Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wade Phillips as HC of Cowboys

Several sources have reported that the Cowboys will hire Wade Phillips to replace Bill Parcells as the Head Coach of the Cowboys.

Discuss.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Spring in Texas Posted by Hello


Spring in Texas Posted by Hello

What Religion is your Bra?

A man walked into the ladies department of a Macy's and shyly walked up to the woman behind the counter and said, "I'd like to buy a bra for my wife."

"What type of bra?" asked the clerk.

"Type?" inquires the man, "Is there more than one type?"

"Look around," said the saleslady, as she showed a sea of bras in every shape, size, color and material imaginable.

"Actually, even with all of this variety, there are really only four types of bras to chose from." Relieved, the man asked about the types.

The saleslady replied, "There are the Catholic, the Salvation Army, the Presbyterian, and the Baptist types. Which one would you prefer?" Now befuddled, the man asked about the difference between them.

The saleslady responded, "It is really quite simple.

The Catholic type supports the masses. The Salvation Army type lifts the fallen. The Presbyterian type keeps them staunch and upright, and The Baptist type makes mountains out of molehills."

Are Feeding Tubes "Artificial" Life Support?

I have mostly tried to stay out of the Terry Schiavo case because I am not fully conversant in the facts of the case. But today, I received an email about those "facts" which brought me up short:

1. Schindlers Were Outgunned by Lawyers Early

In case you were wondering, with so many facts in dispute about the Terri Schiavo case, the answer is relatively clear: The Schindlers, well-intentioned as they have been, were outgunned in the early legal fight that sealed their daughter's fate.

The early legal maneuvering created "facts" that are now beyond dispute in higher courts. One is the unbelievable claim by Michael Schiavo that Terri wanted to be starved and dehydrated to death.

One Florida attorney told the story on Steve Sailer's Web Log (www.isteve.com).

Here's what the lawyer wrote:

"I have been following the case for years. Something that interests me about the Terri Schiavo case, and that doesn't seem to have gotten much media attention: The whole case rests on the fact that the Schindlers (Terri's parents) were totally outlawyered by the husband (Michael Schiavo) at the trial court level.

"This happened because, in addition to getting a $750K judgment for Terri's medical care, Michael Schiavo individually got a $300K award of damages for loss of consortium, which gave him the money to hire a top-notch lawyer to represent him on the right-to-die claim. He hired George Felos, who specializes in this area and litigated one of the landmark right-to-die cases in Florida in the early '90s.

"By contrast, the Schindlers had trouble even finding a lawyer who would take their case since there was no money in it. Finally they found an inexperienced lawyer who agreed to take it partly out of sympathy for them, but she had almost no resources to work with and no experience in this area of the law. She didn't even depose Michael Schiavo's siblings, who were key witnesses at the trial that decided whether Terri would have wanted to be kept alive. Not surprisingly, Felos steamrollered her.

"The parents obviously had no idea what they were up against until it was too late. It was only after the trial that they started going around to religious and right-to-life groups to tell their story. These organizations were very supportive, but by that point their options were already limited because the trial judge had entered a judgment finding that Terri Schiavo would not have wanted to live.

"This fact is of crucial importance -- and it's one often not fully appreciated by the media, who like to focus on the drama of cases going to the big, powerful appeals courts: Once a trial court enters a judgment into the record, that judgment's findings become THE FACTS of the case, and can only be overturned if the fact finder (in this case, the judge) acted capriciously (i.e., reached a conclusion that had essentially no basis in fact).

"In this case, the trial judge simply chose to believe Michael Schiavo's version of the facts over the Schindlers'. Since there was evidence to support his conclusion (in the form of testimony from Michael Schiavo's siblings), it became nearly impossible for the Schindlers to overturn it. The judges who considered the case after the trial-level proceeding could make decisions only on narrow questions of law. They had no room to ask, "Hey, wait a minute, would she really want to die?" That "fact" had already been decided.

"In essence, the finding that Terri Schiavo would want to die came down to the subjective opinion of one overworked trial judge who was confronted by a very sharp, experienced right-to-die attorney on one side and a young, quasi-pro bono lawyer on the other. "Nothing unusual about this, of course. It's the kind of thing that happens all the time. But it's an interesting point to keep in mind when you read that the Schiavo case has been litigated for years and has been reviewed by dozens of judges ... yadda yadda yadda.

