Monday, December 5, 2016

Über hiring criminals

It should come as no surprise that the world's leading incarcerator would make it more difficult for companies to find people with spotless police records.

So Über, which according to Wikipedia is an "American worldwide online transportation network company," is changing its policy.  It has opened its doors to applicants who have certain nonviolent and non-sexual criminal records.

It actually initiated this policy earlier in 2016 in California.  Beginning in 2017 it will extend it to Connecticut and Rhode Island:
Uber's change in policy, which goes into effect early next year, will allow people with convictions for nonviolent misdemeanor offenses such as passing a bad check, resisting arrest, petty theft, prostitution, harassment and causing minor property damage to drive for the company. 
Previously, applicants with such records were automatically rejected if the offense occurred within the past seven years. Uber said it will continue to reject applicants who have felony convictions within the past seven years, as well as applicants with convictions for misdemeanor offenses that involve violence, sex crimes and serious motor vehicle violations.
Ryan McMaken reports that Connecticut and the rest of the US has been working hard to get more people behind bars or subject to extraordinary fines.
The War on Drugs brought longer prison terms and stiffer fines than had been the case in earlier decades. But drugs aren't the activity that have been leading to increasingly outsized punishments. In the United States today, we continue to witness what can perhaps be called "punishment inflation" in which fines and jail time for certain crimes have been increased above what punishments those same crimes brought in the past. 
He cites a 2015 report form the [Connecticut] legislature's Office of Legislative Research that lists numerous examples of punishment inflation. As the report states,
Based on our research, the legislature increased the penalty for at least 49 crimes from a misdemeanor to a felony from 1995 to 2015.
With so many regulations expanding the federal register each year, virtually the entire U.S. population has become criminalized.  As The Daily Caller noted in 2013:
The Federal Register is a daily digest published by the federal government since 1936. It contains proposed regulations from agencies, finalized rules, notices, corrections, and presidential documents. The 1936 Federal Register was 2,620 pages long. It has grown steadily since then, with the 2012 edition weighing in at 78,961 pages (it has topped 60,000 pages every year for the last 20 years). 
The Federal Register’s page count is by no means a perfect proxy for measuring regulatory burdens. A particularly onerous regulation might take up only a page or two, while one that costs relatively little could ramble on for dozens of pages. Despite this important shortcoming, it is still one of the more useful yardsticks we have, as it indicates a large and active federal government.
 Still think government works for you?

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Uncounted chickens come home to roost - again

Gary North's Tea Party Economist posted these pictures.  Madam President and her cronies miscalculated.  We were spared the Hillary Horror Show and went for an unknown quantity instead.

"Near-great" Harry S. Truman was already a nightmare:
- atomic bombing of Japan*
- creation of the national security state
- Orwellian renaming of War Department to Defense Department
- forced repatriation of former Soviet subjects and non-subjects (Operation Keelhaul)
- Marshall Plan
- Inauguration of the Cold War against a war-devastated Soviet Union
- Employment Act of 1946

The 1948 election continued the Truman Horror Show
- "police action" in Korea
- sinkholes such as the foreign aid program and promoting Zionist cause
- seizing nation's steel mills in response to a strike

* Twelve Navy fliers who were incarcerated in a Hiroshima jail were also killed in the attack

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Keynes on destroying capitalism through inflation

Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens. By this method they not only confiscate, but they confiscate arbitrarily; and, while the process impoverishes many, it actually enriches some. The sight of this arbitrary rearrangement of riches strikes not only at security, but at confidence in the equity of the existing distribution of wealth. Those to whom the system brings windfalls, beyond their deserts and even beyond their expectations or desires, become "profiteers,", who are the object of the hatred of the bourgeoisie, whom the inflationism has impoverished, not less than of the proletariat. As the inflation proceeds and the real value of the currency fluctuates wildly from month to month, all permanent relations between debtors and creditors, which form the ultimate foundation of capitalism, become so utterly disordered as to be almost meaningless; and the process of wealth-getting degenerates into a gamble and a lottery.
Lenin was certainly right. There is no subtler, no surer means of overturning the existing basis of society than to debauch the currency. The process engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which not one man in a million is able to diagnose.

