Friday, May 30, 2008

Before They Added the Cowbell

Blue Oyster Cult guitarist Buck Dharma gets inspiration from his wife Sandy that leads to recording his and the band's biggest hit single "Don't Fear the Reaper." You know, that song Will Ferrell and Christoper Walken immortalized on Saturday Night Live when they added 'more cowbell'?

Watch and enjoy:

The song should be re-titled as "Don't Fear the Reaper, Gotta Have More Cowbell and Don't Lose the Mustache."

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Emminent Domain/Rent Control

I recently visited with friends who live in a city where rent control has been in force for several years. They expressed concern about California's upcoming election where Propositions 98 and 99 are on the ballot. Both are advertised to restrict local governments from exercising emminent domain. However, Prop. 98 has a provision for removing rent control. So the choice on 98 either restricts emminent domain and remove rent control or allow local governments to exercise emminent domain.

Gee, what a choice, huh? If you are a renter, you can vote away your landlord's right to raise your rent, but in doing so, you hand over the privilege of moving you out of your home to the local government.

As a renter, myself, I cannot blame my friends for wanting to keep their rents from going up. However, I abhor government interference in the market. That means rent control and emminent domain. Both actions aggressively coerce property owners to give up their right to do as they wish with their property. The principle of property ownership is a foundation for all human rights. If a property belongs to you, you have the right to do as you wish with it. Taking away that right by force, whether for benevolent or altruistic reasons, such as restricting the rent or forcibly removing the owner from one's property is still a violation of his rights.

To look at the problem from a broader perspective, we have to examine why landlords would want to raise the rents in the first place. If it is to antagonize or inconvenience their tenants, the landlord runs the risk of blowback from them. There are many reasons why an individual landlord would raise rents, but regardless of the reason, voluntarily changing the rental rate subjects that landlord to the exigencies of supply and demand.

I believe the problem goes deeper than the immediate context of renter-landlord relationships. I start with monetary policy and the inherently, inflationary nature of central banking vis-a-vis the Federal Reserve. As new money, created by new debt begins to circulate in the general economy, businesses and individuals find themselves with increasing financial obligations. In addition, the infusion of new money is felt in the marketplace, thus causing a devaluation of the currency. Every dollar becomes worth less than it was before and therefore businesses and people need more dollars to pay for the goods and services they acquire for surviving and hopefully prospering. It becomes a vicious cycle and those lowest on the monetary food chain - in this case, the renters, find themselves having to struggle more to keep up their standard of living.

In an economy based on sound money, prices tend to remain stable and the relative value of the currency holds, allowing people and businesses to plan ahead. There is little need for actions like rent control to protect renters from their landlords. Landlords would have little need to raise rents and if they did, the market would present more viable options for the tenants.

Emminent domain is just plain wrong. It is government theft of private property and no one should tolerate it. If a property is attractive enough for a city to acquire it for any purpose, it should give the owners of that property the choice to either sell or not sell and if the owners decide to sell, the city should pay the full market price for it. The key words here are force and voluntary. No one should be forced out of their property, but encouraged to enter into a market transaction voluntarily. The only time anyone would be forced out of their property is when something in or from that property presents a clear danger to the neighboring properties and the owner in question refuses to respect the rights of the other owners. In this case the local government acts in a defensive manner to protect the rights of those who haven't offended anyone.

In short, I understand why my friends desire maintaining rent control, but as time goes on and inflation puts pressure on the market, it becomes increasingly more difficult for landlords to stay in the business of renting out domiciles. It also hurts the renters who have to pay more for food and energy, so the lifting of controls presents a more onerous problem. Imposing more controls on specific areas of the marketplace superficially fails to address the real problem of inflation, yet provides some relief for a short while. However, if we want to address the real problem, we have to look at monetary policy and start there.

the tenants are free to move out and find a place that's more to their liking or they can organize and collectively bargain with their landlords to keep the rents steady.

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Democracy Isn't Cool

The Founding Fathers of the United States didn't think Democracy was cool. This is why they established a Constitutional Republican government based on principles of liberty.

To support this premise, I'd like to present a few quotes to support that notion.

From Thomas Jefferson:

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

"The republican is the only form of government which is not eternally at open or secret war with the rights of mankind."

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it."

From John Adams:

"Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide."

Here's one I've seen attributed to Ben Franklin and John Adams, although it appears to be unverified:

"Democracy has been defined as two wolves and a sheep discussing plans for lunch."

