Saturday, January 20, 2007

10 Things I Learned From Iraq

Varifrank has an excellent post outlining what he's learned from the war in Iraq. IMHO, the best one is

"The justification for going into Bosnia was the fact that Bosnia was in a full blown sectarian civil war and that we needed to stop it. The justification for leaving Iraq is that it is a full blown sectarian civil war and that we don't need to stop it. Makes me wonder what the Bosnians had that the Iraqis don't. Oh yeah, were still in Bosnia by the way... "

Yep. Great idea when Clinton proposed it. It sucks when Bush does. Funny how that works out.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Moonbattery at full throttle

Democrats have controlled Congress for 2 weeks now, so I think it's time to review their performance, making snarky comments along the way.

First, in two weeks the House Democrats worked an astounding 87 hours and turned out 6 pieces of shit legislation:
  • Raised the minimum wage (Thanks so much for making harder for Daughter to get that first job.)
  • Lowered the rate on college loans (Apparently banks are in the business of loaning money at below market rates. Expect another Federal program for college loans as soon as the banks decide to bail.)
  • Expanding stem cell research (Fully funding questionable science, just so the scientists won't have to suffer the indignity of actual scientific research.)
  • Forcing the government to "negotiate" prescription drug prices for Medicare recipients (This will probably end up more along the lines of "dictate" rather than "negotiate".)
  • Ended subsidies/raised taxes (depends on how you you look at things) on oil companies (Of course, no matter which action they took, the oil companies will simply pass it along to the consumers.)
  • And finally, implement all of the September 11 commission's recommendations (No matter how useless, ill-conceived, economically destructive, police state-enhancing or simply foolish they may be.)
Not bad work for 87 hours. Heck, they promised it in the first 100 hours (of actually working on these bills, whining about Iraq excluded, see dealer for details, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited by law), so they're 13 hours ahead of schedule. (Of course, that averages out to 43.5 hours worked per week, so they'll probably be asking for overtime.)

Of course, during this Herculean effort, the incessant whining about Iraq and the War on Terror was pursued with equal vigor. Of course, no thoughts on how to put Iraq on the path to being a functioning "normal" country (whatever that might be) and actually winning the war were put forth. (Probably because they don't actually have any.)

And we should note another legislative triumph for the Dems, the vote to remove the requirement for a 3/5 "supermajority" vote for tax increases from the House rules. That should make it easier to raise taxes on the "rich", those evil so-and-sos. (Glad I'm not one of them.)

The Senate, on the other hand, has moved somewhat slower. S. 1, a bill to reform the ethics of the Senate (impossible, actually, since you first have to have some ethics to reform) has caused quite a little storm over predictions of the end of free speech as we know it. (Well hell, they want to do away with the Second Amendment, why not the First as well? Even better, let's just get rid of that whole pesky Constitution thing altogether, so we can get right to the fun of totalitarianism and a police state?) Others disagree, and I'm a bit more inclined to agree with them (even while casting a watchful eye on the bill) at this point.

And from what I can tell, that's all the Senate has done. (Not that being relative do nothings is a bad thing in this case.)

So there we have it in a nutshell, the first 2 weeks under our new Democrat masters leaders. The big question is where do they go from here. Personally, I expect various tax increases, probably one or more attempts at anti-gun owner legislation, continued pissing and moaning on Iraq, various actions aimed at either the poor and starvin' or for the children and other assorted nanny stateisms.

Anyone care to place a bet on whether or not I'm disappointed?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

My problem with inflation

Kevin Baker of The Smallest Minority asked this question about my post on the effects of inflation on the value of a dollar:

Now, compare what you earn today vs. what you'd have earned back then.

So...

What's your problem?

Fair question.

As I understand Kevin's point, it could be stated as "Sure, a dollar at the store in 2007 doesn't buy as much as it did in 1970. So what? The dollars you're paid in have inflated at that same rate as well, so you have more dollars to spend." (Kevin, if that isn't a fair restatement, feel free to correct me.)

I'm unconvinced that this is true. I'm an Austrian (Ludwig von Mises subspecies) in terms of my economics views. Mostly, anyway.

(Warning: Gross oversimplifications follow.)

From where I stand, inflation is caused by government meddling with the money supply. When money was either coined from, or backed by, some tangible form of value (historically in the West, precious metals), inflation could only be caused by an increase in the money supply, and that meant mining more precious metals. The supply of precious metals being finite (and relatively hard to extract, historically), inflation occurred, but very, very slowly. (Except for a few periods, the best known being the one after the discovery of the New World, where Spain's looting of gold and silver caused rampant inflation in Europe for around a century--a period called The Great Inflation.) When governments decoupled monetary value from a set standard and began increasing the monetary supply by simply printing more money, inflation took on a life of its own. More money chased the available supply of goods, resulting in higher prices as the holders of those goods sought the highest possible prices.