-- The Economic Consequences of the Peace, by John Maynard Keynes, 1919

Monday, October 24, 2016

Playoff at twilight

Saturday night Collins Hill 11u lost a tough playoff game to North Gwinnett, 6-0.  

The boys played hard and came out pumped, nor did they quit even when the situation looked hopeless.  We're proud of them.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Train wrecks and handsprings

From yesterday's 11u football game in Dacula, GA.  

Sometimes a great chase ends in a train wreck.

Okay, you tackle him . . .

 . . . and I'll do a handspring.

Don't touch it!  You never know where it's been!

What happens when demand exceeds supply.  

A hard left, coming up!

Hey, man, isn't flying illegal?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stockman: "Trump peeled the bark off the Fed’s phony recovery narrative"

Most of the 90 minutes last night was a waste—with both candidates lobbing well-worn clichés, slogans and sound bites at the audience and each other.

But there was one brief moment that made it all worthwhile. That was when Donald Trump peeled the bark off the Fed’s phony recovery narrative and warned that the stupendous stock market bubble it has created will come crashing down the minute it stops pegging rates to the zero bound.
“……Typical politician. All talk, no action. Sounds good, doesn’t work. Never going to happen. Our country is suffering because people like Secretary Clinton have made such bad decisions in terms of our jobs and in terms of what’s going on. 
Now, look, we have the worst revival of an economy since the Great Depression. And believe me: We’re in a bubble right now. And the only thing that looks good is the stock market, but if you raise interest rates even a little bit, that’s going to come crashing down. 
We are in a big, fat, ugly bubble. And we better be awfully careful. And we have a Fed that’s doing political things. This Janet Yellen of the Fed. The Fed is doing political — by keeping the interest rates at this level. And believe me: The day Obama goes off, and he leaves, and goes out to the golf course for the rest of his life to play golf, when they raise interest rates, you’re going to see some very bad things happen, because the Fed is not doing their job. The Fed is being more political than Secretary Clinton.
Trump thereby landed a direct hit on the false Wall Street/Washington postulate that the Fed has been the nation’s economic savior. And he also elicited an almost instant defense of its destructive, anti-capitalist regime of Bubble Finance—-albeit in the guise of a “fact check” by the New York Times’ Fed reporter, Benyamin Appelbaum.

To be sure, there were actually no “facts” to check in Trump’ statement. It was simply an entirely correct judgment that the utterly unnatural interest rates engineered by the Fed have fueled an egregious inflation of financial asset prices and that “some very bad things” are going to happen when the Fed’s market rigging operation is finally halted.

Still, and opinion or not, Appelbaum emitted a barrage of harrumphing and scolding, implying that Trump is some kind of yokel who does not understand the sacred independence of the Fed:
In attacking the Fed, Mr. Trump is plowing across a line that presidential candidates and presidents have observed for the past several decades. There has been a bipartisan consensus that central banks operate most effectively when they are shielded from short-term political pressures. Indeed, President Richard M. Nixon’s insistence that the Fed should not raise rates in the early 1970s played a role in unleashing a long era of inflation — and in convincing his successors that it was better to leave the Fed to its technocratic devices.
Technocratic devices? Now that is downright balderdash because what the Fed is doing is profoundly and resoundingly political.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Happy 67th birthday, Human Action!

