A change I can believe in

30 03 2010

USA continues cruisin for a bruisin with this news just in from the NY times:

Social security to see payout to exceed pay-in this year

This year, the system will pay out more in benefits than it receives in payroll taxes, an important threshold it was not expected to cross until at least 2016, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Analysts have long tried to predict the year when Social Security would pay out more than it took in because they view it as a tipping point — the first step of a long, slow march to insolvency………


Economists family tree

30 03 2010

Yesterday I came across the “Economists family tree” flow chart which graphically displays the main schools of economic thought from the 1500s to the present day.  I thought it was an interesting and useful tool. 

Check it out at the “Not PC” blog.

Obamacare. A destructive power grab

30 03 2010

As an Australian, I did not engage in too much political activism over Obamacare.  A few comments on mainstream internet articles and a few posts on my blog.   

However, I still wanted to express my appreciation for all those USA citizens that did the hard slog and worked so tirelessly to try to defeat this bill against the odds.  Your efforts are truly inspirational. 

The introduction of Obamacare was alarming considering its unpopularity (eg/ this WSJ article reporting 12% more US citizens were opposed to the bill than supported it) and the proven destructive nature of socialism generally.  In addition, the US government has already, for years been meddling in health care with negative results. 

I’ve seen many articles where doctors are threatening to quit their practise.  I’ve seen prospective doctors airing their concerns about practising medicine and considering alternative opportunities. 

The worst part of socialization is the decrease in freedom that results – the inability to act as a human on one’s own volition.  Both doctors and patients have had their freedom reduced.  And you’ve got to feel particularly sorry for the already overworked doctors who unlike parasitic politicians, provide such a highly valuable service eg/ Paul Hsieh pointed out that Obamacare disrupts a doctor’s ability to implement the Hippocratic oath. 

This WSJ article exposes the increased cost to companies (which BTW ultimately means an increased cost to the poor one way or another for any lefties reading this ignorant of economics):

“On top of AT&T’s $1 billion, the writedown wave so far includes Deere & Co., $150 million; Caterpillar, $100 million; AK Steel, $31 million; 3M, $90 million; and Valero Energy, up to $20 million. Verizon has also warned its employees about its new higher health-care costs, and there will be many more in the coming days and weeks.”

“The consulting firm Towers Watson estimates that the total hit this year will reach nearly $14 billion”

In addition the above article exposes how certain Democrats such as Henry Waxman are now threatening corporations with congressional hearings if they issue statements about the harmful effects of Obamacare.  Considering corporations usually publically forecast their earnings and are required by law to report their accounting details to the SEC – this could create quite a conundrum!  As Paul Hsieh points out at the Noodlefood blog – it’s damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.  Quoting from the WSJ article:

“Democrats don’t like what their bill is doing in the real world, so they now want to intimidate CEOs into keeping quiet”

My personal opinion is that this bill is really about increasing state power.  The logical political consequences of bad ideology.

Two articles worth reading.

29 03 2010

1) This Vancouver Sun article by David Seymour:
Earth hour is an annual occult exercise: Festival has no effect on climate and sends wrong message“. 

2) Mark Steyn at The National Review:
Tattered Liberty

Mark discusses the possibility that the once mighty USA will soon fall in a big way using historical examples of how quickly great empires and cities can go backwards. 

“Permanence is an illusion – and you would be surprised at how fast mighty nations can be entirely transformed” 

Oactivist Wendy posted a comment (to the Oactivist mailing list) on Mark’s article.  I’ve reprinted about half of her comment below.  I think she makes a very good point although I suspect this comment would be quite controversial to many people. 

“America is THE economic driver of the world. Despite all the talk of
globalization, in reality, the money comes from America. The
innovation comes from America. American markets are critical to other
countries. If America goes fundamentally statist, there will be nobody
and nothing in the world to drive that level of economic power. And
where there is no economic growth, there is decline (first the
engineers and scientists get laid off…Atlas Shrugged has the
sequence). Europe would be in the Dark Ages at this time if there were
no America, and not just because of our military umbrella.

As an example, three-quarters of the Top 100 pharma and biotech
companies are American. Almost half of the world market for
prescription drugs is the U.S.

