Friday, December 30, 2011

Lol, the turn of the century sowed only misery (and light bulbs, refrigerators and car, etc)

In a thread on facebook I saw this:

Oh, the early 20th century where we had the Great Depression? Child labor? Dark satanic mills? Yes, that worked out great. If your name was Rockefeller.

It never 'worked OK once'. To the degree that market fundamentalism has been tried it has sown only misery for the many, to the benefit of a few.

What is he talking about, the freest time in America is when the modern world was created (after the civil war before the new deal). The light bulb was invented, the car started to be produced, the telephone was invented, airplanes, radio, movies, recorded music, tractors, washing machines, refrigerators, etc. Virtually everything that makes the modern lifestyle was created and popularized during this time that he claims had sown only misery for the many. If anything we are in a slump of innovation today by comparison. Yeah it never worked out, what a joke. I guess the masses were just too oppressed by their new cars, and washing machines. Also this child labor boogieman drives me nuts, so what if there was child labor in the early part of the century, you do know that there has always been child labor, all throughout history, until the industrial revolution made it so machines could replace human labor, thus making it so fewer people had to work to produce the same amount or more, this is what allowed children to be free of labor, not the government.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Remember this? Government claims Blockbuster monopoly and blocks merger with Hollywood Video

Everyday the government makes claims that are laughable, but sometimes they seem more laughable a few years after the fact then they seemed at the time. Case in point, in 2005 the FTC blocked a proposed merger of Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video, making the claim that this merger would create a monopoly in the video rental business. Even at the time this seemed ridiculous, in 2005 Netflix was already a large company, video on demand was already available, and internet video streaming was obviously on the horizon. Now both companies are bankrupt, squeezed out by competition the government refused to acknowledge even existed.

Young Turks call out Bill O'Reilly

Young Turks call out Bill O'Reilly over Iran. Out of one side of the scumbag Bill O'Reilly's mouth he says that war with Iran would be devastating, out of the other side of his mouth he says Ron Paul is disqualified as not just a candidate, but as an American because of his foreign policy, or at least that is how I took it, you may think O'Reilly was trying to say he is saying this as "an American and not as a Journalist", but I think he meant that Ron Paul's views disqualify him as an American and then he sort of backtracked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Do you want your epitaph to read: "he consumed much and produced little"

The other day on the Peter Schiff Show, Peter was arguing with a Keynesian economist who was making the claim that it is consumption and not production that drives an economy. He was wrong of course, it is savings and production, and not consumption, that drives an economy. But let's pretend for a second this idea is correct, is it how you would want to live your life? When I die, I don't want to be remembered for living a life of consumption. I would much rather be remembered for all of the good I have done, all of the good I have produced in my lifetime. All of the people I have helped for things I have done, things I have added to the world, not for things I have taken away from the world.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fester's financial advice, housing.

There seems to be this misconception out there that housing is a commodity that should rise in value over time and at least keep up with inflation on the average. This is not really the case. Housing is a consumer good, just like your car and television, and will decrease in value over time as it is being used more and more. I believe there is a case to be made that land is a commodity and will generally maintain or increase in value over time, but what sits on that land is going to get wore out, rot away, and otherwise lose value. It is hard to say that the roof on a house will lose value, the carpet will lose value, the appliances lose value, and yet the overall house should gain in value and somehow expect this to make sense in the long run.

The idea that housing “always rises in value” is based on faulty logic and a skewed perception of reality, mostly by people who live in cities. It is true that in many areas of the country if you look at a chart of housing values over the last 100 years or so, you will see a steady increase in value and this has skewed the perception of the people living in those areas and created an expectation that this is the norm, when in fact it was a fluke. Many things happened in that time that account for the rise in value of (some) housing. First, the population grew very quickly. Second, there was a mass migration from rural areas to urban areas. Third, the banking system was set up to be controlled by the central bank that allowed fractional reserve lending to become the norm. So what happened was that demand increased for housing in urban areas and at the same time it became easier to get loans from banks (and unlike other loans the interest could be deducted from a person's tax liabilities), creating a century long boom. I don't expect this to hold into the future. The increased demand for the land the houses sit on this made up for the all or some of the loss of value in the buildings sitting on the land in urban population centers. The recent boom was because low interest rates allowed consumers to borrow more money for lower monthly payments and this brought up the overall value of the housing as consumers realized that they could buy more expensive housing, sellers raised their prices respectively. I know there were some other factors, but this is the very basic story.

One thing to note is that housing has went down in value in many places, rural America, industrial cities that have lost large employers (Detroit, Cleveland, etc). So if you have this idea that housing should always increase in value, I would like you to knock that thought out your mind right now, as it is not a universal truth. You may be lucky enough to have purchased a house in a community that will still be a desirable place to live well into the future and so your housing might hold its value, but there are no guarantees and you should not hold any expectations of such, especially as the population stops increasing and the migration from rural farm towns to urban centers comes to an end (at this point there are not a lot of rural people left to migrate and technology is not replacing farm hands at nearly the same rate as it was over the last 100 years). My understanding is also that the US would be experiencing a negative growth in population if it were not for immigration (which the government seems to want to further restrict).

Does this mean that it is a bad idea to buy a home? No. The reality is that you need a place to live, and if your choice is to buy or to rent, then you have to consider your own needs and your lifestyle to determine which makes financial sense to you. If you plan on living in the same place for 10 or more years, it is likely to be better to buy. If you move around a lot, then renting is better. If your choice is to rent a cheap one bedroom apartment or buy a big four bedroom house, renting is likely the better option since you need to compare apples to apples when looking to buy. It may make sense to buy a condo that is similar to what you rent, but likely would not make sense to buy a house that is far more extravagant than what you would chose as a renter. Due to the market distortions created by government, buying is often the better choice, they artificially restrict new construction through zoning and other laws, they allow you to write off the interest on the mortgage from your taxes, and distort the market in other ways, but you should not count on these things from the government into the future, so just be aware it is a gamble. Buy a house for the same reason you buy a car, you need it for its utility, not for its investment potential. If you want an investment property, either learn the real estate trade, or buy a REIT, but don't buy the house you plan to live in and expect it to be anything other than a consumer good.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

More about Warren Buffet and this claim he only pays 17% in taxes

I hear this "the billionaire only pays 17% in taxes, which is less than his secretary" crap all of the time, it comes from an article that Warren Buffett wrote claiming as much, only he lied and now the left uses that as some sort of rallying call. The truth is that Buffett pays more than he said in his article. First off he is not subject to income taxes because he takes no income (to be more accurate he takes an income of 100k, which is tiny compared to his billions in net worth) so when he needs money he sells BH (Berkshire-Hathaway) stock and only pays the 15% capital gains tax and 2.4% in other taxes I assume he is referring to the capped social security taxes and the income tax on his salary), so that is where he gets this 17% figure that gets cited over and over again.

The problem is that he owns the majority of BH and the corporate taxes they pay, really comes out of his profits and pockets. Some companies pay almost nothing in corporate taxes because they award the CEO huge amounts of pay and the CEO then pays high personal income taxes, with BH they pay corporate taxes on the profits other companies might have paid their CEO and then written off their bottom line. Buffett indirectly pays the corporate taxes, and then also pays the capital gains tax when he sells his stock. He is really paying a much higher tax rate than he claims, and I don't believe he is too stupid to understand this, so I can only assume he is lying for some political reason.

It is hard to know how much BH pays in corporate taxes since it seems they owe back taxes, but if they were paying the taxes it would be a corporate rate of 29% so add that to the 17% Buffett is paying in capital gains and he is paying closer to 50% in taxes.

