Sundry Political Notes And A Sermon For Libertarians

Left-wing Feminists for Palin has two new members, as Ms. Magazine editor Elaine Lafferty and former Edwards, Clinton, and Obama speechwriter Wendy Button both defend her.  They both point out the nasty behavior on the part of left-wing opponents and although they both disagree with Palin on plenty of things (particularly on social issues), “I disagree with you” doesn’t imply “You’re an idiot.”  Button points out that no idiot can successfully take down a sitting governor and her own corrupt party, rising so quickly in a major party.  Speaking of which, Todd Zywicki notes that glibness isn’t the same thing as intelligence and “I don’t understand; could you clarify?” is a perfectly legitimate question and much better than making things up out of whole cloth as many politicians are wont to do.

Practice wealth redistribution small-scale.  It’s a hilarious story about taking Obama seriously and how many people are all for “wealth redistribution” unless it means their wealth being redistributed.

John Hawkins also has a post up asking “have libertarians been driven out of the Republican party by McCain’s raging Christianity?”  That’s the argument by Ryan Sager at Reason and Hawkins points out how ridiculous it is.  Libertarians and small-government conservatives have every right to be angry at the Bush administration for 6 years of poor economic policy (save for minor tax cuts and—notwithstanding those stupid steel tariffs—a pro-free trade policy) and not vetoing a fiscal bill until after Democrats took over Congress and libertarians and conservatives are going to disagree about foreign policy and the appropriate margins in the ever-lasting Security vs. Liberty debate, but any libertarians who think Obama would be any better for them on any front will quickly become disappointed.  Don’t like spendthrift Republicans?  Wait until Barney Frank & co have a President who wants to increase spending and raise taxes, not to mention socialized health care and an expansion of the regulatory bureaucracy.  Think Bush has gone too far with regards to civil liberties?  Wait until Obama’s “Truth Squad” in Missouri and underhanded and illegal records searches on anybody who dares question The Messiah become standard practice.  Don’t like corrupt politicians like Ted Stevens and ex-politician Duke Cunningham?  Obama himself is bringing in millions of fradulent dollars by turning off any credit card checks and not following campaign finance laws and is closely affiliated with ACORN.  Think that Bush has done a bad job on foreign relations and has alienated allies?  Obama’s already getting called immature and arrogant—by the French!—and is harming international relations by opposing free trade.  And for those who want detachment from foreign affairs (particularly Iraq), Obama’s already talking about his own brand of foreign policy expansionism, most particularly in Darfur, so, just like during the Clinton years, you can expect to see demoralized American troops sent into areas which have nothing to do with the American interest to fight wars in politician-friendly ways, exactly the opposite of what the military’s job is.  Meanwhile, expect American enemies to, as Joe Biden points out, make a strong move against the US to take advantage of an inexperienced and weak Obama.  This will have a strong effect particularly in but not limited to eastern Europe, central Asia, and southeast Asia as American allies in tight spots (Israel, Colombia, Taiwan, Kuwait, Georgia, Ukraine, Poland, the Baltics, Iraq & Afghanistan, etc.) come under increased pressure from confident dictators and anti-American strongmen, potentially causing a reversal in the recent advances in liberty abroad.  And, just to add to the fun, Obama wants a civilian paramilitary force; that can’t possibly have any negative ramifications for liberty and libertarian causes!  In all seriousness, I can’t see why a libertarian (as opposed to a libertine) would actually support Obama.  I can see why they would oppose a good number of Republicans and I could see them not voting for McCain because they really dislike his foreign policy and regulatory instincts, but Obama is, by far, the worse of two evils, particularly with a Democratic congress.

