Archive for July, 2011

A favorite activity of politicians is to do nothing. Don’t believe me? Well, let Thomas Sowell make his point and think again.

On the international stage, the great arena for doing nothing is the United Nations.

Whenever there is any “crisis” or “problem” to be “solved” at a supranational level, you always see politicians gather around for beautiful pictures. Yet, all these summits have produced nothing to improve the situation. All they do is to waste taxpayers’ money.


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Sometimes it is quite astonishing to see how far-reaching economics can help to understand human behavior. Have you ever asked yourself why some people shoot buffaloes for fun, why they do kick-starts only with rental cars, or why they do not care much about maintaining lodgings?

Walter E. Williams brilliantly elucidates the role of private property rights in all these cases.

Those things that receive the best care are privately owned, and those things that receive the worst care are publicly owned.

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British author James Delingpole uses watermelons as a metaphor for the new green movement. In his book “Watermelons: The Green Movement’s True Colors”, he delves into the background of the organizations and individuals who have sought to push global warming to the top of the political agenda, showing that beneath their cloak of green lurks a heart of red.

As a preview, you can watch him discussing with John Stossel:

Green on the outside, red on the inside.

My favorite comment on Amazon was written by Trendyphobe:

Prior to reading Mr. Delingpole’s new book, I believed that the anthropogenic climate change industry was a multi-billion dollar scam. Watermelons proved me wrong. It’s a multi-trillion dollar scam.

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In a recent article for the Jewish World Review, economist Thomas Sowell emphasizes two actual effects of America’s debt ceiling.

First, it has never achieved its intended goal:

The one thing that the national debt-ceiling has never done is to put a ceiling on the rising national debt.

Second, it bewilders fiscal responsibility:

Many years ago, someone said, “If you didn’t invite me to the big take-off, don’t invite me to the crash landing.” This was Obama’s big spending spree, but “bipartisanship” requires Republicans to either split the bill or be blamed if the government shuts down or defaults.

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Most social programs are advertised to help the poor. But in fact, they usually benefit the middle and upper classes as Milton Friedman points out:

The two examples he discusses are subsidized universities and social security programs. In both cases, he brilliantly explains why these government interventions turn out to largely benefit the middle-income class at the expense of poorer people.

There is no social program in this country, in my opinion, which is so clearly a case of imposing taxes on low-income groups to benefit high-income groups as government subsidies to higher education.

But despite this being relatively easy to see, there is hardly a chance of eliminating these subsidies. For a simple reason:

We know that what is good for us, is good for the country.

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In a nutshell, American political satirist P.J. O’Rourke explains the difference between prices and costs:

If you think Health Care is expensive now — Just wait until it is free.

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ron paul 2012

Politicians and the media in Washington already prepare for next year’s presidential election. While President Obama intends to raise a humongous one billion dollars for his campaign by promising lobbyists another four years of support, most GOP candidates do not behave much differently.

The only candidate that stands out so far is Texas congressman Ron Paul. Recently, he has launched his first TV commercial.

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watching tv

We all know that statistics should always be taken with a grain of salt. But what do we think about these breathtaking figures from TV-Free America?

  • Number of hours per day that TV is on in an average U.S. home: 6 hours, 47 minutes
  • Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5
  • Number of minutes per week that the average child watches television: 1,680

Of course I do not know whether these numbers are remotely correct. Neither do I want to tell anyone how to spend their leisure time. But for me, watching four hours of TV every day sounds just incredible. Also, with regard to children I would love to see more people studying what James Heckman has found about the education of kids.

If you like, you can also watch an interesting presentation by Professor Heckman given in 2008 at the University of Mannheim.

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Have a look at this brilliant visualization of U.S. liabilities:

From $100 to $114.5 trillion

U.S. Liabilities - $100m / source:

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broken window

A short video on one of the most persistent economic fallacies:

The only difference is that I would have had both my window and a new suit.

The problem involved is that most people just look at what can be seen, not at what cannot be seen. This happens with broken windows as well as with all kinds of government programs, including stimulus packages.

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