The thing that really irks me about the whole thing is that he is looked at as a hero of the left for claiming he supports higher taxes for the rich, all while being a tax dodger himself and the left eats it up like candy. He has also benefited from the bailouts, owning major shares in Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo, US Bancorp, and American Express. In the Peter Schiff goes to Occupy Wall Street video he is confronted with some protester who throws out this idea that “the rich pay 17% in taxes”, this comes from Buffett's article, but they are also down there protesting against bailouts and the rich, but still they will hold up his article as if it was written by god himself.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Occupy Atlanta, being duped by irresponsible Cop

When I got up this morning I found a facebook friend had posted this article about Occupy Atlanta setting up encampment to save a police officers home after the he had written an email explaining he was being foreclosed on to someone in the Occupy movement. I attempted to try and find out why this police officer was “unjustly” being foreclosed upon as the protesters are claiming, and I was unable to find anything. Police officers have extremely stable jobs with decent wages, most making 50k or more a year. Interest rates are extremely low right now, I really have to wonder why this officer could not afford to pay his mortgage. I ended up finding that the location of the house is “4197 Shoreside Circle Snellville, GA”. This allowed me to find out information on the house, but not the Rorey family, However, finding out about the house was enough to cast further doubt in my already suspicious mind. According to Trulia this house last sold on December 27th, 2010. Less than a year ago, for $172,454, which should be affordable for a police officer. You normally have to be several months behind in your mortgage before the foreclosure proceeding begin. This indicates to me that they moved in less than a year ago and basically never made a mortgage payment, I am not sure I can see the unjust nature of the foreclosure. I think these occupy people are being duped by irresponsible people to support a cause that will make them look even more foolish than they already appear to be.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Engineering Students drop out or change career paths

I found this article on why engineering and science majors seem to drop out, or change directions when in college. It is interesting and I believe it is reflective of the failures of government education. Engineering should be one of the most interesting fields of study, and yet the government somehow manages to kill the desire of young people to pursue this career. I am in this field and have found something peculiar, I work in an engineering role without an engineering degree, some of my co-workers have engineering degrees and some do not. All of my co-workers who have engineering degrees fall into one of two categories, either they were older when they got the degree or they got their degree (or the majority of classes) from a non public university setting, like Devry, or they started out in a community college and then moved on to a more formal university. I don't think I work with anyone who went into an engineering degree straight out of high school and graduated with an engineering degree. I have two cousins who started university after high school in science and engineering studies who both switched out within three semesters. There is something wrong here, both of these boys are extremely smart and should have thrived as engineers.

If you know a young person who is considering becoming an engineer, I would advise them to not go straight to university studying engineering. It seems to be the death nail and seems to be a motivation killer, with all of these dry math lecture courses killing the desire to keep going when in the real world most of these equations are not pressing things to know. The field is really pretty fun as you see the things you do giving you the desired effects and solving puzzles when things do not work the same way you expected them to. If you want to be an engineer, the better path seems to be to start out with a smaller educational goal then move on to an engineering degree. I have managed to work in an engineering field with only an associates in telecommunications, but I work with many who started out getting associates in computer networking or electronics or similar fields and who then went on to get bachelors degrees. Really there is a decent demand for skilled employees in computer/electronics and engineering fields and it is high enough that employers are often willing to take a chance on a non-degreed person if they have shown proficiency and really the pay is not that much different between a fully degreed engineer and a person working in an engineering field with a degree in information technology or similar. After you manage to get that first job, experience becomes more important to future employers than education.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Peter Schiff at OWS

Peter Schiff who I like and often listen to his radio show, went down to the occupy Wall Street and had a few conversations with people there. Reason TV documented the event. This is only 20 minutes of the 4-5 hours that he was there, but it is very interesting.

One lady he spoke to claimed she was in the 1% which should mean that she makes over 350k a year, she then claimed she only pays 10% in taxes. I don't know how she pulls this off, if she earns a regular income she would be in a marginal rate of 35% even with deductions, it is hard to believe these would cut 25% off of her rate, she would also have to pay medicare tax which is 3% on all her earnings (between her and her employers contributions) and about 13% for social security on the first 107k (which may be a large percentage of her income or may not be, we don't have enough info for that). Then she most likely pays state taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, and various other taxes. Perhaps she is a not working for a paycheck and gets her money through capital gains, then she would pay a rate of 17% (plus the other less commonly sited taxes I mentioned). So the only thing that seems clear to me is that she is either lying or has paid a professional tax accountant or lawyer a lot of money to find loopholes, not commonly used tax deductions, and tax shelters, so that she can avoid higher taxes. Normally I would not care, but it seems hypocritical when she is then out there saying others should pay more.

I also do not like this Warren Buffett meme at all. First off it is not true that he pays less in taxes than his secretary, but even if it were true, this is solely because he has actively created a pay structure designed to avoid paying taxes, again I would not care, but he advocates for others who cannot get the same pay structures and tax shelters, pay a higher rate.

Last thought, at the end a lot of people claimed they were capitalists and supporters, but if that is actually true then they have terrible PR, because what I see is a lot of jealousy of success, a blood lust for higher taxes on anyone more successful than them (even though I am not sure what these people believe will be done with any additional revenue, because I expect it to go to more wars, more prisons, and more injustice once handed over to the government), and a plea for more handouts from the government.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ron Paul is right, end the student loan program

Ron Paul wants to get rid of the federal student loan program, and I fully support him on this.

Student loans might work out for some, but many students find they enslave them in debt before the student even knows what they are doing or how these loans will effect their futures. It is my belief that colleges base their tuition rates on how much students can pay, so as the government grants and loans more money to students, the tuition increases proportionally and the students are harmed more and more and led further into a life of perpetual debt, the colleges benefit and the students are harmed by this cycle. Debt is indentured servitude as far as I am concerned, and should be avoided as best as you can, it restricts your choices and worsens your standard of living in the long run.

Recently Steve Jobs died, he dropped out of college, but imagine if he had not dropped out and had graduated with massive debt, he would not have been able to start apple, he would have been forced to get a job at a corporation in order to have the steady high income job he would have needed to repay the loans. By not having that debt burden over his head, he was able to be more entrepreneurial.

One big problem with these loans is that the amount of money someone needs to live on while going to college, has no bearing on what they will be able earn once out of college, so a person getting an engineering degree where they have a good chance of being able to pay the loans back, is able to borrow the same amount as the person getting a degree in art history, where the jobs are few and the pay is virtually non-existent. This creates a situation where people are leaving college extremely in debt and unable to find work that pays enough to repay their loans. I think without the government interference banks would be much more careful in who they loaned to and for how much. I don't think student loans would disappear in a free market, but I do think they would be lessened and those people who qualify for them would be in serious degrees with a high probability of good job prospects in the future.

[Side tangent] One thing that is curious to me about this whole debate over student loans is that I have had many friends and co-workers who have vocally complained about the credit card companies sending their kids a credit card while their kid is in college, even when that kid has no job! They think this is completely irresponsible behavior on the part of the credit card company (and I agree), but at the same time almost all of those kids are going tens of thousands of dollars into debt on student loans, which is much more irresponsible than a thousand dollars in credit card debt. [/Side Tangent]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adam Vs. The Man on the occupy DC crowd

It should be a good sign when people are upset enough at the current state of things that they are willing to take to the street, but I am having a mighty difficult time getting behind this "Occupy" movement and it is representatives like this that are the reason. If you think the corporations exert too much influence on the government and since the government has a monopoly on violence this leads to bad results because then the corporations also exert a monopoly on violence by using the government, these corporation use that power the government has against their would be competitors, they use it to get favors and tax money, etc., the solution is not to grow the government so the corporations can by proxy have even more power. The solution is to reduce or eliminate the power the government has so the corporations have nothing to gain by bribing politicians.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

starvation is not a good strategy for punishing "corporate farmers"

I had a brief conversation with a co-worker this morning that bothers me. He is a liberal type and a big supporter of this Occupy Wall Street thing, and during our conversation he referenced the “99%” and the “1%” to prove his point. However, the only point I really got from it is that he does not understand economics at all. 

He asked if I had heard about the fact that crops were rotting due to “illegals leaving Alabama” and what I thought about it. I told him I think it sucks and it is an extremely sad day for America when crops are not harvested due to political blundering based on racial hatred and economic ignorance. He said he thought the “rich corporate farmers” deserved it because they had been mistreating immigrant farm hands for years and all they had to do was pay better and there would be dozens of unemployed Americans lining up to take those jobs. 

There are so many fallacies with his train of thought that I hardly know where to begin. First off, I believe there is no such a thing as an illegal person. People are people, and that is all, it doesn't matter if their moms expelled them on one plot of land or another, they are people and deserve the opportunity to contract to work for whomever they want, wherever that job is, and for whatever wages are agreed upon. To me this is the only moral position, because to oppose this position means you do not believe people should be able to work for whom they wish, live where they wish to live, and earn as much as they can doing what they wish to do. 

Looking at this from an economist perspective and not just the moral perspective it is also hard to understand his position. I am having trouble understanding how higher prices for food because some was left to rot in the fields is good for anyone. The farmers have to compete on a worldwide level and if their costs are too high then they will be unable to export food around the world and in many cases there is not enough demand in the US to accommodate all of the food that is grown here. This limits the amount of pay a farm hand can earn, however from everything I have read the pay is based on productivity and is generally well above minimum wage. The pay is also high enough to convince immigrant workers to leave their homes in Mexico and other places and travel thousands of miles for the work, often times making enough in a few months to allow them to move back to Mexico in the non-harvest season and living without the need to work. That does not sound abusive to me, you work for five months a year really hard, and then don't need to work the rest of the year. 

