Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm finally back!

Guess who's back?
Back again?
Cork is back.
Statists cringe!

My laptop is finally, finally fixed after what seemed like an eternity. Over the last few weeks I:

-Went on a ridiculously spontaneous road trip adventure to Las Vegas

-Looked in vain for a job

-Became a volunteer in my community (amazingly, I did so without the government sticking a gun in my face--what a concept, huh?)

-Cringed as Barack Obama obliterated what remained of our health care system

-Cringed again as the blood-thirsty Obama called to murder innocent Iranians for their leaders' alleged "crimes" (ie, refusal to obey the nonsensical demands of the US and its allies).

But enough with the updates. Time to get moving again!

On the Road With the Young and the Old

Who are the more dangerous drivers to those of us in the middle (no longer young, not yet "elderly")?

If we take the Toyota acceleration problem as an example, older drivers appear a bigger menace:

In late February the Los Angeles Times published an analysis of all 56 Toyota fatality-associated sudden-acceleration cases over last decade, using information from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and elsewhere. The Atlantic's Megan McCardle did supplemental research on ages. She found the overwhelming majority of drivers were older than 55.-Why Do Toyotas Hate The Elderly?

For a comparison of whippersnappers and geezers, see the charts at Grannies vs Teens: Who’s Scarier on The Road.

Rotating Blog World

You'll notice the "Blog World" feed list on the right sidebar. Sometimes we'll move a blog off and add another to replace it. This is for variety. We could add every blog we like or follow to the list, of course, as a regular commenter here does at his blog, but even if you restrict the visible list to ten or so blogs, it becomes unmanageable.

So don't worry if a blog you like disappears. It will no doubt reappear soon (sooner than Jesus' return, anyway) and if not, it most likely is listed elsewhere on one of the blogrolls. And if it is your blog that goes away, never fear, it's here somewhere, just look for it.

By the way, changes and updates to Blog World usually take place on the weekend. Be prepared!

Ron Paul Interviewed

Monday, March 29, 2010

Remembering Mr. Wizard

It doesn’t matter how old you are—almost everyone has a memory of Mr. Wizard. Whether it was on NBC or Nickelodeon’s, Don Herbert, the man behind the safety goggles, taught scientific lessons to children for nearly 50 years.

The Late Movies: Mr. Wizard

Don Herbert returned to television in the 1980's on Nickelodeon. If you're not old enough to remember his 1950's show, perhaps you recall his later one.

Here's the opening:

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Targeted Citizens

Targeted Citizen - English from Adalah on Vimeo.

Has Capitalism Become the Enemy of Liberty?

There is a debate at the moment (ongoing really) on the use of the word capitalism by libertarians. That being the case, I thought the following, by Reginald Firehammer, might be of interest:

Capitalism: Not What It Used To Be

I no longer use the word "capitalism" to mean a "free market." A free market is an economic or business environment unfettered by any government intrusion, regulation, or interference. Where there is a government, a free market only exists if there is a separation of economy and the state in the same way as there must be a separation of religion and the state.

There is no free market in the world today.

But every day there are countless news stories about Capitalism, either extolling its virtues or condemning it faults. Since there are no free markets, what is this "Capitalism" that everyone is arguing about?

Capitalism today is always equated with "big business," which in this day and age, means business in collusion with, controlled and protected by government. There are some small businesses this description does not pertain to, but they are very few, because even most small businesses today are also regulated, controlled and protected (think licensing and permits) by government.

So, I'm opposed to Capitalism, opposed to all big business that advances financially by manipulating markets with government collusion and by gaining market advantage by means of legislation and government favors.

What Is Capitalism

It is unfortunate that people who ought to know better become so enamored of a word, that they would rather fight for the continued use of that word, rather than the principles it once represented, but no longer does. If they are the only ones using the word, with the meaning they would prefer, and if the rest of the world uses it with an entirely different meaning and intention, the continued worship of that word has become a kind of religious orthodoxy. People are welcome and free to cling to their orthodoxies, of course, but should not expect to make any progress in promoting any principles so long as they do. They are not going to convert the world into using and understanding language the way they would like.

The phrase, "laissez faire," is correct for what libertarians and Objectivists, for example, mean to convey by the word "capitalism," but it is, for most people, even more obscure than "capitalism." It means "hands off," which in a free market, is exactly what the government must do—keep its grubby paws off anything that has to do with how individuals deal with each other economically.

Capitalism Always the Incorrect Term

Technically, capitalism has always been the wrong term, because it does not mean a "free market." It is not a political term, it is an economic term, and describes a theory of economics necessary to certain kinds of economic and industrial development.

Suppose two grain farmers each have a good harvest, and one of the farmers sells his entire harvest and lives "high on the hog," as they used to say, celebrating the good times. The other farmer sells most of his grain, but keeps part of it, which he stores for planting next year. That stored grain is called "seed grain," or "capital." It is the means to continue business next year.

When the next planting season rolls around, the farmer that did not save any seed grain has to borrow some from his capitalist friend. His prudent neighbor is willing to lend the seed on the basis that part of the imprudent farmer's harvest will be given in exchange for it. The part of his harvest he must give in exchange for the borrowed seed is call "profit." It will be more valuable than the seed grain, and the capitalist farmer will have more grain to sell, because he can sell both his own harvest, and that part of the other farmer's harvest exchanged for the seed grain (capital) he had the forethought to save.

Capitol is nothing but money, or wealth, that is "saved" for use in future production and development. That capitol may be used by the one that saves it (as the farmer that used his own seed grain for next years production) or may be lent out for another to use for production (as the farmer who lent his seed grain to the imprudent farmer).

This process of saving wealth to be used in future production of more wealth, goods, and services is capitalism, or, at least, what capitalism originally meant. It never meant a political system.

Obviously, capitalism cannot be practiced where a political system confiscates some or all of the capital. That is, if a government confiscates the "seed grain" of the prudent farmers, neither they, nor the imprudent ones will be able to grow anything next year. Capitalism is only possible where there is a free market, but that is the only requirement.

