Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Who Really Cares?

A new book out compares liberals to conservatives in the area of charitable giving. His conclusions, surpising to some apparently (including the author himself) is that conservatives far out give in time, money and even blood than liberals. Personally, I find his conclusion as startling as "sex leads to pregnancy," "smart people have higher IQs than idiots" and "having a baby leads to sleepless nights," but some people (those who like spending YOUR money instead of their own on other people) will apparently be surprised.

One news story on the book begins as follows:

Philanthropy Expert: Conservatives Are More Generous

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse University professor Arthur C. Brooks is about to become the darling of the religious right in America -- and it's making him nervous. The child of academics, raised in a liberal household and educated in the liberal arts, Brooks has written a book that concludes religious conservatives donate far more money than secular liberals to all sorts of charitable activities, irrespective of income. In the book, he cites extensive data analysis to demonstrate that values advocated by conservatives -- from church attendance and two-parent families to the Protestant work ethic and a distaste for government-funded social services -- make conservatives more generous than liberals. The book, titled "Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism" (Basic Books, $26), is due for release Nov. 24…….

Thomas Sowell discusses the book in his recent column.

Professor Brooks admits that the facts he uncovered were the opposite of what he expected to find -- so much so that he went back and checked these facts again, to make sure there was no mistake.

What is the reason why some people are liberals and others are conservatives, if it is not that liberals are more compassionate? Fundamental differences in ideology go back to fundamental assumptions about human nature. Based on one set of assumptions, it makes perfect sense to be a liberal. Based on a different set of assumptions, it makes perfect sense to be a conservative.

The two visions are not completely symmetrical, however. For at least two centuries, the vision of the left has included a belief that those with that vision are morally superior, more caring and more compassionate. While both sides argue that their opponents are mistaken, those on the left have declared their opponents to be not merely in error but morally flawed as well. So the idea that liberals are more caring and compassionate goes with the territory, whether or not it fits the facts.

Those on the left proclaimed their moral superiority in the 18th century and they continue to proclaim it in the 21st century. What is remarkable is how long it took for anyone to put that belief to the test -- and how completely it failed that test.

In reading the amazon discription, he also correlates religious belief. This seems obvious to me. Liberals on average (Yes, I'm generalizing here - I know not all liberals ...) are more secularist and less religious. Conservatives, more religious and less secularist. Serious Christians, be they protestant, Catholic or LDS, are called upon to be charitable by their faith. If they sincerely believe in that calling, it should not be surprising if they were more charitable. If such Christians are more conservative on average, which I think would be the case, then that would support the conclusions of the book.

You can buy the book here.

Monday, November 27, 2006

A Lot of Hot Air

What does the top map show?

Answer: Not the worst hurricane season ever.

As was predicted here. And here. And here.

But remember -- just because a bad hurricane season in 2004 and 2005 proved global warming, this non-hurricane season does not disprove global warming.

No, it doesn't.

And another thing. Just because the best weather scientists and their computer models failed to accurately predict the severity of a hurricane storm season this year does not mean that we should doubt their same computer models on the issue of global warming 5, 10, 20 or even 100 years into the future. So quit saying that it does call into question any doomsday prediction of environmentalists. It means nothings.

Monday, November 20, 2006


This clip (from the Bob & Tom show) teaches you how to handle a telemarketer.


Happy Thanksgiving if I don't make it back this week.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Goodbye Uncle Milt

There's no such thing as a free lunch.

In college, my economics buddies referred affectionately to Milton Friedman as "Uncle Milt." We read his books and watched his videos in several different classes. He was among the giants of explaining why the free market is the superior method of distributing resources. He passed away today.

"The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom."

From The Best of the Web:

Milton Friedman, RIP. Word reached us this morning that Milton Friedman has died. Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in Ecnomics in 1976, was a giant in free-market economics--and freedom more generally--and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal. Just last month he penned an op-ed lamenting Hong Kong's departure from laissez-faire economics. Back in July Tunku Varadarajan published a charming interview with Friedman and his wife, Rose. Milton Friedman was 94.

"Most economic fallacies derive - from the tendency to assume that there is a fixed pie, that one party can gain only at the expense of another."

You can read more about him in his Wikipedia entry.

"Underlying most arguments against the free market is a lack of belief in freedom itself."

Better yet, go to the Friedman Foundation and help in one of his projects, the promotion of school choice to improve K-12 education. This is one of his causes that I whole-heartedly support.

"The society that puts equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end up with a great measure of both."