I also have to really question this idea that the farmers effected by this are all wealthy corporate farmers. Many of these Alabama farmers are small time operations with fewer than 100 acres. 100 acres will not make you rich, many are vegetable farmers who receive very little or nothing in farm subsidies. I would rather buy my sweet potatoes from Alabama, but if there is no one to harvest them then I will get them from South America. I don't even know where they come from when buying from the grocery store. How on earth is this a good thing? Are people really this short sighted? They are willing to starve or suffer higher prices for food just to punish some supposed rich corporate farmers? 

If you really are against corporate farmers, the answer is not to restrict immigration, but to be more selective in who you buy food from. Find small farms, buy from local sources when available, buy from co-ops where you know exactly where the food comes from. Buy a cow or a section of a cow from a local farmer and store it in your freezer. Punishing whole communities, punishing hard working people who are looking for a better life is not the answer. It would also be good to advocate a cessation of farm subsidies and the government encouraging large corporate farms in their farm policies. 

I also don't see Americans lining up for these jobs at any wage, harvesting is a skill learned over time. Even if Americans would be willing to do the work, they are unskilled at it and therefor would be less productive. This means the level of pay they make is low, since they are not paid by the hour, but by how productive they are. It also creates the need for the farm owner to find more employees than typical due to the lower productivity of each individual employee. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Interest rates so low, Obama must hate old people who want to live on retirement savings!

I feel sorry right now for all of my baby boomer aged friends. I am sure they believed they might be able to retire or take it a bit easy and live at least partially on income from savings. At 1% interest I don't see how any of them could have even close to enough money to make this a reality.

Low interest rates are only good for wealthy people with a lot of debt, and governments. Wealthy people can gets loans at the low rates and tend to invest in ways that will pay a greater dividend then the artificially low rates, so they like it. Governments, like low interest rates because they can borrow more for less and it makes it easier to balance their budgets, but to me this is a negative, it encourages both wealthy investors and governments to borrow in excess and place bets on the future with that money, the wealthy tend to be successful at this and they wind up even richer, the government tends to be really shitty at this and they wind up bringing down countries in this manner. Farmers seem to like low interest rates as well. The reasons here are two fold, one reason is that most farmers live most of the year on borrowed money, borrowing to plant and pay living expenses until harvest and paying off the debt after harvest. The second reason is that commodities tend to perform well compared to interest rates under conditions like we have today, especially when food price increases are outpacing interest rates.

Low interest rates aren't good for old people or poor people. They are not good for middle class people with low debt, or high savings, they aren't good for companies that hold cash or are trying to accumulate capital to invest in new equipment instead of borrowing for new equipment, etc. Poor people do not tend to have levels of debt, since they earn so little it is hard for them to obtain credit, if they do have any debt it is typically in the form of a credit card and the interest they pay on that is very high even when other rates are low, so they don't tend to benefit. Old people are hit the hardest by low interest rates, they tend to seek out stable investments like treasury binds and bank CD's and when these pay an interest rate that is lower than the rate of inflation they are losing money every year. Low interest rates seem to be a mixed bag for middle class young people, on one hand they may benefit if they are buying a house or other large purchase, on the other hand they lose when they save money. Overall I think it is a negative for nearly everyone.

In a free market, which we do not have, interest rates are determined like everything else, by supply and demand. When savings rates are high and there is a lot of money saved looking for people to borrow it, interest rates fall. When lots of consumption is going on very little savings is happening, interest rates increase since there is very little savings available for lending out. This natural back and forth is a beautiful thing, unfortunately it has been distorted beyond all recognition by the federal reserve and the government and people are truly suffering under these policies.

Who is standing up for Peter these days?

I am feeling crankish about politics lately. I think I am feeling very frustrated because I have so many friends who can clearly see many problems, however they keep looking at the government as the solution, and they seem to completely ignore the role the government played in creating the problems in the first place. Until people are willing to stand up to the government and tell them that they have no more authority over them, that they do not have the consent of the governed, that they are no longer allowed to steal from Peter to pay Paul, then it is all just pointless politics. Instead all I hear is that one side says they don't want the government to steal from Peter to pay Paul, instead they want the government to steal from Peter to pay John, the other side says that paying Paul is better than John, nobody is saying “hey, what about Peter, what gives you the right to steal from him and pay any of these other assholes?”.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Penn is the man

Great interview with Penn Jillette. His world view is very similar to mine, and I love the guy.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quit deluding yourselves, Greenspan is not for free markets

I don't think it is too controversial to say that politicians lie. Since I know politicians lie, I do not put any stock into their words and try to only look at their actions and the results of their actions. So it frustrates me to no end when I see people believe a politicians words over their actions and I have been hearing a lot of this lately. Don't tell me that Reagan believed in smaller government, when the government grew so exponentially under Reagan as president. Don't tell me Obama is anti-war, when his actions clearly show he is not. Don't tell me that the politically connected asshole Warren Buffett thinks the rich should be taxed more, when he has structured his pay to avoid most taxes and has not offered to voluntarily pay anything extra. Today I heard this doozy, “Devoted market fundamentalist Alan Greenspan now in favor of tax increases”. If you look at actions and not rhetoric, there is nothing to indicate that Greenspan believes in the free market in any way, shape or form, he believes in price fixing from an overarching power, the furthest thing possible from the free market.

In the free market interest rates are set by the availability of savings to lend out. When people save more money there is more money to lend out and so interest rates decline. When there is less savings, there are fewer funds available for lending out, so interest rates rise. This is how interest rates are determined in the free market. This has absolutely nothing to do with how interest rates were determined during the Greenspan years, so it is a complete lie to say he is a devotee of the free market. It doesn't matter if at one point he was a friend of Ayn Rand, or wrote papers about the free market, or any of that stuff. Simply look at his record and you can see that he is full of shit.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The police are not there when you need them.

My neighbor runs a business called the “Game Truck”. It is a for hire trailer that provides a space for multiple gamers to play video games at once and it is popular for tween and teen boys birthday parties, because it provides a way for 10 kids to battle each other at once on the latest video game. They might spend a lot of time at home playing these games, but at home they can only play against one other person most of the time, with the game truck the possibilities open up far more. It seems most popular for the age group that is too young for drinking parties and too old for clowns and bouncy castles. I saw her yesterday and she said that this past weekend the game trailer was robbed of about $10,000 worth of equipment, from games to gaming devices like playstations and Wii's to the televisions, even the cans of cleaner!

She called the police to report the incident. This is what the police are for right? To investigate large crimes against property and people? I advocate ending the government police and replace them with security you hire yourself, but I often run into resistance and people will tell me “one day you will need the police and then you will change your tune”. So I think she was harmed, her business is currently shut down and she is losing money, she suffered major property loss, this is the kind of thing the cops should be investigating. So what did the “brave” boys in blue do to help? They sent one cop out, he glanced around and told her to file a report online. Then he said he needed to leave. She asked if he was going to attempt to get fingerprints or anything and he said “it won't do any good”. How does he know? Then he left claiming he had to go because they were understaffed in the area. Leaving her to fill out an online report, claiming the insurance would respond faster if she did the online thing instead of having him fill out a report.

This pisses me off, it is basically the exact same thing that the police told my mother when her house was broken into a couple of months ago. If they are not there to investigate property crimes then what are they there for? The drug war apparently...

The day after my neighbors game truck was broken into, she saw nine squad cars all at one house a few houses down from where we live and a couple of dozen cops surround the house and yelling things like “They are still in the house, I see them”. They broke the gate to the back yard and it sounded like a lot of excitement. Maybe they had found the criminals who had robbed her truck! A couple of hours later she saw two guys sitting in front of the house that had been raided earlier that day and so she approached them and asked them what it had all been about. They revealed to her that the people in the house had been raided for growing marijuana. She gets robbed and the police hardly have enough staff to even send a single cop out, but they have enough cops to send 20 police on a raid of someone who is growing a couple of pot plants in a backroom.

Is it any wonder people don't like the police. When you are victimized, they are too understaffed to do anything, but when they want to victimize others for fairly peaceful activities like growing plants in a spare bedroom or not wearing a seat belt, they have plenty of resources.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The truthers are out there!

9/11 came and went, I don't really care that much about it. It was a tragedy that was wholly preventable, if the US had not decided they needed to be the world's policeman, then they would not be the target of the worlds criminals.