True capitalism is impossible under communism, socialism, or fascism, because all these confiscate capital. But capitalism is possible under any other kind of government, so long as it does not confiscate capital, including, parliamentary governments, republics, kingdoms, empires, even dictatorships. All of these political systems have other very serious problems with them, but none are inherently anti-free market (though all of them inevitably end up that way).

The issue is not the kind of government, but how much individual liberty the citizens under that government enjoy. To the extent individuals are free, economically, and the property and capital they accumulate through their own productive effort is not in danger of confiscation by that government, through any of it ruses, from taxes to eminent domain, the people will prosper and the economy will succeed. Since the word capitalism has come to mean the opposite of that kind of freedom, it is not a word any freedom loving individual ought to be willing to defend.

Capitalism has become the enemy of liberty, because in all its forms today, it means fascism, not a free market.

-by Reginald Firehammer

Then there is the view of Jock in a comment at Stephan Kinsella's blog:

I think it is probably worth fighting for because each word we have that is in use to mean something subtly different by our statist antagonists that we explain differently gives us an opportunity to persuade different constituencies…

Thus – “Oh, you believe in capitalism, do you? Well, so do I but let me explain to you how what you believe in is a gross corruption of capitalism and you would be better off looking at it my way.”

Or – “Oh, you believe in socialism, do you? Well, so do I but let me explain to you how what you believe in is a gross corruption of socialism and you would be better off looking at it my way.”

They all get us “in” with people who think they know what they mean and want from those terms…

We The People!

Mikhail Bakunin: What is Authority?

What is authority? Is it the inevitable power of the natural laws which manifest themselves in the necessary linking and succession of phenomena in the physical and social worlds? Indeed, against these laws revolt is not only forbidden - it is even impossible. We may misunderstand them or not know them at all, but we cannot disobey them; because they constitute the basis and the fundamental conditions of our existence; they envelop us, penetrate us, regulate all our movements, thoughts and acts; even when we believe that we disobey them, we only show their omnipotence.

Yes, we are absolutely the slaves of these laws. But in such slavery there is no humiliation, or, rather, it is not slavery at all. For slavery supposes an external master, a legislator outside of him whom he commands, while these laws are not outside of us; they are inherent in us; they constitute our being, our whole being, physically, intellectually, and morally; we live, we breathe, we act, we think, we wish only through these laws. Without them we are nothing, we are not. Whence, then, could we derive the power and the wish to rebel against them?

In his relation to natural laws but one liberty is possible to man - that of recognising and applying them on an ever-extending scale of conformity with the object of collective and individual emancipation of humanisation which he pursues. These laws, once recognised, exercise an authority which is never disputed by the mass of men. One must, for instance, be at bottom either a fool or a theologician or at least a metaphysician, jurist or bourgeois economist to rebel against the law by which twice two make four. One must have faith to imagine that fire will not burn nor water drown, except, indeed, recourse be had to some subterfuge founded in its turn on some other natural law. But these revolts, or rather, these attempts at or foolish fancies of an impossible revolt, are decidedly the exception: for, in general, it may be said that the mass of men, in their daily lives, acknowledge the government of common sense - that is, of the sum of the general laws generally recognised - in an almost absolute fashion.

The great misfortune is that a large number of natural laws, already established as such by science, remain unknown to the masses, thanks to the watchfulness of those tutelary governments that exist, as we know, only for the good of the people. There is another difficulty - namely, that the major portion of the natural laws connected with the development of human society, which are quite as necessary, invariable, fatal, as the laws that govern the physical world, have not been duly established and recognised by science itself.

Once they shall have been recognised by science, and then from science, by means of an extensive system of popular education and instruction, shall have passed into the consciousness of all, the question of liberty will be entirely solved. The most stubborn authorities must admit that then there will be no need either of political organisation or direction or legislation, three things which, whether they emanate from the will of the sovereign or from the vote of a parliament elected by universal suffrage, and even should they conform to the system of natural laws - which has never been the case and never will be the case - are always equally fatal and hostile to the liberty of the masses from the very fact that they impose on them a system of external and therefore despotic laws.

The Liberty of man consists solely in this: that he obeys natural laws because he has himself recognised them as such, and not because they have been externally imposed upon him by any extrinsic will whatsoever, divine or human, collective or individual.

Suppose a learned academy, composed of the most illustrious representatives of science; suppose this academy charged with legislation for and the organisation of society, and that, inspired only by the purest love of truth, it frames none but the laws in absolute harmony with the latest discoveries of science. Well, I maintain, for my part, that such legislation and such organisation would be a monstrosity, and that for two reasons: first, that human science is always and necessarily imperfect, and that, comparing what it has discovered with what remains to be discovered, we may say that it is still in its cradle. So that were we to try to force the practical life of men, collective as well as individual, into strict and exclusive conformity with the latest data of science, we should condemn society as well as individuals to suffer martyrdom on a bed of Procrustes, which would soon end by dislocating and stifling them, life ever remaining an infinitely greater thing than science.

The second reason is this: a society which should obey legislation emanating from a scientific academy, not because it understood itself the rational character of this legislation (in which case the existence of the academy would become useless), but because this legislation, emanating from the academy, was imposed in the name of a science which it venerated without comprehending - such a society would be a society, not of men, but of brutes. It would be a second edition of those missions in Paraguay which submitted so long to the government of the Jesuits. It would surely and rapidly descend to the lowest stage of idiocy.

But there is still a third reason which would render such a government impossible - namely that a scientific academy invested with a sovereignty, so to speak, absolute, even if it were composed of the most illustrious men, would infallibly and soon end in its own moral and intellectual corruption. Even today, with the few privileges allowed them, such is the history of all academies. The greatest scientific genius, from the moment that he becomes an academician, an officially licenced savant, inevitably lapses into sluggishness. He loses his spontaneity, his revolutionary hardihood, and that troublesome and savage energy characteristic of the grandest geniuses, ever called to destroy old tottering worlds and lay the foundations of new. He undoubtedly gains in politeness, in utilitarian and practical wisdom, what he loses in power of thought. In a word, he becomes corrupted.

