Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Anything Government Can Do... Part 02

Following my post, Anything Government Can Do, The Free Market Can Do Better | An exchange between friends, my friend replied:
In response, I did not say better, but more cost effectively. Cost efficiency does not always equate as better. I can drive a well maintained 10 year old Toyota Corolla more cost efficiently than a new full sized auto, but that does not mean it is a better auto. Secondly, I never said anything about "the unfailing efficiencies of the free market". I believe it is the fact that the free market can and does fail that makes it pure. Government, on the other hand is able to prolong and deny failure by extending budgets, increasing debt and raising taxes. 45 out of 50 states are now insolvent and several are headed for bankruptcy while still spending at record levels. That is not "philosophy', but is backed up by government audits.A federal employee is paid 64.47% more (including benfits and pensions) than a free market employee with full benefits doing the same task. By the Governments on records there were 72 Billion dollars spent on improper payments in 2008. The government also discovered that 22% of the programs they finance (at a cost of 123 Billion annually) fail to show any positive impact on the population they serve. The beauty of the free market, is that it can not operate like this. Most free market enterprises operate on less than 6% profit and would long since be out of business if they operated so inefficiently. Many of the businesses I shooped at or resturants I ate in 10 years ago no longer exist. I am not aware of many (any) governmental agencies that have been aloowed to fail in that time.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Don't Be Silly | Lawrence O'Donnell + Congressman Trent Franks (R-AZ) wrangle over how many bullets constitute a full load

On September 10, 2004 my post in this space included this:
They [the Administration of George W. Bush) have de-clawed law enforcement. The Brady Bill—the Assault Weapons ban—will expire next Monday after proving its worth over ten years. Mr. Bush has shown zero leadership in calling for the extension of the ban on weapons needed by no one except soldiers. On Tuesday the National Rifle Association will endorse Bush/Cheney 04. I will hold Mr. Bush responsible for every assault-weapon death from Tuesday on. 
The January 2011 gun violence in Tucson was an ugly episode of the sort of lethality I feared.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Anything Government Can Do, The Free Market Can Do Better | An exchange between friends

An old friend responds to my post on The Costs of Repealing Health Reform:
There is one flaw in her reasoning and that is that Government can provide any service more cost efficiently than the free market. The only way they will be able to reduce premioums to the amounts that she is talking about would be for the government to subsidize the difference and that will mean further National debt, and/or increasing taxes to Canadian and European levels.
To which I reply:
I'm not sure we're reading the same historical and contemporary background sources. 
I wonder if your a priori assumptions about the costly ineffectiveness of government and the unfailing efficiencies of the free market are exactly and no more than that: philosophical positions you bring to the conversation, before the evidence is weighed and perhaps sometimes regardless of the evidence. 
The founders showed zero interest in reviving The Plymouth Company or inviting the Hudson Bay Company down to run the show for profit. They wrote the US Constitution in order to form a more perfect union of the states, to establish domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence and secure the blessings of liberty in perpetuity. They were — and I am —  convinced those things can be accomplished better by the government they formed (and reformed by the constitutional amendments they proposed and the states ratified two years later).
I don't think it's a big stretch, looking at what they said in those documents and the laws they enacted pursuant to those powers agreed upon by the states, to say they did not intend to relinquish their liberty to individuals and companies motivated by profit any more than to those motivated by the entitlements of royalty. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Simple Arithmetic of US Gun Homicides

For every 100 people in the U.S. there are about 90 civilian-owned firearms. [1]

More than 12,000 Americans are murdered with firearms every year. [2]

Let's call that 1,000 gun homicides a month
250 firearm murders each week
36 every day
three an hour

Guns don't kill people
People kill people...mainly
People clutching guns

Do the arithmetic.

[1] Small Arms Survey 2007
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
Geneva, Switzerland.

[2] Table 2
National Vital Statistics Reports 
Deaths: Preliminary Data for 2008 
by Arialdi M. MiniƱo, MPH; Jiaquan Xu, M.D.; and Kenneth D. Kochanek, M.A. Division of Vital Statistics 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Barack Obama in Tucson | the video 01.12.11

Quite a few friends appreciated easy access to the transcript of President Obama's remarks at yesterday's memorial gathering in Tucson, AZ. Here's the video.

Barack Obama in Tucson | full text of speech 01.12.11

Remarks by the President at a Memorial Service for the Victims of the Shooting in Tucson, Arizona
McKale Memorial Center
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona
6:43 P.M. MST
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Please, please be seated.  (Applause.)
To the families of those we’ve lost; to all who called them friends; to the students of this university, the public servants who are gathered here, the people of Tucson and the people of Arizona:  I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today and will stand by you tomorrow.  (Applause.)
There is nothing I can say that will fill the sudden hole torn in your hearts.  But know this:  The hopes of a nation are here tonight.  We mourn with you for the fallen.  We join you in your grief.  And we add our faith to yours that Representative Gabrielle Giffords and the other living victims of this tragedy will pull through.  (Applause.)
Scripture tells us:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.
God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ben Stein | The Gift of Forgiveness

The Twelve Days of Christmas have passed; now on to this year's real work.
Thank you Mr. Stein.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Thomas Jefferson on Constitutions + Founders

Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment. I knew that age well; I belonged to it, and labored with it. It deserved well of its country. It was very like the present, but without the experience of the present; and forty years of experience in government is worth a century of book-reading; and this they would say themselves, were they to rise from the dead. I am certainly not an advocate for frequent and untried changes in laws and constitutions. I think moderate imperfections had better be borne with; because, when once known, we accommodate ourselves to them, and find practical means of correcting their ill effects. But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions change with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also, and keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy, as civilized society to remain under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors. It is this preposterous idea which has lately deluged Europe in blood. Their monarchs, instead of wisely yielding to the gradual change of circumstances, of favoring progressive accommodation to progressive improvement, have clung to old abuses, entrenched themselves behind steady habits, and obliged their subjects to seek through blood and violence rash and ruinous innovations, which, had they been referred to the peaceful deliberations and collected wisdom of the nation, would have been put into acceptable and salutary forms. Let us follow no such examples, nor weakly believe that one generation is not as capable as another of taking care of itself, and of ordering its own affairs. 
— Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Samuel Kercheval Monticello, July 12, 1816, The Letters of Thomas Jefferson: 1743-1826http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl246.htm