Friday, November 20, 2009

offsetting costs

A government budgets' numbers may say a lot but they certainly don't say everything. It would be disingenuous to flout a lower budget number when the costs were simply offset onto other parties.

For example, there is a guy in my nabe who was in the process of developing a six-story condo building as of right, in an area thats a mix of homes and apartment buildings. Some of the neighbors complained loudly to the local council member and had the area downzoned within a matter of months. In the interim the developer of course tried as best as he could to get his project vested to protect his interests, and so he engaged in illegal construction practices by racing the clock (working over hours) to beat the new zoning changes. In the end he was able to pour his foundation before the zoning change was made, but at the cost of quality and having to pay through the nose for the labor.

During those frantic months, the neighbors were constantly complaining to the DOB, having inspectors constantly visit and hassle the construction teams all in an effort to stop the project from getting vested. At the end when the developer thought he was vested, the neighborhood alliance complained to the DOB and he ended up having to go before the BSA which is the last authority on zoning and variance grants, and they ruled against the developer saying that his foundation wasn't to the original approved architectural/engineering specifications it was thus incomplete and any project would be subject to the new downzoning, basically making his project financially impossible to complete.

Now get this; he presumingly paid for the land based upon the allowable development rights, the city changes that while he is already underway with approved plans (which can take months to get from the city!), and he went through the trouble of obtaining financing, paying labor, architects, inspectors, permits, etc.

Now here is the best part-- it's been almost two years since the city stalled him by making it impossible for him to develop his project-- now the neighbors are bitching about the vacant construction site! So the city is now ordering this victimized developer to clean up his site, repair the construction fence that vandals have been breaking, and who do you think is being coerced to pick up the tag? The victim of course.

Government budgets never tell you the whole story. It's the same with recycling; make your victims pick up the cost of sorting trash so your budget can be that much lower.

Monday, April 20, 2009

the elephant in the room

On the topic of the USAG's silent holocaust via the FDA (which I've covered before), Thomas L. Knapp explains in his latest missive over at
"Americans die when they’re not allowed to use a drug they need because FDA says “no.” Americans die when they can’t afford a drug they need because it costs hundreds of millions of dollars to get FDA to say “yes,” and that cost is passed on to the consumer. Americans die when drugs which would save their lives never make it out of the lab because the figures say that the costs of securing FDA approval would make it unprofitable to bring to market.

The FDA’s delays in approving — or, to put it a different way, the FDA’s prohibition against prescribing until they had approved — a single drug, propranolol, were responsible for at least 30,000, and possibly as many as 100,000, avoidable deaths from heart attack and stroke."

It's truly sickening (pun *NOT* intended) that people cannot see the FDA for what it is-- a cold-blooded killer auctioneering quality of human life to a cartel of oligarchic-pharmaceutical bidders.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

red books from red beards on red men

Murray Rothbard (whose last name means "red beard") wrote about the role of the court intellectual ('red' or 'raed' is Old English for wise counsel).

"The ruling class — be it warlords, nobles, bureaucrats, feudal landlords, monopoly merchants, or a coalition of several of these groups — must employ intellectuals to convince the majority of the public that its rule is beneficent, inevitable, necessary, and even divine. The leading role of the intellectual throughout history is that of the court intellectual who, in return for a share of, a junior partnership in, the power and pelf offered by the rest of the ruling class, spins the apologias for state rule with which to convince a misguided public." --Conceived in Liberty, Vol. III, p.352

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch wrote about the people who played the role in ancient Egypt-

"In Tanach [the bible] we find, everywhere, Machshefim [illusionists/magicians] in the service of the rulers of old, just as today we find scientists in the service of the state. If today's scientists were to attempt to solve problems such as how one can indulge in every excess and debauchery without having to fear consequences detrimental to one's health - that would be attempting a misuse of man's mastery of nature, and would be in line with the basic outlook of Kishuf. [magic]" --Commentary to the book of Exodus, Chapter 7, Verse 11

This is how you can explain Keynesians who magically believe that you can consume your seed cord into prosperity or otherwise turn stones into bread! Pharoah's scientists had nothing on these goys!

the plague of [boiling] frogs

R' Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary to Exodus, Chapter 2, Verse 23--
As long as the initiators of an oppressive state project of such vast proportions as the enslavement of an entire free race are still alive, there is hope for an awakening of conscience and for the abolishment of the injustice. But once an institution - no matter how glaring the injustice that gave rise to it - has passed, along with the power of the state, into the hands of new authorities who are not aware of its origins and who accept it as traditional, legitimate prerogative of the state, the new governent will not consider itself authorized to tamper with time honored tradition. It will presume that all the institutions of the former regime have been sanctioned by the law of the land. The free people who have been enslaved by a Machiavellian tyrant will then be doomed to remain pariahs forever.