It is the characteristic of privilege and of every privileged position to kill the mind and heart of men. The privileged man, whether practically or economically, is a man depraved in mind and heart. That is a social law which admits of no exception, and is as applicable to entire nations as to classes, corporations and individuals. It is the law of equality, the supreme condition of liberty and humanity. The principle object of this treatise is precisely to demonstrate this truth in all the manifestations of social life.

A scientific body to which had been confided the government of society would soon end by devoting itself no longer to science at all, but to quite another affair; and that affair, as in the case of all established powers, would be its own eternal perpetuation by rendering the society confided to its care ever more stupid and consequently more in need of its government and direction.

But that which is true of scientific academies is also true of all constituent and legislative assemblies, even those chosen by universal suffrage. In the latter case they may renew their composition, it is true, but this does not prevent the formation in a few years' time of a body of politicians, privileged in fact though not in law, who, devoting themselves exclusively to the direction of the public affairs of a country, finally form a sort of political aristocracy or oligarchy. Witness the United States of America and Switzerland.

Consequently, no external legislation and no authority - one, for that matter, being inseparable from the other, and both tending to the servitude of society and the degradation of the legislators themselves.

Does it follow that I reject all authority? Far from me such a thought. In the matter of boots, I refer to the authority of the bootmaker; concerning houses, canals, or railroads, I consult that of the architect or the engineer. For such or such special knowledge I apply to such or such a savant. But I allow neither the bootmaker nor the architect nor the savant to impose his authority upon me. I listen to them freely and with all the respect merited by their intelligence, their character, their knowledge, reserving always my incontestable right of criticism and censure. I do not content myself with consulting a single authority in any special branch; I consult several; I compare their opinions, and choose that which seems to me the soundest. But I recognise no infallible authority, even in special questions; consequently, whatever respect I may have for the honesty and the sincerity of such or such an individual, I have no absolute faith in any person. Such a faith would be fatal to my reason, to my liberty, and even to the success of my undertakings; it would immediately transform me into a stupid slave, an instrument of the will and interests of others.

If I bow before the authority of the specialists and avow my readiness to follow, to a certain extent and as long as may seem to me necessary, their indications and even their directions, it is because their authority is imposed on me by no one, neither by men nor by God. Otherwise I would repel them with horror, and bid the devil take their counsels, their directions, and their services, certain that they would make me pay, by the loss of my liberty and self-respect, for such scraps of truth, wrapped in a multitude of lies, as they might give me.

I bow before the authority of special men because it is imposed on me by my own reason. I am conscious of my own inability to grasp, in all its detail, and positive development, any very large portion of human knowledge. The greatest intelligence would not be equal to a comprehension of the whole. Thence results, for science as well as for industry, the necessity of the division and association of labour. I receive and I give - such is human life. Each directs and is directed in his turn. Therefore there is no fixed and constant authority, but a continual exchange of mutual, temporary, and, above all, voluntary authority and subordination.

This same reason forbids me, then, to recognise a fixed, constant and universal authority, because there is no universal man, no man capable of grasping in all that wealth of detail, without which the application of science to life is impossible, all the sciences, all the branches of social life. And if such universality could ever be realised in a single man, and if he wished to take advantage thereof to impose his authority upon us, it would be necessary to drive this man out of society, because his authority would inevitably reduce all the others to slavery and imbecility. I do not think that society ought to maltreat men of genius as it has done hitherto: but neither do I think it should indulge them too far, still less accord them any privileges or exclusive rights whatsoever; and that for three reasons: first, because it would often mistake a charlatan for a man of genius; second, because, through such a system of privileges, it might transform into a charlatan even a real man of genius, demoralise him, and degrade him; and, finally, because it would establish a master over itself.

-by Mikhail Bakunin at PanArchy

h/t Noor

Jesse Ventura: Afghanistan is Vietnam all over again

American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies that the Government Tells Us

via LRC Blog

Robert Steele: The Importance of Blogging

THE SMART NATION ACT: Public Intelligence in the Public Interest

Sunday Food: The Big Cake

On a recent "holiday" (okay, St. Patrick's-and I apologize to all of you faithful readers who were expecting a special St. Paddy's Day post, but get over it, will ya) the wage slaves at work participated in a pot luck. I excluded myself, as I'm sticking to my "bring my own lunch to work" policy-it saves money and calories and if I stick to it, I'll soon look like my old self, and avoid the Jackie Gleason look I feared I was fast approaching.

So anyway, faithful readers, it was the middle of the week and about noon time the food was presented on the back table, from which I now am only a few feet away (my desk ain't called the temptation desk for nothing) but in spite of Satan's feast being so near, I resisted (proud of me, aren't you?).

Now, I guess I should emphasize the nature of the "food" that was so generously shared by my co-workers. Some of it (a little) was in the good or acceptable category of salad and baked chicken (one small bowl of salad and one skinny baked chicken, enough for the two people who got to it first) but the rest consisted of store bought cookies and cakes and chips. On discovering this, the general consensus was that too many people took the easy store-bought way out, but this failed to dampen their enthusiasm for the extravagant white flour, sugar, shortening and fried potato/corn spread that lay before them in all its caloric glory.

They loaded up their flimsy paper plates with the stuff, even the ones on a "diet", and came back for more. I know of the health problems of many of them (you know how people can't help talking about their latest visit to the doctor) and even those with borderline diabetes, heart disease and obesity piled it on. One who continuously fears her behind is out of control nevertheless less kept making an appearance behind me, her excuse being that "I can't get enough of these frosted cookies!"

One co-worker (besides myself) did have the will-power to say no. He too had brought lunch from home, and as he surveyed the scene of apocalyptic pastry before him, he took a plate, getting ready to dig in, when he hesitated. "No, I brought lunch," he said, put the plate down, and walked away. Bravo! I thought.

After those first ten minutes had gone by, one of the managers brought in a gigantic sheet cake as a surprise. It was so big it needed its own table, which was quickly positioned next to the other one. After eating his own lunch, my co-worker with the will power was soon back to take a glance at the lasted arrival. "Wow, that's big!" he declared. "I LOVE cake. I really shouldn't. I'm full and not hungry at all, but I'm gonna have a BIG piece anyway." And he proceeded to cut himself a humongous slice of the monster. Those who had already had their fill of the other goodies also returned for some of the Big Cake. They could barely walk by that time, of course, but even in their lethargy they came and got their share.