Amazon sells the Kindle version of Human Action: Scholar's Edition for $3.82.  But why should anyone read this lengthy treatise?  I've dug up some reasons for doing so.
The publication of Human Action in September 1949 produced a quantum leap in [Ludwig von Mises's] prominence and impact. Overnight, Mises turned into the central intellectual figure of the entire American Right, an event that was paralleled during the next decade only in the case of Atlas Shrugged, the novel that catapulted Ayn Rand to even greater fame, at least among the general public. Mises now appeared to the public not merely as a scholar of the old school, but as one of the great minds of western civilization, a creative genius who had not only mastered all aspects of his science, but had completely transformed this science to offer a new way of looking at social processes and relationships. 
Human Action was a success without precedent. His 1922 treatise on socialism had been a sensation too, but only because of the general recognition that theoretical socialism offered no help with the problems of postwar reconstruction. The socialist avant-garde had seized power in Germany and Austria, but then had no idea what to do. And this crisis quickly turned from a theoretical one to a political one when socialist governments drastically aggravated conditions rather than improving them. Mises's comprehensive analysis in Gemeinwirtschaft (Social Economy) delivered a breathtakingly lucid explanation of this mess. But while the book provoked outrage and fury in the socialist camp and initiated a paradigm shift in the thinking of an entire generation, it had not become the rallying banner of a movement. Its author had been a relatively junior economist and no institutions were in place to concentrate and organize the readers the book had convinced.  
American ground was more fertile. It had been prepared by a long tradition of individual liberty and a recent reorientation toward that tradition. There were, in effect, the makings of a movement just waiting for Human Action to form its intellectual nucleus. . . . 
Neither Mises nor his friends expected the success the book would have. After his return from Mexico [where he had been lecturing], Mises left for a two-week vacation in the Berkshire Mountains. The book was released to the bookshops while he was away, on September 14, 1949. In his weekly Newsweek column, Henry Hazlitt announced and praised it, anticipating the role it would play in subsequent events: 
Human Action is, in short, at once the most uncompromising and the most rigorously reasoned statement of the case for capitalism that has yet appeared. If any single book can turn the ideological tide that has been running in recent years so heavily toward statism, socialism, and totalitarianism, Human Action is that book. 
This was almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. Not three months later, by December 6, more than 4,000 copies had been sold and the book was in its third printing. With the reports of ever more sales, Mises's euphoria lasted for months.   
-- Hülsmann, Jörg Guido (2007-09-04). Mises: The Last Knight of Liberalism (LvMI) (pp. 885-886). Ludwig von Mises Institute. Kindle Edition. 

"The core of any system of economic theory is the explanation of how prices are determined," economist Joseph T. Salerno tells us.  
As Mises (1998, p. 235) himself put it, “Economics is mainly concerned with the analysis of the determination of money prices of goods and services exchanged on the market.” Thus, the core of Human Action is parts three and four (pp. 201–684), entitled, respectively, “Economic Calculation” and “Catallactics or Economics of the Market Society.” In these two parts, comprising 484 pages, there is presented for the first time a complete and systematic theory of how actual market prices are determined. Of course, Mises did not create this theory out of whole cloth. In fact, the theory of price elaborated in Human Action represents the crowning achievement of the Austrian School of economics. It is the culmination of the approach to price theory originated by Carl Menger in 1871 and developed further by a handful of brilliant economists of the generation intervening between Menger and Mises. These latter included especially Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, J.B. Clark, Phillip H. Wicksteed, Frank A. Fetter, and Herbert J. Davenport. Unfortunately, for reasons to be explained below, the entire Mengerian approach went into decline after World War I and had lapsed into nearly complete dormancy by the mid-1930s. Mises’s outstanding contribution in Human Action was to singlehandedly revive this approach and elaborate it into a coherent and systematic theory of price determination. (my emphasis)
This article is divided into sections, section 1 describes the development of the Mengerian approach to price theory up until World War I, by which time it had reached the zenith of its international influence. Section 2 describes its amazingly rapid decline and suggests four reasons for it, including two fundamental theoretical problems that had not been solved by the first two generations of Mengerians. Mises’s solitary struggle to revive the approach, beginning in the mid-1930s and culminating with the publication of Human Action in 1949 is the topic of Section 3. A revisionist thesis is also proposed in this section that disputes the conventional view that Austrian economics was riding high in the mid-1930s when it was suddenly and tragically buried by the “Keynesian avalanche.”
Read the rest of the article:

The Place of Human Action in the Development of Modern Economic Thought