Also, inflation effects only prices. Wages grow for other reasons, such as increased worker productivity, competition for workers with particular (rare) skill sets, shortages of available labor and interestingly enough, worker expectations of inflation.

Additionally, inflation has other, more insidious effects. As Hans Sennholz points out in "The Many Evils of Inflation":

Inflation covertly transfers income and wealth from all creditors to all debtors. It dispossessed present creditors of nine-tenths of their 1980 savings and enriched debtors by the same amount. The dollar savings accumulated since then have shrunk at lesser rates but are fading away notwithstanding.

No wonder, many victims readily conclude that thrift and self-reliance are useless and even injurious and that spending and debt are preferable by far. They may join the multitudes of spenders who prefer to consume today and pay tomorrow, and they may call on government demanding compensation, aid, and care in many forms. Surely, the hurt and harm inflicted by inflation are a mighty driving force for government programs and benefits.

In other words, inflation steals from those who save, benefits those in debt, and drives the population's insatiable desire for more and more government programs to offset its effects.

Additionally, inflation can lead to erroneous decisions that fuel our "boom and bust" economy. The most recent incarnation in the US was the "tech bubble", which burst a few years ago, taking with it a huge amount of personal savings and jobs.

You can also make an argument (as Sennholz has) that inflation has fueled US government deficit spending, rampant consumer spending and the resulting outflow of American capital to countries (notably China and a number of oil-producing nations) who are unfriendly to us.

So, as far as I'm concerned, inflation rates up there with gun grabbers and nanny-state supporters in my pantheon of evil. That's my problem.

(Edited 1/18/2007 0905 to correct a spelling mistake.)

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Guilty as charged

Random Nuclear Strikes reports that Wayne Fincher has been found guilty of the charges of owning illegal automatic weapons and an illegal short-barreled shotgun.

So much for my (admittedly slim) hopes of getting Miller overturned. With the gun grabbers in power in Washington, we now stand exactly no chance of either getting the NFA modified or the Class III registry reopened.

Crap.

M1 Carbine goodies

Les Jones has posted a list of places where all us e-e-evil gun nuts can stock up on necessaries for those M1 Carbines CMP is going to release.

Just what I need--another way to spend money.

Gun grabbing, north of the border style

No, not Canada--Virginia. (For those who've missed it previously, The Freeholder is a citizen of North Carolina.)

Countertop has an interesting post on how the RINOs will sell out our 2nd Amendment rights with just as much zeal as the Democraps. Thankfully, VCDL (the Virginia Citizen's Defense League) was there with their customary great effort for our side.

Remember, gun grabbers don't inhabit only a single political party--they're equal opportunity parasites.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Robert E. Lee's Birthday (observed)

(Inspiration for this post was provided by the Mountain Man, who really needs to stop reading this and start his own blog, dammit!)

Today is the day that our Politically Correct enlightened government has decided to honor Dr. Martin Luther King with a holiday commemorating his birthday. Why only Dr. King is honored, rather than all of those who struggled to have the civil rights of all men and women, is something that is beyond my poor ability to comprehend.

The struggle for civil rights is a fight that each and every one of us should be interested in. If we don't stand up and fight for our rights, expect them to be swiftly removed as our current government marches down the road toward the police state that they seem so desperately to want (protestations from government officials and elected critters aside).

Many years ago, a group of southern states found themselves in a position where they were forced to chose between freedom and subjugation. They chose freedom, and resigned themselves from the United States, forming their own nation, the Confederate States of America. They were promptly invaded by the United States, who sought to force them to "return to the union" at the muzzle of a gun.

Students of history know that the Confederacy lost, and in losing, the first big step toward the nation we find ourselves living in today (as opposed to the Federal government envisioned by the founders) was taken.

One of the military leaders of the Confederacy was Gen. Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Army of Northern Virginia. When his state decided to leave the Union, Gen. Lee made the fateful decision that he was a citizen of the sovereign state of Virginia, not of the United States, and took up arms in her defense. For four years, he confounded the Union armies sent against him. In 1865, he was finally forced to surrender his army, beaten but undefeated.

Today, I celebrate the legacy of Gen. Lee, who was a fighter for the civil rights of his people.

Of course, as the winners write the histories, most text books and scholarly articles do not mention this view. Those whom we fight must be demonized, now and always. Failure to do so would lead to questioning of our national motives, which must always be pure. God forbid the people think for themselves.

Deo Vindice.