This personal tribute to Dr. Friedman is worth reading.

"Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own. Nobody uses somebody else's resources as carefully as he uses his own. So if you want efficiency and effectiveness, if you want knowledge to be properly utilized, you have to do it through the means of private property."

Finally, if you want your kids educated in economics, they need to read his books and watch his videos. His Free to Choose project resulted in a PBS TV show and a book. Order the videos here. Buy some books here.

Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.

Have a high school graduate coming up in the spring? This is the best gift you could give him or her.

The Great Depression, like most other periods of severe unemployment, was produced by government mismanagement rather than by any inherent instability of the private economy.

God bless you, Uncle Milt. You will be missed. Especially by those that love freedom.

The problem of social organization is how to set up an arrangement under which greed will do the least harm; capitalism is that kind of a system.

Negative Ads

Were negative political ads bad in your area this year? In Georgia, we had an all out nuclear war of negative ads for a Supreme Court justice spot.

And it has filtered down to the race for pre-school president. Check out Jimmy Jones's ad about his opponent Billy. You do want to see this.

Winner, "Not My Job" Award


Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

You Know What Burns My @$$?

1. The Vatican preaching about walls.

A senior Vatican cardinal on Tuesday condemned the building of walls between countries to keep out immigrants and said Washington's plan to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexican border was part of an "inhuman program".
* * * *
"Speaking of borders, I must unfortunately say that in a world that greeted the fall of the Berlin Wall with joy, new walls are being built between neighborhood and neighborhood, city and city, nation and nation," said Martino, head of the Vatican's Council for Justice and Peace.

Well, Cardinal, there is a big difference between walls with the purpose of keeping people in, and those intended to keep people out. The U.S. does not force people to stay in the U.S. East Germany did. While it is true that Mexico's economy sucks, it isn't commiting genocide. People aren't fleeing for their lives. They are fleeing for their pocket books. The U.S. has every right to protect itself and control its borders. As does Saudi Arabia and Isreal, where the border very clearly is intended to prevent killers from entering the country.

We shouldn't be surprised though. This is the same guy who whined that the U.S. treated Saddam "like a cow" after his capture. The comments were so stupid that the Pope publicly distanced himself from the comments.

On the border issue, what is your alternative solution, Cardinal? How would you protect countries from invasion, whether economic or terror related? Protecting people from predators isn't exactly what the Church does best, now is it? Call us when you have some effective answers.

2. People complaining about third-parties, particularly libertarians. Sometimes, they are the necessary ingredient to get coalitions built and get things done.

Critics of the Libertarian Party, who focus on their modest if growing number of office-holders, are often unaware of the Party's emphasis on local community networking and consensus coalitions that underlie real politics. Indeed, many of their most signal policy victories--the Earned Income Credit, the increasing collapse of ballot restrictions across the US, and anti-poverty programs such as the Alaska Permanent Fund--are the result of the Libertarian willingness to envision and do the hard work coalitions require, and then share the credit.

The passage of eminent domain limits and amendments in many state elections this year were largely the work of libertarians. The linked article deals specificly with Florida.

3. Being forced to choose between bad Republican leadership and worse Demcratic policies and leadership. Thanks a lot "party of small government." Thomas Sowell looks at both problems in his always insightful way.


4. Finally, people who quote Richard Cohen in the same post where the link me. The nerve of some blog princesses.

5. Superheroes. And Thanksgiving. Hmmm ... I wonder what they are thankful for? (Warning: adult language.)
6. Changing the Colonel? Say it ain't so.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sound Bites 11/13

It is nice to know that Pelosi will be governing from the center, just as her non-leftist district in San Franciso would want her to do.

Meanwhile, Elton John explains to us the meaning of tollerence. Pot, I'm kettle. You're black.

Although no Democratic incumbent lost in the general election last week, one did lose in the primaries this year. Bad timing to get beat again, Cynthia. Let's home your district keeps you at home this time.

Sometimes, the intelligence of our administration and military is worthy of question. Read this article, and pay attention to this:

The incident is a setback for the aggressive U.S.-China military exchange program being promoted by Adm. Fallon, who has made several visits to China in recent months in an attempt to develop closer ties. However, critics of the program in the Pentagon say China has not reciprocated and continues to deny U.S. military visitors access to key facilities, including a Beijing command center.

In contrast, Chinese military visitors have been invited to military exercises and sensitive U.S. facilities. Additionally, military intelligence officials said Adm. Fallon has restricted U.S. intelligence-gathering activities against China, fearing that disclosure of the activities would upset relations with Beijing.