There seems to be a small segment of the population that are obsessed with “getting to the bottom” of the 9/11 story. They spend hours and hours researching the events of 9/11, they try and figure out how hot the fire would have had to be in order to bring the towers down, they look into ideas like a sonic ray device turning the buildings into dust, controlled demolition, etc. I don't get the point. I have had libertarians try and convince me that 9/11 is a gateway to libertarian thought and this is what makes it useful. The idea being that if someone accepts 9/11 was perpetrated by the government then it will create a distrust of the government as a whole and open people to libertarianism. I think this is folly and a waste of time, even if this has been the case and some libertarians have came from the truther movement, it is not the best approach.

At least for me, I don't really take a side on the 9/11 thing. I don't know if it was an "inside" job or not. I already accept that the government is evil, so it really doesn't make much of a difference to my position. The problem I have with arguing about 9/11 is that I don't like to deal with these arguments where both sides make good points, and I feel like this is what makes getting my position across more difficult than it is worth. I think the conspiracy crowd makes some interesting observations, but seems to be missing pieces of the puzzle and so are the main liners.

Why waste time on something like 9/11 which even if the smoking gun comes out that proves the conspiracy crowd right, what is that going to change? It changed nothing when the Tonkin incident came out. There have been new revelations about FDR's prior knowledge about Pearl Harbor, I don't think anyone believes the JFK story presented by the government, we know the government infected Guatemalan's with syphilis, and yet none of that matters to most people, it has not changed a damn thing. Why not stick with causes and arguments where we have a solid case, not based on conjecture, but solid evidence or at least solid moral grounding? I mean trying to convince a person that 9/11 was an inside job and this is why they should oppose government is going to be a difficult task, trying to convince them that the cops can get away with murder and this is why they should oppose the system is much easier. Trying to convince them that the politicians are in the pockets of the corporations is easy compared to a murky conspiracy about 9/11, and these types of arguments are cumulative. I think these are more useful arguments, I plant an idea like “the politicians are taking their marching orders from the banksters” which is initially met with resistance and then over time I bring more and more stories to my co-workers or friends attention until eventually they see my side. Whereas 9/11 I have to convince them on this one event and there are not a dozen new cases a year where the government is taking down new skyscrapers to help build my case. If it was an inside job, then I guess we just have to accept that it accomplished its goals for the government and they have not felt a need to take anymore actions in the last 10 years.

I am not sure about anyone else, but I am pretty good at discussing libertarian ideas, even so I am lucky if I get 5 minutes with someone to pitch some libertarian concept before they lose interest. Is my best bet in 5 minutes time to try to convince them of 9/11 and then try and use this as leverage for opposing the state as a whole? I simply don't think so. If I spend hours upon hours researching 9/11 truth, that is time I could have spent developing more timely arguments that have a more direct impact on peoples current lives and can be presented much more quickly and easily and have a better chance of convincing others at least about one topic. If I convince a statist that 9/11 was an inside job orchestrated by Dick Cheney or something and I am so successful the whole world agrees with me, then what happens? They put old Dick on trial along with one or two people in the CIA and call it over and then the statist goes back to their support of big government, now that the evildoers have been punished. Rosie O'Donnell is a 9/11 truther, but it doesn't seem to have moved her towards an anarchist position, she just seems to use it to help prove that republicans are evil. It doesn't strike at the root. If instead I convince a person that they own their body and the government should not be able to tell them what they can or cannot put into their body, that has lasting ramifications no matter who is in charge and once that person has accepted that concept as truth, then they see why everything from drug laws to trans fat bans are to be opposed and it becomes less about who is to blame, who did it, and more about principle, even if they remain statist in general they have moved more towards a libertarian position on many issues from this one seemingly simple change in perspective.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fester is cranky when it comes to titles

I am the ultimate crank on titles. I don't like them. I don't really even like Mr. and Mrs., I don't like Dr., I don't like calling a judge “your honor”. I don't mind descriptive titles for what you do for a living, for instance accountant, engineer, store manager, florist, auto mechanic, etc. These to me do not represent an attempt to gain status, as much as they are descriptions of what you do and possibly your role within the limited confines of a specific organization, but not designed to elevate you above others in the wider world.

I recently got into an argument about the use of the word “doctor” when used in a non medical setting by someone with a PhD. I simply refuse to call a non-medical person “doctor”, I might call an MD “doctor” on occasion just to avoid conflict since I will often say I am going to the “doctor's office” and thus I tend to see calling an MD a doctor to be more descriptive than status elevating, but a PhD in accounting? I don't really care if they have an advanced degree I don't see how the title is descriptive of what they do and so I do not want to use the term. I don't have history on my side on this except among the Quakers who refuse to use titles that are designed to elevate one person over another. I am a friend with them on this.

Doctor is common in the US, so it is what brought up the argument, but if I lived somewhere with royalty I would refuse to call someone a duke or duchess, prince or princess as well. Simply put if you have a title that you use to make yourself feel like you are superior to another person, do not expect me to address you by it. I am fine with “John the auto mechanic”, but I am not okay with “Dr. John, the auto mechanic” who also has a PhD in art history, but found that he couldn't get a very good paying job with his education, and likes to act superior to his peers by calling himself “doctor”.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Festers financial advice part 3

The first rule of investing is don't lose money.

A co-worker asked the other day what to do with his 401k. This is a very tricky question and a lot depends on your circumstances, the choices you have in your 401k, when you plan to retire, etc. However, I can tell you what I have done and I decided to go this way after much trial and error. The company I work for matches up to the first 4% of your contribution. There are limited choices and the two main choices we are offered are stock funds and bond funds. The choices don't really seem to be all that diverse, there are several choices but they all seem to be really similar in composition for their group (i.e. stocks, bonds). If given any choice to invest in I recommend the Permanent Portfolio, which is outlined in Harry Browne's book Fail Safe Investing. However, for the 401k this was not anywhere near an option. So what I have done is contribute the 4% that gets matched (and in my case the match is 100%) I invested it in a low yield, but stable bond fund. Technically inflation is growing at a faster rate than the return on the bond fund I am invested in, but because of the company match for every $1000 I put in the company matches $1000, and the yield is 3% or so. I am not losing any money in actual dollars and compared to my counterparts who invested in stocks that have seen negative yields over the years even after the matching funds, and after the company match I am making about a 103% return on investment, this has got to be a win. Where my co-workers have seen declines in the total dollar value of their 401k, I have only seen gains in recent years (at one point I was more foolish and lost a lot of money trying to win at the rigged game of the stock market, you live and learn sometimes).

Here is what you need to know about mutual funds, almost none out perform the market over the long run. The manager of the fund always gets paid, even when the fund loses value. The stock market has reached a point where smart people have become very good at being vultures using its ups and down to get rich at other peoples expense and you are part of the “other people” group. I say no more than 25% of your saving should be in stocks, and that 25% should be in a fund like the vanguard 500 fund where they do very little active management and have a low expense ratio, forget about these supposed “experts” who suck, and forget about thinking you are the next Warren Buffett, if you are then you don't need my advice.

One last thing, NEVER, EVER, EVER, put all of your money into one stock. The co-worker that brought me to write this post had a large percentage of his 401k in the stock of the company we work for. This is the worst possible idea. If the company goes belly up or suffers some major downfall (think Enron) then you are not only out of a job, but your entire savings has been wiped out as well.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fester's Financial advice part 2

I was having a discussion with a co-worker the other day and he mentioned that his wife wants to retire in 5 years, but he is worried about the financial hit they would take if she were to retire and asked my opinion on what would be the best investment with a goal of early retirement for his wife in mind. I answered “pay off your house”.

I asked him “how much is your mortgage?” he said $1200 a month. He still owes over $100,000 on his house, but it is still his best option even if he is currently paying a low rate of interest. Here is why: If you can be fairly sure of getting about a 5% return on your savings/investments you would need $240,000 in savings to earn $1200 a month from your investments, and possibly more if you figure that you may have to pay taxes on the interest you earn. However, you could get the same effect to your lifestyle by paying off the house, so investing $100,000 into your house is like saving or investing $240,000 in a vehicle that has a 5% rate of return. Right now they combine their incomes and need to bring in an extra $1,200 a month just to cover the mortgage. In a scenario where the house was paid off his wife could at least change to part time work and take a $1,200 a month pay cut and their lifestyle would not have to suffer at all.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tyranny in the desert

This is sad, LA county forcing people off of their land. The speculation is that they are doing this because if a highway is put in the area, the land will become valuable, and the same government insiders who control the nuisance department, also would have most inside information about where any potential government land development would go.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fester's financial advice

I could have been a personal financial planner, and I considered it at one point. If I thought that anyone would actually listen to my advice, I might have done it. Unfortunately my experience is that people with financial issues rarely want to take the actual steps needed in order for them to get their lives in order, so I don't think I would find that line of work very rewarding. I can see myself giving advice and watching in bewilderment as the advice I give is repeatedly ignored, even by those who came to me seeking advice and over time becoming less and less satisfied with that as a career.

