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August 2011

August 31, 2011

"When 'inconsequential' means 'better'"

Jeff Jacoby does an excellent job taking on an argument I am seeing more and more often. Liberals--or Progressives, as some of them would prefer to be know these days--point to some federal government program, argue it is highly worthwhile, and then say, "See what we would lose if the conservatives get their way?" Jacoby summarizes a couple of recent versions:

Commenting on Twitter as the Texas governor announced his presidential candidacy, longtime Washington journalist Howard Kurtz wondered: “Perry wants to make DC ‘inconsequential in your life.’ Does that include Medicare, Soc Sec, vets’ programs, air safety, FDA?’’ Former Bobby Kennedy aide Jeff Greenfield ran through a litany of Washington’s contributions to American life - from railroads, interstate highways, and the Hoover Dam to land-grant colleges, civil rights, and subsidized mortgages - and marveled at the depth of the right’s “disdain for all things Washington.’’

Jacoby responds:

But it isn’t highways or veterans’ programs or minority voting rights that conservatives find so objectionable about Washington. When Perry speaks of making the nation’s capital “inconsequential,’’ he isn’t proposing to dismantle the Hoover Dam. Hard as it may be for liberals to accept, the Republican base isn’t motivated by blind loathing of the federal government, or by a nihilistic urge to wipe out the good that Washington has accomplished.

What conservatives believe, rather, is what America’s Founders believed: that government is best which governs least, and that human freedom and dignity are likeliest to thrive not when power is centralized and remote, but when it is diffuse, local, and modest.

Excellent!

Here's another reply: the federal government has been spending hundreds of billions--now trillions--of dollars each year. Surely, some of them provide some good for at least some Americans. But it's a logical fallacy--the fallacy of composition--that an example or two proves that the entire federal budget is being spent well.

Or: get back to me when the federal budget is spent largely on interstate highways, land-grant colleges, and civil rights. I'll wait.

"Why McDonald's wins in any economy"

Nice story about how to revive a big company in a mature market.

"If I Were President . . . "

The New York Times asked 12 "leaders in fields other than politics" what they would do. It didn't surprise me that James Q. Wilson's answer was the best. Basically it was "Tell the truth."

That would be a heck of a good start.

"Why China’s Debt Problems Are Worse Than America's"

I think it's really hard for outsiders to know what's really going on in China. (Probably hard for insiders to know, too.) But more than a few people suspect there's big trouble brewing.

August 30, 2011

"Totally Psyched for the Full-Rip Nine"

One of the best ways to motivate people to act is with a good story. For people in the Pacific Northwest, this is a hell of a story

“It breaks my heart to go out and tell people, ‘Hey, you know that place your grandparents immigrated to, the place you call home, that seaside cottage? Well, it turns out to be a high-risk disaster zone. Yeah. We get a massive earthquake every 300 to 500 years around here, and we’re due. They’re super bad. When it comes, it’s a monster. A full-rip nine.’ ”

By “full-rip nine” Corcoran means a mag­ni­tude-9.0 earthquake, the kind of massive off­shore temblor that triggered the tsunami that killed 28,050 people in Japan on March 11, 2011. Geologists call them megaquakes. Geo­logists also call the Northwest coast of North America—from Vancouver Island down to Northern California—one of the like­­liest next victims.

John Hawkins interviews Mark Steyn about Steyn's new book

Here.

Steyn quotes a great bit of Milton Friedman's wisdom that I hadn't heard before:

Rather than elect the right people to do the right things create the broader political conditions whereby the wrong people are forced to do the right things.

Resembles Warren Buffett's crack that you should invest in companies that can be run by idiots, because sooner or later they will.

"Evening in America: Cindy Crawford and the State of Supermodels"

Ms. Molly Lambert just doesn't understand Cindy Crawford. Lambert thinks the mole helped make Cindy "relatable". Ms. Lambert asserts that the mole, in fact, was why Cindy was "more specifically iconic than Christy Turlington or Stephanie Seymour, who are objectively equally beautiful."

Oh, my, that's wrong.

The other keys to her success, supposedly, were that "Cindy broadcasts toughness, a kind of forthright cowgirl confidence" and "She branded herself as American, constantly". 

Better, but still pretty far off.

Allow me.

Ms. Crawford's success was a function of her understanding exactly what business she was in. She was selling an image. And she tried earnestly to sell that image reliably, and she was proud of the result. Her effort and her pride showed in House of Style and all her TV appearances. That and what I noted five years ago Issac Mizrahi said about her

We return you now to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Finance blogs are popping up all over

Another one to look at is Crackerjack Finance--Investing a Step Ahead.

And don't forget Finance Clippings and Pat Larkin's Value Journal.

"The Best Colleges for You"

You want to study? Eat good food? Be happy? Slack off?

Here's help.

August 29, 2011

Congressional Effect Mutual Fund

There is a mutual fund that holds proxies for the S&P500 when Congress is out of session and bonds when Congress is in session.

It claims to be beating the market handily (though the track record dates to just May 2008).

What this means for Progressives is left as an exercise for the reader.

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