In Thursday’s (Sept. 29th’s) Wall Street Journal, Russ tackles Elizabeth Warren’s recent claim that, because government (allegedly) contributes x toward each successful entrepreneur’s and investor’s prosperity, each such entrepreneur and investor is morally obliged to fork over to government x + (whatever the current gaggle of government officials claim government ‘needs’).
Warren’s is a frightening – and frighteningly mistake and non sequitur filled – assertion.
Russ does a splendid job challenging Warren’s assertion. Here are a couple of paragraphs:
Ms. Warren implies that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. I’m not sure what that is, but they’re already paying a lot of taxes. In the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office, from 2007, the top 1% of households paid 28.1% of all federal tax revenue—income taxes, payroll taxes and so on—for a total of $722 billion. That would buy plenty of roads, police and fire protection—and plenty of education, too.
But perhaps Ms. Warren shouldn’t mention education. Government does such a bad job educating workers in the public school system that businesses have to spend a lot of money training their work forces in basic skills. Does that mean entrepreneurs and factory owners can get a partial refund on their taxes?
UPDATE: My good buddy Todd Zywicki, from over in GMU’s School of Law, e-mails me to say that he also especially appreciates Rich Lowry’s observation that crediting government with the success of entrepreneurs in the market is like crediting the person who built Bill Gates’s parents’ garage with the success of Microsoft: Microsoft was, after all, founded in the Gates’s garage.
Brian Simpson, at National University in La Jolla, sent me the following e-mail notice. Students take note!
National University of La Jolla, CA (www.nu.edu) has a limited number of scholarships available for three online, undergraduate courses that focus on free-market economics and the philosophical foundations of capitalism. These scholarships are being funded by a grant from the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. The scholarships cover the full tuition for the courses plus the application fee to NU. These courses can be taken from anywhere in the world, as long as one has access to the internet. The courses incorporate live chat sessions in which the professor and students interact in a virtual classroom, much as they would in a traditional classroom. The courses use books by Ayn Rand (The Virtue of Selishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal) and the free-market economist George Reisman (Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics). The courses run for the next time in the summer and fall of 2012. The three courses and more information on the web are here:
ECO 401 – Market Process Economics I
ECO 402 – Market Process Economics II
ECO 430 – Economics and Philosophy
To apply for one or more of these scholarships, send your name, transcript from your high school or university, and an essay of no more than 750 words discussing why you believe you deserve a scholarship and your future education and career plans to Dr. Brian P. Simpson. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or 11255 North Torrey Pines Rd.; La Jolla, CA 92037.
Please indicate which course or courses for which you are applying for a scholarship. You can apply for one to three scholarships, depending on how many courses you are interested in taking. Note that to receive the scholarship you will have to apply to National University and enroll in the course(s). If you have questions, please contact Dr. Simpson at the email address above or 858-642-8431.
I channel my inner Arnold Kling in this piece for the Times’s Room for Debate.
Carolyn Leonnig and Steven Mufson of the Washington Post have been doing a superb job covering the Solyndra story. In this piece, they look at companies that turned down government loans because they knew they wouldn’t have a productive use for the money. Amazing. Here is a good sample from the article:
The Obama administration’s vaunted initiative to catalyze the U.S. clean-energy industry — under attack for betting half a billion dollars on the solar-panel manufacturer Solyndra, which closed last month — has become a case study of what can go wrong when a rigid government bureaucracy tries to play venture capitalist and jump-start a nascent, fast-changing market.
Schmidt concluded in early 2011 that the influx of inexpensive flat solar panels was undercutting his company’s year-old proposal to use a field of mirrors that concentrated sunlight on a thermal tower. Despite market changes, however, the terms of the federal loan guarantee wouldn’t let Solar Trust switch in midstream to flat panels. So Solar Trust sought private financing.
“We look at a lot of technologies, and I don’t care which one we build — I want to build the one that makes the most financial sense,” Schmidt said.
The inflexibility of the terms for Schmidt’s project was just one of the troubles that have plagued the Energy Department’s $38.5 billion loan-guarantee program from its beginning in 2009. Inundated with proposals, the small Energy Department loan office was initially overwhelmed, and companies complained that it was moving too slowly, not too quickly as has been alleged recently in the case of the now-bankrupt Solyndra.
While Chu was striving to get things moving, top White House economic officials, including Lawrence H. Summers, then director of the National Economic Council, doubted the government’s ability to shape a new industry, and some wanted to tighten up oversight by the Office of Management and Budget — even if that meant some guarantees would never be given out.
Meanwhile, tumbling prices for silicon and turmoil in the financial world were changing project assumptions faster than the bureaucracy could make decisions.