I'm glad we shared first. Welcome back, Cold War.

It isn't the decision to fire Rumsfeld. It's the timing. Heh. But seriously, it doesn't look good. I'm surprised, frankly. But only a little.

Forty things that only happen in the movies.

For you history and imperialism buffs out there: This is really cool.

Tip for you would be counterfeiter: when photocopying your money, set copier to "2-sided."

Finally, is Michael Vick killing your Fantasy Football team? Try Fantasy Congress. Damn that Cynthia McKinney!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Just a question

In Georgia, ads ran during the election cycle accusing opponents of "being a liberal." The oppenents denied the charge. Even when it was true, though it wasn't always.

But do you ever see liberals saying -- "Hey, I'm a liberal and my oppenent isn't!"? Maybe it's just Georgia.

Here is a great example. An AP article in which San Franciscoans (what are they called? oh, yeah, "hippies") dispute the "liberal" labe.



Give me a break.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gingrich Speaks

If the president had decided to replace Secretary Rumsfeld he should have told us two weeks ago," Gingrich said. "I think that we would today control the Senate and probably have 10 to15 more House seats. And I found it very disturbing yesterday in the press conference, the explanation that the President gave.

"We need candor, we need directness," said Gingrich, a potential 2008 presidential candidate."We need to understand the threats we faced with are so frightening and so real, the danger that we'll lose two to three American cities so great, that we cannot play games with each other, cannot manipulate each other, we have to have an open and honest dialogue, and I found yesterday's staments at the press conference frankly very disturbing."

He condemned Bush's admission that in making last week's statement about Rumsfeld, he had known he was being misleading.

"It's inappropriate to cleverly come out the day after an election to do something we were told before the election would not be done," Gingrich said. "I think the timing was exactly backwards and I hope the President will rethink how he engages the American people and how he communicates with candor."

In other words, "don't lie to us Mr. President." Read it all here. He also talks about the entire Congress. Frankly, Gingrich is right most of the time.

Happy Blogiversary -- Or Whatever

Happy 2nd Birthday to the Blog called The Unrepentant Individual.

That blog is Brad's creation. It is now in the terrible twos.

He has since made a lateral move and also serves on The Liberty Papers.

Thus, UI has changed focus, but it is still a worthy stop.

And of course TLP is a must stop.

Keep writing Brad.

Pcitured at right is Brad (or so we are told).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Super Hero Politics


Hulk - Libertarian: "Hulk just want to be left alone."

Check them out.

H/t: Cassandra.

Republicans Earned It

The Federal Elections

Well, the mid-term elections are in, and the Republicans faced the music for becoming a party in power acting like a party trying to keep power. What we know is that the Democrats routed the Republicans in the House, and you will all now be saying Maddam Speaker Pelosi. Many of the new Democrats are conservative Dems, but that won't make much difference. The agenda and committees will be run by long time serving uber-liberals.

The Senate, while officially undetermined, is going to go Dem also, as both Virginia and Montana, two states that should belong to the Republicans, will soon be called for the Dems.

In many ways, I see this as a positive. The Republicans perhaps will become conservative agenda focused again, which propelled them to power in the House in 1994. Maybe they could read that Contract With America again. Even in a post-9/11 world, that document describes good government. I didn't read anywhere in there about increasing spending beyond all control, expanding the Federal education department, lacking the guts to even try to reform social security or bringing a bunch of new entitlement programs on line.

Don't get me wrong. This is a victory for the party supported by the Communists (the official website here) and the Islamic Terrorists. That is sad. [Note: This AP article all but admits that those who want a weaker, less influential America wanted the Dems to win.] But it cannot be denied in my mind that the Republicans did everything to earn this defeat. My only hope is that they can regroup and ensure that America does what it needs to do in the War on Terror. And maybe they can come back looking more like the focused, principled Party of 1994 and less like the liberal, big spending, vote buying Party they were in 2006.

I must also admit that a Congress and President that can't pass anything might be a good thing, at least on domestic matters. In international policy, it really doesn't matter. President Bush has shown a willingness to do what he wants without Congressional authority. That isn't a criticism per se. It just is. So while I think Congress needs to pass laws dealing with the handling of terror suspects, I don't think gridlock will stop President Bush from doing what he thinks is necessary. I can only hope he handles that trust well.

FWIW, I really hated to see Steele lose in Maryland. I was rooting for that guy.

