Saturday, July 30, 2011

Absolute Tyranny

Living in America in 2011, it’s hard to imagine what absolute tyranny entails.  We hear the term tossed around from time to time, but I suspect few of us really understand what absolute tyranny looks like.  Even the poorest of Americans enjoy a life a million times more abundant than those unfortunate souls in North Korea.

Life in North Korea is harsh, short, and repetitive.  Liberty does not exist, only complete commitment to the Dear Leader.  Consistent and daily propaganda, assisted by Confucianism, has reduced the population into automons, existing only to worship Kim II Sung, who died in 1994, and his murderous son, Kim Jong-il.    They are idolized as gods.  They are actually tyrants.

North Korea is the most reclusive nation on earth.  Outsiders, when allowed in, are under constant supervision by “guides”.   A drive around Pyongyang bears witness to oddly- empty streets and towering buildings with few occupants.  Famine is everywhere and electricity is almost nowhere.  Visitors are escorted to hand-selected venues where Korean school children perform dances and play music.  It’s all a fa├žade.  The real Korea is off-limits to outsiders.  The real Korea is most likely filled with unspeakable horror, starvation, and death.

I asked myself why children continue to be born.  As a sane, rational human being, I would not want to subject my children to the tyranny of North Korea.  Perhaps, copulation is forced.  Freedom is nonexistent in this hermit country, but substituted with the grim reality of a difficult and short life.  An early death may actually be a blessing in North Korea. 
Here’s a video (about an hour in length) that will help you understand absolute tyranny.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Taxes DO Matter

Don’t think taxes matter?  They matter to CME.  As a reminder – Illinois hiked income taxes this past year by up to 60%. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Regulations that actually save money, or so says the EPA.

Black is white.  The earth is flat, and monkeys really can fly.  Stimulus creates wealth, and government can issue regulations that actually save the country money.  Hi, and welcome to the bizarro world. 

Last week, the EPA finalized a new rule to “help states reduce air pollution.”  I would personally like to ask those states if they consider the EPA a respected business partner or a lying, cheating hooligan.  I digress.  Companies have until January 1 to comply.  Can a major coal plant retro fit its equipment to comply with this new rule in less than six months?  Doubtful.

This new rule mandates that power companies reduce air pollution that contributes to particulates and ground level ozone.  The EPA swears that tens of thousands of lives will be spared, saving us billions in avoided healthcare costs.  It also promises that any increase in electric rates will be minimal, and this action will not interrupt the flow of electricity to power-hungry cities.  Well, proving that deaths were avoided is impossible to measure, but we can certainly capture the increase in rates and the reduction in generated power.

Luminant, run by EF Holding Company, operates 12 coal fired power plants in Texas.  They announced plans to “materially reduce power generation” at some plants and “mothball” others to comply with the new rule. A company spokesman said six months weren’t enough time to comply.  Most reasonable people know six months isn’t enough time – just as unreasonable regulators at the EPA know it’s not enough time.  With already tight supplies, this additional reduction in supply could lead to shortages and significant price increases.

America gets half its power from coal, and there are over 500 coal plants that may need retro fitting to comply.  These costs will be passed on to consumers, acting as a tax and reducing our wealth.  Power companies in KY have said consumers can expect average increases of 20% in electric rates for the next five years.  KY gets 90% of its power from coal.  Upset? Don’t be.

Remember, this is the bizzaro world.  The EPA said everything would be fine.  These rules will save you money – there are no costs, only benefits.  Hey, I just saw a monkey fly by my house!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Income ≠ wealth

Income isn’t wealth, but try convincing this to a politician or mainstream journalist.  Many people confuse this issue and become caught up in the class warfare that plagues the political parties.

Income, loosely defined, is a flow.  Contrast this with wealth, which are assets, or a stock.  Assets normally generate income (think municipal bonds), but they don’t have to (think an expensive piece of art).  But again, income, even high income, doesn’t necessarily translate to rich.

Suppose a freshly minted doctor opens his own practice, and earns an annual income of $265,000. Let’s also say this doctor bought a home worth $300,000, and put 20% as a down payment.  And let’s say the doctor borrowed $200,000 to attend medical school.  Is this guy rich?  Well, let’s analyze his net worth. 

His assets (house) are worth $300,000 but his liabilities are $440,000 (student loan of $200,000 + mortgage of $240,000).  He has owner’s equity of $60,000 in his home.  So, while his income looks high at $265,000, he is far from wealthy.  Subjecting our doctor to higher tax rates based on the false premise that he’s rich is bad policy.

So, the next time you hear a pol talk about taxing the rich, ask them to define rich.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Must Read

This piece, from Anthony Gregory courtesy of Lew Rockwell, might take a half-hour to get through, but it is extremely important to read this.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

My favorite kind of recycling

Some may wrongly believe I’m against recycling, especially if you’ve read my last few posts on the matter.  However, this isn’t the case.  I’m very much for recycling, just not my garbage.

This week the City of San Antonio puts some of that tax money that I send them to use.  Monday begins “bulky-item” pick up.  This service includes such things as old washing machines, water heaters, worn-out couches, and pretty much anything except brush.  Not only does the City come by to pick up my “useless” items, so do scavengers.  

Yesterday, I placed out to be picked up an old metal filing cabinet and my front gutter (aka - leaf catcher).  I had to cut the gutter into sections with shears to make it somewhat easy to collect.  Today those items are gone!  Instead of sitting in some landfill, I have (proudly, mind you) recycled those items.

Transactions costs = zero!  Taxpayer money involved = zero!  Lesson in recycling = priceless!