Monday, January 31, 2011

Inequality and Wealth

Can you tell what this chart is showing you?

1. The bottom 5% in the US are as wealthy as the top 5% in India.

2. Of the countries shown, the difference between the richest and the poorest is smallest in the USA. (I'd like to see even more curves and compare them to standing in the economic freedom index. For those shown: US -9th, Brazil - 113, India - 124, China - 135)

What you can 't see here but you can learn by reading The Haves and the Have-Nots by World Bank economist Branko Milanovic , the bottom 5% in America is richer than 68 percent of the world’s inhabitants.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

When Debt is the Problem

(HT Prof. Jeff Hummel on the Barstool Economist yahoo group)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Freshman Congressmen on Repeal

Why repeal?

The law exceeds and perverts the constitutional limits on government power.
Individual Mandate is both wrong and unconstitutional.
It's a bad deal for jobs and business--big and small.
It creates even more bloated government bureaucratic control of medical care.
It inserts the government between the doctor and the patient.
It is grossly fiscally irresponsible.
It neither lowers cost or increases access.

What's not to repeal?


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Paul Ryan on the real cost of the PPACA

It destroys the rule of law.

It increases the debt and the deficit.

It reinforces the perverse incentives which are causing the rising health care costs.

What's not to repeal?


Dr. Reece does the math on repeal

On his blog, Medinnovation, Dr. Richard Reece asks:

How many Americans would be effected if repeal were to actually occur? Democrats speaking against repeal insisted that the health reform law was now already helping “millions” of people. Repealing it, therefore, would be inhumane.

How many millions? What percent of the U.S. population?

Here's the spoiler:

12.4 million Americans (4.0% of the total population) will benefit from the law starting in 2011 and would suffer from repeal.

These are big numbers, but not as big as the 308.7 million Americans that the health reform law would effect. These include all of us who would pay for the individual mandate, those of us who would be compelled to switch from their present plans to plans authorized by government, and those among us who would pay $500 billion in higher taxes and health care premiums required to meet the law’s provisions.

Read the whole article for the details.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Those who do not know history...

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance." --Cicero - 55 BC

Are bound to repeat it.

(HT R. Folsom on The Barstool Economists yahoo group.)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr

This man is one of my heroes.
A freedom fighter.
An avid supporter of equality before the law.
It is right and just that America has a day to celebrate this man's life, his efforts and successes in extending the American ideal of individual rights to all Americans.

All men are created equal in their inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Martin Luther King, Jr helped turn that dream into a reality.

I hope you will take time to remember and honor this man and the courage he had to stand up for freedom and truth.

More speeches.

A free lecture from the Teaching Company, available until Feb. 18: Listen to Martin Luther King, Jr.: Stride Toward Freedom between now and Thursday, February 17 to discover how the words and actions of this iconic civil rights leader embodied the core values of freedom.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Face of the American Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs are heroes fighting poverty by creating wealth.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Small Business, ObamaCare and the 1099s

Just one more reason why ObamaCare must be repealed.

HT Ideas Matter.

Friday, January 14, 2011

"I am an Entrepreneur" photo contest

Go check out the fabulous photos in SEVEN's photo contest for "I am an entrepreneur"--and vote for the one you think best.

I first came across SEVEN last year when I googled for sites using the term "morality of profit." At the time, the organization had just finished accepting essays for its contest, What is "The Morality of Profit." A winner was chosen in August.

Belief in the evil of profit is rooted in belief in the evil of mankind...Love for others will never come from old ideas about hatred of ourselves...Mankind is not evil. Ergo a man or a woman’s interest in his or herself is not evil.

You can read a longer except of the wining essay here.

I am hoping they will publish a compendium of the top essays, as they did with a previous competition, In the River They Swim: Essays from Around the World on Enterprise Solutions to Poverty.

I love the way this organization both celebrates and supports entrepreneurial efforts throughout the world as the best way to end poverty. We need to create MORE wealth, improving the condition of the poorest, not level things out to an equal but poorer world.

To celebrate the entrepreneurial spirit in the world is to celebrate man's lust for life.

Poverty is the problem. Wealth is the solution.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

The True Wealth of our Nation

It's citizens.