The States Give A Mixed Message

In many states, other issues were used to get people to the polls. People, ignorant of economics, continued to vote to increase the minimum wage, a wage that only applies to teenagers and the otherwise unemployable. All states considering minimum wage increases voted for them. Union pay is often tied to minimum wage, and other jobs that pay more than minimum wage will have to increase their pay, which is the real reason behind such measures. So what if a few jobs are lost entirely.

A good summary of state initiatives is here.

Other states dealt with the gay marriage issue again. As I understand it, 7 of 8 states voted for the bans. Arizona was the lone holdout, and the first state to reject the ban. This could be a trend in favor of the gay activists who seek to change the meaning of the word "marriage." Or, it could be that the ban in Arizona was overreaching as it also sought to ban civil unions or domestic partnerships, something with which most people generally have no problem. The Cheese doesn't think gay marriage should be a constitutional issue -- it should simply be a legislative issue. But, the Cheese understands why these bans are necessary. State Supreme Courts, ignoring their role, may otherwise change the law without regard to the legislative process. It has happened in Mass. and very recently in New Jersey. So these bans are probably necessary to either limit or send a message to the state Surpeme Court justices.

Abortion also went to the ballot box. South Dakota rejected 55-45 a tough ban on abortion in all cases but the life of the mother. This again could be simply overreaching -- people are hung up on the rape/incest exceptions, even though they constitute a miniscule number of abortions. Or it could mean that the majority of people, even in somewhat conservative South Dakota, are pro-choice. I think it was probably both. In any event, I think it was great that the issue was voted on in South Dakota. Abortion belongs to the political process, not the Courts. How it turns out I care less about, though this blog is moderately pro-choice until viability, and extremely pro-life after viability (Note: I did not ask the other contributors their opinions -- I unilaterly made this position the one for the blog).

Eminent domain limits were also on the ballots, though I don't know how most states did on that measure, but a Yahoo search reveals headlines that suggest most measures passed. For some reason, CNN didn't think this issue was worthy of its state initiatives chart linked above.

Elsewhere, land use was a hot issue, part of a backlash against a 2005 Supreme Court ruling allowing the city of New London, Conn., to buy up homes to make way for a private commercial development.

Eleven states considered eminent-domain measures barring the government from taking private property for a private use; Florida, Georgia, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Carolina approved them overwhelmingly. In four states - Arizona, California, Idaho and Washington - voters could require state and local authorities to compensate property owners if land-use regulations lowered the value of their property.

Georgia voted to limit it with 82% of the vote, and for that I cheer. Georgia also protected hunting and fishing rights with a constitutional amendment by 81% of the vote.

Stem-cell measures were also on the ballot in a few states. I think the Michael J. Fox crowd won these, but I'm not paying attention to this non-issue. If the research is promising enough, private money will finance it.

Georgia's Republican governor, who upset the incumbent 4 years ago, won in a landslide. He is a pretty good Gov., and our state is doing well. I applaud his victory. Georgia also elected the first Repbulican Lt. Gov. ever -- though I voted against him as explained below.

In Georgia, lots of tax issues are handled by a referendum. I must admit that these piss me off. They were as follows: expand homestead exemption for the elderly and surviving spouses of peace officers and firefighters, extend ad velorum exemption to farming equipment, verteran organizations which refurbish historic aircraft (what?), and charitable institutions, and give surviving spouses a base year value homestead exemptions.

What does all that mean? It means, essentially, do you want to give tax breaks to the elderly, farmers and surviving spouses of police and firefighters, and make the rest of us pick up the tab. The response, overwhelmingly, was yes. I voted no on every one of these measures except for the one that applied generally to all charitable institutions.

I think tax policy should be off limits to such games and free-riders. The elderly are the wealthiest class in our society on average, and they get the most tax/entitlement benefits. They should pay their taxes like the rest of us. The spouses of firefighters are no worse off than the spounses of construction workers who die on the job. We all must face spouces who die. There should be no special tax break class for this. I am all in favor of low taxes and low spending. But I hate special tax exemptions. We should all pay our share, to some degree. I voted Libertarian, and against the Republican candidate for Lt. Gov. in Georgia (he won anyway). I voted Libertarian in a few races anyhow, but I primarily voted this way because the Rep. candidate wants to eliminate the income tax on ALL senior citizens. Right, that's fair -- I have to pay more income tax because Ted Turner is exempt from state income tax. This type of tax policy making is garbage.

Here is looking to the future. I hope to find a principled, serious, and mostly conservative leader for 2008, and a large group of followers to take back the Congress from the Party supported by the Commies and Terrorists.