Monday, October 31, 2005


When I started this blog, I asked ML's opinion. Her response irritated me. She chastised me for asking her opinion. She said I was a grown boy who needed to make his own decisions. The next day, a mutual friend told me she was teaching me a lesson. She responded like I would have responded. She blew something out of proportion. She was critical. She was just like me.

I want to make people think. After people get to know me, I want them to say, "I don't agree with half of the shit that comes out of his mouth, but he made me think." I want them to ask themselves, "what would WB say about this?"

My father got me to read "1984" at thirteen. It was my first taste of thought provoking literature. The idea of stopthink has stuck with me.

I cannot stopthink and it makes me unattractive. I cannot enter a situation without analyzing it. I cannot 'let go' without asking Why?.

I have resolved to be less critical. The new WB is not even going to give a reason for the resolution.

*stopthink - the practice of halting one's train of thought as soon as there is danger of questioning adopted orthodoxies

Here are two ideas related to this post that WB will forget:

Economists should champion optimism in times of pessimism and pessimism in times of optimism.

"...a vision of the kind of culture we ought to live in: one filled with interesting ideas, fearless discussion, and beautiful art, not as an infrequent exception, but as the everyday norm."--Robert Tracinski

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Want Versus Need

Rand harped on the difference between want and need. She complained that the looters, the welfare statists, the dregs who could not produce, always claimed need when they wanted.

Want can only occur after need. The failure to meet a need leads to death. A newborn needs parental care. An adult needs water and nutrition. Need is the primal instinct to survive, but want is secondary. Once needs are satisfied, individuals want.

People disguise wants as needs. Welfare checks go to drug dealers. Food stamps indirectly pay for Cadillacs. Goodwill stores are frequented by retrohippies. Teachers claim poverty. Men rape and murder. Women file paternity suits. Government 'creates' jobs and 'gives' tax breaks. The list continues.

Recognizing the difference between wants and needs is humanity.

Most Americans do not need. They want. Some want universal health care, Bill Gates to fail, to eliminate poverty, to smoke crack, sex, to be fashionable. They do not need these things.

My father taught me to question everything that I wanted. "Do you really want that CD son? Twenty dollars is a lot of money." He is never dishonest and claims that a want is a need. When he wants, he thinks why he wants, then he decides. He properly treats wants as secondary. (Bruce Springsteen's "Cautious Man" describes my father well.)

Sometimes simple decisions takes days, but I appreciate my father's lesson.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sitting Around Waiting For Something To Happen

JobLess and I used to sit in the campus cafeteria and stare at women. Before leaving we would tell each other that if we sat there long enough, eventually, something would happen.

Most of life consists of waiting for something to happen. Sometimes, something good happens. Other times, something bad happens. But most of the time nothing happens.

Everyone practices hard when the coach is watching, but what about when the coach is not around? The struggle comes when nothing is happening. It is easy to react to something, but how does one react to nothing?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

International Colleagues

Filipinos love taking pictures. Its an obsession I do not understand. I got roped into a photo session with some Filipinos and Chinese this afternoon.

As it wrapped up a Chinese colleague dead panned to the Filipina, "you should put those pictures on"

You had to be there. It was really funny. I have never been able to tell a funny story.

The other day, I had the pleasure to overhear this conversation:

Albanian to Ethiopian: "There he is. The future King of Ethiopia."

Ethiopian's response: "If I wanted to be the King of Ethiopia, I should have joined the Army. I should have been a general who did not mind killing anyone who threatened my power. You need to be a mean mother to be the King of Ethiopia. A PhD is certainly not going to help you."

I am glad to live in America.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Old Papers

I am going through some old papers. Here is what I found:

"It amazes me that you still believe while I grieve."

"Cigarette legislation reveals that government prefers quick young deaths to slow old deaths. Don't tell me that economics doesn't prevail." (I must have been referring to the lack of alcohol regulation.)

"Consumption is a horrible proxy for decisions. No good, be it food, porn, a book, a wildflower, or a weight-room,can provide utility. Consumption is ex post. In an exchange economy, the decision preempts consumption. We do not eat, decide what the food was worth, and then pay for it. We decide, reveal a minimum level of expected utility, and then consume."

"It is easy to talk about the intellectual foundations of the philosophy of science in a well funded classroom, but the discussion cannot fully mature unless one questions that classroom's existence. Any academic/philosophical discussion must include the public good nature of contemporary education. Economics teaches us to examine incentives and settings; this teaching cannot be forgotten."

"Went to church looking for Truth. All I found was a congregation." From a poem entitled "To Spalding Gray"

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


He looked at his car. He had always wanted a fast car. He had thought it was the key to success.

He remembered signing the papers. He felt as if that day would be the turning point in his life. He remembered driving it for the first time. He was free. He got it up to 120 that first night. He had never gone that fast again. He had never gotten a ticket. His insurance was already too high.

He remembered his father's look. There was no pride in it. There was no disdain in it. The look told his son that he understood, but in the end, the old man knew that a fast car meant very little in the grand scheme of things.

He remembered the first time she saw him in his fast car. Her eyes got big. She thought he was a real player. He thought she was a real goddess.

He had taken her to an expensive restaurant. All he could think about the whole night was his boss's advice, "red makes'em spread." She had a couple of glasses of the real good stuff. It was a delicious meal. He slapped down a hundred dollar bill to pay the check. He then searched in his money clip, just for effect, for a twenty through his hundreds and fifties to give the waiter a more than generous tip, the service was good but not great. Her eyes got big again.

He drove just fast enough to keep her interested. He could not afford a DUI. He brought her to his place. She was too drunk to notice the humbleness of his apartment. In the morning, she would see, but the morning came after the night.

His boss was right. Every second was great.

As he was lying on his cheap bed looking at his cheap bedroom, he was still high enough to thank his car. The car had put this beauty beside him. It had given him the best night of his life. He thought about the nights that had yet to come. He thought about beautiful women. He thought about how his fast car was giving him the life of his dreams.

In the morning, she was surprised at the apartment's poverty, but the fast car made her forget as he sped to her humble abode. She looked better in the morning light than she did the previous evening. She kissed him as she got out of the car. He would never find out if the kiss was because of the money clip or pity or something else.

When he got home, it hit him. He had given up on sex being sacred. But, now, it was something banal. He had bought himself a whore, an expensive whore. Yeah, it was great for the time that it lasted, but he would be bankrupt in weeks pursuing this lifestyle. He was already morally bankrupt. He knew there was something more to life than fucking whores. That was what it was, fucking, it was not making love or anything resembling love; it was pure unadulterated fucking. His friends would greatly appreciate it. It was the lifestyle they had championed since they were thirteen. It was just something physical, just something. They all knew better.

He could not remember the girl's name. He could not remember if she had called back or if he had seen her again. He had probably repressed those memories; repression was probably a good thing. He had gotten old. He knew it was the best looking woman he would ever see naked. He knew he enjoyed every second.

Time had taken him to a different place. His wonderful wife had wanted him to get rid of the car long ago, but instead, he put the fast car in the garage for a special day. It was still spotless. It was immaculate. Its magnetic powers were probably greater now than when he first bought it.

He thought of his father's look as he handed the keys to his ambitious son.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Words Versus Ideas

ML was chastised over the weekend for calling someone 'retarded.' My sister yells at me when I use the adjective 'queer.'

Some people think in words. They do not care about the meaning of the words. They do not care about context. The do not care about action. It is more important to sound, look, feel good than be good. They do not care about ideas.

Other people understand the limitation of words. They prefer ideas. They prefer Truth. It does not matter what somebody says; it is what they do. Pink Floyd's classic example is 'was it love or the idea of being in love.' Some people never bother to figure out what 'love' really means.

Ideas are important. Words are a vehicle for ideas. One needs to learn how to drive, but he cannot forget that driving is getting your ass from one place to another. If you have no place to go then a vehicle does no good.

I will expand on this idea eventually. I have been trying to get it to where it needs to be for a few weeks, but I am having transportation problems.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

There Is Time

Tyler Cowen from offered this advice about academic publishing: "You can improve your time management. Do you want to or not?" and "Care about what you are doing. This is ultimately your best ally."

He is right. If you care about what you have to do, then there is plenty of time.

But, what happens when you do not care about what you have to do? Of course, it is your own fault for getting into this depressing conundrum, but these times force indifference upon things you care about. You get caught in a trap where you do nothing well. I do not think there is any good advice on how to get out of these situations except to weather the storm. You just have to learn from your mistakes, and prevent it from happening again.

I have learned that I have to stop making weak decisions. I do not make bad decisions; I make extremely risk-averse decisions. I prefer safety to liberty. (Therefore, Ben Franklin said I deserve neither safety nor liberty.)

This idea is what I have been trying to get at in the last few posts. My generation (the people I have surrounded myself with and myself) makes weak decisions. We have been duped that productivity does not matter. We have accepted an aristocracy with the nobles being bureaucratic knowledge workers, and we all want to be noble.

One thing I would care to do:

Write a basic economics book centered around Buchanan's 8 Cryptic Statements.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Not A Very Good Post

ML pointed out that "my generation" was like all previous generations. She is right. We want to believe, but no one is willing to say "believe in this because it is right." I have never met a Christian who wanted to convince me that Christianity was the Way. I have never met a Frat Boy who wanted to convince me that partying was ultimate bliss. I have never had anyone tell me that I was wrong and they were right.

I did tell a food service manager "to get his thumb out of his ass" yesterday. There was a male manager staring at a female checker fixing a register while another register was broken. The lines were getting longer and the idiot just stood there watching the woman work instead of fixing the other register or opening up a new one. There is nothing worse than poor management.

It is frustrating to hold your tongue. Sometimes you have to say what you think.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

My Generation

My generation does not have the moral courage to say they are better than others.

My generation feels sorry for themselves.

My generation is fake. We cannot separate reality from anti-reality. (Maybe its all those video games and internet porn.)

These will go away with age, but I hate getting older.

I dislike "my generation." It trivializes individuals, but it sounds better than 'I' or 'people I know.' (I guess I do not have the moral courage to say 'I' or 'people I know.')

The Allman Brothers Band was great. Gregg Allman was and is the only white man who can sing the blues. Fleetwood Mac's "Tango in the Night" is a good album. There is so much anger in the lyrics that it makes Marx look like a happy man.

So What?

My argument against regional economics did not satisfy ML. She asked the most important question, so what? Localities think they can increase their welfare. My logic will not change them. Complaining is fine, but eventually, you have to make suggestions. One of my problems with Michael Moore's movies is that he offers no suggestions.

Here is my first suggestion for a better society:

Public education needs to be eliminated. The most destructive bureaucracy in the US is public education. Children's first social experiences come in a institution that is based on entitlement. Students cannot see that productive individuals fund public schools. School has nothing to do with learning or increasing your self-worth but something every child must do because it is the law. There is a disconnect between what education is and what it should be. Privatizing education would solve this disconnection as students and parents confront education as a decision under scarcity.

Privatizing education would not decrease the overall level of education. It would make education more specific to the individual. Some students need to specialize before they are eighteen years old. These students would be able to get the education they need without wasting taxpayer dollars.

Pre-existing fixed assets like buildings should be auctioned to private firms taking over primary education with the agreement that tuition would stay below a certain level for five years as parents adjust. Secondary education should be handled in a lassiez-faire manner.

Taxes will have to immediately be decreased. Many local governments will cease to exist as education takes up the majority of their budgets. All government will decrease as people see that its only proper function is in enforcement.

I could expand on this argument in a Veblenesque way, but my point is that public education breeds socialism into students. It is a socialist product best suited for a socialist society.

Side Note:

Every able person should read Hayek's "Road to Serfdom" and Bastiat's "That What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen" (linked to the right). They should also read Krugman's "Pop Internationalism" and Galbraith's "The Affluent Society" (or one of the many substitutes.) I despise Galbraith's work because I read Hayek and Bastiat, but Galbraith's fallacies reinforce the evil that happens when individual liberty is given to the collective. "Pop Internationalism" is much better than anything Krugman has written for the New York Times. It shows that an economist who is wrong on many things still understands the greatness of exchange.

Responsible citizens require a proper philosophical foundation that they cannot get in a public system.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The 7-Man Blocking Sled

Every offensive lineman hates the 7-man sled. Driving the 7-man sled is plowing a field without an engine or a horse. It is primitive. An overseer coach shouting at his slave players "to drive, drive, god-damnit" is the closest an American can get to 19th century agriculture.

It is also a horrible teaching tool. The sled does not move. It leads to bad habits like putting your head down. It reinforces sloppy technique as players' legs get tired. It does nothing to aide footwork. It causes injuries. It causes fat men to puke and cry (sometimes at the same time.) Unless all seven men have the same strength, height, and hit the sled at the exact same time, something is screwed up which leads to the coach screaming, "hit it again god-damnit."

But, if I started coaching offensive linemen tomorrow, I would make them drive the 7-man sled. I would shout, "Drive. Drive. That's horseshit effort. Do it again."

This cycle is life. Bad habits repeat themselves, until some brave individual decides to do something different and succeeds. Then everyone else follows.

This post should have been titled "the state of the economics profession." Everyone knows what we are doing is wrong, but who is willing to try something different?

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


A colleague just reminded me how great Bastiat was: It is a shame that politicians are not required to read about "The Broken Window." The site is also linked on the side under THAT WHICH IS SEEN, AND THAT WHICH IS NOT SEEN .

Wealth is created by individuals, not by government or natural disasters. Fraternity members see-sawing for the March of Dimes does nothing to prevent birth defects. The March of Dimes is a worthy charity but twenty year old males can find better ways to create wealth than see-sawing. They could do my laundry. I would pay them $10 which is $10 more than they got from me for see-sawing. Somebody must ask "What is not seen?"

I wonder what Bastiat would think about a public university offering a course in "Regional Economics." The implicit assumption behind Regional Economics is that one region is more important than another. Who decides the important region?

Life and production not death and taxes.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

"You Just Stick The Right Formula In: A Solution For Every Fool"*

A colleague once told me that I should study philosophy. I retorted that she should study economics. I know very little, but I know I learned more economics working for the old man at the grocery store than I ever did in school.

Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek discusses why it is disappointing that people think that their most important right is voting. I see a person on campus everyday trying to sign people up to vote. I do not see anyone emphasizing the need to uphold individual liberty and the constitution. Democrats (as their name suggests) are horrible about voting. They believe that they are the party of the people, but they do not understand sometimes the people are wrong. They also do not understand that government does and means very little. They do not respect the individual. (The country would not be that much different if Gore or Kerry were elected.) The Republicans are just as bad. They respect the individual's pocketbook and entrepreneurship (sometimes), but want to tell the individual how to live, make love, and eat. (There will be more regulation in the food industry. The USDA has to sustain itself now that the small-farm myth is debunked.)

The continuing Katrina relief effort sickens me. The law of diminishing marginal returns kicked in a hundred billion dollars ago. There are people who are getting rich off these schemes and none of them spent anytime in the Superdome. One day we will have to realize that relief efforts distort insurance markets. People who take risks must bear the consequences of their decisions. I will admit that some of the impoverished could not fully calculate the risk they faced, but we cannot make them better off than they were before the flood. (They will not be made better off anyway. Those who took calculated risks will get both the insurance money and the relief money [at least indirectly.]) We have perverted incentives for all forthcoming disasters.

Here is the research question I would like to answer: How can one justify public organizations that perform the same services as private organizations? How can we justify (especially post-secondary) public education? How can we justify FEMA given the existence of the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and etc.?

My hypothesis is that we cannot. Now, since economics is a pseudoscience, I have to "prove" it.

An update on the Freshman with the perky tits. I have seen her around and she seems to be doing fine. Of course, she does not remember me, but maybe my advice helped.

*Indigo Girls's "Least Complicated"

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Two Quotes

"People said it because other people said it. They did not know why it was being said and heard everywhere. They did not give or ask for reasons. the most naive of all superstitions." Ayn Rand (228)

"Economics and economists cannot evade their responsibility over such rules and instituions [society] by shifting attention to trivialities. To the extent that they do so, their functional roles can only be filled by the charlatans and the fools, whose presence about us requires no demonstration." James Buchanan (209)

I talked to a professor last week. He passionately supports reason. His goal is to rid economics of intellectual dishonesty. I think Buchanan and the Austrians subscribe to the same mission.

The difference is that the Austrians see economics as a "very peculiar science." My professor sees economics as a pure science.

I do not know. I think I want to join the Freakonomics crowd. I want to study the economics of waking up in the morning in the 21st century, but I cannot do it here. I have to fight the "charlatans and fools" so I can get a degree. I do not know how much fight I have left in me.

Jobless Got A Job With The Federal Government

What does this say about Jobless?

What does this say about the federal government?

How long before Jobless becomes a fully indoctrinated metrosexual?

How far will he get (and who will he get) with "just a good ol' farm boy in the big city" routine?

How long before he gets an internet connection and supports Wannabe in this blogging pursuit?