Dr. Jane Orient writes on the on the recent tragedy in Arizona:

Aside from the names of the fallen, the names that should be remembered are those of the citizens who acted as Americans should, to protect and help themselves and their neighbors in the event of danger. Roger Salzgeber and 74-year-old retired Army National Guard Colonel Bill Badger, who was slightly injured, tackled the shooter. Joe Zamudio helped pin him to the ground. [Zamudio told MSNBC that he sprinted from a store toward the scene when he heard the shots. He has a concealed carry permit, and had his hand on his pistol, prepared to down the shooter if necessary. He said he was very glad that it proved to be unnecessary.] A 61-year old woman, Patricia Maisch, grabbed the magazine the shooter had dropped while trying to reload, and then knelt on his ankles. Daniel Hernandez, Jr., rushed to the side of his new boss, Congresswoman Giffords, applying pressure to her wound, and keeping her from choking on her own blood. Let us commend and thank all of them, and resolve to act as they did if we are ever in such a situation.

Reminiscent of the heroes of Flight 93.

Thank you Roger Salzgeber, Joe Zamudio, Patricia Maisch, Daniel Hernandez --and any other unnamed heroes of the day.

Read the rest of Dr. Orient's commentary here.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Wagering Malthusians Continue to Lose

via Carpe Diem:

(Wikipedia on the original Julian Simon-Paul Ehrlich wager.)


The Finite World of Paul Krugman's Thinking

Paul Krugman claims that the commodity markets are telling us that we're living in an Ehrlich-like finite world of resource scarcitywhere "the rapid growth of emerging economies is placing pressure on limited supplies of raw materials, pushing up their prices."

Don Boudreaux responds:

"It’s not true that vigorous economic growth necessarily makes resources more scarce. In fact, history shows that, because of human ingenuity, the opposite is not only possible but prevalent. Since the dawn of the industrial revolution in the mid-18th century, available supplies of coal, petroleum, iron ore, and most other resources have increased significantly – and, as a result, their real prices have fallen."

#3 A New Bet ?

Don Boudreaux proposes the following wager to Professor DeLong:

"Let’s make a bet very much like the famous bet that Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich made in September 1980. Because of inflation, I propose that the wager be larger than the Simon-Ehrlich amount. How about $2,500? And I offer to you terms similar to those that Julian offered to Ehrlich. Like Ehrlich, you can choose whichever bundle of five or more raw materials you like, and choose which (professionally respected) means to be employed for adjusting nominal prices for inflation.

The bet will be for a duration of at least ten years, but no longer than 15 years. (You choose.) If I win (fat chance, I know, given the pinto beans I have for brains) you will contribute $2,500 (tax-deductible!) to the Department of Economics at George Mason University. If – er, when – you win, I’ll mail you a check for $2,500. Shall we wager?!"

But I like best how Mark Perry sums it up here:

[T]he bigger Simonesque lesson is clear: the "ultimate resource," i.e. the human mind, human capital, human ingenuity, and human innovation, are infinitely abundant, and will meet, address and overcome any scarcity in natural resources. The bottom line as I understand Julian Simon is this: we'll never run out of the ultimate resource. And that is why limited or finite supplies of natural resources have never, and will never, result in any significant binding constraints or limits on human progress, economic growth, or the continual increases in our standard of living, wealth and abundance.

Julian Simon himself:

"Untruth is the ugliest and most dangerous pollution that humans face today. It is just about the only pollution that cannot somehow be transformed into a product of value.” (Ultimate Resource 2, pg 527)
“The common assertions that resources are growing more scarce, that environmental conditions are worsening and that the poor suffer from economic freedom are the gravest danger to the poor and the environment.” (Ultimate Resource 2, xxxvii)

Or as I summed it up in a previous post on Simon:

The finiteness of any specific physical resource is made irrelevant by the presence of the ultimate resource: human ingenuity unleashed in a free society.


Monday, January 10, 2011

What Your Money Can Buy

What ~$5300 bought in 1964:

What ~$5300 buys today:

All of this--

PLUS all of this--

Now try to imagine the increased affordability and the innovations which could have occurred in the field of medicine if we had had a fully free market in health care since 1964, instead of the explosion in government control since Medicare in 1965.

(Images from Carpe Diem)


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Who were the wealthiest Americans ever?

Jeffery Small over at Small Thoughts posted this fascinating chart from . Converting "wealth at death" into 2010 dollars, who were the wealthiest men in American history? The answers are both surprising, and not surprising.

Not surprising is the fact that Bill Gates, Sam Walton and Warren Buffet are on the list.
Surprising is the fact that they are not closer to the top of the list than they are ( #12,#13, #16 respectively.)

Roll your cursor over the bars to find out who the rest of these men were. You will recognize most, though probably not all, of the names.

What do you know about these men? How did they acquire their wealth? How many were "economic entrepreneurs," gaining wealth through honest voluntary trade, and how many were "political entrepreneurs" who used the power of government to obtain special favors and competitive advantages?

