Thursday, December 04, 2003

Will anti-capitalists apologize to the orphans? 

From andrewsullivan.com:

"Meanwhile, as Natalie Solent points out, the real threat to containing and treating HIV has come from widespread efforts from the left to persecute the pharmaceutical companies. Her money quote:
Why the decline [in HIV research]? Because the drugs companies no longer believe that they are going to get rich out of AIDS research. In fact they begin to doubt they will get any compensation at all. They read the newspapers, they study the speeches of politicians, and they sense that the popular wind is blowing against them. They think, probably rightly, that governments will either force them to sell at a loss drugs that were developed at huge expense or will bypass them and the law entirely by buying generic copies of patent drugs. Governments, after all, are the ones who can change the law when it is inconvenient. One minute the authorities will come down like a ton of bricks on pirate music or pirate videos. The next minute they will say that it is 'unacceptable greed' for companies to actually want to profit from patents on medical discoveries. I accept that there are subtleties and genuine conflicts of principle in the field of intellectual property - but the bottom line is that if pharma companies get nothing but abuse for the work they put in they bloody well won't put in much more of it. Just as for the slaves, it's no surprise that if people are forced to work for nothing then they don't bust a gut.
Tuesday night, at Colgate University, the one point I made that truly shocked the audience was a defense of the drug companies. It has been imprinted on an entire generation that Big Pharma is the source of all evil. But the only reason I'm writing this blog at all is because of Big Pharma. They're not angels in America. They're capitalists. But the profit motive has been the most progressive force in pioneering specific medical breakthroughs that we have yet found. Why cannot the left see this? Why are they - more than Ronald Reagan - pursuing policies that will consign many people with HIV to earlier deaths? And why do so few people call them on it?"

A friendly party? 

There's this idea that the Republicans are the "daddy party", bringing us up to be responsible, polite, trustworthy and hardworking, whereas the Democrats are the "mommy party", nurturing and protecting us while sympathizing with our problems and helping us without demands.

Is there a third way? This article notes that this metaphor casts both parties as authority figures who know better how to manage our lives then we do. Could Libertarianism then be called the "friend party", meaning they respect your choices, maybe offer advice, but of course it's your right to live your own life.

We are not children and government is not a parent. In fact this is supposed to be a government "by and for the people", not a collection of strict parents with the power to criminalize behavior to bring to heel the "people" like so many wayward children.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Creepy Lefties 

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish

Great critique of Iraq 

Op-Ed Columnist: The Chant Not Heard

Outlawing Food 

Here's an article about outlawing food. In a liberal society is it allowable to change citizen's self-destructive habits by criminalizing them? Answer yes and just wait 'til they find one of your little pleasures that should be illegal. Chocolate? Reality TV? Ice Cream? Porn? Football? It's not impossible to imagine a trial lawyer feeding frenzy on any of these activities.

The Tenth Amendment reads "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people". I can't seem to find where the Constitution granted federal power to regulate whether I supersize at McDonald's... Ah, perhaps the civic dangers posed by my waistline necessitate temporary suspension of the US Constitution...

The 85% Solution 

Steve Chapman has a wonderful piece in the Baltimore Sun

Tobacco opponents once had to endure the risk of being enveloped in fumes anytime they went out to eat. But as the number of smokers has declined, restaurants have adapted to satisfy nonsmokers. They forbid cigars and pipes, offer separate smokers and nonsmokers sections, or simply prohibit smoking altogether.
Wilmette has 39 restaurants, and before the ordinance was passed, 33 of them didn’t allow smoking. Anyone with an aversion to the smell of tobacco had plenty of dining options even without crossing village boundaries. Chicago, for that matter, has some 500 smoke-free restaurants.

But getting their way 85 percent of the time was not enough for the proponents of total bans.

(Thanks to bantheban.org)

Calling Mayor Mike 

From DC, the right way to do a smoking ban; give a tax credit to non-smoking places to increase their number, without robbing addicts of the simple pleasure of a night out without needing to stand in the snow. The result? More non-smoking establishments, happy restaurant- and bar-owners, and smokers treated like human beings (most of us are, honest!) rather than contagious criminals. Maybe DC's mayor Williams will come to New York and run against nanny Mike?

