This is not a political site. This is an anti-political site. Our purpose is to advance civil society and the freedom philosophy and perhaps have a little fun while we're at it.

5/31/12

A Compendium of the Cockamamie


No essays on specific problems today, just a short compilation of what's new on the statist compost heap. These items all appear on just one day's news on a popular internet site and they just happen to be the ones that caught my eye.


  • Christine Lagarde, the head IMF idiot, recently scolded the Greeks for not paying their taxes. Fair enough it seems, until you learn that she herself, and many other parasites like her at the IMF and the UN, pay no taxes. That's right, her overblown salary is all tax exempt. I'm sure the idiot missed the irony.
  • NYC Mayor Bloomberg is pushing a new law to ban large sugary soft-drinks in that nanny-state hell hole. With apologies to the many fine people who live in our biggest city, I feel your pain. I live near Chicago, which is more of a criminal enterprise than a city. The imbecilic Mayor Boobberg is going to take care of those of you who might become obese without his iron fisted tough love. 
  • In a recent speech honoring a Polish war hero, President Obama referred to a "Polish death camp", as opposed to a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland. Oh c-mon, it's just a slip of the tongue!  Everyone does it occasionally and it's perfectly excusable... as long as you are a Democrat. But the slip of the tongue was on the teleprompter, so it was a team slip. Oops.
  • The new French government is putting a cap on "excessive corporate pay." Anything Fran├žois Hollande - the goof who was just elected to lead the dumbest country in the Euro funny farm - makes over one Euro is excessive in my opinion. The few intelligent people left in that country are making their escape plans, but where to flee?

I try to make my comments about ideas rather than people, but sometimes the bad ideas and the bad people get mixed up in the same rancid stew. I apologize for the name calling. (Well, maybe not, I'm only semi-polite most of time anyway.)

5/27/12

It's Not "Cook Out Day"

On this Memorial Day, take a moment out from your BBQ to remember why we have a day such as this set aside. Many in my family will be remembering those we lost in wars, like my Uncle Bert, the co-pilot of a B-17 who died in battle while in the service of his country. We should all be pondering what our lives would have been like if our brave men and women didn't stand up to thugs like Hitler and Tojo. This piece isn't about my family, it's about our families, all of ours. Everyone has lost someone.

If your family members had returned from war, what would their lives have been like? Might they have had an impact on the direction your life? If they had been there, could they have taught you something that inspired you? Perhaps you would be doing something different for a living. Would they have had families of their own? Would you have other relatives because of that? Some of them may have been people who could have enriched your life, or even the world we live in, if they had been born. But they weren't born, because your family member died in a war against evil.

None of us will ever know what might have been. But the questions themselves and some quiet reflection on what the ultimate sacrifice really means might be in order this holiday weekend. Thanksgiving isn't "Turkey Day." Christmas isn't "Santa Claus Day." And this isn't a holiday to celebrate "National Cook Out Day."

To all of those who have served and survived, I give you my heartfelt thanks. And to those who never came home, I'll try never to forget you.

Addendum:
My daughter, a librarian (and family historian) writes a blog for the Cecil County, Md. library. She wrote the following piece about my uncle and about Memorial day. In the picture below my uncle is the second from the right in the back row. All of the men in this photo made the ultimate sacrifice for us. I pray their families know they will not be forgotten.

The men in the group photograph are: S/Sgt. Clyde B. Burdick; 1st Lieutenant William H. Broley; 2nd Lieutenant Albert H. Davies; 2nd Lieutenant Joseph M. Darmiento; T/Sgt. Lowell A. Dawson; S/Sgt. Edward H. Jones; T/Sgt. Edward K. Clyne; S/Sgt. Kenneth S. Greer; S/Sgt. Kenneth T. Donovan; Sgt. Edward S. Caspariello.



The article follows. You may view the original here.


May 24th, 2012


Memorial Day Memories - By Leah Davies

Before he was a hero, he was just a Chicago kid. The youngest of four and son to English immigrant parents, Bert was adored by everyone. His family used to tease that he was “Momma’s little bubby-mies,” a playful way of saying that he could get away with anything. No one seemed to mind.

Albert Davies
In front of the dry goods store
where he worked as a child 
Bert finished high school and worked as a purchasing agent. His brother – who, despite being older, idolized Bert – enlisted in the service in 1942 and was stationed in Detroit as a military policeman. Nine months later, Bert decided to do the same. He was just 24 years old when he joined the United States Army Air Corps. The family couldn’t have been prouder; Bert was going to fly.

