the conditions we are forced into as consumers. It is also apparent that waste is not a problem many concern themselves with in very many areas of the food chain.

A big part of the show was showing produce that is discarded because of bruising, misshapen product and discoloration. It was emphasized that there is nothing really wrong with this food. I agree there is nothing inedible about the food, however when I am at the store and see something for sale and it is all the exact same price, even though the quality varies, as a rational being I will chose the best I can get from the selection. Why would a person buy the bruised apples and pay the same price as the non-bruised apples? The fact is that as long as stores refuse to offer more discounted products, they will be throwing a lot of product away. If there was truly a concern for food waste, the answer is simply to incorporate a graded pricing system. Someone might not buy those carrot odds and ends for $2 a package, but for 50¢ they may look far more attractive.

Another part was to show all the food that went into the dumpster. In many places it is illegal to dumpster dive, and even when it is not illegal, many stores and restaurants lock the dumpsters up, either by locking the actual dumpster, or by placing them in locked fenced in areas. If the food is inaccessible it will spoil before it could possibly be saved. Also I recently heard from a co-worker who works in the produce department at a Super Wal-Mart that they are not allowed to take the food that is thrown-out home with them and they must throw it away. I am sure the policy is in place to try and prevent employee theft, but the practice also encourages more waste.

The next part is something Food Network did not directly talk about, but the show made it very clear, government regulations prevent a ton of edible food from being available. In the show they had a guy from the FDA sticking a thermometer in all of the food and he was ready to throw anything out that didn't pass this ridiculous test. The problem was that who knows what temperatures these foods had been at before he tested them. He talked a lot about bacteria and whatnot, but he never tested for anything like that. He said that a chunk of prosciutto was too warm to be safe. What a joke, in Europe you often see salted and smoked meats hanging in the open in stores, meats like prosciutto don't even need refrigerated, but he would not allow the food to be used. They also showed tons and tons of good vegetables that have been tossed out, vegetables that would make excellent food for pigs, but the 1980 swine protection act makes following the law and feeding pigs waste, even straight vegetables, very difficult to fully comply with the law to the point that most pig farms will simply not bother with it and will instead feed them a less nutritious diet of grain based feeds. There are also numerous other regulations that when followed result in a lot of good food going to waste.

Overall I think the show made a good point, that there is too much food wasted, but since the underlying causes of the waste were not addressed I am not sure how much good it is going to do. Instead, it becomes just one more instance of “yeah that seems bad, but not bad enough to change my personal behavior, or the law, or really anything.”

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rush Limbaugh is a dick

I know this will not be a controversial statement, but Rush Limbaugh is a dick. I don't listen to him and haven't for many years, but back in the early 1990's I did listen to him. I was a real fan and listened after work nearly everyday, I was a ditto head. It wasn't that I agreed with everything he said, but I agreed with many things he said and found the show to be entertaining and I agreed with him enough to not be too insulted. Back then he talked about reducing the size of government, he criticized Bill Clinton for his nation building in Kosovo. He slammed the department of education, the EPA and other government agencies and called for their abolishment, he talked about privatizing social security, and many other things that libertarians would favor along with republicans. He didn't speak much about issues like drugs. So there were a lot of libertarian leaning ditto heads and I was one of them.

Now he has changed, he no longer promotes issues, he is only about the red team versus the blue team. He doesn't care about the issues he used to promote, now it is just about dogging any politician who wears the wrong color. He may pretend he is still about issues, but he only cares when the issue is presented by a democrat, he gives a pass to republicans who promote the exact same thing. This is made extremely clear when it comes to his opposition to Ron Paul, who promotes many of the ideas he trumpeted in the 90's. I saw this clip where a Ron Paul supporter called into his show and claimed to be a ditto head who disagreed with him on some issues and that is why she supports Ron Paul, his response was to claim she could not be a ditto head and must be a radical liberal. I don't think this is a fair portrayal of republicans who support a policy small government, who are against nation building, who are for states rights, and who want to follow the constitution. In most ways Ron Paul supporters are 1990's era ditto heads. I have moved on and would never listen to Rush again, but I can sympathize with this caller, because at one point I was a regular Rush listener, and I can understand being a ditto head who supports Ron Paul. I support Ron Paul, even though Ron Paul is for more government than I would like to see, he is still a big improvement over the other choices. I also would say that I am not a radical liberal and have never been one, and anyone who has known me for any amount of time would know that I am not a liberal in the current meaning of big government warfare/welfare policy.