Month: January 2012

Tuesday

Do It for the Children

The number one friend of big government: The Crisis. When there’s a crisis, the government says it needs more power in order to deal with it, and then it scarcely ratchets its newly-acquired power back down after the crisis is over. Big government’s second best friend: the children (pronounced, “The chiiiiiildreeeeeeen!”). We authorize government to do all sorts of things for the sake of the children, blithely unaware that, every time we do, we also authorize them to do things to the children.

More disturbing, we’re ignorant of the fact that it’s the parents’ job to do things for the children and that, to the extent the government helps the chiiiiiiildreeeeeen, family ties are further weakened and parents become more irresponsible, thereby increasing the call for more government intervention. And the downward spiral continues at an accelerated pace. This story that came out yesterday is a great example of it: Higher taxes are better for children.

I won’t address the merits of the study or even the merits of the blurb-like article (you notice the states that scored lowest are mostly states that score lowest on all similar tests?). I’m willing to concede for argument’s sake that the study is accurate and article’s conclusion is proper. It doesn’t change the fact that, to the extent the government steps in, the family steps out. To the extent the family steps out, the need for government increases. Eventually, the social fabric is entirely tattered.

Well, the social fabric has already been tattered, but at this pace (free school lunches for everybody, no child left behind, etc.), our remaining rags are being shredded as well.

Ironic Sidelight: As our country’s adults increasingly don’t “do It” for the children, the greater becomes our society’s needs to … Read the rest

Monday

Antifragility

Nassim Taleb is coming out with a new book. It sounds great. Unfortunately, it won’t be available for another eight months.

I listened to a podcast about it. Twice . . . but mostly due to circumstance (I was driving in bad weather in the dark and didn’t dare take my eyes off the road long enough to find a different podcast, so I just clicked replay). I’m definitely going to buy the book and study it closely when it comes out.

I was particularly struck by the discussion about the limits of our knowledge. Regular readers of TDE know that I have turned into a thorough skeptic, so passages like this one resonate with me:

You said: What do you do when you don’t know what’s going on? And I would add, which I think comes right out of your book: and most of the time, you don’t know what’s going on. It’s not like it’s a special case. I think about it a lot of the time with economic policy, because when I suggest that maybe we should do nothing or if maybe the government should get smaller, we should reduce debt across the board, people say: How can you do that? You’ve got to have some positive. The reason, say, Hayek, says it doesn’t matter–I don’t think it’s a fair criticism of Hayek, but people say: He didn’t want to do anything. And one counter is: You don’t know what you are doing. You have no idea what you are doing. You claim you have a scientific basis for it.

A little later they discussed a chart that Taleb presents in the book. It supposedly has a huge circle that represents everything we don’t know, then a second micro-slice of the things we do know. … Read the rest

Saturday

So colleges and university take it on the chin twice: First, Obama tells them they need to control tuition. Second, Apple announces that they’ll sell textbooks . . . for as low as $17.99. Obama’s words, of course, are fatuous. In the same speech, he pushed for more college tax credits and grant moneys . . . both of which are inflationary because they shove more cash at higher education. Why can’t politicians see this? They can, of course. They just say what they think people want to hear: “We want to control tuition costs, and we want to help you pay for it.” What they don’t say, “The two work against each other, but it doesn’t matter. You’re a doofus.”

But the Apple textbook revolution could help a bit. Says Tom Woods, “The days of college kids paying $200 for a textbook may be numbered, thanks to Apple’s recently announced initiative for iPad textbooks, with multimedia capabilities, for $14.99. Any professor can design such a text, and Apple will give him a 70% royalty — six to seven times what an author usually receives.”

Random

I don’t have much more for this Week in Review. Did anything much happen? The Fed announced soft money for the next two years, and precious metals showed a corresponding leap. But that’s just another re-run in the whipsaw American economy. . . . The NY Giants and NE Patriots are in the Superbowl. Another re-run. And a yawner. . . . (Did you know, incidentally, that the NFL uses over 8,000 volunteers at the Superbowl? They do all sorts of things, from providing directions to operating exhibits at the NFL store. I have a client who is driving to Indianapolis on Friday in order to run the Fantasy Quarterback booth (or some … Read the rest

Friday

BYCU

I’m not sure why it’s newsworthy, but it’s definitely brewsworthy: Pat Sajak says he and Vanna White got drunk before Wheel of Fortune tapings back in the day. Gotta love Sajak’s candor:

At the time, the show had a long break during tapings when he and White would go to a nearby Mexican restaurant for margaritas.