… is from page 3 of Steve Horwitz’s 2000 book Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective:
The problem with mainstream macroeconomics is that its notions of time and money are so abstract and unrealistic as to prevent serious consideration of how the markets for each actually behave.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (04:53 pm)
If even an appeal to overcome divisions of “race” can be declared against the Racial Discrimination Act, we have a problem:
THE Coalition has signalled it will try to amend the Racial Discrimination Act in government, branding it a “terrible statute” after News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt was found guilty of breaching the law.
Opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis said the judgment, handed down in the Federal Court yesterday, would limit freedom of speech and political discussion.
“The fact is today in Australia we are not free and journalists, commentators, ordinary citizens are not free, to make critical or unpopular remarks in the course of ordinary political exchange and I think that’s a terrible thing,” Senator Brandis told Sky News.
“The law as it was declared by the Federal Court yesterday certainly contains an unacceptable limitation on freedom of political discussion in Australia and we would not like to see the law remain in its current form.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (03:53 pm)
Defenders of free speech and a free press are becoming frighteningly rare:
Professor Manne says they should report only the views of a “core” of experts in key debates.
At a book-signing in Sydney last night, he also urged the media to embrace greater contributions from controversial left-wing commentators such as US linguistics professor Noam Chomsky and Beirut-based commentator Robert Fisk.
Professor Manne is facing fierce criticism over his recently published Quarterly Essay, Bad News, in which he alleges that The Australian plays an “overbearing” and “unhealthy” role in national debates by publishing fringe views on controversial topics.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (08:58 am)
FREE speech underpins transparency and accountability in our democracy, and any curbing of expression needs to be carefully considered and carry demonstrable public benefit. Whatever Australians think about the opinions expressed by Andrew Bolt, we should all be concerned about the blow delivered against free speech yesterday…
If anyone has doubts about the subjectivity of yesterday’s decision, they should read Justice Bromberg’s findings about how often a “reasonable reader” might have read the articles, and whether or not they would have done so with “analytical care”. He discussed how the “style and structure” of the articles “invite supposition” and, remarkably, said: “Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised.”
Let The Australian be clear, in language that should be assessed according to its literal meaning—words, to the extent that they should be judged, should only be judged according to what they actually mean, not according to what a judge decides they invite us to suppose.
IF the Federal Court’s ruling in the Bolt case has correctly applied the law, the entire community has a problem.
The court’s “Bolt principle” will encourage Australians to see themselves as a nation of tribes - a collection of protected species who are too fragile to cope with robust public discourse.
Unless this is overturned on appeal, it will divide the nation.
Aborigines should be outraged that they have been associated with this patronising ruling. But their anger is best directed towards the law, not Justice Mordecai Bromberg.
Toward the ends of his judgment, Bromberg seemed to see himself as a kind of uber-editor - listing words he did not like and material that, in his view, should have been included in Bolt’s columns. It was almost funny.
The provisions of the act used to silence Bolt are bad law. The provisions inserted by the Racial Hatred Act 1995 were strongly opposed by the Coalition on the grounds that it might impinge free speech. They have now done so. Why did the statutes remain on the books during 13 years of Coalition government? I expect better from Liberals.
Cultural identity is arguable and should be discussed in a free and open manner. If not, then Australia is entering a world where Aboriginal people, especially those of light colour and claiming discrimination (or favours) based on their race, become a laughing-stock. Is this what the activists wanted? Forget constitutional recognition, this decision has undercut goodwill.
The court decision relies on “the perspective of the ordinary reasonable member of the Australian community” to take offence. What is ordinary about someone who has spent their entire life as a political activist and has probably suffered little prejudice on the basis of their race because no one can distinguish them?
The judgment acknowledges that “a group of people may include the sensitive as well as the insensitive, the passionate and the dispassionate, the emotional and the impassive”. The decision, however, has privileged the sensitive over the insensitive, the passionate over the dispassionate and the emotional over the impassive. The law has ensured that racial politics is a winner.
David Marr gloats, but he not only badly misstates my argument and falsely claims I’ve accused some Aborigines of “appalling motives”, he also treats my opinion that we can make choices in self-identification (particularly when we have many ethnicities in our ancestry and different cultural influences in our youth) as actually “poor journalism” and an error of “fact” that should rightly be declared unlawful:
Bolt was wrong. Spectacularly wrong. In two famous columns in 2009 he took a swipe at “political” or “professional” or “official” Aborigines who could pass for white but chose to identify as black for personal or for political gain, to win prizes and places reserved for real, black Aborigines and to borrow “other people’s glories”.