"By the way, I'm guessing that George Felos is probably quite happy to work the Schiavo case for free at this point since it's making him one of the most famous right-to-kill -- I mean right-to-die -- lawyers in the country. His BlackBerry has probably melted down by now, what with all the messages from the hurry-up-and-die adult children you've been blogging about."

Go here to read a comprehensive accounting of the Terri Schiavo case.


I don't have a problem with people "pulling the plug" on artificial Life Support systems when there is little or no hope for survival of greviously injured patients. But the Terri Schiavo case seems to me to be different on two accounts.

1) Why is there a compelling need for Michael Schiavo to "pull the plug" on his wife in direct conflict with the wishes of his wife's parents?

Is there a financial motivation for ending his wife's life? If not, why not just divorce Terri, and allow her parents to continue caring for her? Also, why won't Michael Schiavo allow doctors to administer the PET scan that would conclusively show whether or not Terri is truly brain dead?

2) I am unconvinced that a feeding tube is an artificial life support system.

Babies cannot feed themselves. Paraplegics cannot feed themselves. But no one doubts their humanity or their rights to live. In fact, anyone who engaged in starving a baby or a paraplegic by "passively" refusing to provide sustenance would be criminally liable for murder. How is the Terri Schiavo case any different?

If providing external sources of food and water are "artificial," then all of us live by artificial means.

Right-to-die advocates often focus on "quality of life" issues and ignore the absolute nature of "value of life" morality. But quality of life arguments do not hold up under moral scrutiny. Just who gets to decide what is the acceptable level of "quality" for life to continue?

For example, did Helen Keller enjoy a "quality of life" that you and I would consider acceptable for our own lives? How about Christopher Reeves, post accident? Do third world children enjoy a "quality of life" that we would consider acceptable for ourselves?

My sister-in-law has severe health problems and is borderline mentally retarded. Should my family be allowed to starve her to death? I am overweight. I do not enjoy a "quality of life" that I would prefer. But should my less than optimal "quality of life" give courts the jursdiction to allow a relative to end my life? Or should they just be allowed to starve me until my wieght is lowered to the point where my "quality of life" is optimal?

The problem with "quality of life" arguments is that there is no clear line. But it seems rather clear to me that life has its own intrinsic value, and the decision to deprive an innocent human being of life by intentional starvation is barbaric.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

"FAKE BUT ACCURATE"

The NEW YORK TIMES says that the forged CBS documents that it used to accuse President Bush of disobeying orders in the Texas Air National guard are "FAKE BUT ACCURATE."

Yes, you can go read the headline right here:

Gee, isn't that swell. I think I'll take me some "FAKE BUT ACCURATE" checks down to the bank and see if they'll cash them for me. After all, the underlying story is absolutely true. I NEED THE MONEY.

This is becoming laughable and tragic at the same time. Can you believe that CBS actually put on an "expert" that confirmed the memos were fake? Unbelievable. It reminds me of a song we used to sing in 4-H camp:

Oh they made the ship Titanic
to sail the ocean blue.
They made it so the water
could ne'er come through.
But the good Lord raised His hand
Said this ship will never land.
It was sad when the great ship went down

Chorus:

It was sad (echo) it was sad
It was sad (echo) it was sad
It was sad when the great ship went down
To the bottom of the...
Husbands and wives
little bitty children lost their lives
It was sad when the great ship down
Waaay down
to the bottom
of the sea.
Kerplunk
She sunk.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Did Bush get Special Privilege getting into the National Guard?

Virginia Postrel shared a conversation she had with a Democratic friend concerning Bush's National Guard Service. It got me to thinking.

The Democrats are obsessing on whether Bush might have gotten Special Treatment by being accepted in the National Guard. As a right-wing guy, I have to say, "Probably." But that doesn't necessarily mean that Bush or his father are lying.

One can imagine the following conversations:

W. Bush: "Dad, I don't want to get drafted. Do you know how I can get into the National Guard?"

H.W. Bush: "I'm not sure, son. Let me check into it."