It seems that with tough financial times, more people are open to listening to sound financial advice now.

If I could give people one piece of advice and nothing else, I would tell them to save a little bit of money. No matter how in debt you are, the key to wealth is keeping the money you make. If you are in debt, this seems counter intuitive to save. However, the truth is that you will never escape the debt cycle until you start to save. Make any adjustments to your lifestyle you need to accommodate this. Save something, anything! For most people the minimum I would say is $25 a week. It seems like the best advice would be to pay off debt first and then save, but I believe this to not be the case and in studies done it seems saving is more important than paying off debt. You get the spiraling debt effect if you don't save. What this means is that you find say $200 a month in savings by cutting out some partying or something, you put that towards your credit card and neglect to save any money. Then your car breaks down, so what do you do? You put the repairs on your credit card and now you are right back to where you were, or worse off! Only once you have a significant enough savings to cover any likely emergency would I then recommend paying the debt down, and even once you are in this position I would still recommend you continue to save a little so if you save $200 a month for 5 months and get a cushion of $1000 and decided this is enough to cover most emergencies you are likely to encounter, I would say continue to add $20 a month into your savings and use the other $180 to pay the debts down). Once you are ready to start paying down your debt, I would pay for the lowest amount owed bill first, so let's say you have a Sears card on it and you owe $1000 on it, pay that off first, then use the money you save from both the minimum you were paying on the Sears card, and the extra you were applying to the principle on the debt to pay off the next lowest debt you have, keep doing the same thing until you have all of your debt paid off and don't get any new debt (that is what the emergency fund is for, to pay for any new unexpected thing that may come up).

If you follow this advice, and stop accumulating new debt, you will be out of debt within a few years and can get your life on track. Taxes are slavery, but debt is voluntary indentured servitude to the banksters, and neither are good if your goal is personal freedom.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Capitalism, A Love Story... Review

I watched “Capitalism-A love Story” a couple of nights ago. I don't think Michael Moore's definition of capitalism is the same as mine. He seems to think it is a political system, and I don't. It is true some people confuse fascism and capitalism, but capitalism is the free market at work without government involvement, the second the government gets involved in a transaction between two parties it ceases to be a free market transaction and becomes something else. Whether that interference is through regulation, taxes, government granted monopoly, or other medium, it is no longer a free market transaction and should no longer count as an act of capitalism, at the minimum it becomes an act of corporatism.

I often wonder if Moore believes his own crap, since in his movies he seems to find the worst examples of the point he is trying to illustrate and this to me hurts his overall message and I wonder if it is intentional.

In the case of Capitalism, he cites a corrupt government judge who shut down a government youth prison, contracted with a “private” firm to build a new youth prison and then the new prison and the judge shared the profits that were made by imprisoning teenagers. I just don't see a company hired by the government, getting all of its business from the government and working with the government courts to pull off a scheme like this as being capitalistic in any way. When a “private” firm, earns 100% of its revenue through government contracts can it still be considered to be independent from the government?

He profiles two people who had their homes repossessed and expects us to feel sorry for how they were mistreated by the banks. I feel sorry for some people who have had their homes repossessed, but he seemed to find two of the worst examples possible. First was a guy whose family had owned the property he was living on for four generations. To me this sounds like he inherited property that should have been paid off 100 years ago, so how the hell did the bank lay claim to it? The only explanation is that he refinanced the property and cashed in on the equity at some point and then was unable to pay it back. Second example, a family that had owned their home for 22 years before it was repossessed. 22 years and they still are upside down? They had 22 years to pay off the house and never did? You know my philosophy on home ownership is that if it takes more than 15 years to pay off your home, you cannot afford it. Besides how much could they possibly owe on the original mortgage after 22 years? That house was not an expensive house now and 22 years ago it would have been far less expensive. It is hard to feel sorry for them knowing the likely back story is that the kept refinancing the equity in their house even though they are poor as dirt, until it came back to haunt them. Also the true failure of capitalism in this case is that the banks gave so many loans to those who never should have gotten them, and they did this because of political pressure and unspoken guarantees of a bailout.

He spends a lot of time focused on a couple of regional airline pilots and how little money they make. The thing is that capitalism is a supply and demand equation, there are far more people who want to be pilots, then there is demand for commercial pilots, this means a pilots skills simply don't command high salaries, especially those only certified for smaller airplanes. I feel somewhat sorry for them, but really if you can't live on a pilots salary, don't go into the field.

He acts like a fool driving around an armored car to various banks trying to get taxpayer money back. However, the banks (as evil as they are) did not take the tax money from the citizens in the first place, nor did they have the authority to bail themselves out with tax money, only the government had that authority, so it seems like a problem with the government misallocating tax money more than a problem with capitalism.

Overall I was not impressed. He made almost no convincing arguments, his solution at the end was stupid “support democracy”. There were a few funny moments, where he had clipped together funny bits, but it was not enough to save his movie from the overwhelming problem of showing government failures and blaming them on “capitalism” and showing peoples poor choices and blaming them on “capitalism” as well. Maybe the movie would have worked better if he had defined his meaning of capitalism at the beginning of the movie so we would all be on the same page while watching it. Because if his definition of capitalism is the government using its power to force companies to bribe government officials and then reward the companies who are the best at bribing them and harm companies that are the worst at bribing government officials, then I would agree capitalism under that definition sucks.

Ron Paul like floor 13 to the media, pretend it does not exist

I know John Stewart does not support Ron Paul, but even he can see the sham that the media is when it comes to discussing Ron Paul.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Another reason not answer the door

Ding Dong, I am from the government and I am here to help (you out of your money that is).

Monday, August 8, 2011

When the FHA gets out of the way, Here comes the neighborhood!

I have noticed my neighborhood has improved in the last few years, a much higher quality person has been moving in to my little community and petty vandalism and petty theft is down. It seems like new people moving in are also better off financially, have a better education, etc. Since the cost of housing here has also been driven down over the last few years, you would expect the opposite. So what might cause this apparent dichotomy? The answer is simple, the FHA will not loan for my complex since it is a “Patio Home” community and that is simply too unusual of a type of housing for the FHA to know what to do with it, so they just disqualify it from the get-go. For those that don't know a patio home is a stand alone house connected to its neighboring house by a patio, so its a cross between a tradition home and a town home.

How does not qualifying for an FHA loan improve the neighborhood? A few years ago when it seemed like any loser with a $1000 and a pulse could qualify for a home loan, the neighborhood really started to go south. There were a lot of shifty, unstable types moving in. After the housing crash most of these people had their homes repossessed by the banks and they were kicked out. This created a dramatic drop in the value of the homes here, and good deals were to be had for anyone who could qualify. However, the standard for qualification went way up, you need better credit and a higher down payment now than what the banks previously required. Now the only low down payment, high risk borrower who has any chance of getting a loan has only one choice, the FHA and those people can't buy a house in my community since the FHA does not loan for patio homes. Over time the neighborhood has improved as the bad risks have failed to keep up with their mortgage payments, and the people buying the houses vacated by those people are middle class people with decent credit and good down payments, who gravitated to the patio home community because it offers an affordable low maintenance way to get into a house with more size and features than more traditional houses on a dollar for dollar basis (more bang for the buck!). I am glad now, more than ever that I bought a home that is not "FHA Approved".

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Hidden Costs of "Free" Education

The other night on “Free Talk Live” they were discussing government schools and how they should be abolished. This was on the Saturday night show where they have a lot of non-libertarian listeners, so there were a lot of calls where the callers basically said “people could not afford to pay for their kids schooling if it were not for the government distributing the costs across the whole of the community”. It is my contention that people already cannot afford the “free” school they send their kids to. The pursuit of “free” schools has created massive amounts of debt for families, has financially destroyed families, has contributed to the housing crash and the recession and is partly to blame for creating ghettos in urban areas.

