27 February, 2009

Fine Point

Clever, brief post over at FEE's blog. What can you do with individual effort? Who should do the things you can't do? Read it.

24 February, 2009

Comments on tonight's Obama speech

- "We will" translates pretty reliably to "you must." ("we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years...We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines...we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power...we will expand our commitment to charter schools...we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college...we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan...")

- Has Obama not seen the commercials? There is no (and can never be?) such a thing as "clean coal," according to them.

- "...the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it." Why not? And how do we know that Tesla and/or some other startups wouldn't create a better future American auto industry? Instead, we tax them to subsidize the Not-So-Big Three.

- "...we must have quality, affordable health care for every American." Saying "we must" have something does not change its affordability. When somebody comes up with a new drug or diagnostic technology, there is no automatic increase in national wealth that pays for every citizen to obtain that new drug or technology. Simple words can't change economic realities. They can persuade people to act in counterproductive and aggressive ways, however.

- The G.I. Bill: After Obama mentioned it I was interested to find that it is not an unquestioned success (which it sometimes seems to be). Here's proof.

- "...we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow." I'm not worried about a foreign worker/company out-competing an American worker/company. I'm not worried about a Louisiana worker/company out-competing a Texas worker/company. Etc. I've got bigger fish to fry.

15 February, 2009

Reuters: Not funding X same as banning X

It's nice that in the third paragraph the writer of this news article finally gets around to stating what actually is at issue after grossly misstating it in the opening paragraph. (The headline is also false, but editors, rather than reporters, are often to blame for these.)

Hey, I'm all for embryonic stem cell research. I feel no compassion for small clumps of cells in petri dishes. But, no matter how many times it is stated this way in articles and editorials, refusing to fund something is not the same as banning it. In fact, government funding for a thing means every taxpayer is forced to pay for that thing, including those who oppose that thing.

If most citizens understood these two truths, we would have ourselves a more peaceful world:
  • It is perfectly consistent to oppose a practice and oppose banning that practice.
  • It is perfectly consistent to support a cause and oppose government funding of that cause.