Next Day...

H.W. Bush: "Hello? How are you (Texas pol friend). Hey, I have a question. George Jr. wants to get into the National Guard. You know people in the Guard. What his best route?"

Tex pol friend: "Well, if he just simply applies, there is a long waiting list. But I think I heard that if he'd be willing to go on active duty as a pilot for two years, the list is a lot shorter."

H.W. Bush: "Thanks Buddy. I'll let him know."

Later that night...

H.W.Bush: "Hey, Jr. I talked to (Texas pol friend) today, and he says if you just apply, chances are you are going to get drafted. But if you volunteer for 2 years of active duty to become a fighter pilot like your old Dad, you have a much better shot."

W. Bush: "Great. Thanks Dad. I'll do that. It might be fun to be a pilot anyway. The girls always love a pilot." (Smirk.)

(Note: Just the information that there might be a short-cut to getting accepted into the Guard is one form of privilege. The information was probably available to anyone, but someone "connected" might be more likely to possess that information. Did George H.W. Bush know the right people to ask? Very likely. So in one respect, W. might be the beneficiary of special privilege, but that doesn't require a sinister plot.)

Later...

Texas Pol Friend: "Hey George (H.W. Bush), what ever happended with Jr?"

H.W. Bush: "Well, I told him what you said, and he is suddenly very interested in becoming a fighter pilot." Laugh, laugh. "He's going to take the pilot's exam next week. I sure hope he does well. That's a lot better scenario than toting a gun around in the jungles of Vietnam. Then he could become a pilot like me, and we could swap stories."
Later...

Texas Pol Friend: "Hello, (TANG Commander). Hey, I was just calling to find out how a son of a friend of mine did on his application to be a pilot in the Guard."

TANG Commander: "Oh, who's that?"

Texas Pol Friend: "Well, you know who George Bush is?"

TANG Commander: "The Congressman from Houston?"

Texas Pol Friend: "Yeah, that's the one. He's a buddy of Nixon's. His father, Prescott Bush is the Senator from Connecticutt who used to play golf with Ike."

TANG Commander: "You don't say."

Texas Pol Friend: "If its not too much trouble, can you let me know how his son does. Bush is a good friend, and it would be great to be able to tell him his boy made it."

TANG Commander: "Sure, no problem. What's his name." Hang-up. "Dang-burned politicians! Hey, (Jr. TANG officer.) You know who George Bush is?"

Jr. TANG Officer: "The guy from Houston. The Congressman, sir."

TANG Commander: "Yeah, that's the one. Well, seems he has a boy trying to get out of being drafted. Somebody must have told him about the preference for those volunteering for flight training, because the boy has apparently taken the exam, and (Texas Pol Friend) just called me to see how he did on his test."

Jr. TANG officer: "Another son of privilege, huh sir."

TANG Commander: "Yeah, you know the drill. His dad is a friend of Nixon, too. Well connected. His grandfather used to play golf with Ike. I think I remember his Dad was a pilot in WWII. Maybe it runs in the genes. Why don't you grease the wheels on this. If anyone has any questions, let me know. Let's just hope the apple didn't fall too far from the tree."

Jr. TANG Officer: "Yes, sir."
Later...

Jr. TANG officer: "Sir, do you remember that pilot applicant, George W. Bush, Jr., you asked me to check up on?"

TANG Commander: "Yes, what's the story?"

Jr. TANG Officer: "Well, he's from Yale, and he passed the pilot training test. I talked to (unknown officer) at the selection board, and he has made sure Bush is on the list for selection."

TANG Commander: "Good. That's one less politician I'll have to worry about. I'll let (Texas Pol Friend) know, and he'll get to break the good news to Congressman Bush. Hopefully, they'll return the favor some day. Remember (Jr. TANG Officer), politics is part of the game. It shouldn't be, but that is how the world works. Remember that, and you'll do well in the Air Force."

Jr. TANG Officer: "Yes, sir. I will."

And there you have it. Neither George W. Bush nor his father "asked" for Special consideration, but he still benefitted from it. The father expresses a hope to a connected Texas Politician Friend that George Jr. makes it, and the connnected friend calls to make sure it happens. But the caviat is that W. Bush must make sure not to embarass his Dad or his friends.