My reasoning here is anecdotal from the people I know around my community. In Denver where I live, across the the metro housing prices vary widely. A large 3 bedroom house with a garage and yard, can sell for as low as 150k in the poor areas of town, and upwards of 500k in some of the nicer areas, the same exact house if you move its location will double or triple in value depending on where it is located. What justifies difference in price is often the school district. Since you have to live in the same school district you send your kids to there is a migration by parents who want the best education for their kids from areas with lower quality government schools to what they perceive as higher quality government schools, along with the better school district comes higher housing prices. A family that could easily afford the 150k house passes it up because of the school district and ends up spending 300k on a house they really cannot afford in order to get their kids into a better school district. They go into debt they cannot afford, they have to finance the house using a 30 year note (which is ridiculous and if you have to extend a mortgage to 30 years, you cannot afford that house!). When they look at how much they spend on their kids education they only look at the cost of the property taxes, so they see the $3000 a year they spend on property taxes and think that they are getting a good deal for 2 kids, however they fail to include the extra 150k they spent trying to find a house in a better school district and the extra interest on that money in their calculations. They also don't see the social costs of the move by responsible parents who leave certain areas of town in mass creating pockets of ever declining areas of town that appear to be on a downward spiral that would not exist if the responsible and successful people in them were not driven out in an effort to obtain a better education for their kids, leaving behind only the less upwardly mobile. Also all of these people in housing that was more expensive then what they could actually afford was a large contributing factor in the housing crises. The societal ramifications of “free” government schools is so great that I don't believe most Americans even have any understanding of how destructive this policy has been, especially they way it is currently set up where your school is tied solely to where you live.

Friday, July 15, 2011

80% of Americans want higher taxes? They sure don't act like it

I saw an article today that parroted the claim by some democrats that “80 percent of people support higher taxes”. This is a lie. Perhaps its not the politicians who are lying, and it is the group of people they polled, but somebody is lying. For this post I am going to pretend that the statistic is accurate and 80% of people answered some pollster that they support higher taxes.

I know this is a lie because the actions of people betray their words. The other day I had a little back and forth about the mortgage interest deduction on income taxes. But why were we even discussing this? If the statistic is true 80% of those who qualify for this tax deduction don't take it. 80% of people with kids, simply don't claim those kids as dependents, and 80% of people refuse to take any other tax deduction, including their personal deduction right? So only 20% of tax payers take any sort of deduction. I mean you are not going to get thrown in a cage for overpaying, or not claiming deductions that you are qualified for, so I assume those 80% of people (I must be in the minority) don't claim any deductions. This is the only logical conclusion I can make when I hear someone claim they are for higher taxes, that at the minimum they don't take any deductions, otherwise I assume they are lying, perhaps they also donate to the treasury above and beyond, but it seems doubtful, that would take effort, but not taking a deduction when filling out the tax form is actually easier than claiming. Just fill out the EZ form and don't even claim yourself..

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

One reason libertarians are DOOMED

I often argue with my friend Mary (not her real name) about political issues, she is a pro-government person in almost every respect. So we are basically on the opposite ends of the political spectrum. She toes the democrat line on some things like welfare, education, etc, and the republican line on things like security and tightening the borders, etc, and is pretty much a totalitarian.

So a typical argument of ours goes something like this:
Fester “Taxes are theft”
Mary “taxes are not theft they are the price we pay for the the services government provides like roads, schools and defense, etc, etc.”.

I will never convince her otherwise, and for obvious reasons. Even though she likes to use the collectivist speak of “we” in reality she really pays NO TAXES so to her it seems as if the government is providing all of these services at a reasonable cost (and by reasonable I mean free). She is giving nothing and getting something for it, so she will never agree to my position. She is part of the local PTA, but she has never done anything except rent her whole adult life, so she has no idea how much of her rent goes to property taxes and when her rent is raised, the blame always lands on the “greedy” landlord and not the government. She doesn't work (she does have a small business where she sells overpriced vibrators at parties, but that makes her very little money), and has kids, so each year when filling out her income tax forms, she gets a check for $3000 more than she actually paid in. She sends her kids to government school, which even if they don't get any kind of education from that, she gets a free babysitting service. She might claim that she pays some taxes, but I have to wonder where? She lives in Nevada, where there is no sales tax on food, nor is there an income tax. She gets far more back from the federal government than she puts in. The casinos are heavily taxed and that is where the state and cities get most of the funding for the “services” that are provided. She lives in a comparable way to most other people, and even though she thinks she is poor, really it is hard to tell. She lives in a house that gives each of her kids their own bedroom, she drives a fairly new car, she has cable internet and cable TV, she has a washer and dryer and a costco membership. She will claim poverty, but she seems to live as well as people who are middle class and earn a lot more, but then have to pay a lot of their income in taxes and instead of getting a big check every year from the government, have to send the government a big check. She doesn't spend a lot on food since her kids often eat at school with a subsidized meal, and then at home a large portion of the monthly food bill is paid for using food stamps. She is all for socialized healthcare, and why not? She knows that she won't be paying for it.

We all know people like Mary, people who think the government is great because for them it is a one way street, they get the good without the bad. I don't know that these people will ever be convinced of how bad the government is until the heavy hand of the government clinches into a fist and punches them in the face.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Stop unwanted phone calls for free, and government free!

A few years ago electronic devices called call zappers were becoming popular means to deter unwanted calls from solicitors, pollsters and politicians. They work on the principle that most of these calls originate not from a person dialing a telephone number but rather from a machine that dials massive amounts of telephone numbers, generally referred to as auto-dialers. One thing with these machines is they are normally programmed to listen for certain triggers to determine if they should play a standard message that will be left on an answering machine, connect you to a live person or remove the dialed number from the machines list of numbers. I am interested in the last of these options. The way these devices worked is that the auto-dialers listen for a disconnect tone and if they hear it, no matter what else it hears, it determines that the number is no longer in service and removes the number from its list of active numbers. So these devices would pick up the line and play a dsconnect tone before passing the call to the answering machine.

Call zappers went out of style once the government created the so called “do not call” list. The politicians acted like they were doing it in the response to demand from their constituents who were demanding they do something about all of the unwanted calls people were getting. In reality the reason they wanted to create the do not call list was that call zappers were becoming very popular and they worked, they worked too well, not only did they stop telemarketers, but they also stopped the calls from the politicians campaigns and from charities whose main functions were to support the government and lobby for new measures. The politicians created the do not call list and then they exempted themselves as well as charities and also “companies you have a history of doing business with”.

If this election season you do not want to get calls from pollsters, or from Obama telling you why you should support his favorite lapdog in the congress, or even these charity pick-up services that request donations of clothes, which by itself is not such a big deal, only they call every two days! All of these calls will stop if you record this disconnect tone on your answering machine greeting or on your voice mail greeting prior to your personalized greeting. Auto-dialers will think the number is no longer in service and will remove you from their list.

Here is the disconnect tone for your use:

Disconnect tone by Flag in Flames

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Productivity increases, and prices increase? Thanks government

The internet has made the world magnificently more productive than what it was in the past. Things that used to take hours or days, or even minutes (like sending a fax) can now be done in mere seconds. You can have a face to face meeting with someone halfway around the world without any travel. Access a libraries worth of information in seconds, find that law reference instantaneously, etc. It is great. Typically as productivity increases prices decrease, as something becomes less costly to produce the less is charged for that service. So why has there really not been any noticeable deflation in most areas of the economy? The answer of course is the federal reserve and the government. They have systematically stolen all of the wealth created by higher levels of productivity. This has been done through tax increases, and inflation of the dollar supply.

I get depressed when I see the state of the world. The fact that people think it takes two people working to make ends meet in this day and age, where one person can produce as much value as three or four people in the past because of increases in technology that make us all more productive. However, because if the liars and thieves in government, more people are working and working longer than ever and to what end? To support a larger, more bloated more inefficient government.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Pawn Stars gold for car transaction

I was watching Pawn Stars last night and a man wanted to trade his antique car for gold. What I found interesting about this was that the pawn shop owner Rick said that he couldn't trade the car for the gold because that would be illegal, so he had to buy the car in federal reserve notes and then have the guy give him the money back and then he sold the man some gold coins paid for with the money Rick had just given the man. The whole transaction was rendered ridiculous by these stupid laws.

The whole idea of preventing a value for value trade of one good for another without some paper intermediary completely goes against the nature of man, and the only reason these laws are in place is because of the greed of government. You can't trade value for value because the government is so evil, stupid and greedy that they cannot figure out how to steal a portion of a trade like a car for a necklace, so they force the trade be done with a worthless medium of fake money they have created and its only value is the value created by the use of violence. The greed of the government cannot be satiated even for value to value trades where no profit is being made. I am sure they believe they should get a portion of this trade in taxes, but why? If a value for value trade was done and no profit was made on either end, how much in taxes does the government consider “fair” and based on what criteria?

Now I know that the government considers themselves so special that all taxes are just and right and fair in their minds, and they believe they have a right to a portion of any transaction made, but the reality is that they do not have any such right and it is merely a reflection of the wealth and power that has corrupted government officials for millennia. I just cannot see how this is different from a slave master who allows his slave to work outside of the plantation and then allows the slave to keep half of his earnings.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Nobody has the will to balance the budget

I watched last weeks Stossel episode last night (yes I am a bit behind). He had representatives from 5 “think tanks” there to lay out their plans to balance the budget, each of these “think tanks” had been given $200,000 to come up with a plan. Of the 5 plans represented only one actually balanced the budget. Two of the plans thought that more spending would balance the budget (how this happens is beyond me and I am fairly well versed in economics). None of them eliminated any significant government agencies. Most did not really cut military spending, one said we hope for war to end by 2015, but this is a pipe dream as long as the infrastructure is there for politicians to start wars, they will find new enemies to start wars with. It is like the kid who carries drum sticks wherever he goes, he finds new things to use as a drum. I was disappointed, but not surprised by the results.

Almost all the plans included tax increases. One of the liberal think tanks kept trying to say that taxes were higher under Clinton and the economy did just fine, this is true, but it is not because of higher taxes that the economy progressed, it was in spite of higher taxes, the reason for the boom under Clinton was that productivity was increasing at an amazing rate because the 90's were when the internet really became a reality in the way we know it.

In my world, I would balance the budget by starting a systematic shutdown of the government. I would start off easy enough and end the war on drugs, shut down the DEA, reduce budgets of the FBI and CIA since they would no longer need to worry about drug prohibition. Then I would start reducing the military by shutting down all overseas bases. I would end the department of education. I would end all corporate welfare and farm subsidies. Once this was all accomplished I would start hitting the entitlements by allowing people to opt out of social security, both in collecting SS and paying into SS and then I would implement a plan to phase it out, same with medicare. I would eliminate tariffs and would open the borders and shut down all immigration related departments as well as customs which would not be needed in a society free of tariffs and restrictions on drugs, immigration and other contraband. Unfortunately my plan will never even be considered by politicians, and instead of a relatively slow ratcheting down of government so that the actual services government provides can transition away from government and to the free market, instead the politicians will grow government until there is a Soviet style collapse, this is the lesson that history teaches, but politicians never learn.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A few thoughts on Osama Bin Laden's (OBL) death.

My first thought was that I was surprised the government was claiming to have killed him at this time, since I had believed he was probably already dead. The reports were that OBL was on dialysis and then former Pakistan prime minister Benazir Bhutto had made the claim that Osama had been murdered (this was before she was murdered) and there has been little evidence of OBL's existence for the past several years, every once in a while a grainy video or weird audio was claimed to be from OBL, but I never really thought these were very conclusive proof of his continued life.

I am not going to be a “deather” I will take the government's word that they finally found and killed him after 9 years of failure they finally got their man. From the accounts I have read the hit on OBL was nothing less than cold blooded murder. It appears they had asked him to surrender and when he did not, even though he was unarmed, they shot him in the head (twice). He never stood trial, he was never convicted of a crime, he was simply murdered by the Navy SEAL assassination team. I don't believe in the death penalty, but even if I did I would not support a policy of a pre-trial death penalty. This sets the precedent that any criminal can be murdered if it suits political means.

The last thought I have is that since 9/11 the US government has given the Pakistan government about 18 billion dollars in foreign aid, much of that was for military purposes, supposedly because they were aiding the US in the “war on terror”, then OBL was found to be less than a half mile from the headquarters of the Pakistani Military Academy, this would make it seem likely the Pakistan military knew where he was and was likely protecting him since this compound (which is more like a mansion than the cold Afghanistan cave he was supposedly bunkered up in) had been his home reportedly for 5 years. This makes me think that there is at least a good possibility that the Pakistani military didn't want OBL to be found, lest it stop the US taxpayer gravy train. Screwing taxpayers both ways, paying to try and locate him, and paying to keep him hidden.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

TSA molests beauty queen

The TSA makes me sick. This chick is fine as wine and I would love to touch her where the sun don't shine, but I would be in jail if I did, and so should these fuckers, a badge does not give you the right to violate people.

here is the FIF song TSA, it was written and made very quickly, but it captures my rage well.
TSA by Flag in Flames

Keynes vs Hayek round 2

I am an economics geek, so I found this video enthralling. Keynes vs Hayek round 2, rapping your economics.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pirate Radio

I saw the movie Pirate Radio a few days ago and I have to say, it is a great film! I enjoyed it more than Atlas Shrugged and felt it was equally as libertarian in theme, maybe a bit more libertine in some ways. If you haven't seen it and lean libertarian and like tales of rock and roll, you must see this movie.

A quick synopsis of the movie would be that it is about a heroic crew of radio DJ's who are fighting the British government and censorship in an effort to bring rock and roll to the oppressed masses in the socialist England of the not too distant past. The government had banned rock radio from the official channels and so the pirate radio crew played from a boat stationed a couple of miles off of the English coast, away from the intrusive censorship laws. This does not stop the evil government officials from seeking to shut them down, even though they are not breaking any laws. A great line in the movie is when the government official is told that they are not breaking any laws and he responds “that's the nice thing about being in government, if they are not breaking any laws, we simply change the law!”.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sheldon Richman and schools

The other day at work I managed to raise the ire of a coworker by stating that "there is no such a thing as a good government school", of course he got defensive and said "I have to disagree, my kids go to a good public school". I didn't mean to start an argument, and I am sure his kids go to a better government school when compared to other government schools. I said that because to me the structure of the government school system is flawed and no amount of money or effort will remedy the problem as long as the one size fits all structure remains in place.

On a related topic, I had dinner with some friends who have a teenage boy in the government school system, I asked him about his classes, what they did in school, etc. On one hand it sounded like he was doing a lot, being young and in a trigonometry class (something I never even took in high school), on the other hand he described class after class where they watched movies, youtube videos and other stuff like that. His mom even told me in an almost proud fashion "they are very into multimedia at his school". I am not sure about this. I find kids working at restaurants who cannot calculate correct change in their heads, despite supposedly being taught algebra by fifth grade, and the multimedia thing seems great for lazy teachers. This is just one case, but it gave me a glimpse into the school system that I don't see.

Sheldon Richman agrees with me on schools and the need to eliminate all government education. It is not only the morally right thing to so to eliminate the theft that is behind the taxation used to fund these schools, but it is also the right thing to do in terms of an overall improvement in the quality of education most kids will receive.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adam vs the Man

I have been watching Adam vs The Man. I like it, a 30 minute daily show presenting current events from a libertarian perspective. I like his presentation better than Judge Napalitano. I like the Stossel show as well, but it is a once weekly show.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Atlas Shrugged Movie

Went to see Atlas Shrugged

If you liked the book, I think you will like the movie. I liked the book, but read it about 15 years ago (actually I listened to the book, on cassette!) so I had forgotten as much as I remembered.

The movie was very true to the book which was both a bonus and a curse, the bonus because it allowed many of the ideas in the book to be presented, a curse because like the book at times it was slow and wordy. At times it had the feel of a soap opera.

I normally like my movies to be action packed and full of ultraviolence, so this was definitely a slower movie for me, but overall it was fun. It got exciting towards the end. After seeing so many movies about some cop, some military “hero” or other bureaucrat, it was a refreshing change to see a movie where the heroes are all smart, driven, hard working people. These are real life heroes, men and women who work hard to create something beautiful, instead most films are about those who seek to destroy things instead of build things.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New FIF song

New Flag in Flames song has been posted. Government it is a cancer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What does give mean? What does take mean?

I watched last weeks episode of Stossel last night. He had a liberal on explaining his take on the budget plan. He said “The republicans plan will take food from the mouths of the poor while giving the richest people in America a fat paycheck”. His argument would be persuasive if you accept his definitions of the words "GIVE" and "TAKE". In the world I live in "give" means to give someone something they didn't previously have, and "take" means to take something from someone they already have, however this liberal commentator reverses the meaning of these words to make his argument. When he says “The republicans plan will take food from the mouths of the poor”, he meant that the plan will not give food stamp recipients as much in future food stamp dollars. When he says “They are giving the richest people in America a fat paycheck” he means the government is not taking as much in tax money from people. It is completely ass backwards and that kind of rhetoric is why a serious discussion and debate cannot be had on the issues that confront people, if an agreement on the definition of simple to understand words like give and take cannot be agreed on then what about more esoteric words like “terror”, “war”, “poverty” and many other words where the definitions are already far more subjective?