Or, viewed from the other side: Norway sells oil. Why is oil needed?
And what would happen to Norway if America cut back drastically on oil
use because of cap-and-trade? (And if America went cap-and-trade, a
lot of countries would feel compelled to follow, worsening Norway’s
problem). And what would then happen to Sweden, which sells Volvos?
Sweden also sells cell phones. Who developed cell phone technology in
the first place? Apply this kind of analysis across all of Europe and
across all economic sectors, and you start to see the gaping holes in
the idea that America can also be just another cozy mediocrity.

Environmentalist alarmism – when will it end?

25 03 2010

Over the last two days I’ve noticed a couple of articles disputing the idea that meat eating causes more CO2 emissions than non-meat eating. 
Before I continue, I should state my position – I really don’t care too much if eating meat increases CO2 emissions because I am against socialistic controls on the economy and fascist controls on human behaviour (this is what the climate change issue is really all about).  While I strongly doubt increasing concentrations of atmospheric CO2 will be a threat to humanity, if they in fact are, then a free market economy will deal with the alleged problem far more efficiently than government controls.   

Anyway continuing on with my post.  It comes as no surprise to me to see enviro-nazis calling for meat eating reduction.  This fits in nicely with the nihilistic ideology of these people.  Essentially, many environmentalists regard human action as unnatural even though it is actually perfectly natural and normal.  Human life is not the primary value of their ethical considerations, Gaia is. 
I think it’s no coincidence that many hippies are vegetarians.  In addition various fallacies about vegetarianism have been spread for at least 50 years apart from the climate change hysteria.  One eg/ I’ve heard vegetarians make claims that raising cattle is inefficient compared to growing grain in terms of food production.  However cattle are often raised on land unsuitable for agriculture. 

So, now we are witnessing the meshing of vegetarianism with climate change alarmism.  The most recent high profile activism along these lines occurred on the 3rd December 2009 when the European Parliament hosted a major event on global warming and food policy:  “Global Warming and Food Policy: Less Meat = Less Heat”
The chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Dr Rajendra K. Pachauri and environmental activist Sir Paul McCartney urged legislators and experts to focus on what an individual can do to fight climate change, for example by eating less meat.  The “Global Warming and Food Policy: Less Meat = Less Heat”

Enter, UC Davis Associate Professor and Air Quality Specialist Frank Mitloehner:  See article “Don’t blame cows for climate change

“Despite oft-repeated claims by sources ranging from the United Nations to music star Paul McCartney, it is simply not true that consuming less meat and dairy products will help stop climate change, says a University of California authority on farming and greenhouse gases.”

“Producing less meat and milk will only mean more hunger in poor countries.”Mitloehner traces much of the public confusion over meat and milk’s role in climate change to two sentences in a 2006 United Nations report, titled “Livestock’s Long Shadow.” Printed only in the report’s executive summary and nowhere in the body of the report, the sentences read: “The livestock sector is a major player, responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions measured in CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalents). This is a higher share than transport.”

These statements are not accurate, yet their wide distribution through news media have put us on the wrong path toward solutions, Mitloehner says.  (emphasis added)

So once again, an outlandish claim made by the IPCC  has been discredited.  We can now add “meat eaters are naughty sinners” to the list along with the amazon forests, the Himalayan’s and the polar bears.

Certain environmentalist are making false claims:  eg/

“If your primary concern is to curb emissions, you shouldn’t be eating beef,” says Nathan Pelletier, an ecological economist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S.,”

Lisa Abend’s article from the Times (USA) explains why this is crapola:

“It works like this: grass is a perennial. Rotate cattle and other ruminants across pastures full of it, and the animals’ grazing will cut the blades — which spurs new growth — while their trampling helps work manure and other decaying organic matter into the soil, turning it into rich humus. The plant’s roots also help maintain soil health by retaining water and microbes. And healthy soil keeps carbon dioxide underground and out of the atmosphere.”

Funnily enough, I personally prefer grass fed cattle anyway.  I suspect grain feeding disrupts the fatty acid ratios in the cow’s fatty tissues but admittedly, I haven’t looked into this in any great detail.

South Australia – the fat state.

24 03 2010

Apparently South Australians are on average the fattest in the country according to this article

“South Australia is our fattest state with almost one-in-three people overweight.”

I’m far from perfect but I often can’t believe how many fat people I see when I go out shopping on the weekends.  As people age in our society – they generally seem to get FAT! 