Bush is known as a likeable guy, so he probably made many friends in the TANG. And his glowing reviews are probably warranted. That is, he didn't let the old man or his friends down.

Later, when the Vietnam war is dwindling down, and there is a glut of pilots coming back from Vietnam, Bush applies for transfer to Alabama to work on a political campaign. At the time, this is no big deal, and the application reminds everyone that Bush is connected. Once again, why make waves? At this point, his father is Ambassador to China, and Nixon is still President, so give the kid what he wants. Again, no explicit request for favoritism, but it still might have been extended.

So the question that remains is, did Bush do anything wrong? The answer is, probably not. Since Bush never asked for special privilege, he can factually deny asking. And it wouldn't be politically expedient to admit that he probably benefitted from his Dad's connections, even if he suspects he did.

There is no scandal here. There is only a reinforcement of the saying, "Its not what you know, its who you know." There is no evidence that W. failed to complete his duty. There is only an assertion that he got special privileges that the average guy didn't. Well, duh. It doesn't necessarily follow that he goofed off, and skipped out on his duty.

Everyone on the left is trying to get Republicans to admit that Bush benefitted from Special Privilege. Well, I cannot prove he did, but it seems highly likely to me that he did. If someone whose father is personal friends with the President Nixon, whose grandfather was personal friends of Eisenhower, and whose maternal ancestor was the 14th President of the United States(Franklin Pierce) didn't get some wheels greased, then no one did. But the reality is he probably would not have to explicitly ask for it. It would just happen.

And as long as he fulfilled his military obligations, there is no real scandal here. That is why the left is trying so hard to prove he was a slacker. They have no evidence, only mere assertions, suspicions and probably a little jealousy. In truth, the fact that he was a child of privilege mitigates against that possibility of him being a slacker, because upholding the family honor is a well-known concern among children of privilege.

John Kerry, another son of privilege, also tried to get out of Vietnam through deferments. But when he was cornered, he joined the Naval Reserve, got shipped to Vietnam, and probably served with the goal of holding up the family honor in the back of his mind. Why else would he bring the cameras. He learned about the three Purple Hearts loophole, got hit three times, a skedaddled back stateside as soon as possible. No dishonor here either. Any dishonor attributable to Kerry is not due to his service in Vietnam, but his activities as a anti-war activists, and his incendiary speeches before Congress.

But as a side question, if both Kerry and Bush tried to avoid Vietnam, and Bush was successful while Kerry was not, does that indicate that Kerry was/is smarter than Bush?

Friday, September 10, 2004

CBS Forgery Scandal

This just boggles the mind. How could anyone be so stupid!?

Read, then click on "Main" and scroll through the other posts. Very link rich.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Quote of the Week: Churchill on Islam

Via an article on July 13, 2004 by Mark Steyn in the Daily Telegraph of London:

In The River War (1899), Winston Churchill's account of the Sudanese campaign:

"How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property - either as a child, a wife, or a concubine - must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men.

"Individual Moslems may show splendid qualities. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the Queen: all know how to die. But the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytising faith. It has already spread throughout Central Africa, raising fearless warriors at every step; and were it not that Christianity is sheltered in the strong arms of science - the science against which it had vainly struggled - the civilisation of modern Europe might fall, as fell the civilisation of ancient Rome."

Note: I think Churchill got it wrong on what will cause Europe to fall. Today we have a Europe that has embraced Science, but rejected Christianity. And now, Europe is in the process of falling prey to Islam. So despite Churchill's assertion that Christianity was being protected by science, I think the evidence shows that it was Science being protected by Christianity.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Taxing the World

Steven Den Beste is one of my favorite bloggers to read primarily because his mind works somewhat like my own mind. Last week, he had a post about the link between Chaos Theory and Economics. First I want to talk about our nagging Trade Imbalance with other nations.

TRADE IMBALANCE

Den Beste writes:
"We seem to be able to "unilaterally" begin an economic recovery. We can do that even if the rest of the world is in recession. And there have been times when the US was in a boom and the rest of the world sat it out. It seems as if most of the other major economies in the world can only begin to grow if we already are doing so, and that's because their economic growth relies on exports – more often than not, to us."