After everyone else was safely collapsed in their chairs in sugar induced comas, I went outside to eat my apple and whole wheat bread peanut butter sandwich.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to Prepare for the Economic Collapse!

The Modern Survival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse

Nullify Obamacare

Obama now has a weak point: ObamaCare. This time, the taxpayers and insurance premium payers and patients sitting endlessly in filled doctors’ offices will be reminded about who did it to them. It was Obama and the banshee with the huge Medicare gavel, Nancy Pelosi. They pride themselves on having thwarted the voters. They believe they will get away with it. They think voters will forget. But medical care costs are close to people’s hearts. They will pay attention to their bills, including their tax bills.

The tea party types will make it hot for Republicans who think they can keep spending. The climate of opinion has changed. The deficit has changed it.

The costs of this program will not be ignored. This is not Europe. This is a new program. It was passed by a defiant majority in Congress. That majority will be depleted.

The very phrase, "ObamaCare," will become a liability. It ought to be called PelosiCare, but it isn’t. Obama has defined his administration by this one law. He got it passed. He owns it.

Obamacare and the Politics of Revenge

The Insanity of Copyright

Corporate copyright, that is. It is giant, multinational capitalist corporations who (well, they are "persons" aren't they?) primarily benefit from the insane extended-to-eternity intellectual "property" laws, not consumers or even artists.

It’s not really surprising at all: today Beyonce’s official YouTube channel is blocked in the US due to a copyright infringement issue with her own record label, Sony. Below a banner that reads “Congratulations for winning six Grammy Awards” – presumably from Sony, the video for “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)” has been replaced by this notice: “This video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment, who has blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”

Of Course! Beyonce's Record Company Puts a Ring On Her YouTube Channel

Friday, March 26, 2010

Lew Rockwell On Health Care and Individual Liberty

Freedom Watch With The Judge

Anarchists Do Not Favor Total Government

Dan Clore responds to more Glenn Beck idiocy:

As an anarchist, I'll leave it to the progressives, communists, fascists, Nazis, birthers, 9/11 truthers, candidates for governor of Texas, and crazy people to explain their own views -- or to dispute the accuracy of Beck's application of these labels to them. I just want to point out that Beck's assertion that anarchists favor "total government" could not stray further from the facts.

Anarchists oppose illegitimate authority and hierarchy, and therefore oppose capitalism and the state; anarchists do not oppose all organization: anarchists favor voluntary, non-hierarchical, self-organization. Anarchists do not oppose all rules and laws; anarchists oppose rules and laws imposed involuntarily by illegitimate authorities, such as the state, and favor voluntarily-agreed upon rules and laws.

In short, anarchists definitely do not favor total government, they want to abolish government to the greatest extent practicable, and preferably, entirely.

As Beck has reportedly at times described himself as a "libertarian", one should note that originally the term was synonymous with anarchist; it later became extended in reference to various other minimal-state and limited-government political philosophies. In general, however, the more libertarian your views, the closer you come to outright anarchism. So why not go the whole hog and pay the postage to boot?

"Anarchists" for "Total Government" (Glenn Beck Corrected)

Government Killed Detroit

...and it is going to kill health care:

To understand what is going to happen to America's health care delivery system, we must first understand what has happened to Detroit.

Detroit is dying. Yes, I know that there are lots of books on "The Death of. . . ." That word sells books. But Detroit really is dying. It is the first metropolis in the United States to be facing extinction. We have never seen anything like this in American history. It is happening under our noses, but the media refuse to discuss it. To do so would be politically incorrect. Two factors tell us that Detroit is dying. The first is the departure of 900,000 people – over half the city's population – since 1950. It peaked at 1.8 million in 1950. It is down to about 900,000 today.

In 1994, the median sales price of a house in Detroit was about $41,000. The housing bubble pushed it up to about $98,000 in 2003. In March 2009, the price was $13,600. Today, the price is $7,000.


We are unfamiliar with anything like this. The media are silent. The Powers That Be are not interested in reporting on this, because readers might ask the obvious question: "How did this happen?" Obvious questions tend to lead to obvious answers.


The city planners, the Federal government's subsidy defenders, and the welfare state aficionados are all discreetly silent about Detroit.


When a city simply shuts down from the effects of government mismanagement, the media say nothing. Detroit has become the poster child of government regulation, welfare systems, and a population that has given up hope.

Health Care and Detroit: Killed By Government

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Shame on Everyone for Obamacare

The Democrats ushered in Obamacare but Republicans laid the groundwork in 2003, and were certainly no heroes in the lead up to this latest big government scheme.

Republican George W. Bush signed into law the largest entitlement expansion of government in health care up until that point, when he signed the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Bush said "These reforms are the act of a vibrant and compassionate government."

Kevin Carson: The Hospital as Soviet Gosplan

By Kevin Carson at Center for a Stateless Society.

Recently an article of mine on healthcare, "Healthcare and Radical Monopoly," was published in The Freeman: Ideas on Liberty. Since I wrote the article several months ago, I chose healthcare as the topic for my forthcoming C4SS research paper.

One thing I barely touched on in the article for The Freeman, that I’ve been digging into heavily since, is the absolutely astonishing levels of overhead in hospitals, and the pathological organizational culture that contributes to it.

Of course Obama’s healthcare “reform” is focused almost entirely on the insurance industry, rather than on the costs of healthcare itself. But while insurance company price-gouging and profit margins contribute to skyrocketing premiums, it’s very much a secondary effect–mostly icing on the cake. The main factor behind rising insurance premiums is the rising prices hospitals charge for delivery of actual services.

And the organizational culture of hospitals is the main culprit. Standard management accounting practices are at the heart of that culture. Under GAAP accounting rules, which Donaldson Brown played a major role in developing at Du Pont and GM ninety years ago, only labor counts as a direct/variable cost. Capital expenditures and administrative costs go to general overhead, and are treated as fixed.

