Milton Friedman: An Economics of Love

The libertarianism of Rand (and she hated the word “libertarian”) was based on an economics of resentment of the “moochers” and “loafers,” the sort of thing that leads one to call a book The Virtue of Selfishness. Friedman’s libertarianism was based on an economics of love: for real human beings leading real human lives with real human needs and real human challenges. He loved freedom not only because it allowed IBM to pursue maximum profit but because it allowed for human flourishing at all levels. Economic growth is important to everybody, but it is most important to the poor. While Friedman’s contributions to academic economics are well appreciated and his opposition to government shenanigans is celebrated, what is seldom remarked upon is that the constant and eternal theme of his popular work was helping the poor and the marginalized. Friedman cared about the minimum wage not only because it distorted labor markets but because of the effect it has on low-skill workers: permanent unemployment. He called the black unemployment rate a “disgrace and a scandal,” and the unemployment statute the “most anti-black law” on the books with good reason. He talked about two “machines”: “There has never been a more effective machine for the elimination of poverty than the free-enterprise system and a free market.” “We have constructed a governmental welfare scheme which has been a machine for producing poor people. . . . I’m not blaming the people. It’s our fault for constructing so perverse and so ill-shaped a monster.”

via Milton Friedman: An Economics of Love – By Kevin D. Williamson – Exchequer – National Review Online.

Snark: A Sign Of Weakness

There is a reason that the weak are drawn to snark while the strong simply say what they mean.  Snark makes the speaker feel a strength they know deep down they do not possess.  It shields their insecurity and makes the writer feel like they are in control.  Snark is the ideal intellectual position.  It can criticize, but it cannot be criticized.

via Snark Attack « Gucci Little Piggy.

Happy Birthday, Milton Friedman: The Man Who Saved Capitalism

Friedman stood unfailingly and heroically with the little guy against the state. He used to marvel that the intellectual left, which claims to espouse "power to the people," so often cheers as states suppress individual rights.

While he questioned almost every statist orthodoxy, he fearlessly gored sacred cows of both political parties. He was the first scholar to sound the alarm on the rotten deal of Social Security for young workers—forced to pay into a system that will never give back as much as they could have accumulated on their own. He questioned the need for occupational licenses—which he lambasted as barriers to entry—for everything from driving a cab to passing the bar to be an attorney, or getting an M.D. to practice medicine.

He loved turning the intellectual tables on liberals by making the case that regulation often does more harm than good. His favorite example was the Food and Drug Administration, whose regulations routinely delay the introduction of lifesaving drugs. "When the FDA boasts a new drug will save 10,000 lives a year," he would ask, "how many lives were lost because it didn’t let the drug on the market last year?"

He supported drug legalization (much to the dismay of supporters on the right) and was particularly proud to be an influential voice in ending the military draft in the 1970s. When his critics argued that he favored a military of mercenaries, he would retort: "If you insist on calling our volunteer soldiers ‘mercenaries,’ I will call those who you want drafted into service involuntarily ‘slaves.’"

By the way, he rarely got angry and even when he was intellectually slicing and dicing his sparring partners he almost always did it with a smile. It used to be said that over the decades at the University of Chicago and across the globe, the only one who ever defeated him in a debate was his beloved wife and co-author Rose Friedman.

The issue he devoted most of his later years to was school choice for all parents, and his Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice is dedicated to that cause. He used to lament that "we allow the market, consumer choice and competition to work in nearly every industry except for the one that may matter most: education."

As for congressional Republicans who are at risk of getting suckered into a tax-hike budget deal, they may want to remember another Milton Friedman adage: "Higher taxes never reduce the deficit. Governments spend whatever they take in and then whatever they can get away with."

via Stephen Moore: The Man Who Saved Capitalism – WSJ.com.

DEA Gone Wild

In short, the DEA here commandeered private property from a law-abiding businessman and ineptly deployed it in an operation that got a man killed and now endangers a family that had nothing to do with the case. There is a term for what the DEA did with that truck: grand theft auto.

The DEA is running neck-and-neck with the ATF for the title of most dangerous federal law-enforcement agency; in my view, both should be dissolved and their responsibilities handed over to some more responsible party, such as a group of drunken rodeo clowns or ADD-addled teen-agers.

Whoever approved this operation belongs in a jail cell next to whoever approved Fast and Furious.

Wait, *conservatives* are asking for the DEA to be abolished? Glad to see it. Via DEA Gone Wild – By Kevin D. Williamson – The Corner – National Review Online.

Why You Should Be More Interested in Mars Than the Olympics

This summer, if you want the world’s best story of international human triumph, you’ll have to look past London (even beyond the amazing hurdlers with very popular warm-up routines). You’ll have to look 200 million miles away, in fact, to discover a spectacular feat of endurance more grueling than the longest ultra-marathon. You’ll have to look to Mars. Yes, the planet. And the dream team that’s about to land NASA’s nuclear-powered super rover called Curiosity.

This one-ton, laser-beam-blasting wonder is going to land on Mars via a "sky crane." Most of us have zero idea what it does or why it’s going to Mars. That’s a real shame, because the Curiosity story is a modern epic of explorers on the path to discovering a second genesis. It will be a tiny blip on our summer radar — landing somewhere between the shot put finals and the Kimye engagement rumors — before it fades away without any of us ever knowing its true brilliance.

Why won’t you hear about it? Because NASA isn’t going to tell us. Sure, they’ll tell you a little bit — press conferences about what they discovered, an inspirational video. NASA partners will create fun websites, and bits of awesome will trickle out. But there is a larger narrative tragedy, and it’s a bigger conspiracy than any tinfoil-hatted crank could come up with — a conspiracy born out of fear.

via Andrew Kessler: Why You Should Be More Interested in Mars Than the Olympics.

Hunter-gatherers, Westerners use same amount of energy, contrary to previous hypotheses

These findings upend the long-held assumption that our hunter-gatherer ancestors expended more energy than modern populations, and challenge the view that obesity in Western populations results from decreased energy expenditure. Instead, the similarity in daily energy expenditure across a broad range of lifestyles suggests that habitual metabolic rates are relatively constant among human populations. This in turn supports the view that the current rise in obesity is due to increased food consumption, not decreased energy expenditure.

Perhaps obesity is primarily diet related, not in a simplistic calories-in/calories-out way, but in a type-of-food way. Could it be that the Federal food pyramid guide is the problem? Gary Taubes, call your office.

Via Hunter-gatherers, Westerners use same amount of energy, contrary to theory | Science Codex.

The Gods of the Copybook Headings

In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,

By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;

But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: "If you don’t work you die."

Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew

And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true

That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man

There are only four things certain since Social Progress began.

That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,

And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins

When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,

As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,

The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

via Poems – ‘The Gods of the Copybook Headings’.

Only 3% Growth In Median Income? A Lie Using Statistics.

If you’re the sort of person who reads economics blogs, you’ve probably heard that the median US worker has enjoyed hardly any income gain over the past few decades. …

A mere 3% increase over 25 years does indeed look pretty grim. …

Now let’s look a little deeper and ask which demographic groups account for all this stagnation. White men? Nope, their median income is up 15%. Nonwhite men? Up 16%. White women? Up 75%. Non-white women? Up 62%. That’s everybody …

What gives? How can the median income shoot up in every demographic sector while the overall median remains nearly unchanged?

… Each demographic group has progressed, but at the same time, there’s been a great influx of lower income groups — women and nonwhites — into the workforce. This creates the illusion that nobody’s progressing when in fact everybody’s progressing.

In the words of another blogger, “You have to look behind the median.” Via The Numbers Racket at Steven Landsburg | The Big Questions: Tackling the Problems of Philosophy with Ideas from Mathematics, Economics, and Physics.

Gun-Controlled Chicago Has 1st-World’s Highest Murder Rate

Chicago likes to compare itself to other world cities, so Ward Room thought it would find out how we rank in violence. It turns out no one can top us. Among what are considered Alpha world cities, Chicago has the highest murder rate — higher even than the Third World metropolises of Mexico City and Sao Paolo.

Just imagine how bad it would be *without* the gun control! (/me rolls eyes) via The Deadliest Global City | NBC Chicago.

Printing Your Own Rifle

HaveBlue didn’t print an entire gun, he printed a “receiver” for an AR-15 (better known as the military’s M16) at a cost of about $30 worth of materials.

The receiver is, in effect, the framework of a gun and holds the barrel and all of the other parts in place. It’s also the part of the gun that is technically, according to US law, the actual gun and carries the serial number.

When the weapon was assembled with the printed receiver HaveBlue reported he fired 200 rounds and it operated perfectly.

via The End of Gun Control? – Forbes.