Den Beste references this article at the International Herald Tribune about the pending increase in interest rates and then goes on:
"And in fact, most other nations generally drive economic recovery using exports.

Which means they can't recover unless someone else is recovering who wants to buy lots of their stuff.

Which usually means the US, which has had a chronically high trade imbalance for a hell of a long time, causing some to predict that we're heading at high speed for a cliff."

I have come to view our Trade Deficit as a tax on other nations. Let me spell it out for you.

1) Americans want the most for their money. They do not really care where a product is made, so long as it performs the function for which it is purchased, and it is cheaper than another.

2) Products which can be made cheaper abroad are shipped abroad to be made, raising the standard of living in poorer countries. Products which are marginal, and are produced in other countries which rely on exports to drive their economies tend to be either directly subsidized by competing governments (Airbus comes to mind) or indirectly subsidized through tariffs.

3) Because America is ruthlessly competitive, low productivity jobs tend to outsourced leaving Americans only those jobs at which it is most productive and most competitive. This optimizes our economy at the expense of everyone else who doesn't follow our model.

So how is this a tax on other nations? If France subsidizes an industry, it is effectively taxing its own people in order to lower the price of its output to compete with American made products. Every time you buy a French government subsidized product over a non-subsidized American product, you are personally collecting a small tax on some French citizen.

Also, since France wants to "protect" its textile workers from "unfair" competition of, say, Chinese textiles, it places a tariff on Chinese-made clothing. Since some Chinese clothing still gets bought in France, the French buyer is once again paying an extra tax for Chinese clothes. But since creating a trade barrier for Chinese made textiles lowers overall demand for Chinese textiles in France and in the rest of Europe, as well, it ends up lowering the overall international prices of Chinese textiles worldwide. Since we have low trade barriers with China, we are effectively profiting at the expense of citizens of countries who erect trade barriers. So once again, we are personally collecting a tax on citizens in countries with high trade barriers every time we purchase a Chinese-made shirt.

Those who argue against the desirability of a Trade Deficit are Mercantilists. That is, they see intrinsic value in money itself, versus the goods that money can be exchanged for. But Den Beste strips away the veneer of this argument when he acknowledges that our paper money is "money they [The Fed] conjure out of thin air." So, money has zero intrinsic value. The only real value it has is in the amount of goods it can be exchanged for.

That is why the Trade Deficit bogeyman is really a strawman. If I can trade my USA Ten Dollar bill for four Chinese made shirts, but a Frenchman can only get three Chinese made shirts for his Ten Euro Bill, who is more wealthy? People do not wear money, they cannot drive money, they cannot eat money. Midas was a true Mercantilist. He was wealthy in money and gold beyond imagination. Everything he touched turned into money. But he eventually starved to death because when he touched a piece of food, it turned to gold before he could swallow it.

In reality there is no Trade Deficit. In order for us to experience a real Trade Deficit, we would have to get lower value in goods in return for our money. But because of our low trade barriers, we actually get more value for our money than other countries do. So what if I ship a boatload of paper money to Singapore, as long as I am getting a fair value in Goods in return. After all, people actually wear clothes, listen to radios, watch TV's, eat food, and really use the Goods we exchange our money for.

The essential fallacy in the Mercantilist point of view is expertly summarized in the essay about French Economists Frederick Bastiat at the Dallas Federal Reserve website. I highly recommend you read the entire essay, but some stimulating tidbits follow:
"Bastiat argued primarily that those voting for protectionist policies were voting for scarcity over abundance. How is it ever possible, he asked, that the average person and, presumably, the nation can prosper by restricting the supply of precisely those things people need?

Allow me to emphasize this point, at the risk of repeating myself. There is a fundamental antagonism between the seller and the buyer. The former wants the goods on the market to be scarce, in short supply, and expensive. The latter wants them abundant, in plentiful supply and cheap. Our laws, which should at least be neutral, take the side of the seller against the buyer, the producer against the consumer, of high prices against low prices, of scarcity against abundance.