So while the MBAs obsessively try to shave off every possible minute nursing staff are scheduled, they pour money down ratholes on the kinds of wasteful white elephant capital boondoggles you might have seen in the old USSR–not to mention having a level of administrative overhead rivaling the Ministry of Central Services in the movie “Brazil.”

At the hospital where I work, I’ve seen entire floors remodeled at enormous expense, just to make them less functional than before. I’ve seen a perfectly functional telephone system on my ward replaced at a cost of thousands of dollars, and a totally acceptable photocopier replaced at a cost of thousands more, just because they had the money in their capital budget and couldn’t think of anything else to spend it on. I’ve seen the hospital add a DaVinci “surgical robot” and invest in extremely expensive specialty treatments for high-end niche markets, while patients shit the bed waiting for bedpans and go five days without a bath or linen change. Most recently, the hospital announced an $8 million expansion of ER; the money spend on that alone would probably be enough to increase the staffing ratio to one orderly for each six patients, what it used to be fifteen years of downsizing ago, and fund it at that level for ten years. But spending that money on labor for patient care would lower “productivity,” according to their pointy-haired MBA metrics–despite the fact that the money they’re ostensibly saving from staffing cuts now is more than offset by the resulting increases in med errors, falls, and hospital-acquired infections.

The objects of capital spending remind me of Friedrich Hayek’s predictions for a centrally planned economy:

“There is no reason to expect that production would stop, or that the authorities would find difficulty in using all the available resources somehow, or even that output would be permanently lower than it had been before planning started . . . . [We should expect] the excessive development of some lines of production at the expense of others and the use of methods which are inappropriate under the circumstances. We should expect to find overdevelopment of some industries at a cost which was not justified by the importance of their increased output and see unchecked the ambition of the engineer to apply the latest development elsewhere, without considering whether they were economically suited in the situation. In many cases the use of the latest methods of production, which could not have been applied without central planning, would then be a symptom of a misuse of resources rather than a proof of success.”

In particular, Hayek cited “the excellence, from a technological point of view,” of some Soviet industrial machinery. It was excellent. It’s just that nobody had any idea, given the grossly distorted incentives and price signals in the Soviet economy, whether it was worth the resources put into it.

But under GAAP rules, overhead doesn’t matter because, thanks to the miracle of “overhead absorption,” it just gets passed on to the customer as a markup. Hence the $3 bag of saline solution that’s billed for $300–not to mention the infamous $10 aspirin. It’s what Paul Goodman called “the great realm of cost-plus”–the very same culture that gave us the $600 toilet seat at Pentagon contractors.

The only solution is to let conventional bureaucratic hospitals rot, bypass them, and start over from scratch. It means eliminating the organizational culture of prestige salaries, mission statements, Weberian “best practices,” work rules, and job descriptions. It means, instead of interdepartmental “quality improvement committees,” empowering those actually providing the care to act on what’s right in front of them without interference from pointy-haired bosses.

It means, especially, decentralized delivery of service and cooperative finance: small, neighborhood cooperative hospitals that bypass the insurance system altogether and operate on the same flat-fee membership basis as John Muney’s clinics in New York, or Qliance in Seattle. This would have two primary benefits: first, because of the flat-rate fee, there’s no incentive to mutual logrolling between specialists, padding the bill with a $6000 CT scan, etc.; second, as Muney pointed out, it eliminates the 25% or so of costs that come from insurance paperwork.

The future of healthcare is not Obamacare, or any other statist legislative agenda created at a table where the seats are all occupied by the people who created the problem. If there is any hope for affordable healthcare, it lies in small, bottom-up, patient-driven institutions that route around all the inefficiencies and irrationalities of state capitalist healthcare.

C4SS Research Associate Kevin Carson is a contemporary mutualist author and individualist anarchist whose written work includes Studies in Mutualist Political Economy and Organization Theory: An Individualist Anarchist Perspective, both of which are freely available online.

Tom Woods vs Neil Siegel on States' Rights

Tom Woods schools Duke law professor Neil Siegel on the issue of states' rights on National Public Radio's On Point, March 23, 2010.

Tom Woods

Stop the Spread of Defiance! Get Vaccinated Today!

Taking aim at the growing spread of Obedience Defiance Disorder (O.D.D.) -- a mental disease striking both children and adults -- Massachusetts health authorities have joined with the state legislature to make O.D.D. vaccine mandatory across the state beginning this Thursday.

O.D.D. is a serious health disorder that causes people to act in defiance of authority figures. Symptoms of O.D.D. include disobeying public school teachers, refusing to take vaccine shots and engaging in home schooling activities. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has called O.D.D. a "modern pandemic" that has destroyed the lives of tens of millions of Americans who currently lack treatment.

Future News: Massachusetts makes disobedience vaccine mandatory

Miracle Water Now In New Larger Size!

Just Some Stuff 14

It's quiet here in Lake Just Some Stuff. We've gathered around the computer to tell stories and drink tea (though a few are drinking something a bit stronger) and we figured we'd invite you to join us. So welcome, and hopefully we'll be here on a regular schedule from now on. We're thinking every Thursday would work out fine. It's an almost the end of the week kind of day, where the hump is gotten over, and the glorious weekend is about to dawn.

Just last evening, as one of us was exiting the workplace with a co-worker, the weekend was brought into the parting conversation. "Hey," said one, "we've only got a couple more days! That's great, isn't it?" Though to be truthful, that last line was more of a statement than a question. It is great, of course, though one wishes it were greater, at least one day greater, either way.

Robert Culp on Bill Cosby and "I Spy"

videos via Frugal Café Blog Zone

We recently had an unplanned 3 day weekend, by calling in sick Monday. If we were really sick...no, I mean we were really sick...and we enjoyed the extra day off. We would like to propose to the powers that be a change making this enjoyment permanent. Our co-workers find it a splendid idea, so much so, that some even offered the opinion that the workday be reduced to just four hours, though we could live and work with 6. We haven't met an ordinary worker yet that is satisfied with just two days off a week, two days that pass much too quickly once they arrive, and are found to be too brief to justify the joy and relief their anticipation causes so many. The conclusion that if the workers ran the workplace (something we know they are quite capable of, in spite of boss BS) leisure time would increase to a human and humane degree is inescapable.