Each to their own I suppose. 

Personally I’m highly confident I will never be fat, but time will tell.

95,000 Muslims who want to force you to adhere to their religious beliefs

22 03 2010

Update 25/3/10:  I should have begun this article by stating the well known fact that many Muslims believe it a sin to visually represent Muhammed.  According to the wikipedia entry Depictions of Muhammed:

The Qur’an does not explicitly forbid images of Muhammad, but there are a few hadith (supplemental traditions) which have explicitly prohibited Muslims from creating the visual depictions of figures under any circumstances. Most contemporary Sunni Muslims believe that visual depictions of the prophets generally should be prohibited, and they are particularly averse to visual representations of Muhammad.[3] The key concern is that the use of images can encourage idolatry, where the image becomes more important than what it represents. In Islamic art, some visual depictions only show Muhammad with his face veiled, or symbolically represent him as a flame; other images, notably from Persia of the Ilkhanate, and those made under the Ottomans, show him fully.[1]

Article: “95,000 descendants of Mohammed to sue over blasphemous cartoons

These folks have no understanding of the importance of free speech. 

“NEARLY 95,000 descendants of Mohammed are going to sue 10 newspapers for publishing “blasphemous” cartoons of the prophet.”

The Sunday Times said that although the cartoons were published by Danish newspapers, Mr Yamani plans to pursue legal action in England, where libel laws are weighted towards the plaintiff.

English lawyers expect that he will argue that the cartoons were published in Britain via the internet and are a direct slur on his clients, who live in the Middle East, north Africa and even Australia (emphasis added).

Disappointing to see lawyers are acting for some Australians in this attempted class action.  But I’m well aware that many Australians don’t rate free speech as being particularly important and most Australians do not pause to think about individual rights such as the right to free speech very often if at all. 

I would guess these 95,000 Muslims see this suit as a path to achieving justice (from their perspective) as opposed to actually seeking financial compensation for their hurt feelings. 

On the off chance that a Muslim person is reading this article.  I hope you agree that I should not be forced by the state to follow any of your religious traditions.  You do not have the right to be protected from being offended.  I find many things offensive.  eg/ Religious advertisements, 99% of pop music, posters of politician’s ugly mugs at election time and a hundred other things.  I have no right to use the law to put a stop to these things. 

Defamation means the communication of a statement that makes a claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual or group etc a negative image.  The original intent was to protect individuals/groups from false statements.  In a similar way to fraud, a defamatory statement can effectively amount to an act of physical force, by influencing people to make decisions or form opinions they otherwise wouldn’t have in the absence of the false information.  Suing someone for defamation originally meant that the defendant had to prove the claim was true or reasonable and the plaintiff had to demonstrate both malice on the part of the alleged defamer and financial loss (if seeking damages). 

Or according to the Wikipedia entry on English defamation law:

“English law allows actions for libel to be brought in the High Court for any published statements which are alleged to defame a named or identifiable individual (or individuals) in a manner which causes them loss in their trade or profession, or causes a reasonable person to think worse of him, her or them. Allowable defences are justification (i.e. the truth of the statement), fair comment (i.e. whether the statement was a view that a reasonable person could have held), and privilege (i.e. whether the statements were made in Parliament or in court, or whether they were fair reports of allegations in the public interest). An offer of amends is a barrier to litigation. A defamatory statement is presumed to be false, unless the defendant can prove its truth. Furthermore, to collect compensatory damages, a public official or public figure must prove actual malice (knowing falsity or reckless disregard for the truth). A private individual must only prove negligence (not exercising due care) to collect compensatory damages. In order to collect punitive damages, all individuals must prove actual malice.”

It is a fact, that many terrorists and suicide bombers around the world are motivated by the Islamic religion and Islamic texts.   eg/ Terrorists such as the Bali bombers openly shout that they are doing the work of Allah.  It is also a fact that the prophet Mohammed as a person, was a ruthless military leader.  So I don’t see how the cartoons could properly be considered defamatory.  It’s also worth noting that we are talking about newspaper cartoons here!  This means it is obvious that comedy/satire is the intent. 

What the letter of the law (current English defamation law) has to say I wouldn’t have a clue, but it will be interesting to see the outcome of the case.