Monday, December 10, 2012

Con$ent of the Governed

Part of what makes America exceptional is the concept that the government exists with our consent; it is tolerated.  "You're not the boss of me; I'm the boss of you, but I'll consent to these (regretfully necessary yet preferably minimal) laws of society and consistent rules of the game."

In short, the government works for us, they do not rule over us as do tyrants in their various forms.  Can you imagine Obama telling you to go get his dry cleaning?  I would hope every American voter would laugh and say "pick up your own damn laundry," or, at the least, be enterprising and charge for the service.  Free enterprise.

That said, who works for who? 

When I look at my tax bill, it's very, very, very clear that I'm employing a government.  I'm writing them  fabulous paychecks.  I'm employing them to the point where I wonder, since apparently I can't fire them as I would any other free-market service I choose to do without, I not really working for them?

What else to conclude when my non-negotiable cost of con$ent is:

Federal income taxes..................... 20% of income
State income taxes..........................8% of income
Social Security................................13% (you know, the 6.5 I pay and the 6.5 my employer pays)
Medicare........................................2% of income
Property taxes ................................2% annual on "value" of property
Sales taxes .....................................5% on non-food purchases
Local Registrations and fees............1% on cars, dogs, building permits, etc.
Hidden taxes (gasoline, hotel, etc)....2% estimated per annual income, probably higher.
Capital gains tax .............................15% on income my retained, non retirement-plan income earns me

It would appear that I work for the benefit of the government. 

If I can't fire them, is it possible to quit?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Of volunteers and Vice Presidents

Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan made the mistake of washing some dishes in a soup kitchen the other day.

This led to quite the kerfuffle about photo-ops, clean and dirty dishes, and sanctimonious affronts taken by politicos who portray themselves to be a-political.


They're all missing the obvious; the root cause.  There is simply not enough regulation of volunteers and volunteerism.  Do you see the problems this has caused? 

Now if there were a certification program for volunteers, where you could train and effectively certify them in their rights and responsibilities as volunteers, as well as what they are and are not authorized to do, then this whole situation would never have happened. 

With Certified Volunteers (CVs), there would have been no un-authorized volunteers carelessly granting Vice Presidential candidates access to soup kitchens*, coordinated through campaign aides**; there would have been no repeating of second hand and jealous opinions from other volunteers by the volunteer head of a charitable organization, making him look like a publicity seeking political opportunist.***

Certification is the way to go.  Dirty dishes get cleaned, no questions asked, with CV VPCs.****

Call me a conspiracy theorist, but I have a sneaking suspicion that volunteers are being taken advantage of by greedy heads of charitable organizations who are only looking to lower costs and raise profits.***** Shouldn’t organizations which exploit free labor at least offer a guarantee of future employment, health-care coverage and counseling services for those volunteers who give so much of their own time and talent?  Surely the volunteer time should be documented and accounted for as income at tax time.  If they weren't willing to pay the cost for the goods and services they provided, why should the American people have to fund the difference?  We cannot let these organizations get away with slave-labor!  What age are we living in?

If, in fact, the soup kitchen had simply used those to whom it had provided soup for clean up, they could have killed two birds with one stone.******  If you give those who eat at the soup kitchen a job cleaning up their own dishes, they won’t need to come to the soup kitchen anymore. 

Problem solved!

* To volunteer
** Who are often volunteers
*** Which is what he is
**** Certified Volunteer Vice Presidential Candidates
***** What is with this pervasive and insistent quest for profit?  Why can't things just operate at a loss forever, like Congress intends?
****** I know, killing birds isn't nice, and certainly inexcusable in the search for profits.  Or oil for that matter.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Over on the Prescott Road, the sign reads "Roy's Small Engine Repair."

I've passed it by for years, riding my bike or ferrying Henry over to his friend Nate's house, thinking each time past, "I should really get Bert's* snow blower over to him and have him fix it," but I've always failed to slow and jot down the phone number, instead posting the task on my mental to-do list and letting it sink to the bottom, forgotten.