Interestingly, as we were thinking all this, we heard of a story regarding the public schools in Illinois, where a four-day school week has been offered as a solution to budgetary incompetence.

We long ago came to the realization that the public school system is primarily a means of indoctrination in docility. You MUST awake too early, when your eyelids are still heavy and the sun is still shining on the other side of the world. You MUST get up and go even if you don't want to or have something better to do with your day. And when you finally "graduate", you learn that your imprisonment has only just begun, because you still have to get up at the crack of something (possibly a whip called an alarm clock) and go somewhere you hate to be, somewhere where you'll be without the right to come and go as you please, and you'll have to do this FIVE days a week, being allowed only two days to recuperate. But you'll accept it all as normal and even as good, because you were trained well during your so-called childhood.

Which is why we think it a wonderful proposal to give kids an extra day off, though some in Bizarro World find the idea troublesome.

One Bizarro "parent" asks "Where would the kids go? And the kids who are too old for day care, where would they go now?" and wonders "What about the parents who can't afford day care?" while we wonder about people who bring children into the world when they can't afford them, and then further wonder why somebody else must assist in paying for them. The questioner, by the way, is mother to three, ages 9, 6, and 4. One wonders, doesn't one?

We do have some advice for those unable or unwilling to pay for ALL of the expenses resulting from bringing new life into being: STOP BREEDING.

One Monique Bond, unsurprisingly a "spokeswoman for Chicago Public Schools", wants to increase the time kids spend in government indoctrination camps public schools, not decrease it. "We've been very strong proponents of year-round school and we're looking at ways of keeping students in school for extended learning," she said.

We feel that what Monique is really concerned about is decreasing the power of the taxpayer parasites school teachers and administrators over children and tax dollars, and deceasing the amount of time children are exposed to their relentless pro-state propaganda.

So we hope all schools adopt the four-day week, and although we'd prefer they commit suicide instead, and thereby relieve children of the burden of meeting their ridiculous compulsory demands, a slow death is better than no death at all. It could even be that children growing up with only a four-day week with a decent three days off, might then find it strange to find they are compelled to spend five days laboring each week once they enter the workforce. It might even get them to think and begin questioning the system.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How to Talk to People About Obama's Health Care Bill

Point of No Return?

Thomas Sowell on Obama's totalitariancare:

With the passage of the legislation allowing the federal government to take control of the medical care system of the United States, a major turning point has been reached in the dismantling of the values and institutions of America.

Even the massive transfer of crucial decisions from millions of doctors and patients to Washington bureaucrats and advisory panels-- as momentous as that is-- does not measure the full impact of this largely unread and certainly unscrutinized legislation.

If the current legislation does not entail the transmission of all our individual medical records to Washington, it will take only an administrative regulation or, at most, an Executive Order of the President, to do that.

A Point of No Return?

h/t The Commentator

See also William Grigg's Dr. Leviathan Will See You Now

The Annoying One

When I get off work, I usually listen to the radio on my way home. Sometimes I do prefer the silence (such as it is-I don't drive one of those quiet cabin luxury vehicles-the interior of my lowly car, even with the windows shut tight, sounds like I'm sitting in the front row at a NASCAR race) but more often then not I'll flip on the radio and tune it to one of the talk stations. I could listen to music, but most music-oriented stations don't play anything I really want to hear.

I've been listening most frequently to Mark Levin, another neocon phony "conservative" clone. Even though he so obviously is NOT a real conservative, he amusingly gets the usual extravagant praise from his red-state fascist listening audience. According to them (the words in quotes taken from forum comments), he is "brilliant", "gifted", has an unmatched "intellect and knowledge" and wrote a "masterpiece" of a book.

Now, if shouting and screaming every 30 seconds or so in the most infantile manner possible makes you a brilliant intellect, I've got some college professorships lined up for the local crazy homeless people (whose insane and bizarre rants actually make more sense than most of what exits Levin's mouth).

But what I really don't understand is how this guy got into radio in the first place. He has the most annoying and irritating voice possible for the medium. This observation has nothing to do with his politics. Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, they all have acceptable or very good radio voices, but Levin is beyond the pale. Grating and obnoxious, Mark Levin has the nasal voice to end all nasal voices, you might even call it The Mother of all Nasal Voices.

So what gives? How do even his fans stand listening to him for more than a few minutes at a time?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Horror Stories of Socialized Medicine

...from around the world.

The Problems with
Socialized Health Care

The Monster Engine and the Evil Monster Called Copyright

From Against Monopoly:

Take a look at some of the great works of Dave Devries from his "Monster Engine" project.

Children’s Drawings Painted Realistically

Given the fact that:

1. There is no doubt that the children's original doodles are protected by copyright for their entire life, plus 70 additional years.

2. There is no doubt that Devries' paintings of the doodles are 'derivative works' stemming from the original creations of the children.

Do you believe that Devries should be forced to get formal copyright releases from each and every one of the kids in question? Do you think he has done so? If so, should they be able to repudiate their copyright agreement when they turn 18 since many jurisdictions allow minors to repudiate contracts signed before they reach 18? If so, should they be able to take Devries's work out of circulation?

Do you think that the children should all share in the royalties from books, art and showcases that Devries produces for the rest of their lives (and beyond - for 7 decades)? Do you think that is in fact the case of what is going on? If Devries hasn't gotten a copyright release and/or isn't paying royalties, do you feel that he is somehow "exploiting" these kids or "stealing" from them?

If you answered 'No' to any of these questions, why not? Given how we know copyright law operates with respect to works created by media corporations, shouldn't it apply similarly here? Or is copyright law only supposed to be for the "benefit" of authors when they are attached to big businesses backed by the legal system?

After all, some commenters on this site have argued that one should not be able to make an entirely new James Bond film without permission due to copyright restrictions. I presume that The Monster Engine should be forced to jump through the same legal hoops, no?

