Global Warming? Listen to Lord Monckton and decide for yourself.

You’ve probably  never heard of Lord Monckton.  But, you owe it to yourself to watch this.  The videos come from a recent speech that Lord Monckton gave at the Minnesota Free Market Institute in October 2009.

The first video is a short excerpt which sums up Lord Monckton’s view on the climate treaty and the United States participation in the Copenhagen Summit.  If you can’t watch his 90+ minute speech, at least watch this small excerpt.

I urge you to spend the time and watch the full speech:

If you believe Lord Monckton’s presentation is accurate, statistics are being used by special interest groups to lie to the public.  He invites critical review of his conclusions and has challenged Al Gore to a public debate on the matter (Gore hasn’t accepted).

My own opinion is this,  any theory that purports to explain something as complex as historical global weather patterns and claims to have found the causative factors and, also claims to be able to have created accurate predictive models based on history, is flawed.

Remember, the global credit crisis?  Remember we were told that flawed reliance on predictive (statistical models) lead to over-sized risk-taking by rational people?

I’m not a scientist but I do think I have some common sense.  While I understand financial markets are inherently more volatile than global weather, I still don’t buy the idea that we’ve nailed the global climate in a statistical model.  I just don’t believe that long-term future global climate patterns are something that we can accurately predict with precision.  What our leaders want us to believe is that the science is settled on this matter.

I’m certainly not going to believe politicians, the environmental movement or Al Gore.

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Milton Friedman and Phil Donahue – 1979

In this 1979 excerpt from the Phil Donahue Show Milton Friedman brilliantly clarifies the case for free market capitalism as a means for pulling people out of poverty.

Pay particular attention at the 2:25 mark when Donahue laments: “Capitalism appears to reward the ability to manipulate the system.” While I enjoy Mr. Friedman’s response, I would add this:

“What exactly is the system that you speak of?  Is it the political system?  If so, wouldn’t it be advisable to reduce rather than increase the effects and influence of government and politics in the private economy so that government officials couldn’t be used as tools by unscrupulous people?”

This video should be required viewing by high school students.  It clearly demonstrates socialist arguments for egalitarian justice typically come from an emotional rather than logical and fact-based world view.

A relatively recent (and popular) distortion of Friedman’s views comes from Niomi Klein’s book, Disaster Capitalism.  Her theory posits that capitalism only spreads when a disaster is induced on an economy and its people.  She supports  her argument by misstating history and by applying flawed analysis of cause and effect.  She wrongfully attacks Friedman.

A through review of the book and Ms Klein’s misuse of Friedman’s views is provided by Johan Norberg in his October 2008 post at Reason.

No doubt, Ms Klein is well intended and is disturbed by the injustice she see’s in the world.  Unfortunately she  relies on distortions of history and attacks on a dead man to make her flawed thesis fly.  History has shown that fascist regimes are sometimes (not always) started by people with good intentions.  It has also demonstrated that these governments always erode into something less noble.

Here’s another video which includes excerpts of Klein and Friedman.  Some of Friedman’s comments were no doubt recorded before Klein was old enough to feed herself.  Who appears to be more scholarly and credible to you?

When Klein speaks “we” means socialists and “they” means free market capitalists.

You’ll have to decide for yourself whether you think Ms. Klein’s book has merit.  Don’t buy Ms. Klein’s  book. Go to your library and check it out.  When your done, do a little reading about Milton Friedman and read some of his books.  If you do, you’ll understand who makes more credible and fact-based arguments.

Perhaps this study will provide some context for what our government is doing today.   What do you think?

Videos provided via YouTube by Mearbhrach’s Channel and Advocate1234 of copiousdissent.

Who Was Ayn Rand?

I read Atlas Shrugged at the relatively late age of 35.  Prior to that time I was aware of Rand but really didn’t understand the niche that she had carved for herself.  Reason TV has a short video highlighting her career and enduring legacy.

If you haven’t read Atlas Shrugged, you should.  There are some long-winded sections (John Galt’s rant for example) but the overall message glorifies the rights of the individual.  In my opinion one of Rand’s books,  An Introduction to Objectivity Epistemology, is one of the best explanations of  human perception and learning that I’ve found.

You many not agree with every idea expressed, but she’ll make you consider the virtue of self-interest.