“Hell’s Angels” was her name, an iconic B17 aircraft on a mission to bomb the U-Boat Yards in Kiel, Germany, and Bert was her 2nd Lieutenant. After a successful bombing, she was up against fifty German FW190s and Me109s. Around 12:30 in the afternoon, Hell’s Angels suffered a hole in the rudder and a stopped engine. Bert, and his 9 comrades on board, died over the North Sea.

This memorial day, I’ll be thinking of the men of the 8th Air Force 91 Bomb Group 322 Bomb Squadron. I’ll be thinking of my great-uncle Albert “Bert” Davies, a man who continues to be honored and loved in our family, though his story survives only through faded correspondence and the memories passed down to a generation that never met him.

This Monday, May 28th, the library will be closed in observance of Memorial Day. The long weekend is a perfect opportunity to meet with your family and tell the stories of the brave men and women who have died in service to our nation. If you’re planning to interview a veteran or those who remember the service of one who has died, consider consulting the chapters on interviewing in The Genealogy Handbook by Ellen Galford and The Genealogy Sourcebook by Sharon Debartolo Carmack. To read about the stories of brave Cecil Countians, be sure to check out Cecil’s Soldiers: Stories from the World War II Generation by Jenifer Dolde.

And if you’re interested in local history, make sure to check out the Journey Stories events coming to Cecil County this summer and fall.

Who will you be thinking of this Memorial Day? Please share below!

5/24/12

Making Money In the Lake Wobegon Fantasy World

Unlike today's chattering class,
King Canute understood limits to power

By Dan Mitchell 
I sometimes wonder whether journalists have the slightest idea of how capitalism works.
In recent weeks, we've seen breathless reporting on the $2 billion loss at JP Morgan Chase, and now there's a big kerfuffle about the falling value of Facebook stock.
In response to these supposed scandals, there are all sorts of articles being written (see hereherehere, and here, for just a few examples) about the need for more regulation to protect the economy.
Underlying these stories seems to be a Lake Wobegon view of financial markets. But instead of Garrison Keillor's imaginary town where "all children are above average, we have a fantasy economy where "all investments make money."
I don't want to burst anyone's bubble or shatter any childhood illusions, but losses are an inherent part of the free market movement. As the saying goes, "capitalism without bankruptcy is like religion without hell."
Legend tells us that King Canute commanded the tides not to advance and learned there are limits to the power of a king when his orders had no effect.Moreover, losses (just like gains) play an important role in that they signal to investors and entrepreneurs that resources should be reallocated in ways that are more productive for the economy.
Sadly, modern journalists, regulators, and politicians lack the same wisdom and think that government somehow can prevent losses.
But perhaps that's unfair. They probably understand that losses sometimes happen, but they want to provide bailouts so that nobody ever learns a lesson about what happens when you touch a hot stove.
Government-subsidized risk, though, is just as foolish as government-subsidized success.

Dan Mitchell is a PHD economist, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, and author of the popular blog "International Liberty."   He is also a friend to this blog and his work is republished here with his express permission. His posts dress up this site immeasurably. I urge you to subscribe to his blog updates so you can be smarter than you otherwise are.

5/23/12

A Graphic Look at The War on Drugs

Yesterday a magician/comedian/radio host/Cato Fellow named Penn Gillette was featured in an article linked to by The Drudge Report. He went off on the insane "War on Drugs" during a tirade on his radio show and specifically singled out Obama for his vitriol because of his past use of pot and cocaine. He pointed out that if Obama had been caught and prosecuted he would never have become President, much less anything else of importance. That makes him a hypocrite. (He's hardly the only one, so it's really beside the point.)

Gillette, who has never used drugs (including alcohol), was correct. You can read the transcript or watch a video of his remarks here. (Harsh language alert)

So when I saw this chart on the Facebook page of a friend of mine I knew it was going to end up here. You can draw your own conclusions about the chart and what it means. But always keep a few things in mind:
  1.  Drug use is not lower now than when this craziness started.
  2.  Anyone can get any substance they want with very little effort. 


Hat tip to Mike Dixon

5/22/12

Real Climate Change Information, Instead of Alarmist Propaganda

This week, 5-21 through 5-23, The Heartland Institute will hold it's 7th annual Conference on Climate Change.

Here is the event description.

The Heartland Institute’s Seventh International Conference on Climate Change (ICCC-7) will take place in Chicago, Illinois from Monday, May 21 to Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at the Hilton Chicago Hotel, 720 South Michigan Avenue. The event will follow the NATO Summit taking place in Chicago on May 19–21.  We hope you can attend.