They operate, if not intentionally, then logically on the assumption that a nation is rich when it is lacking in everything".[3] (Bastiat's emphasis)

This is the central failing of the Mercantilist Doctrine. It says that money is worth more than the goods it is traded for. It is a fallacy. Furthermore, the direct exchange rate of currencies is also a poor measure of value when a currency's value is artificially elevated because of protectionist policies of governments. A true measure of currency value fluctuations must take into account government tariffs.

The Mercantilist Response:
"The protectionists answered such arguments by appealing to the fear that foreigners would take away the nation's money by "flooding" France with their goods. This fear was a result of two centuries of the popularly accepted mercantilist doctrine in Europe. Mercantilism claimed that physical money was wealth, and when one traded goods for money, the person surrendering the money "lost wealth" in the exchange. What was assumed to be true for individual trades was, by extension, assumed also to be true for the nation as a whole. "Trade deficit phobia" was a common theme during this period. The primary reason Adam Smith wrote his great 1776 work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, was to refute mercantilism. Bastiat often found himself repeating Smith's arguments 75 years later. And we are still having this debate nearly 150 years after Bastiat's death!"

Bastiat's reply:
Like Adam Smith, Bastiat believed that there was "nothing so foolish as discussing the so-called balance of trade."

...

The confusion between money and wealth is an old and stubborn problem. Bastiat saw the distinction clearly, while the protectionists, relying on the old mercantilist doctrine that money is wealth, failed to grasp the consequences of this view. Bastiat makes a simple but powerful point that we would do well to remember when examining, say, our own national income statistics:

Similarly, restrictive measures, while reducing the abundance of things, can raise their prices to such an extent that, if you will, every person is, in monetary terms, just as rich as he was before.

Whether an inventory shows three hectoliters of wheat at twenty francs, or four hectoliters at fifteen francs, the result will be sixty francs in either case; but, are the two quantities the same from the point of view of their ability to satisfy wants?...

Man does not live on nominal values, but on commodities actually produced; and the more he has of these commodities, regardless of their price, the richer he is.[5] (Bastiat's emphasis)

Bastiat goes on to say that there are two ways of obtaining wealth - Production and Plunder. And excessive taxation to artificially support industries is Plunder. As I said before, read the entire thing.

CHAOS AND FREEDOM

My original Major in College was Physics; then I flirted with the idea of Majoring in Economics, but having come from a background of Engineers and Industrial Workers, I wasn't sure exactly what an economist would do to earn a living; so I majored in Engineering. Since finishing my schooling in 1991, I have primarily been in the Controls business, both environment and industrial; so, I understand exactly what Den Beste is talking about when he speaks of oscillating systems, and trying to damp the oscillations in control loops to get a more stable system.

Proportional (oscillating) control loops are easy to create, with the amplitude and durations of the control loop being the main variables. In theory, the process of trying to damp the oscillating characteristics of control loops is done by using integration and derivation to mitigate the time lag variable in the feedback input. There is a "learning" ability built into most controllers to help do this, but it requires getting the Integral and Derivative factors into a generally acceptable range. In practice, this is an iterative process. We play with the numbers until the curve starts looking better. Then we upset the system to see how fast or slow it responds to change, and adjust the numbers accordingly. It is a little too complex to try to explain without a demonstration, but over time, you get a knack for tuning control loops.

Unfortunately, Economics has a whole lot more factors entering the picture, and it is difficult to obtain even short-term stability in a model because there are constantly changing variables beyond the control of the model maker which upset the process before one can observe stability. So in theory, creating a stable economic model is possible, just like tuning the control loop on a plastic extruder is possible. But in practice, it is beyond the capability of economists to do so.

But the desire for stability is understandable. Who wouldn't like to have a reliable model to predict future economic activity? And this is the desire that Central Government Planning types act upon when trying to micromanage the economies of the world. Do most central planners REALLY want to limit the freedoms of everyday people? Probably not. But what they do want is Reliability. And the only way that can be achieved is by limiting the amount of input from "outside" factors on the economy. In Practice, this means limiting the choices that individual people can make which might upset the Central Governing Economic Model. It means limiting freedom.