I can't help but suspect that there is some major hypocrisy at work here in how copyright law is selectively applied in order to benefit special interests at the expense of incentives for maximizing the creation and distribution of new works. (And please spare me the 'fair use' argument. I would completely agree that this should be considered fair use. But if it is, then one must concede that fair use should be applied by the courts far more generously that it currently is - so much so that it would effectively altogether omit the copyright protections which currently prevent the creations of 'derivative works'.)

Sam Harris: Science Can Answer Moral Questions

Questions of good and evil, right and wrong are commonly thought unanswerable by science. But Sam Harris argues that science can -- and should -- be an authority on moral issues, shaping human values and setting out what constitutes a good life.

via Why Evolution Is True

Video Games and Learning

Via Unschooling Lifestyle

Statist Dogs

Dropping from 10,000ft, they glide in order to land unnoticed. The dogs often carry cameras and are trained to attack anyone carrying a weapon.

“Dogs don’t perceive height difference, so that doesn’t worry them. They’re more likely to be bothered by the roar of the engines, but once we’re on the way down, that doesn’t matter and they just enjoy the view,” said the dog handler. “It’s something he does a lot. He has a much cooler head than most recruits.”

Combat dogs take to the skies for secret missions in Afghanistan

Statism is Antisocial

Way To Go?

The workplace, in most cases, is really nothing more than an extension of the state. Would the average corporation or company exist as we know it without state support? Highly doubtful. Remove the state's protection in the form of regulations, licensing, intellectual "property" laws, "ownership" of buildings, machinery and land, and what have you got? Something far different from the control that is exercised over the lowly wage slave today, that's what.

Everybody must play the capitalist game, however, and pretend that it's legitimate, and more than legitimate, that it's moral and right and good, and that to oppose the game being played, to refuse to want to participate in it, means you're lazy, a "slacker", a good for nothing looking of a free ride. etc.

The idea that hierarchy in the workplace is justified is reinforced by constant, unrelenting propaganda. Dissent at your peril. The bosses must know what they're doing, even when they are obviously total incompetents. But if you play by the rules, you might climb the ladder yourself, make more money, have more power over the other slaves.

Way to go! Shouted the email. One of the assistants (leads) sent it out. You've set a new record! Yes, you're more productive than everyone else. The message is clear. Serve your masters well and you'll be rewarded, if not monetarily, than with lavish, ego-stroking praise. Kill yourself and work yourself to death for the company, even though you have no ownership in it.

The manager responded to the obsequious lead's game-playing email with one of his own. Congratulations! You set a goal and achieved it! Then followed an avalanche of Good Jobs! and Yes, you're Awesomes! from the other wage slaves.

Many of those replying had their eyes on promotions of their own. The promise, however false it may be, of a little more money and a little more power, is the rotten carrot dangled in front of the peons, just like the never ending threat of being fired is always hanging over their heads like the sword of Damocles.

Well, you can take your "good job" and your "way to go" and shove it! Without the state, the workplace would be controlled by the workers, and the boss would be just one more associate, with no more say than anyone else.

So management, take your crumbs and throw them to the dogs. Real humans don't want them. THEY WANT THE WHOLE MEAL, NOT YOUR SCRAPS! They want liberty and freedom and equality and an end to your arbitrary hierarchies.

So workers (and bosses) stop playing the game and start listening instead to your heart, the instinct that tells you that something is terribly wrong and unjust about the system you live and work under.

Because continuing to play the game is definitely not the "way to go".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Richard Dawkins Interviewed

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

Just Some Stuff 13

I don't know why I'm posting this (the "Lil' Hitler" video) but notice the USA didn't get involved in the European war until Roosevelt provoked the Japanese into attacking Pearl Harbor...uh, no, I mean until the Japanese kid knocked over Lil' USA's milk (though only after Lil' USA stole Lil' Jap's (they were "the Japs" back then, ya know) milk money.

Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor

An Interview With Just Some Stuff 13, By George

George: So, you finally made it.

JST13: What's that supposed to mean, that I'm late for your sorry interview?

George: Sorry interview? I came here at YOUR request!

JST13: Whatever, interview dude. Let's just get on with it.

George: The name's George, by the way. What I meant by my first question was, how does it feel to make it, to be an actual, as opposed to potential, blog post?

JST13: I was inevitable, so it was only a matter of time.

George: Really? I heard SE was going to stop at Just Some Stuff 9. The rumor was that he ended it because no one cares about these posts.

JST13: Then why am I here? No, no, don't answer that! I'll tell you why. To rescue not only Just Some Stuff, but the rest of this sorry blog as well. I'm the cure for what ails this pathetic excuse for a blog, and everyone is going to see it.

George: You have an awfully high, one might even say excessively inflated, view of yourself.

JST13: Inflated? You can say that again! I'm going to carry this place sky high, right into outer space!

George: Space? So you're going to transform Skeptical Eye into an astronomy blog? Or perhaps you're just engaging in speculative fiction when you say that?

JST13: I only speak the truth.

George: You say you were brought in to save Just Some Stuff, but what about 10, 11 and 12? If it was going to end with number 9...

JST13: They failed, that's all! Those others were sad, sorry excuses for Just Some Stuffs, and did you see JST12? Horrible! I don't know why he even bothered showing up.

George: How can one brief appearance by you change the whole direction of this blog?

JST13: Chain reaction, baby! Chain reaction! It only takes a spark and all that.

The Big Vote

When I Pretend to Fall

Bill's Blog

A President Can Nuke the United States

I gave Yoo every opportunity I could to place a limit on presidential power. Can a president shoot missiles in the United States? Can a president drop nukes in the United States? Yoo refused to concede any limits.


So, can a president drop nukes in the United States? Yoo refused to deny a president even that power. He chose to respond by focusing on the example of Hiroshima, arguing for Truman’s rightful power to do what he did, but my question had involved dropping nukes in the United States, and Yoo’s answer made clear that he acknowledged no limitation on that power.-John Yoo: A President Can Nuke the United States

Who Are These People?

22 years ago a girl was born to a man named Russell Teacup. He was an old widower with no hope of a love life so he took an experimental pill and was paid big money by Big Pharma (though he didn't do it for the money but for the love) and made love to an elephant. He never expected to be expecting, but he got pregnant anyway. The child, when she arrived, was a normal human being and she was very pretty and when she grew up she became rich and famous on her own merit and not because of her unusual origin.