Robot Nation 

Great article on impact of technology on jobs.

TCS: Tech Central Station - Robot Nation?

Is joblessness a choice? 

Thinking about unemployment again. We all know that competition is the most efficient way to organize companies, even though that's very stressful for companies (demanding shareholders, competitors nipping at their heels). Evidence of this heightened competition is how quickly companies come and go and shift business plans and enter then reemerge from bankruptcy. But there is a solution. A company can become private to do away with the shareholders, and if it's a nonprofit it can limit the number of competitors attracted.

In the same way, perhaps our more open society is creating more of a competitive dynamic among workers. That is, just as companies need to worry about whether their business plan is all it can be, and whether it needs reorganization or refocus or restrategization, similarly workers need to worry about whether their skills are going to take them to 65, or do they need to return to school, hone their skills, take a strategic pay cut to acquire useful skills, and so on. You can opt out of course, by accepting declining employability (just as a company taken private may accept lower profitability), or the worker version of a non-competitive marketplace, a government or union job.

The conclusion is that the notion that workers' industries may disappear and they'll need to retrain is fundamentally what companies have been facing for a long, long time. It's part of the economic dynamism and "creative destruction" of our system, and its how we raise our productivity. Trade discussions today see that process as some cruel natural disaster that befalls innocent victims, but it isn't any more than a bankruptcy is an act of god. Generally we conclude a bankruptcy is due to poor management, and we should hold similarly responsible workers whose skills have become unmarketable. Why? Because otherwise they've no incentive to update their skills, and without updated skills we'd still be living in a pre-industrial society collecting firewood and catching lizards for dinner.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

HR 110 

Outstanding article about regulation. Our beloved government, guardian of our freedoms and caretaker of the light of liberty, produces 300 new regulations per day telling us how to live our lives in minute detail.

Thank god someone's thinking about how to limit my freedom so I don't hurt myself. After all, you wouldn't want to leave such important matters as oral sex, bicycle helmets or the definition of swiss cheese to such unworthy judges as we who actually voted these pompous bastards into office... Read about a libertarian solution that'll never see the light of day.

And for those who think I'm crazy for thinking we'll be around in the year 3000 

Do we have too many jobs? 

I assume somebody on-the-baller than me has asked this, but how do we have a jobs shortage if there are 20 million illegals in the country with over 1 million immigrants a year? Logic would suggest we have too many jobs and not enough workers, since immigrants tend to move here for the higher wages...

So maybe it isn't that we have a shortage of jobs, rather we have an abundance of people who believe they're too good for the companies offering jobs. So if the economy levels off (note the GDP numbers; we didn't have a recession the past few years, just slower growth), then people who'd been chuggin along getting fat raises just aren't willing to take the jobs out there, so they hold out (collecting unemployment) until another cushy job comes along.

Should your tax dollars be given to people who can work but choose not to? More important, is there really anybody in our society who is unemployed, or are the "unemployed" simply holding out for a better deal, whether from a company or from the taxpayer?

A cool site to track the 2004 presidential election Fundrace

And a great plan for immigration reform

Bush spends the day in Pennsylvania talking up the economy to cover the fact he'll (quietly) let the steel tariffs expire. True to form, Bush's free market instincts come out when the electoral calculations permit.

There's a debate going on between pure free market libertarians and the pragmaticists over compromising principles for electoral victory (i.e. the Medicare Rx bill). A cursory glance at the results of Gingrich's overwhelming mandate vs. what Bush has done with a very thin margin should speak volumes. The ivory towers are fine places to explore pure libertarian policies, but politics is, after all, the art of the possible.

Reminds me of a quote by (then-Senator) John Ashcroft where he likened legislating in the Senate to a demolition derby. "Senators drive their own idea into the arena and proceed and smash into each other until nothing's left but a smoking pile of wreckage," Mr. Ashcroft said. "Then the Senate old bulls come in and take a fender from a Ford, an engine from a Chevy, wheels from a Plymouth, a transmission from a Honda. The resulting junker is dubbed a 'consensus,' and while it won't win any races, at least it can be said something drives out of the arena."

Better to be the one building the wreck that drives out than among the spectators wishing we were in the game...

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?