Central planners essentially have a low risk tolerance. They are willing to sacrifice freedom for predictability. And it is your freedom and my freedom they put on the alter of Central Control. At heart, I am convinced that most of these people genuinely believe they want to do this for our collective good. And they are so invested in the "model", they are blind to the effects of central control.

I am reminded of the Daniel Webster Quotation.
"Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters."

In the final analysis, the only "Stable" model which can be created is economic stagnation, the results of which are widespread poverty, unemployment, and eventually starvation. The only reason Europe has gotten away with their romance with Central planning is their declining population growth rate. And even that is unsustainable. Central Planners are more enamored with their theoretical models than with the lives of ordinary people, and they prey on the natural fear of Chaos that many humans have. Either way, it is important for Freedom loving People to resist them, regardless of their intentions. Chaos needs to be embraced, not shunned, for out of chaos comes prosperity, and only in chaos can freedom's flower bloom.

Update: Of Course, I failed to mention that Chaos Theory is about being able to affect seemingly chaotic systems, and that there is some value to trying to mitigate the harsher effects of the capitalist system. But there is a difference between leading and controlling. Leaders rely on voluntary compliance of societies based on the persuasiveness of their arguments, and they are not immune to accountability. Also, in free societies, we have our choice of leaders to follow. So if following one path proves to be an unwise decision, free societies can change leaders and go in another direction.

But Centrally controlled societies adhere to a "perfect ideal" philosophy, and many times the people are told to be patient because the eventual success of the centrally planned solution is inevitable. This effectively eliminates negative feedback which is counterproductive.

So it is not wrong to try to affect the economy. It is even virtuous. And in so far as the Fed can effectively help temper the oscillations in the Boom/Bust cycle, I am all for it. But I don't believe eliminating them is a good goal. There is a pruning effect in the Bust cycle that is necessary for long-term growth and prosperity. Call it the Summer/Winter theory of economics, but I don't think we should try to eliminate the Boom/Bust cycle any more than we should try to eliminate the Seasons. That doesn't mean I am against Central Heating and Air Conditioning, though.

Update: Bill Hobbs linked to this article

Rasmussen Update 7/6/04

Rasmussen has not updated their table since June 21st, so there is no change in their numbers from last week. They still show:

Bush 203, Kerry 210, Undecided 125

According to Rasmussen's opinion polls the states in play are:

Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

What is interesting to me is how close the numbers are this week to Tradesports.com. Also, if you look closer at the numbers, there are still some interesting disagreements between the opinion polls and the market. Rasmussen shows 9 states being in play, while Tradesports.com shows 11, but they do not always agree on which states are in play.

Rasmussen and Tradesports.com agree about Florida, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon and Pennsyvania. Certainly this list includes very significant states. But they disagree about Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. These states are not nearly as significant, but given the closeness of the race, every state has the potential to be significant. So combining the two methods, there are potentially 13 states in play, not 9 or 11.

Tradesports Update 7/6/04

Well, the weekend announcement of John Edwards as Kerry's choice for Vice-president seems to have made an impact. According to tradesports.com, Bush took a big hit with bettors in North Carolina, and Florida also dropped dangerously close to the "Leaning Kerry" column. Overall, Bush dropped from an average bet to win of 57.9 cents/state to 57.3 cents/state.

We'll see how well the John-John ticket holds up. (Anybody else having Kennedy flashbacks with a JFK version 2 in Kerry, and a John-John ticket?) As for now, Kerry's pick seems to be helping him. I wonder why anyone should pay attention to the nominating convention, though. Interestingly, if the tradesports numbers hold up, the election looks to be a repeat of 2000 with Bush winning the Electoral College 278-260, with the difference in totals entirely due to reapportionment following the 2000 census. Here are the numbers:

Last Week: Bush 244, Kerry 210, Undecided 84

This Week: Bush 206, Kerry 210, Undecided 122

States in Play: Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Wisconsin.

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Rasmussen Update 6/29/04

Rasmussen also showed no change from last week.

Results: Bush, 203, Kerry 210, Undecided 125

Again, although the EC numbers did not change, Rasmussen shows Bush slightly weakening in the national opionion averages.

Tradesports Update 6/29/04

Overall, there were no changes in the Bush, Kerry, Undecided positions at Tradesports.com.