I took this week off.  I needed to, really.  My boss insisted and she was right.  It's not been a vacation, though I did get in a round of golf in the Maine October rain; it's been a chance to get things done.  Creating my list for the week, I penciled in "Roy's Small Engine Repair" though mostly out of wishful thinking.  On my way home from the veterinarian with our matronly Australian Sheppard Caddie, politics on the radio got me entranced too close to home and so I took the long way, past "Roy's Small Engine Repair."

I saw him walking towards his vegetable stand, which was populated with pumpkins and peppers.  I pulled into the driveway.

"You must be Roy."

"I am."

"My name's Dennis and I have a small engine in need of repair.  Can you help me?"

Questions, diagnostics, theories.  "Whereabouts you live?"

"Over on the Worthing Road.**  The big orange house."

"The one on the left?"

"Yep, you can't miss it."

"Give me an hour.  I'll look at it- it's probably the carburetor like you say.  I'll take it off, bring it back here and clean it.  We won't have to haul the the snow blower around"


Sure enough, an hour later he pulled into the drive, down below to the garage where the snow blower sat alongside my power generator, also in need of some attention.

There's something strong, American, about a man who knows what he's doing.

Roy brought forth a combination of knowledge, patience, wisdom, and experience, that I've gained from important men in my life.

I can name them.

He was Bert, my father in law, not just in his appreciation for quality in his assesment of Bert's Snow Blower- "This is a good one.  Must have cost twelve, thirteen hundred dollars in its day.  Over here, see this?" - but in his working mannerisms.  He even muttered an "Oh boys, oh boys," Bert's working-on-a-problem exhalation, and brightened up with a cheery "Yes, I would" to my wife's offer of hot tea.*** 

He was my father (and I was once again me, age ten as I held a light for him, and tried to show that I knew what I was talking about as I explained the problems and pointed out the parts of the engine.  I always could hold a light.  That's workshop apprentice day one) as he futzed and twiddled and could eyeball a bolt size for his wrench and had the right tools with him and just all around knew what to do with a small engine.

 He was my Uncle Jim and Mr. Osinksi, steel (as opposed to green) thumbed engine wizards who could make anything run, and knew where to look first, what to turn second, and what to hold third.  When he returned (an hour later, as promised) with the cleaned out carb ("Lotta gunk in there.  How long since this thing ran?") and it started on the third pull ( he, seventy if a day, and stronger and more spry than my forty-four years, supplied that third pull after my first two feeble yanks), he listened to it cough and whine.  "That's a valve not seating," he said, adjusting choke, throttle, and float by ear as the exhaust spat flames past his flannel shirt. "Get some high test in her and let her run for a while.  If that doesn't clean it off, we'll do a valve grind.

He was every mechanic to whom I've brought one of my internal combustion contraptions (cars, mowers, pressure washers), but he was kind enough and sure enough to say out loud what all the others have thought; making me feel okay and not as guilty as I should have felt.  In short, he was Father Shaeffer, who married Mrs. Toadroller and me, at confession, handing out a penance: "You're maintenance is lacking." Truth.

He was my uncle Mark, eldest of seven, with bear paws for hands, meaty things that could turn a nut without a wrench, firm but not a bench vice, confident, genuine, when you shook hands. His handshake meant something.  It was a contract.

He was Arthur Soper after a fashion, a kind man with an appreciative heart.  "How'd you come to pick this color orange for the house?"  "You have six kids?  You do the home schooling?"  "You've got your hands full."  "You must go to church."  To my wife he said, in the most open and complimentary way, "I told him I wasn't going to say this, but you look fantastic.  I can't believe you have six children." and, more than once, "You're nice people."

Roy repeated the list of things I should do,"High test.  Need a new spark plug- that one's no good.  1/4 inch bolts for that generator; that shield shouldn't be loose like that; it shouldn't shake and rattle," and mentioned his wife, Margaret, and how he'd done things on his own and take only the jobs he wants, because he doesn't work for anyone; can't.  "You're nice people."