Hannah Banna’s Birthday Party

Hello parents!

We had a lot of fun with your daughters,  making tee shirt designs,  creating our own personal fonts, eating junk food and playing the Wii.

If you want to create your own font(s) go to fontcapture.  It’s really very easy to do.  Follow the instructions to install the font on your computer.  You’ll need a scanner to make your own fonts.

And, if you want the font that your daughter created last night from her own handwriting just shoot an email to me at  murraydan885@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send you the font file which you can install on your computer an use with any  application like Word, Outlook, Excel, Powerpoint or any other PC or Mac application.

The kids also watched a YouTube video by Taylor Mali.  Taylor is an English Teacher from NYC who also does Deaf Poet Slams.  I think his message is very inspirational.  Check out this video (your children didn’t see this one):

Your daughters saw this video about (like….ya know?):

You can find other Taylor Mali videos on YouTube.  Just search for Taylor Mali.  I think he provides an inspiring message to kids and delivers it brilliantly.

Full disclosure:  We have nothing to do with fontcaputure or Taylor Mali,  I just think they are both fun and interesting.  We can all use a little more of both these days.

Cheers!  Dan & Linda Murray

My New WordPress Site

Blogger has been the home of my personal blog for a couple of years.   But no longer.   I’ve relocated to WordPress.com and plan to move my professional site (www.thedatarevolution.com) to WordPress as well in the next month.

My professional site will be hosted by my employer, InterWorks Inc.  I’m excited about this change and look forward to improving the quality and quantity of my personal blog posts.

Che Guevara – The Passionate Marxist

Recently I became aware that many people today don’t know who Che Guevara was, what he stood for or how he died. This became clear to me last night when my wife and I were browsing the aisles of Blockbuster Video, finding a two-part film on Che’s life. My wife admitted to me that she really didn’t know anything about Che.

Most people recognize his image because it has become an iconic “brand” for promoting a variety of populist causes. We rented the movies.
Che: Part One covers the period of the Cuban Revolution. Part Two is a portrait of his Bolivian misadventure that resulted in Che’s violent death at the age of 39.While the movies are entertaining, it helps greatly to know something about the history of Cuba to understand the backdrop that created Castro’s Cuba.

I highly recommend the book Havana Nocturne by T.J. English as an interesting primer to the corrupt conditions leading to the ouster of the dictator, Fulgencio Batista. The early formation of his ideas can be better understood by reading his book, The Motorcycle Diaries, an autobiographical account of a trek he made though South America in his early 20’s. A recent (2004) biopic is also available about this formative part of Che’s life.

Ernesto Che Guevara is a mythical figure in the history of human struggle.  While I completely disagree with his prescription for improving the plight of the poor you have to admire him for his dogged determination and the purity of his beliefs.  Che was an intellectual and man of action. Time Magazine put him on the cover of their August 8, 1960 issue, also naming him to the Time 100 list of the most influential people of the 20th Century.

A writer, poet, athlete, adventurer and Marxist Revolutionary, Che is a riveting historical personality. But, being interesting doesn’t make his political and economic philosophies effective.  History has shown that the Marxist/Communist experiments of the 20th Century were not successful in raising the standard of living for the poor in these counties. Che’s brief involvement with civil government responsibilities were not successful and ended in failure.
I  think that Che should be remembered.  And, I would have loved to debate with him, talk about the books he was reading,   and argue the merits of free markets for rising standards of living.  It’s unfortunate the a figure with Che’s combination of intellect, romanticism and courage became the product of the corrupt governments of South and Central America.  The foreign policy decisions that our country has made during the last 60 years have contributed to turning passionate people against the United States government.
Che is the world’s most interesting poster child of this phenomena.

Tools You Should Use

Photo by Phillip Torrone

 

I’ve been using a few tools that I’ve found to be very helpful. Diigo, Zotero and Evernote. All of them have had recent version upgrades which improved each application.

Diigo is a web book marking application similar to Digg or Delicious but with a big difference. Diigo allows you to highlight and annotate web pages. It also saves that annotation so that every time you visit the site you see the notes from your previous visit. Give Diigo a try. Tool-bars are available for FireFox and Chrome.

Zotero is a Firefox add-on application that allows you to create bibliographical lists of books, newspaper articles, magazine articles, music, etc. Zotero makes this very easy. For example, if you found a book on Amazon that you may want to purchase, Zotero makes it easy to create a bibliographical reference of the book with a single button click.

Evernote is a popular note taking and web clipping application. I use Evernote everyday to clip articles off the web for later reference. What’s really cool about evernote is that it indexes everything that you clip. Even the writing on a sign in a picture placed in Evernote is indexed.

In addition to the web version there are iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre, Windows Mobile, Windows and Mac versions of the software. All versions sync with the website. Imagine taking a photo of a menu you like and have Evernote index the entire menu contents.  I’ve been using all three of these programs for over a year and have found them to be very useful.

Full Disclosure: I am not affiliated with any of these companies nor have I received any gifts or payment of any kind from Diigo, Evernote or Zotero.

 

In Response to Charley and Dalton

Flickr Creative Commons, NTD Barrage Ballon, Nevada Test Site ACE-57-5806

I posted on Facebook No Skin in the Game which was a copy of an August 14, 2000 press release from Wells Fargo posted on Cafe Hayek this week.

Dalton and Charley seem to be concerned about the age of the article. My purpose in posting the article was to illustrate the concept of risk and what happens when the concept of risk and loss are removed from the equation.

Wells Fargo was touting a then-new loan program subsidized by California Housing Loan Insurance Fund (CaHLIF) and Freddie Mac, which allowed teachers working within the state to purchase a home with a minimal down payment of just $500. Who could be against helping teachers?

At the time a new California teacher was earning an average of $29,000/year and the average wage for an experienced teacher was $44,000/year. In a state like California these wages certainly make it difficult for a single teacher to purchase a home.

Frankly, the wages seem reasonable for 9 months of work per year. I also presume that teachers get married and have spouses that work. But, The California State Government came to save the day by providing taxpayer-funded subsidies, with the help of Freddie Mac (Federal Money).

Why I don’t like these programs

When government subsidizes programs like this it implicitly places a bet that the value of the asset purchased will always exceed the debt incurred to purchase the asset.  The bet they are placing is with your children’s future income stream. They don’t tax us now to pay, they borrow the funds from the China, India, and other foreign entities. Taxing you now might raise questions of fairness and cost.

Over the past two years the housing bubble caused by programs like this (there are many) like all bubbles, burst.  I would argue that the Federal Government sigificantly contributed to the run-up in housing prices, well beyond what would have happened under normal circumstances.

Many homes purchased in the last 5 years are now worth much less than the debt incurred to fund the purchase.  Buyers who took the plunge facing the double whammy of the loss on the value of their home and a higher monthly payment due to escalation clauses in the mortgage loan contracts they knowingly signed.

These higher payments are not the result of increasing market interest rates. They were built into the original loan. In other words…by contract the borrower had to know the payments were scheduled to increase at a specific future date.  These borrowers now face two options. 1) continue to pay for the home based on the original contract agreement or 2) default on the loan, walk away from the house and rent some place to live at a much lower cost.

Of course, that would be very difficult choice to make if you invested $10,000 of you own money in the down payment.  But, if you original down payment was subsidized by the Federal Government these borrowers have a less painful set of circumstances to consider.

Many borrowers faced with the reality that they can’t afford the scheduled price increase and the drastically reduced value of their “investment” decided to default on their loans.   The media seem to think this is a phenomena confined to Subprime Mortgages. It’s not.

No Skin In the Game is a term that I used to hear bankers apply in the evaluation of business acquisitions. Bankers always want the buyer to invest a signicant sum of their own money. They know this insures a form of “committment” on the buyers part because the cost of failure is jointly shared by the borrower.

When government takes the skin of the borrower out of the equation the risk of loss is sharply diminished.

I believe without question Federal Government subsidies work. When the government gives away money, people spend it. But, this comes at a cost. We get more of something than market demand would ordinarily produce.  To continue to support the inflated value of housing, more subsidies are required. A cycle emerges that is economically unsound.

It’s easy to blame greedy bankers. The real problem is government meddling in the marketplace. Banks are “too big to fail,” so the government uses more of your children’s money to bail them out.

When will it end?

The Federal Government creates nothing of value. It reallocates. In most cases during the last 40 years your government has chosen to pay for it reallocation using funds borrowed from future generations.  That’s a cowardly act. Our children don’t have a voice today.