Last Week - Bush 244, Kerry 210, Undecided 84

This Week - Bush 244, Kerry 210, Undecided 84

But overall, the trend in the numbers was slightly weaker for Bush. I cannot tell whether this is just market play or not, but New Mexico shifted from slightly leaning Bush to a dead heat 50/50 for Bush/Kerry. Most of the other states showed slightly lower prices for a Bush win as well.

Monday, June 21, 2004

Rasmussen Update

Here are the latest EC tracking numbers from Rasmussen:

Last Week: Bush 177, Kerry 227, Undecided 134

This Week: Bush 203, Kerry 210, Undecided 125

Tradesports Update

Last Week, I reported that there is a difference between how opinion polls views the election versus how the markets view the election. This is the first of the weekly updates I will be providing.

The following are based on real dollar betting made at tradesports.com

Last Week: Bush - 227, Kerry 210, Undecided 101

This Week: Bush - 244, Kerry 210, Undecided 84

Analysis: Both Nevada and West Virginia dropped out of the solid Bush Column and into the undecided, but leaning Bush column. This resulted in a net loss by Bush of 10 EC votes. But this was offset by Florida moving from the leaning Bush Column into the Solid Bush Column. This was a gain of 27 EC votes for Bush. Do the math. Bush gained 17 solid EC votes, while Kerry remained steady. Overall, there was a net shift in Bush's favor of .43 cents/state.

However the overall projection based on Tradesports betting trends did not change. Their betting trends still project Bush winning 283 EC votes to 255 for Kerry.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Opinion Polls vs. Election Markets

There is a fundamental difference between the two questions, 1) Who would you vote for, and 2) who do you think will win the election. Pollsters typically ask the first question, whereas markets tend to ask the second question.

According to Rasmussen, the latest opinion polls have Kerry with 227 fairly solid EC votes, Bush with 172 EC votes, and 134 EC votes in play. (Methodology is >5% spread in opinion polls.)

But according to Tradesports.com where people actually put their money in the market to pick winners and losers, Bush has 227 fairly solid EC votes, Kerry has 210 EC votes, and 101 votes are in play. (Methodology is greater than $0.60 price for Bush, Less than $0.40 price for Kerry, else in-play.)

(Prices are for a Bush win)

9 Alabama $0.94
3 Alaska $0.93
10 Arizona $0.68
6 Arkansas $0.69
55 California $0.12
9 Colorado $0.78
7 Connecticutt $0.08
3 Delaware $0.18
3 Washington DC $0.00
27 Florida $0.58
15 Georgia $0.91
4 Hawaii $0.07
4 Idaho $0.94
21 Illinois $0.11
11 Indiana $0.90
7 Iowa $0.42
6 Kansas $0.92
8 Kentucky $0.87
9 Louisianna $0.80
4 Maine $0.18
10 Maryland $0.11
12 Massachusetts $0.01
17 Michigan $0.34
10 Minnesota $0.30
6 Mississippi $0.94
11 Missouri $0.62
3 Montana $0.92
5 Nebraska $0.95
5 Nevada $0.64
4 New Hampshire $0.51
15 New Jersey $0.18
5 New Mexico $0.54
31 New York $0.08
15 North Carolina $0.79
3 North Dakota $0.94
20 Ohio $0.60
7 Oklahoma $0.94
7 Oregon $0.45
21 Pennsylvania $0.46
4 Rhode Island $0.04
8 South Carolina $0.90
3 South Dakota $0.93
11 Tennessee $0.86
34 Texas $0.94
5 Utah $0.95
3 Vermont $0.05
13 Virginia $0.82
11 Washington $0.21
5 West Virginia $0.63
10 Wisconsin $0.41
3 Wyoming $0.94

538 $0.57

Interestingly, according to the Markets, if the election were to be held today, Bush would win every single state he won in 2000, plus New Mexico. This would result in a 283-255 win for Bush.

So which method of predicting the election is more accurate, opinion polls or the market? The Iowa Election Market has had Bush ahead since March with Bush hovering around 50-52 cents, and Kerry bouncing around between 47-49 cents.

This should be educational, at least from a political science POV. Which method would you be more comfortable using if your job was predicting the election returns?