Recapturing My Youth

As a youngin’, I loved Exosquad, a show that blended light social commentary (thankfully it wasn’t too heavy), World War II, and people in robotic suits blowing each other up.  For a 10-year-old boy, you just couldn’t ask for more…  Last year, NBC/Universal put up most of the first season on Hulu, so you can watch the show in relatively high quality.  The show aged remarkably well in that I’m still not embarrassed to have watched it or bought the action figures.  It was a shame, though, that they canceled it after two seasons and left the series on a cliffhanger; I really wanted to see how they would have handled a potential third season with a Robotech tie-in, but apparently the toys weren’t selling well enough to keep the show going or something.  Anyhow, I highly recommend watching the show, especially if you never saw it before.  After you get past the goofy haircuts and stilted dialogue (remember:  this was a show for pre-teen boys), you’ll probably want to go and blow stuff up in an e-frame, too…

Film Watching Tuesday

Because I left work on time today, I’ll be able to watch Stalingrad tonight.  The film is supposed to be anti-war and Saving Private Ryan without the moralistic angle.  I, on the other hand, will take a slightly different angle, I believe:  when Commies and Nazis fight, we all win.  It’s kind of like cheering for the monster in a really bad horror movie:  it’s a little disturbing, but at least they deserved it…

Avast, White Whale!!!!!

In possibly my greatest victory ever, I have finally won a copy of Hannibal: Rome vs Carthage! And how? The power of economics! Since Valley Games has reprinted the game (although not easily available to US Audiences), the increase in supply made the game that once went for $200 a mere $43.50 (to add to the awesomeness, retail price minus shipping is $65.99). On top of that, I got Diplomacy and Pirates of the Caribbean Battleship (surprisingly fun). Diplomacy rules, even with two people, especially when you lie like a dog to your one true love (sorry, honey, but Germany OWNED Russia’s ass! No more Moscow for you!)*

* Why am I not sleeping on the couch tonight?** Because we agreed before hand that we would not take games personally.

** For Kevin’s sake, you may assume that I wander the night without sleep.

Economic Contrarianism Sunday

Cleaning out a few links, here are some bits of economic contrarianism.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota’s research department has a paper detailing some of the myths of the financial problems we’re currently dealing with.  Alex Tabarrok cites this paper and argues that there is, in fact, no real credit crunch.  Banks and businesses can still get credit, although the premium for credit has increased due to a higher risk factor (built in to the interest rate).

Charles Calomiris notes that without the deregulation of the 1970s through 1990s, we’d be in a significantly worse position today.  Consider that western Europe, after all, is in the same boat and didn’t have nearly the same level of deregulation (and with Basel I and Basel II, I’d argue that there has probably been a net increase in government regulation of the financial sector there).  Calomiris’s argument is that the Basel committees, in fact, play a blameworthy role in recent events.

Anna Schwartz, the most famous monetary economist still living (now that Milton Friedman has passed away), argued last week that the Federal Reserve has had a loose monetary policy for too long and are completely overlooking the real problem:  potential creditors don’t know whether a particular borrower is trustworthy and solvent.  Schwartz argues that the Treasury should have bought some of the stranger asset mixes and let some banks fail; instead, the Treasury is trying to keep banks which made poor decisions from failing, fearing that their failures will cause bank runs which hit the rest of the industry even harder, cascading into a 1930s scenario.

Over at Klein Verzet, we’re freaking doomed.  The Baltic Dry Index has tanked and international purchases of building materials have dropped significantly.  This index measures early and intermediate goods, and its drop is a piece of evidence that Austrians can use to argue that the current financial problems seem to follow Austrian Business Cycle Theory:  lax monetary policy led to a sectoral boom (electronics and computers, followed shortly thereafter by housing) and now that the bust is starting to occur, businesses are finding that they’ve over-lengthened their capital structures and have to cut back, so demand for early and intermediate capital goods decreases significantly.  Over the next year or so, consumer goods will end up hitting its decline phase and, ideally, resources get re-allocated to more valuable uses and things pick back up again at the steady state level (to speak very loosely, and because I never liked the term “evenly rotating economy” because it sounds too much like rotisserie chicken).