A second line is often added: "Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote."

If anyone can show me the original attribution, I would be grateful to correct this post.

In my search for quotes about Democracy by the Founding Fathers, I found that not all of them were consistent.

Jefferson also said:

"Information is the currency of democracy."

"The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

On the surface, these statements may seem favorable to the idea of democracy, but not necessarily. The benefits of democracy suggest that the preponderance of public opinion would be listened to, heeded and acted on by politicians in government. However, if the individual is to have his rights respected and dignity acknowledged, the best form of government is one that protects him, even when the majority doesn't wish it so.

I believe that the government was set up by the Fathers to make it exceeding difficult and cumbersome for the government to become efficient and competent at exerting force on individuals. This was not intended so much to make life miserable for our public servants, but for people to exercise their own innate talents and creativity to solve their problems and provide for the benefit of society with as little as government assistance as possible.

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Monday, May 12, 2008

Ron Paul Quotes

Here are some of Ron Paul's supporters favorite quotes from Dr. No, himself coming from :


About 9/11:
"They don't attack us because we are rich or free, they come here and attack us because we've been over there."

When asked by Fox News anchor Brit Hume if he takes his marching orders from Al Qaeda:
"NO!!!! I take my marching orders from the Constitution....not from any enemy!!!!"

Other quotes from various speaches and interviews:
"The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism means obedience to the state."

"Freedom is popular!"

"We have embarked on things, never intended by our founding fathers...and they said don't get involved in the internal affairs of other nations, don't become the policemen of the world."

"were being over regulated, over taxed and over-run by bureaucrats, the founders would be ashamed of us for what we're putting up with"

When asked about his electability during a debate on Fox Television:
"Let me see if I get this right—we need to borrow $10 billion dollars from China, and then we give it to Musharraf, who is a military dictator who overthrew an elected government. Then we go to war; we lose all these lives, promoting democracy in Iraq. What is going on here?"

Other quotes:
"And there's a greater burden on you than the average person because you know better. So you have an obligation to spread this message, others don't know any better so they don't have this obligation. You have, you are now responsible because you have the message, you know what is right, you know what has to be done, and you know that it will be dependant on you to do it."

"Let it not be said that we did nothing..."

"It's better to be pissed off than to be pissed on."

"As long as we live beyond our means, we are destined to live beneath our means..."

Ron Paul to Fox News Pundit, Sean Hannity
"You'll come around"

To Mitt Romney:
"Make fun, buddy".

Other quotes:
"The whole notion of the income tax is completely abhorrent to a free society because it presumes that the government owns you and your productivity."

From GOP debate moderated by Tim Russert, NBC:
Tim Russert: Does the president need authorization from congress to go to war with iran?

Mitt Romney: We'll let the lawyers sort that one out

Tim Russert: What about you Congressman paul?

Ron Paul: Ah-Absolutely. All this discussion about talking to attorneys totally baffles me! Why don't we just OPEN UP THE CONSTITUTION *huge applause* AND READ IT. YOU'RE NOT ALLOWED TO GO TO WAR WITHOUT A DECLARATION OF WAR.

From his latest book "Revolution: A Manifesto", Ron Paul takes aim at the Democrat's platform of Universal health care:
"And speaking of poor treatement; those who favor national health care schemes; should take a good, hard look at our veterans' hospitals. There is your national health care. These institutions are a national disgrace. If this is the care that the government dispenses to those it honors as its most heroic and admirable citizens; why should anyone else expect to be treated any better?"

And this quotable:
"I dont want to run your lives, I dont know how to run your lives, the Constitution doesnt give me the athority to run your lives."

The Revolution: A Manifesto - Page 66
If our government were scrupulously faithful to the Constitution, we would not need to be especially concerned when a person who represents a philosophy different from our own takes political office. Our Constitution delegates relatively few tasks to the federal government, so it should almost be a matter of indifference who is elected. We wouldn't have to worry that a social policy of which we disapproved would be imposed on our neighborhood at the whim of the new president and his court appointees, or that more of our money would be stolen to fund yet another government boondoggle. And we would also be spared the spectacle of countless American individuals and corporations frantically donating to candidates for political office during election years in order to reserve a place on the federal gravy train if their favorite should win."

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

Grover makes a change

It got 2nd place in the recent Sketchies contest. It's first place in my book, indubitably....

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