Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Big Government is Big Oil

I sent the following to the Raleigh News & Observer:
Tuesday's front page story entitled “Big Oil spends to jack up stock” scrutinized international oil companies for business decisions made with their earned revenue. I was wondering if that same scrutiny will be used to examine the expenditures of those entities that control roughly 90% of the world's proven oil reserves. I am, of course, referring to governments around the world. I am not going to hold my breath, however, because we all know that expenditures on socialistic welfare programs are beyond scrutiny, while any form of profit is per se evil.

It is ironic that the term “Big Oil” is applied to entities that are puny in comparison to those that actually control oil. In reality Big Government is Big Oil.
Here are some examples of Big Government mismanagement of oil.

The original article that I am replying to is pretty sensationalist to begin with. It is obviously trying to stir up some controversy around how oil companies disperse their profits.

What is the proper distribution of revenue? Hell if I know. But if the oil companies are making the 'wrong' decisions then profits won't be a problem for them in the future, and idiot reporters won't have to worry about writing sensationalist claptrap.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


  • Just avoid smalltalk all together
  • It's always fun to watch central banks blame their ineptitude on businesses
  • How to stop a sequel
  • Servitude is coming back into fashion. "I solemnly swear that I will never take part in any involuntary civilian service at the behest of the federal government, regardless of the consequences."
  • Maybe this technology would be cost effective (i.e., profitable) if water prices were allowed to reflect reality
  • A Nudge to fix the wrong problem

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Money and Power

Robert Frank, in a New York Times piece (free, annoying registration may be required), spews the typical liberal pabulum regarding campaign finance reform. I won't comment on the entire piece, but I want to say something about the general theme: money corrupting politics.

Just because our representatives are elected by a majority of the population and sit in the seats of power in Washington, doesn’t make them omniscient. It is silly to believe that just because they are not influenced by money that their decisions would be more just and wise. Sure, the policies would be different, but we are still dealing with mere mortals. They would have to be experts in economics, science, law, history, medicine, technology, etc. to govern as they do now. Only if we scale down the size of government dramatically will this arrangement even be remotely possible. But, at that point there would be no need for campaign finance legislation because government would not have the heavy hand it does now nor would it have anything to sell.

But why do we need to limit contributions anyway? If we are assuming that these people we send to Washington are wise enough to determine the ‘right’ legislation if they were only free from the corrupting influence of money, why are they not wise enough now to just not be corrupted by the money in the first place? In other words, if they are so easily corrupted now, maybe they aren't fit govern at any time.

It could be said that we would want politicians to only get influence from the experts in the respective fields. But who are the experts? Do all experts agree? Who will be the arbiter if they don’t? Again, with a small government limited to a specific set of tasks, this could possibly work (I still have my doubts, however).

The other question we need to ask is how is it possible to prevent conflicts of interest? We are a nation of 300 million and we have different interests and wants. If government is reduced to a fraction of its current size this might be possible, but when government spends $3 trillion and has its tentacles in every aspect of our lives there are going to be conflicts of interest when it comes to how to spend that money and wield that power.

Lastly, I would like to comment on a specific quote in the article. After begrudgingly admitting that money can't be completely eliminated from the political process, Frank writes this: "The harsh reality is that free speech and good government are conflicting goals." When I first read that statement I had to stop and say "Wow!" Free speech is now a "goal" - not an inalienable right of the individual, mind you - a goal that can be negotiated like all other issues in government. Maybe this is why so many people want to buy influence. Maybe this is why so many people need to buy influence.

Let me use Mr. Frank's language to close: free speech and big government are conflicting goals. In fact, any individual right and big government are conflicting goals.


Thomas Sowell once said that "there are no solutions...there only trade-offs." We are learning that lesson good and hard today.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Little Brother

I just finished reading Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. I highly recommend it to those who like stories about technology and using technology in a clandestine manner. It reminded me a lot of a book I read a long time ago by Clifford Stoll called The Cuckoo's Egg. The books have different plots (in Stoll's book the hacker is the bad guy), but in both you get a small glimpse into the hacker culture.

Even if you don't like stories about technology, however, you should read Little Brother. It's an inspiring tale about a young man not willing to let the government get away with tyranny even if it means his own freedom.

One interesting aspect in my experience reading this book was following along with Google Maps Street View. I was able to follow the action in the streets of San Francisco (a city that I've been to twice but really didn't get to see). Try it, it's fun.

Obama on Iraq...for now

I guess I should have seen this coming. Oh wait, I did. So, for those of you who were worried that I might vote for Obama (if I was really, really forced to), don't worry.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008