In the middle of all the goings on, as if it were nothing, he let this out of the bag:

"I've got cancer."

"Oh.  ...Wow.  I'm sorry to hear that.  When did you find out?"


Roy, thanks for sharing part of today, of all days, with us.  You are strong, an example. Nice people.

*My father in law, whose snow blower came my way and which has sat in my garage, waiting, Maine winter in, Maine winter out, for seven years.

** I've learned of Maine, over time, that the roads, especially those named after residents and their descendents, are referred to as 'the,' as in The Worthing Road; The Prescott Road. I know the Worthings and Prescotts the roads are named after; second generations (and beyond) live on them.  Would that residents refer to The Ruffing Road someday, leading down an unpaved path, through a guarding copes of trees, opening onto a field, grass really, with a main house and sundry out buildings, on the west side of a lake.

*** Canadian tea.  King Cole.  Served hot, in a bone china cup.  "That's good tea!"

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Getting my shoulders square

Oh, the golf swing.

I have always had a problem with getting my shoulders parallel to the target and the club square at address.  My tendency is to press forward with a strong grip, which leaves either my shoulders or the club at an angle.

Luke showed me his address today, and I compared it with mine but couldn't see how he could be parallel and square.

Outside to the mat and I lucked into bringing my hands closer to the body.  This weakened the grip without it feeling weaker, and got everything square. 

I haven't tried it on the range yet, but everything feels very comfortable.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I look and understand a lot of systems through what is known in the programming world as pseudo-code. 

It's a great test.  If it makes logical sense, then it can be done with some sweat.  God is in the details. 

One of the clever algorithms in programming is recursion, a routine that calls itself and calls itself and calls itself until some answer ends the cycle and returns: backs it up, backs it up, and backs it up, unraveling like a knitted sweater until we're out and ready to move on.

And so we're a mere $16,000,000,000,000 in debt and recursively spending on so much shit we don't need and have no business indulging in from a government perspective, what will we do when it all returns, backs up, and unravels?

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reading lessons with The Beatles

Little toadroller Sam has never much liked to read. 

Why should he?  It's a mental task to grasp the concepts, and it's easier not to read.  What's the incentive for him to work on his reading? 

The other day I walked past Sam playing Beatles Rockband.  Sam love The Beatles.  Interstingly, he was doing the singing role, where the lyrics scroll across the bottom.  He knows some of the songs but it was apparent he was guessing and not reading.


"Sam, would you like to know the real words to these songs?" 

"I guess so."

"What's your favorite Beatles song?"

"Dear Prudence."

To the internet we went and printed out the lyrics.  We started with an approach of playing a couple of lines from the song, then working through the words.  Then we'd go back and do it again.  Some frustration, but also some progress.  We spent about a half-hour on Dear Prudence.  It's one of my favorite Bealtes songs as well.  Working through the lyrics gave me a better appreciation for its poetry. Nice structure and re-use.  A theme/story which grows.  Positive:

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Dear Prudence, open up your eyes
Dear Prudence, see the sunny skies
The wind is low the birds will sing
That you are part of everything
Dear Prudence, won't you open up your eyes?

Look around round
(Round round round, round round)
(Round round round, round round)

Look around round round
(Round round round, round round)
(Round round round, round round)

Look around*

Dear Prudence, let me see you smile
Dear Prudence, like a little child
The clouds will be a daisy chain
So let me see you smile again
Dear Prudence, won't you let me see you smile?

Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?

Today we tackled Here Comes the Sun, and reviewed Dear Prudence as well as Back in the U.S.S.R. 

We read lines forward and we read lines backward.  We practiced tapping the word as we read it to keep him in rhythm and synchronized, a habit which he developed in about fifteen minutes.  When we came to a word he couldn't read, we developed the habit of spelling out the word out (tapping for each letter) and then working on it phonetically.  We spelled words forward and spelled words backward.