This is the curse of obsolescence inherent in time-honored state institutions. The past cultivated a field with blood and tears, and the present harvests - with a clean conscience - the fruit of the fait accompli, without considering that a curse hangs over every ear of corn that is brought home with joy.

The same applies to the New Deal, National Recovery Act, WWII and other shovel-ready infrastructure projects which 'brought us out of the last depresssion'.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


"The degree of justice in a country is measured not by the rights accorded to the native-born, the rich, and the well-connected (whose connections stand by them and represent them in their time of need), but by the justice meted out to the unprotected stranger. Complete equality of the native-born and the stranger is a basic characteristic of Jewish law. In Jewish law, the homeland does not grant human rights; rather, human rights grant the homeland! Jewish law does not distinguish between human rights and citizen's rights. Whoever accepted upon himself the moral laws of humanity- the seven Noahide laws- could claim the right of domicile in Judea."

-- Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, commentary to the book of Exodus, Chapter 1, Verse 14 [Amazon link]

I'd love to try and squeeze his statement about morality granting property rights into an argumentation ethics framework to defend not the illegitimate, incoherent concept of "homeland", but rather one of property rights. It's clear that the good rabbi didn't hold that the land of Israel is the birthright, or that it belongs in come collective manner to the tribe of Israel, but to the contrary- it's a land that is open for acquisition to potentially anyone so long that they behave toward others in a moral fashion.

According to some libertarians, the concept of property is derived via argumentation ethics [link]. Roughly speaking, a presupposition to the concept of an argument requires individuals to recognize the property rights of others to their own bodies and the use and/or possession of scarce goods, or what is then called property.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

conflicted emotions

From Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch's commentary on the blessings of Yaakov (Jacob) to his sons Shimon (Simon) and Levi, Genesis Chapter 49, Verse 7--

"It is most significant that here, at the cornerstone of the Jewish people, a curse is imposed upon any violent outburst that counter to justice and morality, even if it is intended for the common good.

All other states and nations have adopted the principle that any action is legitimate as long as it serves the interest of the state. Acts of cunning and violence that would be punished by ostracism or execution if practiced by an individual for selfish gain are rewarded with laurels and civic honors if they are committed for what is alleged to be the welfare of the state. The laws of morality apply only in private life, wheras in politics and diplomancy the only recognized law is that of national self-interest.

Here, by contrast, the last will and testament on which the Jewish people was founded pronounces a curse on cunning and violence, even if they are used for the nation's most legitimate interests, and it sets down for all time the doctrine that even in public life and in the promotion if the common good, not only must the ends be pure, but so must be the means."
I truly wonder what he would say had he been around today to see the founding of the Israeli state and the various wars and conflicts since then.

Monday, January 12, 2009

a time travelers case for the 100% gold standard

Because fiat money makes it too difficult to time travel.

This point was well illustrated in Back to the Future II, in the scene where, or should I say when, Marty and Doc are in the 50's, and Doc opens up an attache case containing various denominations spanning different time periods, so as to prevent an intertemporal incident in which the errant time traveler attempts to pay a present debt with future fiat money.

In contrast, Alex, the protagonist of Robert Heinlien's Job: A Comedy of Justice is wont to carry his lifes' savings on his person at all times in the form of gold coins. The reason for this odd behavior is in response to an especially cruel Supreme Being, who like a cat toying with a mouse, is continuously whisking Alex from one parallel universe to the next as soon as Alex is getting in the swing of things. (Apparently this malicious God is capable of remapping objects in the multiverse, but won't strip Alex of his vestments in the process.)

If there ever was a cause that fellow time-travelers and world-walkers could unite behind, this is it.