But Bolt’s lawyers had to concede even before this case began in the Federal Court that nine of these named “white Aborigines” had identified as black from childhood. All nine proceeded to court to say they didn’t make the choice down the track, but were raised as Aborigines. Their evidence was not contested by Bolt or his paper.
Australians who support free speech must stand up against these threats to our freedoms.
That’s why the IPA, with your support, will publish a major statement in The Australian against the laws that allowed this to happen. We need to show Australians that we will not stand idly by whilst fundamental freedoms are trampled on. (See a draft of the statement here.)
Your contribution is essential to help make this happen. We can’t afford to do this alone.
Yesterday, in Courtroom 1 of the Federal Court Justice Bromberg spoke of conduct which “offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated … fair-skinned Aboriginal people (or some of them)”. Yet, only minutes later, when Andrew Bolt was insulted and abused in the forecourt of the Federal Court building no one took the slightest bit of notice and not one of the journalists who witnessed the attacks bothered recording them.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (07:00 am)
Independent Andrew Wilkie in March sets the Gillard Government an absolute deadline in delivering pre-commitment technology for poker machines::
“My agreement with Prime Minister Gillard is absolutely carved in stone,” he told the National Press Club.
“My support for her and her government hinges on it and I will withdraw my support from the Gillard Labor government if that is not progressed in accord with my agreement with the prime minister.”
Mr Wilkie warned the key milestone will be the passage of pokie laws by budget time in 2012, with the scheme introduced in 2014.
But today that deadline seems suddenly less absolute:
“To quote the commission, a mandatory pre-commitment system on poker machines would be a “strong, practicable and ultimately cost-effective option for harm minimisation”.
But I have not demanded this reform by next year, or else. The PM agreed to introduce a mandatory pre-commitment on high-intensity poker machines by 2014 and I’m just holding her to that agreement.
The commission says 2014 is an achievable deadline. After consultation with the industry, it’s been agreed smaller venues with 15 or fewer poker machines will be given until 2018. Another part of the reform you don’t hear the industry talking about is low-intensity machines with $1 maximum bets that will not require pre-commitment. So the 88 per cent of Australians who bet $1 or less won’t need to sign up to pre-commitment and won’t notice a difference when they sit down to gamble.
Andrew Wilkie, Independent member for Denison, Hobart, Tas
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (06:51 am)
(COMMENTS ON THIS CASE ARE NOT BEING MODERATED ON ANY OF THE THREADS ON THIS BLOG, FOR LEGAL REASONS. IF YOU DO WISH TO COMMENT, SOME COMMENTS ARE BEING INCLUDED HERE)
I am the son of Dutch parents who came to Australia the year before I was born.
For a long time, I have felt like an outsider here, not least because my family moved around so very often.
You know how it is when you feel you don’t fit in. You look for other identities, other groups, to give you a sense of belonging, and perhaps some status.
So for a while I considered myself Dutch, and even took out a Dutch passport.
Later I realised how affected that was, and how I was borrowing a group identity rather than asserting my own. Andrew Bolt’s.
So I chose to refer to myself as Australian again, as one of the many who join in making this shared land our common home.
Yet even now I fret about how even nationality can divide us.
To be frank, I consider myself first of all an individual, and wish we could all deal with each other like that. No ethnicity. No nationality. No race. Certainly no divide that’s a mere accident of birth.
So that’s the background to the calamity that hit me yesterday.
That’s why I believe we can choose and even renounce our ethnic identity, because I have done that myself.
But I also believe that many people now increasingly do insist on asserting racial and ethnic identities, and that we increasingly spend money and pass laws to entrench them.
I think that a terrible pity, even a danger, because surely in a multi-ethnic community like ours it’s important to stress what unites us, not what divides.
As you might know, I have argued against this trend. For instance, and this is what brought me to the court, I have written about what seems to me an increasing trend of people to identify as Aboriginal, when even their looks loudly suggest they have ancestry drawn from many “races” or ethnicities, especially European.
In two columns in particular - and that’s where this misery started - I wrote about people who, it seemed to me, had other options than to call themselves, without qualification or hyphens, “Aboriginal”.
They included nine fair-skinned Aborigines who responded not with public arguments, but with a legal action in the Federal Court to have my articles banned forever, and me prevented from ever again writing something similar.
I’m talking about people such as an Aboriginal lawyer whose father was British, an Aboriginal activist whose own sister identified as non-Aboriginal, and an Aboriginal writer whose father was born in Austria.
In those articles I wrote that I did not question the genuineness of their identification.