Some of the answers to these questions can be found in two delightful quick reads by Burton Folsom, Empire Builders and The Myth of the Robber Barons. [For a quick glimpse of what you will learn from these books, check out this lecture by Folsom. A video clip of a similar lecture can be found here.] For an in depth article on Rockefellar and Standard Oil, I recommend Alex Epstein's article "Vindicating Capitalism: The Real History of the Standard Oil Company".

One of the interesting points I gleaned from the above chart is the visual representation of the connection between economic freedom and wealth production. See how many of these men lived between 1850 and 1900? While these men were getting richer, so was everyone else. Real income (income adjusted for the cost of living) doubled between 1870 and 1900 (real US GNP per capita rose from $4500 to $9000). What was it about this period of American history that supported so much economic growth?

The turn of the century brought with it a multitude of government interventions into the economic realm--and with the, a dramatic reduction in the accumulation of private wealth. The Sherman Anti-trust Act of 1890 and the Federal Reserve and the federal income tax in 1913 are just a few of the provisions which significantly altered the relationship between government and private economic transactions.

We know a lot about the connection between economic freedom and prosperity in the modern world. (See here , here, here and here.) Other important clues to prosperity lay within understanding the political economy of America in the second half of the 19th century. To better understand how to improve the lot of mankind, more effort needs to be spent learning from that highly productive period of human history.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Lighting the Way

I regret not having the time these days for more thoughtful, analytic posts. Instead, I hope you enjoy these snippets of news and images illustrating ways in which Wealth is Not the Problem.

(HT Rino Rooter.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Reminder to Self

The next time you are in an argument with someone over a public policy, stop and ask yourself: Can you summarize your opponent’s position in words that he would recognize and accept? ... If you feel the need to mischaracterize the views of those you disagree with, odds are you are secretly very insecure about your own beliefs.

--John Goodman, "Are you ready to debate?"


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Information or propaganda? Either way, you're paying for it.

This is just one example of why government must be severely and strictly limited in its scope:

HHS is Paying Google with Taxpayer Money to Alter 'Obamacare' Search Results

The brazenness of the Obama administration never ceases to amaze. Try typing "Obamacare" into Google, and you'll find that the first entry is now the Obama administration's If you don't particularly like that result, you'll probably hate the fact that you're paying for it.

You'll get the same paid-for result if you type in "Obamacare facts," "Obamacare summary," "Obamacare info," "Obamacare overview," "Obamacare questions," "Obamacare explanation," "Obamacare basics," "Obamacare pros and cons," "Obamacare and elderly," and even "Obamacare and abortion." For each of these search terms, and many others, the Obama administration's site comes up first, as a paid entry. But it doesn’t come up if you type in "ObamaCare repeal."

Read more here and here.


Quote of the Day - Inalienable Individual Rights--or not?

This is the crucial point...This is the point which allows no compromise. You must choose one or the other. There is no middle. Either you believe that each individual man has value, dignity and certain inalienable rights which cannot be sacrificed for any cause, for any purpose, for any collective, for any number of other men whatsoever. Or else you believe that a number of men — it doesn't matter what you call it: a collective, a class, a race or a State — holds all rights, and any individual man can be sacrificed if some collective good — it doesn't matter what you call it: better distribution of wealth, racial purity or the Millennium — demands it. Don't fool yourself. Be honest about this. Names don't matter. Only the basic principle matters, and there is no middle choice. Either man has individual, inalienable rights — or he hasn't.

--Ayn Rand "To All Innocent Fifth Columnists", 1941

If you consistently hold that a man has an inviolable right to his own life, and only to his own, then a majority vote can not justify "redistribution" of property for any purpose. Not "universal" health care. Not "public" education or other "public works." Not "the greater good of society." Not anything.

Those who advocate taking from another without his explicit voluntary consent are violating a man's right to his own life.

Abandoning the principle of a man's right to his own life is not compassionate. It will not and can not lead to peace and cooperation but instead results in power struggles and an ever escalating use of force.

The best way to help the poor, and promote peace, is to rigorously protect individual rights--for everyone.

It's the right thing to do.

(HT Kelly Valenzuela for pointing me to the article)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Think of the possibilities

Each new year, as with each new moment of your life, is an opportunity.
Make the best of it.

Is this cool, or what?

Or, what about this?

Wealth is NOT the problem.
Happy New Year.

Video #1 HT The Daily Dish via John Goodman.
Video #2 HT Ideas Matter.