“Vanna and I would … have two or three or six and then come and do the last shows and have trouble recognizing the alphabet,” he said. “I had a great time. I have no idea if the shows were any good, but no one said anything, so I guess I did OK.”

Short and Brutish and Joyless

But abstention makes life seem longer, so the effects kinda offset each other: Study: Abstaining from alcohol significantly shortens life.

The tightly controlled study, which looked at individuals between ages 55 and 65, spanned a 20-year period and accounted for variables ranging from socioeconomic status to level of physical activity. Led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin, it found that mortality rates were highest for those who had never had a sip, lower for heavy drinkers, and lowest for moderate drinkers who enjoyed one to three drinks per day.

A bottle of red is calling my name. As the father of seven children, it’s my fiduciary obligation to drink it. And drink it I will. … Read the rest

Wednesday

Soros the Austrian?

George Soros grabbed headlines yesterday with an interview in Newsweek. The rabid leftist octogenarian investment icon and social activist ain’t too optimistic. He’s expecting riots in the U.S., lots of deflation, and a gold smack-down (though one source says he’s buying gold . . . we won’t know until the Q4 reports are released.)

It’s hard to believe that this guy was once partners with Jim Rogers. Rogers is very optimistic about precious metals, and Roger holds a rather Austrian view of things. Soros is about as non-Austrian as they come.

But maybe not. Check out this passage from the article:

To Soros, the spectacular debunking of the credo of efficient markets—the notion that markets are rational and can regulate themselves to avert disaster—”is comparable to the collapse of Marxism as a political system. The prevailing interpretation has turned out to be very misleading. It assumes perfect knowledge, which is very far removed from reality. We need to move from the Age of Reason to the Age of Fallibility in order to have a proper understanding of the problems.”

Fallibility? Imperfect knowledge? It almost sounds like he has read Friedrich Hayek.

The Hayekian theory of knowledge holds, correctly, that no one has much knowledge, so you need the marketplace: each person bringing his micro-knowledge or micro-ability to the plate, then the marketplace coordinating, in a chaotic fashion, all the microbes in the best way possible. It’s not perfect, far from it, but it’s the best option we have. It’s a humble approach that acknowledges our limited knowledge. Big government, on the other hand, assumes a superior level of knowledge and ability that neither the government nor any entity outside of the metaphysical possesses.

So what side is the leftist Soros on? On the side of imperfect … Read the rest

“During a debate, Mitt Romney said he grew up in the real streets of America. Yes, the real streets, where people pull up next to you and ask if you have any Grey Poupon.”

Kimmel

— Mobile post… Read the rest

Tuesday

I bought a greenhouse. It’s just a little thing: 57″w x 29″d x 77″h. It’s an exaggeration to call it a “house,” since it’s really a tent and it’s portable. You can click on the picture to see what it looks like.

So does anyone know anything about greenhouse gardening? I live in southern Michigan, which puts me in a temperate Zone 5, with much of the harsh weather mellowed by the Great Lakes (our Winters are very mild, when contrasted with, say, the winters of people in Wisconsin who share our latitude). I don’t want to heat the greenhouse artificially, though I will stock it with a few large rocks and a small tub of water (these things release heat throughout the night). I don’t hope to grow an entire garden there, just spinach, lettuce, and kale. I would like to jump start peas, tomatoes, and peppers in there as well.

Two of my immediate questions: Will I be able to grow spinach in there year-round, even during the days that have less than ten hours of sunlight? Do these micro-greenhouses lose heat more quickly than a larger greenhouse?

Any suggestions and input are greatly appreciated, either in the comments box or via email (ejscheske@yahoo.com or ericscheske@sturgislawfirm.com). Thanks.

Email picReceived in an Email

Feherty is a Golf Channel announcer who finds very unique, colorful and uninhibited ways of explaining or describing whatever is on his mind…… Probably always on time delay these days.

Feherty Quotes

“That ball is so far left, Lassie couldn’t find it if it was wrapped in bacon.”

“I am sorry Nick Faldo couldn’t be here this week. He is attending the birth of his next wife.”

Jim Furyk’s swing – “It looks like an octopus falling out of a tree.”

Describing VJ’s prodigious practice regime … Read the rest