Occupy Wherever

It appears that the cities plagued by Occupation Wherever have adopted the NYC Mayor Bloomberg opinion that the Constitution protects Freedom of Speech – not Freedom of Tents and Sleeping Bags.

He, and other cities have ordered the police to enforce bans on encampments in public parks.

The cities may run into court problems when they try to enforce that edict because of the concept that “actions” can be defined as  “speech.”

That has always been a slippery slope problem. You can see the problem with what is called “Performance Art” being defined as “speech” – women smearing their naked bodies with chocolate syrup, or jars of urine with a cruxifix.

Obviously, some federal court can consider sleeping in public parks and banging on drums is a protected part of “speech.”

If we get lucky, and these encampments are NOT “speech” then the time may come to start rolling back actions defined as speech.

Numbers That Mean Something…Or Not

I find numbers interesting.

For example, did you know that South Koreans work 1,000 hours a year more than do  Germans?

Not that hours worked is, in and of itself, dispositive of success.

For example, among European Union nations, the hours most “worked” per week, is Greece!

Obviously, efficiency is somewhere strongly in the mix, and efficiency is a two-edge sword: The more efficient a company or a nation is, the fewer people it needs to employ for the same production.

When that happens, the only macro answer is to increase production, if you want to employ more people, and that requires that consumption of your product increases.

Consumption is obviously the key, but how do you increase the consumption of your product when the people you have laid off due to the increased efficiency can no longer buy your product?

You must increase your market elsewhere, among hungy consumers in cultures where there is great upward mobility seeking products we think of as normal but they think of as luxury.

How that is done is not easy, but it what must be done. China must increase its population consumption by stopping their currency manipulation, and India and South America, and…

So Much For Philosopher Kings

I know that there is both an unworkable pro-intellectual lobby, and a distinctly ignorant “No Nothing” lobby, but the failure of our current highly schooled but lowly educated US president is just one of the blips on the radar.

I give you another, the highly schooled and completely failed Prime Minister of the failed state of Greece::

Papandreou was born in St Paul, Minnesota, in the United States, where his father, Andreas Papandreou, then held a university post. He was educated at schools in Toronto Canada, at Amherst College in Massachusetts, Stockholm University, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), and finally at Harvard University. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from Amhest College (USA, 1970-1975) and a Master’s degree in Sociology (Sociology of Development) from the LSE (United Kingdom, 1976-1977). He was a researcher in immigration issues at Stockholm University (Sweden) 1972-1973). He was also a Fellow (CFIA) of the Foreign Relations Centre of the Harvard University in 1992-1993). Apart from Greek and English he is also fluent in Swedish.”


That background is telling.

So much for “Philosopher Kings.”

Don’t Let A Drowning Man Pull You Down!

I am happy to see Alan Greenspan say that which I have written on these pages for months – that the European Union is, in his words, “Doomed.”

Greenspan notes that there is too much economic disparity between the northern nations and the southern nations of the EU.

“At the outset of the creation of the euro in 1999, it was expected that the southern eurozone economies would behave like those in the north; the Italians would behave like Germans. They didn’t,” Greenspan said. “Instead, northern Europe fell into subsidizing southern Europe’s excess consumption, that is, its current account deficits.”

“The effect of the divergent cultures in the eurozone has been grossly underestimated,” he added. “The only way to have several currencies from divergent nations lumped together is if they are culturally close, such as Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. If they aren’t, it simply can’t continue to work.”


Yes, producers get tired of carrying non-producers. At some point, tough love is the only answer.

When a drowning man threatens to pull you down with him, the only answer is to let him go.

I Love Free Spirits

Read an old article in the New Yorker about John Mackay, the CEO of Whole Foods Market, and he has a great quote: “The union is like having herpes. It doesn’t kill you, but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.”
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/01/04/100104fa_fact_paumgarten#ixzz1buNvtt5w

Love it!

Read the article – he is an interesting person, sort of a libertarian-right type in the Steve Jobs libertarian-left mold. Free spirit, outspoken, aggressive, successful, brilliant.

Double Down on Dumbness

The presidents plan for the housing industry is awful! It has created another moral hazard by rewarding  bad behavior.

It penalizes good behavior by taking the tax money from the responsible and rewarding the irresponsible.

Bad policy. It duplicates the societal moral hazard which almost every family creates when it rewards the bad behavior of its children by showering the worst behavior by pulling the miscreants out of trouble and giving them the most attention.

The premise is that good children, and good citizens will pull their own weight and that of the wayward siblings just because they are good people – and in most cases that proves to be true.

To good people, virtue is its own reward and government takes advantage of that.

But creating moral hazards is what government does. It always picks up the losers with the winners money, because the winners are inherently busy being winners without being overly concerned with a few dollars being stolen, while the losers have nothing to look forward to except the incoming benefits.

I well remember when I was a Upper Classman, writing a thesis on James Riddle Hoffa when appears at my table a young Plebe ready to be harassed.

I asked him if he knew of Hoffa, then an ex-con rising through the ranks of the Teamsters Union. He replied that he did because he had worked in one summer as a Teamster, and he admired Hoffa.

I was a bit non-plussed, so I asked him if he understood that the Teamster Union was nothing but a bunch of thieves? He said that was O.K. because if they got him an extra five dollars, and stole one of those dollars, he was still four dollars ahead.

The development of an ethos of taking that which is not yours has become so ingrained that cheating is the norm in schools. The Atlanta K-12 massive cheating scandal involved almost a hundred teachers and administrators, of whom 10 have confessed. There has been a recent arrest of students who took SAT exams for other students – triggered by a vastly underperforming student who did so well on his SAT.

We have the Occupy Wherever bunch that wants everyone to pay for their “free” college education, and forgiveness of money they voluntarily borrowed from widows and children’s retirement funds.

It is an immutable fact that anything you subsidize you will have more of and anything you tax you will have fewer of. When you tax the productive to subsidize the unproductive you double down on dumbness – losing in each direction – but that is exactly what government does as a policy, and by both political parties as they vie for votes.