Archive for November, 2008|Monthly archive page

obscene, excessive, windfall profits

Now that oil prices are hovering around $50/barrel, perhaps the Rahm Emanuel-style window of “opportunity” is less open now than it was back in the spring when Obama and Clinton were both talking windfall profits taxes.

But we must remain vigilant whenever retread ideas like this rear their ugly heads.  Again, from Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson,” originally published in 1946:

The best profits, from the standpoint not only of industry but of labor, are not the lowest profits, but the profits that encourage most people to become employers or to provide more employment than before.  If we try to run the economy for the benefit of a single group or class, we shall injure or destroy all groups, including the members of the very class for whose benefit we have been trying to run it.  We must run the economy for everybody.

regarding dying industries

According to yesterday’s WSJ article (by Hitt, McCracken, and Dolan), the U.S. automakers somehow fancy themselves to be “above” bankruptcy:

Ford CEO Alan Mulally said Ford studied a bankruptcy scenario and believes “it is not a viable” option.

Have we been here before?  Yes.  From Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson,” originally published in 1946:

The lobbies of Congress are crowded with representatives of the X industry.  The X industry is sick.  The X industry is dying.  It must be saved.  […]

Paradoxical as it may seem to some, it is just as necessary to the health of a dynamic economy that dying industries be allowed to die as that growing industries be allowed to grow. The first process is essential to the second. It is as foolish to try to preserve obsolescent industries as to try to preserve obsolescent methods of production: this is often, in fact, merely two ways of describing the same thing. Improved methods of production must constantly supplant obsolete methods, if both old needs and new wants are to be filled by better commodities and better means.

to those who never made a mistake

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper, I admire your professionalism.  Who among us hasn’t been involved in a situation trying to improve a situation, only to make it much worse?  In your shoes, I certainly wouldn’t have been able to restrain myself to such a tame expletive as “Oh, great!”  But you acknowledged your mistake, kept your composure, and didn’t miss a beat as you continued to execute your job.

I’m reminded of the time I was heating a can of Campbell’s soup on my electronic stove at home, trying to save a few bucks, only to spill the entire can of soup over the electronic panel, thus destroying a $500 stove.

bailouts defy common sense

From Henry Hazlitt’s “Economics in One Lesson“, originally published in 1946:

When the government makes loans or subsidies to business, what it does is to tax successful private business in order to support unsuccessful private business.

shame on you, Representative Broun

I’m no Obama supporter.  I’m no PC policeman.  But Representative Broun, the ignorance of these words is staggering:

That’s exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany and it’s exactly what the Soviet Union did.

Congressman, don’t go throwing statements like that around, and then expect everything to be Georgia-peachy by apologizing later.  Obama’s been soft on exactly zero Gulags in the USA, and he’s been responsible for exactly zero Jewish murders.  Since you’re apparently not up to speed on the most basic aspects of Stalin and Hitler history, then you’re welcome to say nothing at all on the subject in the future.

FDR policies, unintended consequences

In his January 4, 1935 State of the Union Address, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt made the following statement (quoted from The Cato Journal; I originally discovered this quote in Alfred S. Regnery’s “Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism“):

The lessons of history, confirmed by evidence immediately before me, show conclusively that continued dependence on relief induces a spiritual and moral disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole out relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit. It is inimical to the dictates of sound policy. It is a violation of the traditions of America.

Given the benefit of hindsight, this statement exposes not blind luck prescience, but rather stunning historical recognition of the probable implications of his own proposals (if made permanent).

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rendezvous maneuvers inside the ISS

Here’s an ingenious use of the ISS as a navigational software testbed in the small.

SPHERES for guidance, nav, and control R&D

SPHERES for guidance, nav, and control R&D

Nixon and the Great Society skyscraper

From George Packer’s May 26, 2008 New Yorker article “The Fall of Conservatism“, Patrick Buchanan said of his time in the Nixon administration:

L.B.J. built the foundation and the first floor of the Great Society.  We built the skyscraper. Nixon was not a Reaganite conservative.

I originally discovered this quote in Alfred S. Regnery’s “Upstream: The Ascendance of American Conservatism“.

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