We spent an hour and fifteen minutes on reading without frustration or tears. 

Next up?  Drive my Car.

*Sam found this part fun and funny.

Thoughts on college from homeschooling parent...

  • The attitude about college as a be-all, end-all, you must go, etc. is insane and ignorant.  All your child's eggs are in one basket.
  • On the other hand, college is easily accessible and can be very affordable, so why not?
  • College education has been dumbed down to the point where it's worthless, yet expected by society.  No unlike having a nice car. 
  • Freshman year, on campus living, lazing around in the dorms, partying, etc. is a very obtuse form of higher education. It’s a lifestyle.  It's not the only way of life. It’s not required.
  • Just because you could get a sports scholarship doesn't mean you have to take it.
  • Going to college to pursue something technical can make fiscal sense.
  • Going to college to pursue a liberal arts education and becoming your very own self-educated person makes a lot of sense. 
  • When the desire to learn kicks in, kids will determine their own path and desire for college level work. Or they won’t.
  • It's hard to develop a desire to learn when it's forced on you.  It turns out scallops are delicious.
  • Pay as you go.
  • People won’t understand if your kids fail to go directly into four year boarding schools at the age of eighteen. You’ll get funny looks at Thanksgiving dinner. 
  • Double-down on this if you homeschool.
  • What kinds of students become teachers?  What kind of teachers stay teachers?  What kind of people teach teachers?
  • How many go to college with/or to pursue acedemics?  By acedmics, I mean to learn something academic, such as critical thinking, not something political or secular-social-citizen behavioural in nature. 
  • Justification for taking an against the grain approach will take a good ten years to come to fruition. By then, your critics will have forgotten.  In the meantime, I guess they can think what they want to.
  • Community colleges, online programs (university-now: ), early adoption programs, free courses (MIT), etc. are all excellent educational opportunities on the lower-cost, non-traditional approach.  Plus the bonus of picking and choosing what you want to pursue.
  • I think the student should work and save to pay for education, not receive it as a gift. Use a matching approach - be it half, a quarter, or three quarters.  If they have to pay for it, they will choose frugally and they'll hold the school accountable for quality.  They're paying for it, they'll want their money's worth.
  • No borrowing. You're young and can work your way through.
  • When you're not held captive to the potentially staggering fiancial obligation of college (as with most things, you can spend as much as you want) just to fit in with society's definition of what college should be, you have options.  You're free. 
  • Most people are so afraid of the cost, so afraid of not sending their kids, that they throw very good money after very expensive risks.  What if Jimmy quits, or Jody gets married?
  • Do an ROI calculation of a college education, comparing the cost of the education and resulting professional career income with simply investing the money.  Wait, I already did that for you over here.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Cartels are evil.  We all know that.  

Cartels are when businesses form secret alliances to keep prices high and thereby screw the consumer.  Watch the nightly news and you're bound to hear of such horrid business practices within the hour.

The trouble is, cartels fall apart in free markets… despite people’s fears of the cartel, someone always  undercuts the cartel.  This is the joy of a free market: When a business offers a better product or service at a better price, with more convenience, or a trend-setting style, members of the old guard are undercut.  Markets change.
Established businesses have a choice: innovate, delay, or die.  Cartels are one of the forms of delay.  Others include brand loyalty ("My daddy always bought a Chevy"), long term contracts ("Two year contract with free phone upgrades!"), or preventing competitors from entering the market (licensed hair-stylists, electricians, guilds, and other forms of certification of products/businesses/individuals to enter into business or trades).

Such associations, standards, and certifications are, in fact, crony capitalism where the government and businesses form a much more powerful (yet legal!) cartel for the “protection of consumers.”  

If you hear that phrase, check your wallet. Cartels are evil, remember?  Especially when infused with the power of law.

Did you think it wise to keep church and state separated?  Why not business and state? How about limiting government's role in business to enabling (as distinct from encouraging, tax-incenting, and subsidizing) it?  How about limiting business's role in government to paying taxes?