I support an abolition of the entire federal government, so I don't see cuts of any sort as a bad thing. This puts me at odds with the spend happy liberals. However, I believe that if the only way you can craft a persuasive argument for your ideas is to change the definition of words in order to create an argument that is acceptable to people then you have already lost the debate. I hope most people are smart enough to see through this kind of crap, but unfortunately I do not have a lot of hope in this matter. Politicians have already ruined the term "cut" as in "the government cut spending". In my world if I say I cut my food budget, I mean something like I went from having a food budget of $100 to $80, but in government speak cutting the budget means going from spending $100 to spending $102, and the cut was because at some point in the past they believed they would be able to spend $105.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Government shut down tricks

If the government shuts down, on the news you will hear mostly stories about how people are on vacation and could not get into some national park, or are leaving for vacation and cannot get passports. The funny thing is that passports and most national parks are self funding entities so they only shut those down to build public pressure to have all these government functions restored.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Great intro into Voluntaryism

50 minute long intro into voluntarism, this is actually very well done and is entertaining. If you have a friend who does not understand the philosophy of voluntary interaction for all issues, but is willing to learn, direct him/her to this video.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Liberal gets his butt handed to him over Libya

This is pretty funny, Ed Schultz has his head so far up Obama's ass that he cannot see that military action against Libya is a bad idea. I am sure if McCain had won in the last election he would be singing a different tune, but a partisan doesn't have to make any consistent sense, they only have to suck up to their masters in Washington and tow the party line. What is funny is to hear how the tune changes about war as soon as a democrat is in office.

I have to think Scott Horton is right on this and that the President is supporting the "freedom fighters" in Libya in an effort to change the story from "America is backing all of these evil dictators and giving them billions of dollars", to "America is supporting the rebels" (at least in this one country, and it has effectively changed the news coverage and the story is longer about how many dictators Obama is cozy with and how many billions we have given to horrible dictators who exterminate their own people.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Why pay off a mortgage with todays more expensive dollars?

I believe the US is going to go into a period of extreme inflation over the next few years.

The other day I was asked why would I be paying off my house sooner than needed if I thought inflation is coming, why pay with today's more valuable dollars what you can pay later with less valuable dollars? It is a fair question and deserves a fair answer. The reason basically boils down to I am trying to get my financial house in order before the shit hits the fan.

Although it may be true that in the future I could pay back my mortgage with reduced dollars, if gas is $10 a gallon and food is 3-4x as expensive as it currently is, if everything we buy has risen in price, sure my fixed rate mortgage might not seem like such an expense in comparison, but it may be that so many other things have risen in cost to the point where I can no longer afford my mortgage, no matter how relatively inexpensive to my other bills it has become. My mortgage is one of the few expenses I can pay off now, and this opens that money up for future expenses. Lets say that right now I make $2000 a month, and spend $1000 on mortgage, $500 on home related bills, and $500 on food and luxuries. I am living like most people and it is pretty much paycheck to paycheck. If everything remains constant then I am doing just fine, but what if the price of food and energy goes up and suddenly I need $750 for home related bills like electricity and $750 for food and stuff. I may be able to cut back to some extent, but how much? Could I cut back enough to keep those expenses at my current costs? Maybe I could make more money, but then again maybe not, I am getting older and some of my more valuable skills have lost some luster as technology has made them obsolete. In this scenario I have very little flexibility. Now imagine if I pay off the mortgage expense, I then have an extra $1000 a month in cushion and can absorb even a 100% increase in the cost of everything else. If I am wrong and the inflation does not hit, then I am even better off because I have an extra $1000 a month to invest or do whatever with and my other expenses have not risen. If I am right, I can handle the change mush easier than my peers, who will be scrambling to live a lifestyle even remotely close to what they currently live. I do not see a down side.

I cannot truly predict the future, but I can predict with great certainty that in the future I will need a place to live, I can also predict that the lower my living expenses are the better off I will be. I don't need a magic ball to see this.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Like it or not, tea party types, probably not sock puppets

One of my lefty friends posted an article on facebook about the military using software that creates fake online personalities that it then uses to promote its own propaganda. The idea is terrible and is likely to cause more harm than good, because then people will suspect that real posters with opposing views are merely fake persona's created by some ominous organization. Much like agent provocateurs, once someone is outed as a fake it will only add fuel to the fire of the opposition.

Now the fun part, as soon as he posted this article two of his friends posted some inane crap about suspecting that most tea baggers are probably fake profiles using this technology. I don't buy it, first off the article focused in on government agencies using this method to try and sway the conversation, so it is unlikely that the government would try and gin up support for a group like the tea party which is at least moderately anti-government. There are two types of tea party members, the majority are flag waving republican types who don't like Obomber, but love Glen Beck, the military, and all things republican. However, there is another group of tea party types who are much more radical and are more the Ron Paul faction of the tea party then the Sarah Palin faction. I cannot see the government wanting to promote the agenda of Ron Paul in any circumstance.

I think my friend realized I was probably correct in my assertion that it is unlikely for the government to wish to promote the tea party agenda as so much of it is anti-government, anti-imperialism, and anti-Obama. So he changed tactics and said that it can be used by anyone who can afford the fee and maybe is being used by people like the Koch brothers. This seems unlikely as well, but lets pretend that this is the case and wealthy people are paying someone to create fake profiles and post articles and whatnot that support whatever the rich persons agenda is. Would it really matter much? Let's say Charles Koch pays some people to promote some issue he supports like lower taxes and he was successful, then George Soros pays people to pretend like they oppose lower taxes, then is it not a wash? Also many, many more of the extremely wealthy are left leaning democrats than any more radical republican or libertarian types. Rich tea party types and libertarians are far outnumbered by people like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and others who are more statist and liberal leaning and are also very rich. If anything the most likely to use this concept besides the government are those who benefit from the corrupt government policies, and that mostly consists of large corporations that make their money from government action like companies involved in the military industrial complex, banks, prison industrial complex, and colleges that get large grants from the government. Otherwise it may be companies who are involved in a PR nightmare, like BP during the oil spill, but that will pretty obvious.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Obey the Dot!

Fun with Larken rose.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Stupid Union Joke proven to be stupid even by liberal standards

One of my facebook friends posted this “joke” and then I see it on Livejournal a couple of days later:

"A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says,"look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie".

It is not funny and not accurate. A more accurate, and equally as unfunny version would read something like this:

"A tea party member and a CEO form a working arrangement where the tea party guy contracts with the CEO to bake 12 cookies, the CEO takes 8 since it was his flour, water and sugar used to bake the cookies, and the tea partier keeps 4 cookies for his labor, then government takes two cookies from the tea partier and four from the CEO and gives it to the "public employee" who did not have anything to do with the making of the cookies".

What is not acknowledged in the original “joke” is the the public union employee will get his cookies one way or another and likely it is by using the guns of government to steal cookies from both the CEO and the tea partier (who to me represents the working class taxpayer for the purposes of this joke).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Parking Customer Service

I received a parking ticket a week ago, I decided to call the parking bureau and point out the injustice of their system. There are lots of funny parts to this conversation, the agent admitted there is no victim, that the fine is arbitrary, that the basic crime is not being psychic enough to predetermine how long something is going to take. About 6 minutes long.

Calling parking by Flag in Flames

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Parking meters run on an unethical business model

Imagine you find a great deal on a hotel so you stay the night. The checkout time on the room is 10:00 am. You actually checkout at 10:10 am, because you were running slightly behind. Now imagine if the hotel tells you that since you checked out late they are going to charge you the dollar equivalent of a months worth of room fees. When you confront them about it they tell you it is to teach you a lesson to always checkout on time. You then find out that they have structured their business plan on the assumption that a large percentage of people will not be able to checkout on time and they will then get this windfall and when you confront them about they say “well, we give people a good deal on the hotel room, but then make up for the loss with dummies like you who can't read the card on the door that says “Checkout at 10:00”. This would seem like a really immoral and ridiculous way to do the business model and the hotel would likely go out of business once the word spread of their unethical business practices. The ethical way to resolve this would be to charge for the extra time or at the most charge for another nights stay, but then at least give the party the option of staying another night since they paid for it it. Anything more would be excessive in most peoples eyes, and it certainly would be considered unethical if the hotel took steps towards making it difficult to know when checkout time was and being able to get to the checkout on time just so they could get more of these "late checkout time penalties".

Now if you have read this far, you probably agree that this would be a poor business model and that is why we don't see this model used in business. We do see this model model used in government however, namely this is exactly the way parking meters work. The more ethical way of dealing with parking would be to give the spots in front of houses/businesses to those owners and let them decide how they wish to deal with the parking spots. In lieu of that they would need to come up with some way of paying for the spot when you leave a spot instead of when you arrive so how long you actually stayed can be assessed instead of forcing you to try and guess how long your stay is going to be before hand.