Giraffe From Another Dimension

When Demons Collide, Thunderstorms Result

A Little Baby and the Mommy Too

The Wise Clock That Ran Backwards

The Jippety Jumper

Their Bodies Are Hooked Together. It's Freaky. Space Monsters! That's What They Are!

Shipwrecked Ballet Dancers

If This Is Superman The Day Is Not Saved

Too Many Eyes, Too Many Mouths. Perhaps It's An Undersea Monster

A Flying Thing. It Flies! It Can Stick To The Roof If You Want It To

Mr. Stupid. He Eats Bananas and Throws the Peels On the Floor and Then Always Slips On Them

Just a Book

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Libertarians Against Capitalism

Sheldon Richman founds a new Facebook group:

We are a group of libertarians who understand that historically the word "capitalism" has meant, not the free market, but crony capitalism -- that is, collusion between business and State at the expense of consumers/workers. Thus we refuse to use the word "capitalism" to describe what we favor: individual liberty in all respects and free, competitive markets. We believe that what we have today IS capitalism -- and we oppose it.

Libertarians Against Capitalism

Walter Block disagrees with the rejection of the word capitalism:

...one might infer that I am as good a candidate as any other libertarian to join Libertarians Against Capitalism. Not so, not so. My main reason is not etymological but rather linguistic. I readily admit that "capitalism" has a bad press, and its historical use is none too salutary either. But, the enemies of libertarianism are always trying to take words away from us. They have already long ago stolen "liberal." We must now call ourselves "classical liberals" if we want to use that appellation at all.

Every word we use to describe ourselves is precious. We must keep them all, jettison none of them. And this includes (classical) liberals, free enterprisers, libertarians, Austro-libertarians, anarchists, anarcho-capitalists, laissez faire capitalists, and, yes, plain old unadorned "capitalists." Ayn Rand, bless her heart, never failed to rally to the banner of capitalism. I do not of course agree with everything she ever wrote, but on this matter I am very grateful to her. There were few wordsmiths in our movement better acquainted with the importance of language.

And Sheldon Richman responds:

Whoa! Block needs to read some history. If anything, we took it from them (to make up for the loss of liberal) ! Libertarian was used by left-wing Spanish anarchists during the 1930s civil war; they were no friends of private property and free trade. Going back further, the word was used by anarcho-socialists after the fall of the Paris Commune in 1871 because the word anarchist could land them in a heap of trouble. I doubt Block would regard those libertarians as comrades. The French word Libertaire appears to be the origin of our word libertarian, and it seems to have had nothing to do with what Block wants to call capitalism. Quite the opposite.

The word [capitalism] was tainted from the start -- free-market radicals uses it disparagingly -- and it has never lost its taint, despite the efforts of Mises and Rand. It creates confusion not clarity. We have perfectly good words for what we want: the free market and laissez faire, voluntarism and market anarchism.

We don't need the poisonous word capitalism.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Mom's Miracle Moisturizer

As I sat in the living room of Mom's house, the doorbell rang for the third time since that morning. The first two rings had been by delivery drivers for UPS or FEDEX, and as I got up from my comfortable spot on the sofa to answer the door once more, Mom came around the corner of the hallway. "I'll get it," she said.

As usual, when the door was opened there was no one there, just a package, sitting on the doorstep like an abandoned baby. These were Mom's babies, wrapped bundles of impulse shopping joy, containing items ordered by phone from the pages of the catalogs that fill her mailbox on a daily basis. What was it this time? Another flower patterned "Summer dress" that was designed to make older women look slim, but when tried on, did the opposite? Another clock in the shape of an elf (or a dwarf or gnome or something)? Or was it another piece of jewelery, such as the recent arrival of the "genuine diamond" bracelet and ring on sale for $24.95?

I wondered what it was this time, but Mom didn't hang around long enough for me to see what was hidden inside the box. Instead she held the bundle tightly in her arms and retreated quickly and quietly to her room.

The next morning Mom had her package back out where everyone could see it. She was getting ready to send it back, as she does with 90% of the things she orders. My curiosity compelled to me to investigate. There were three smaller boxes inside the larger one. Each little box contained a jar of cream, but the contents of one was missing.

"Where's the other jar?" I asked.

"In my room," Mom replied. "It didn't work like it was supposed to so I'm sending it back."

There was a booklet among the jars, and I took it out to read it.

"Mom, it says here it takes 60 days to see any results."

"If I keep it they're going to start charging me $65.00 a month beginning in April," Mom said.

"But you've already opened the box and used some of it," I reminded her.

"I'll just tell them it doesn't work."

"They're going to tell you it takes 60 days to work."

Mom thought for a few moments, then got on the phone. I heard her from out in the living room "explaining" to the customer service person.

"I know it's a good wrinkle cream," she was telling them, "but I don't think it's going to work on me because I had to have some dental work done recently and I had my mouth open for a really long time at the dentist and now I've got deep wrinkles around my mouth that weren't there before. Those kind of wrinkles can't be helped by a cream."

After Mom got off the phone I saw her going through the mail and separating the newly arrived catalogs from the rest of the mail. She then gathered the stack of catalogs and went back to her room. From down the hallway I could hear the sound of pages being flipped long into the night.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Cosmic Rays Did It?

Did cosmic rays have anything to do with the Toyota accelerator problem?

The phenomenon can trigger software crashes that come and go without a trace. Unlike interference from radio waves, there's no way to physically block particles; such errors typically have to be prevented by a combination of software and hardware design.

Cosmic rays offered as acceleration cause

Inglorious bunker-busters: US ships arms to attack Iran?

The U.S. is shipping bunker-busting bombs capable of striking Iranian nuclear facilities to the Indian Ocean according to newspaper reports. It's claimed they're heading for British-controlled Diego Garcia, an island used by the U.S. as a base for attacks on Iraq in 1991 and 2003.

Bomb, Bomb Iran?

Hundreds of powerful US “bunker-buster” bombs are being shipped from California to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean in preparation for a possible attack on Iran.

Final destination Iran?

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