The previous ICCC to take place in Chicago, ICCC-5 in 2010, attracted nearly 800 scientists, policy experts, elected officials, journalists, and other guests. We expect another large turn-out due to recent developments in the international debate over climate change, a line-up of outstanding speakers, and the global focus on Chicago due to the NATO Summit.

Unfortunately, despite being offered press credentials, I am unable to attend. I'm sad to have missed being able to personally report to you on what is being discovered there by people who want to cut through the nonsense and hype and find out the real facts and science behind this "hot" topic.

As a poor substitute I will be running as many of the videos from the Heartland website as I can. The video directly below is an introduction by Joe Bast, President of the Heartland Institute and the one below it features John Coleman. As many Chicago area natives such as myself remember, John was a local weatherman here for many years. He went on to found the Weather Channel.

Those interested in following the presentations can do so via live streaming to your internet device. Simply follow the link.



How Obama Really Is

Not long ago a post on this blog went mini-viral with one of these type cartoons. They are appearing everywhere on the net and seem to cover almost every subject. The one we posted was about libertarians and it was a big hit because the readership we enjoy is largely made up of freedom lovers.

I just saw this one on the popular blog "The Left Coast Rebel" and it I loved it because it shows how attitudes haven't changed regarding the current President over the last three years. Just as important, it's funny as hell and there's just a smidgen of truth to it.   


Hat tip to "RightKlik"

5/15/12

Italians are Revolting


By Dan Mitchell

I wrote last year about a tax protest in Ireland, and I wrote earlier this year about a tax revolt in Greece.

But Irish and Greek taxpayers are wimps compared to their Italian compatriots. When Italians decide to have a tax revolt, they don't kid around. Here are some remarkable details from the UK-based Telegraph.

In the last six months there has been a wave of countrywide attacks on offices of Equitalia, the agency which handles tax collection, with the most recent on Saturday night when a branch was hit with two petrol bombs.Staff have also expressed fears over their personal safety with increasing numbers calling in sick and with one unidentified employee telling Italian TV: “I have told my son not to say where I work or tell anyone what I do for a living.”

As much as I despise high taxes, I don't think petrol bombs are the answer. But I am glad that at least some of the bureaucrats feels shame about their jobs.

Not surprisingly, the political elite wants people to be deferential to predatory government.

Annamaria Cancellieri, the interior minister, said she was considering calling in the army in a bid to quell the rising social tensions.“There have been several attacks on the offices of Equitalia in recent weeks. I want to remind people that attacking Equitalia is the equivalent of attacking the State,” she said in an interview with La Repubblica newspaper.

Here's some advice for Ms. Cancellieri: Maybe people will be less likely to attack "the State" if "the State" stops attacking the people.

But don't expect that to happen. The Prime Minister also demands obedience to "the State" and there's rhetoric about "paying taxes is a duty" from other high-level government officials.

Saturday night’s attack took place on the Equitalia office in Livorno and the front of the building was left severely damaged by fire after the bombs exploded. The phrases “Thieves” and “Death to Equitalia” were sprayed onto outside walls. It came just 24 hours after more than 200 people had been involved in running battles with police outside a branch in Naples which left a dozen protesters and officers hurt. ...There has also been a striking increase in suicides with people leaving notes directly blaming Equitalia and tax demands. Paola Severino, the Justice minister, said: “The economic situation has produced unease but paying taxes is a duty. On one side there is anger and the problem of paying when the resources are scare but on the other side is the fact that they must be paid.” ...Mr Monti has vowed to press on even harder this year to recover the lost money. He is due to have a meeting with Equitalia chief Attilio Befera to discuss the situation and he has already said: “We are not going to take a step back, there will be no giving in to those who have declared was against the revenue and therefore the State. We will not be intimidated.”

Keep in mind, by the way, that this is the government that supposedly is being run by brilliant technocrats, yet they are so incompetent that they appoint the wrong people to posts. But the real problem is that government is far too big, consuming one-half of Italy's economic output.

If Italy's political class wants to improve tax compliance, they should listen to the IMF and academic economists, both of whom point out that lower tax rates reduce incentives for evasion and avoidance.

It also would help to shrink the burden of the public sector. Unfortunately, as is the case with most other European nations, "austerity" in Italy mostly means higher taxes, not less spending.


Dan Mitchell is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. With express permission, his articles are reprinted here from time to time, particularly when the editor of this site is busy visiting his newborn grand child. You can read more fine articles like this one at International Liberty.