I did not even go as far as did Professor Larissa Behrendt, one of those who took me to court, who nine years ago declared that the definition of Aboriginality needed to be tightened, or “you run the risk of having the parameters stretched to the ludicrous point where someone can say: ‘Seven generations ago there was an Aboriginal person in my family, therefore I am Aboriginal’.”
To be clear: not once did I say that these people had no right to call themselves Aborigines. I’ve always accepted that they do.
I am too worried now to quote directly from what I did actually write, but my argument - which Justice Mordecai Bromberg of the Federal Court yesterday rejected - was that such people had choices.
They could choose to identify as Aboriginal, or as some other ethnicity in their ancestry, or, as I do, as Australian. Even as an individual.
Indeed, they could do as the former sprinter Patrick Johnson once put it in his own case: “I have the best of both cultures, of a couple of cultures. I mean, Dad’s Irish. I’m Aboriginal as well.”
As well. And, in fact, since I wrote my damn columns two years ago, I’ve seen that one of the people I wrote about has indeed since described herself as someone of many heritages - “of English, Jewish and Wathaurung descent”.
Two years ago, I would cheerfully have argued that this acknowledgment of a multiple ethnicity was healthier, and truer, in such cases than insisting on only being Aboriginal.
But not today. I no longer dare.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (06:40 am)
Now for some real racism, from the Left:
IN typical blunt fashion, Australia’s first female indigenous MP has labelled some of the environmentalists fighting Woodside Petroleum’s $30 billion gas hub in the Kimberley “a lazy mob of bludgers and liars”.
After telling Kimberley Aborigines gathered outside Fitzroy Crossing yesterday that she was retiring at the next West Australian election, Labor MP Carol Martin said the vast majority of Australians concerned about the environment would be appalled by the behaviour of some anti-gas campaigners who had “bullied, lied and abused” indigenous people in a bid to stop the project at James Price Point, 60km north of Broome....
(She) said Woodside’s refusal to release a video showing indigenous workers being mocked and abused by protesters at the James Price Point picket line only empowered the “ferals and mung beans” who were nothing but “a lazy bunch of bastards”.
The video, seen by The Australian, captures a British man with pale skin telling a Woodside employee “You look like you have got a bit of kafir in you”.
Other workers are called “Woodside c . . ts” and an Aboriginal man working as an observer to ensure no significant sites are disturbed is tormented as an “old codger”.
The racism isn’t so much in the language, bad as it is. It’s in the underlying assumption that Aborigines who want jobs and development aren’t real Aborigines.
Andrew Bolt – Thursday, September 29, 11 (06:32 am)
I guess it could be a useful exercise, if it hadn’t been done several times before:
JULIA Gillard has ordered a sweeping review of Australia’s engagement with Asia that will deliver a blueprint for the government’s strategic, economic and trade direction in the region for a generation.
The Prime Minister announced yesterday that former Treasury secretary Ken Henry would lead the preparation of a white paper on “Australia in the Asian Century”, to be handed to the government and considered by the full cabinet early next year.
The white paper, which was approved by federal cabinet, will aim to help Australia maximise the potential of “transformative economic growth and change in Asia” as China and India continue their rapid expansion, joining Japan as economic superpowers.
ONCE again the Gillard government’s paralytic inability to actually do anything results in a wide-ranging inquiry of indeterminate consequence, this time on Asia.
Julia Gillard’s speech on Asia was at least a public recognition of Asia’s importance by the nation’s leader. But it contained nothing of consequence beyond the recitation of the standard cliches and a delphic reference to the government comprehending both the risks and the opportunities, apparently of China’s rise and the US alliance.
What was bizarre, though, was the white paper announcement. Instead of the four-millionth inquiry into what Asia means for Australia, how about some actual policy? Instead of talking about it, for god’s sake, just do it. There are inquiries, books, symposiums and seminars without number already telling the government everything it needs to know about Asia. What is missing is the government’s willingness to take one bit of meaningful action.
The review will be conducted by Ken Henry, the former Treasury secretary whose paper on tax reform was largely ignored by the Government:
The choice of former Treasury boss Henry to run the white paper is problematic.
The Prime Minister has sensibly said it will not have the authority to revisit the strategic settings of the defence white paper of 2009. This is good news, because Henry is a long-term opponent of serious defence expenditure.
More generally, it is very unclear that Henry is equipped to do this job optimally.
The narrow economism that has dominated what little debate has gone on in Australia over Asia, especially over China, in the past few years is one of our intellectual weaknesses.
It’s unclear that Henry is the person to transcend that narrow economism.
Lenore Taylor says the inquiry is as much about Labor’s own future: