A Blast from the Past

Watch this 1981 news report on something very new and exciting: reading the newspaper on your computer at home:

Living Like a King

“Our free market system is usually termed capitalism and by that definition capitalism has hardly been around long enough to deserve all the evil for which it is being held responsible. … Actually, all systems are capitalistic. It is just a matter of who owns and controls the capital—ancient king, dictator, or private individual. We should be looking [for] a free market system where individuals have the right to live like kings if they have the ability to earn that right.” – Ronald Reagan, 1979

Another Way Home

I’ve been reading John Horne’s excellent online novel, “Another Way Home,” and highly recommend it.

Stubborn Facts and Stubborn People

Ronald Reagan once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” And he is right. Sometimes, the truth becomes almost impossible to ignore. I think we are seeing that now in the national debates over climate change and health care.

Yet, even more stubborn than facts are people. It is a person’s worldview, more than the facts that they are presented with, that usually shape their opinions on issues. Because the worldview is used to filter facts, keeping ones they like and discarding the ones that upset their view of the world. So while we must seek an accurate, factual picture of the world, we can’t always expect facts to carry the day. At least in the short run.

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Calvin, the Bible, and the Western World

Some good thoughts by Doug Wilson on Calvin and Scripture during the celebration of Calvin’s 500th birthday:

Our Expensive Energy Future

This is a glimpse of the future under the energy efficiency regime being pushed in Texas and across the U.S. The picture shows a new home in the SOL neighborhood, three miles east of downtown Austin. It is being built on the premise that energy efficiency is the cheapest option for “new” energy.

A new study along these lines claims that energy efficiency would eliminate the need for seven new power plants and save Texas consumers $5 billion. But the reports always underestimate the costs of the energy efficiency measures and overestimate their savings. For instance, the study states that energy efficiency houses cost about 15% more to construct, though numbers in the study show the costs to be more like 20%. But whatever the figure, the mantra is that these higher costs will eventually be recouped through annual energy savings.

However, the numbers don’t actually work out so well.

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At Least One Nobel Prize Make Sense

The recent awarding of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences shows that at least one of the Nobel prizes is based on common sense.

The prize was awarded to Elinor Ostrom at Indiana University and Oliver E. Williamson at the University of California, Berkeley for their work on the “tragedy of the commons.” As John Tierney points out, ever since Garrett Hardin’s much flawed 1968 article in Science magazine on the topic, environmental activists have been misusing it to push for regulation of just about everything, from fisheries to population growth. The theory being that problems like air pollution or depletion of the ocean fisheries represent market failures that require government intervention. But these two economists show that this is not the case.

As the prize announcement said, “Rules that are imposed from the outside or unilaterally dictated by powerful insiders have less legitimacy and are more likely to be violated. Likewise, monitoring and enforcement work better when conducted by insiders than by outsiders. These principles are in stark contrast to the common view that monitoring and sanctions are the responsibility of the state and should be conducted by public employees.”

It seems as if people are pretty good at solving their own problems when left alone by the government!

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Quote of the Day

“Why squander your presidency on trying to turn an economically moribund feudal backwater into a functioning nation state when you can turn a functioning nation state into an economically moribund feudal backwater?” – Mark Steyn, commenting on President Obama’s apparent retreat in Afghanistan so he can spend his political capital in the U.S on domestic policy.