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Logical Conclusion

Can we all at least agree that we agree on logic? 
I know it's a tautology. Logic is, by definition, logic.  In political debate, however, logic is commonly suspended in favor of passion. 

So I ask again, can we agree to hold logic to its own standard?  You know, two plus two is four; if Sally is older than Dave, then Dave is younger than Sally; that kind of thing?


Hercules Industries is suing the Obama administration over the mandate to provide contraception insurance.

An except from an article (found here) on the suit:

Colorado-based Hercules Industries and the Catholic family that owns it are seeking an immediate order to halt the Obama administration mandate that forces employers to provide insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. The administration’s response argues, contrary to the Constitution, that people of faith forfeit their religious liberty once they engage in business

Let's take the administration's response to its logical conclusion:
  • ...people of faith forfeit their religious liberty once they engage in business
  • Business = commerce**
  • We all engage in commerce***
  • We are therefore required to foreit our religious liberty.
  • Rephrased, religious liberty is against the law.
The Obama administration is a wee bit arrogant.  Commerce > God? I beg to differ.

* Credentials: I did get a better grade in highschool geometry than my older brother, who was in the same class.  Highschool  geometry, in addition to learning how to bisect a lines with a compass, which has proven quite handy in many a woodworking project, is where a theorem is resolved through a series of logical statements called a proof.   

** If you need help crossing this hurdle, try it the other way around.  Commerce = business.  It's a symmetrical (a = a) relationship in my mind, but if you need a transitive proof:
  • Businesses need Customers
  • to engage in Transactions
  • resulting in Commerce. 
  • Therefore, if we are engaged in commerce, we are engaged in business.  See my request about agreeing on logic above or, failing that, see equility at wikipedia:

***Required, mind you.  You  know, that mandate-tax-not-a-tax thingy. Engaging in commerce is, for all practical considerations, unavoidable, being that we are alive and in a nominally free-market economy.  We have to eat.  But now it is required.  Mandated.  A tax.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Good Intentions

I overheard a conversation while sitting at one of the young Toadroller's baseball games the other day.

A mother had just bought her son a bicycle.  He was going to pay it off by vacuuming the house and cleaning bathrooms weekly.  She thought it would be a good lesson about responsibility and working hard to get what you want, and was looking forward to a clean house.

This will not end well.

He's got the bike already.  He'll do the chores for a week or two, maybe three.  And then what?

The lesson he's learned is that you can have what you want now if you intend to pay for it later.  And when he doesn't pay?  He'll learn about how easy it is to get out of his responsibilities.  He's learned to get into debt, to be a serf to his possessions.

Suggested approach:

Don't buy the prize first!

Decide in advance how much chore-work the bike is worth.  Pay him each week when the work is done.  Put the money into a jar, always visible on the counter.   Make one of those fundraising thermometer drawings and put it on the fridge.  Watch it grow.  If he doesn't work, it doesn't grow.

He'll get more and more excited and he'll see the results of his work.  Let him go make the purchase.*  Let him hand over the cash.  

That's the lesson about responsibility and working hard to get what you want: hard work equals results, not I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.

Another suggested approach:

Give him the bike as a gift.  Make him earn something else.

*Odd are that by the time he gets the money together, he'll have his eye on some other shiny toy.  Or he'll realize he can use some of the money to buy his friend's used bike, and use the rest for something else.  Cash is a good thing to have.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sizing up the Competition

Our eldest Toadroller,* Luke, pursues golf with a passion (and skill-set to match) the likes of which I never really thought possible, and it's taught me a thing or two.

I mean, sure, pros can shoot that 66 to come from behind and win a tournament, but my personal experience with the game has been that it takes time and dedication to simply break 90 here and again.  Luke has taught me that mere mortals CAN play golf; it is possible.

We spent Sunday and Monday together at a fancy resort in New Hampshire, where he attempted to qualify for the USGA's Junior Amateur national tournament.

In the tournament, playing with truly skilled peers, he shot 86, 83 over 36 holes of golf in one long day.  He finished middle of the pack and tied with his two playing partners.  There is pressure in a tournament, and there are differences when portions of your game go missing.  During Sunday's practice round with me helping caddy and map out the course for him, he split the fairways, stuck his irons, and made his putts to shoot a 73.  Yesterday his woods found the woods, his irons didn't strike such fire, and he did a lot of work with the putter to earn pars and bogeys with just a few birdies.

I thought it would be a long, quiet drive home, but Luke was chatty as could be and confident. 

"I can play with those guys," he said to me.  Not cocky, not wishful thinking, but simply confident.  He's proven it to himself.  He's had a taste of the next level and it fired up his competitive juices.  "I can't wait for golf season to really get rolling."  I don't know what he thinks the last three months have been- he's already played a good thirty rounds- but in his mind, baseball has kept him from the course and he as work to do.

Luke is on the left, sizing up the hole and the competition on a 200 yard par 3.  He stuck that one to 9 feet and made the birdie.

*Actually, he's more of a turtle.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Financial Risk at an Opportune Moment

Here we are, 2012, and mortgage interest rates are at a low we'll probably never see again, 3.5% on thirty years. They're comparable to inflation.  Neither index has anywhere to go but up, especially given our nation's financial foolishness of borrowing, spending, tax-raising, and can-kicking.

Combine low mortgage rates with property prices still shocked and locked from 2008, and a financial risk-taker probably sees this as the prime opportunity to make money off of borrowed money in the romanticized market of real estate.  Land.  They aren't making any more of it. 

Here's the playbook:
  • Sign on long term for as much as you can handle to purchase assets whose market price can only go up (or can they?) 
  • The funny thing about (fixed) mortgage interest rates- they're fixed for the term of the loan, and the term of the loans are long. 1982 was thirty years ago. Mortgage interest rates were 13-14%. The Clash released Combat Rock. 
  • Should I Stay or Should I Go?
  • Lock in your costs at today's ridiculously low rates and be a baron down the road.  If your bet is right, you'll be sitting pretty.

What could go wrong?

Ask those who were flipping houses during the 2000-2007 real-estate bubble.  The game was to buy on short term financing, refurb (or not- sometimes the houses appreciated regardless) and flip.  Double down on the next few properties.  Lather, rinse repeat.  And then the bubble burst, leaving the risk-takers with interest-only-balloon and other unique short term loans and properties they couldn't move.  What to do?  It's no fun to declare bankruptcy mid-life and start all over.
Debt is funny.

When financing investments it is a risk, a bet that you can beat the cost of financing with your return.  Debt is a time machine getting you what you want now at a fixed additional cost and, well, indebtedness (and opportunity cost) for the future.  Your cash-flow is committed until the investment matures, for better or worse.  What are you risking?  Debt on a dead investment.  If you can't pay that, you're risking savings, retirement money (you do know that you're responsible for your own retirement, don't you?), bankruptcy.

It seems quaint to look back a mere five years (when interest rates were a relatively astronomical 7%) and consider that we defined and justified (let's be honest- rationalized) our homes as investments.  My, how times change.  Today we look at the same loan as what it truly is- a debt to be paid to acquire an asset many are upside-down on and will be for a while.  Despite fortunate refinancing and aggressive principal pay-down, we're still hoping for market prices to float us back to sea.

Does your neighborhood look like this?

Cash (dare we call it capital?), however, is an interesting investment instrument in comparison to a financed investment.
  • You can make a wiser call on your investment because, man, you feel the pain of spending that money and will be more cautious than when spending time-machine money.
  • If things go wrong, you can weather the storm or, worst case, cut bait at a loss.
  • Your cash-flow is not affected; other sources of income (other investments, your wages and earnings, savings) continue to carry you in tough times.
  • The assets you purchase with cash are yours.  They are a positive on your balance sheet.
And so here we are.  The cost of the bet is 3.5% per annum.  Indicators are that we're bottomed out, yet the risk is still the same. One thing can go right.  Many things can go wrong.  Are you willing to get caught with financed investments?

Rush was also busy in 1982, and had this to say about the Subdivisions we find ourselves living in today:

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight
Somewhere out of a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A random and apropos thought from Hayek

When I get the chance, I chip away at F.A. Hayek's "The Road to Serfdom."

When I get the chance: because there's so much to learn, so much to pursue, so much to do.
Chip away: not because it is unclear, but because it is so rich.  A mere paragraph gets my mind wandering and scribbling notes in the captions, then on post-its, then on to full blown writin.

From Chapter 6, "Planning and the Rule of Law"

Where the precise effects of government policy on particular people are known, where the government aims directly at such particular effects, it cannot help knowing these effects, and therefore it cannot be impartial.  It must, of necessity, take sides, impose its valuations upon people and, instead of assisting them in the advancement of their own ends, choose the ends for them.  As soon as the particular effects are foreseen at the time a law is made, it ceases to be a mere instrument to be used by the people and becomes instead an instrument used by the lawgiver upon the people and for his ends.  The state ceases to be a piece of utilitarian machinery intended to help individuals in the fullest development of their individual personality and becomes a "moral" institution - where "moral" is not used in contrast to immoral but describes an institution which imposes on its members its views on all moral questions, whether these views be moral or highly immoral.

Hayek earlier compares this type of law, these specific orders to general rules, genuine laws, where the precise results cannot be foreseen and which are by definition, impartial.

Let's pause, shall we? 

Were you to be concerned with right-wing religious zealots enforcing their morality upon you, you'd certainly see Hayek's point.  But what if you were concerned with left-wing secularists enforcing their morality upon you, such as the HHS mandate for insurance coverage of birth control?  Are these not the same concern?

Are we not becoming a "moral" state?  It seems every crisis or scandal is used for its circumstances to create new regulations and laws to prevent such a crisis, scandal, or wrongdoing from happening again.

Well. There are a lot of circumstances. Butterflies flap their wings in China and hurricanes occur in the Bahamas, you know?

Shall we have regulations for every circumstance where something goes wrong?  If so, the state becomes a moral power rather than a liberal one, where moral laws predetermine what is permissible rather than being a reliable, liberal framework in which possibilities are open for the citizens to pursue, take risk, succeed and fail.

Freedom from failure is not freedom.

Let's continue now and complete Hayek's paragraph, which encapsulates the point of the book- a warning in 1944- a warning in 2012- a warning in all times to those who yearn for freedom and the responsibility that goes with it rather than freedom from responsibility:

In this sense the Nazi or any other collectivist state is "moral" while the liberal state is not.
Here's to freedom.  Here's to classical liberalism. As opposed to, say social liberalism.  Or many of the other isms even Ferris Bueller was wise enough to be concerned about.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Caption contest!

I just find this so depressing.  So let's have a little fun with a caption contest.  I'll get you started:

I'm sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but your little Joey doesn't look like he'll succeed in life.
Nothing good can come from this.
All of zee children vill sit in sssstraight rows, verflucht!
"On the contrary, they adored the Party and everything connected with it. The songs, the processions, the banners, the hiking, the drilling with dummy rifles, the yelling of slogans, the worship of Big Brother -- it was all a sort of glorious game to them." - Orwell
"Points will be deducted if you're late."



Cut veneer close. Glue it on. Clamp it with a 50 lb bag of sand.  Wait overnight.  Trim it closer.

But why did you paint before gluing on the veneer?  Impatience and overcoming inertia.  And it really doesn't affect the results.

Beware the liquid gluten.

"Just a trim today, sir?"

It won't float away

Interesting clamp.

This has turned out alright

Repeat for the other side.

Bookmatched- and it turned out to be pretty good.

Notice the correct amount of dry vermouth.
Have MartiniThe final results tomorrow.