The Dutch are cracking down on ‘illegal’ marijuana growers, in the same way the US cracks down on ‘illegal’ breweries.
What is the government’s reasoning?
“At least 20 percent of all industrial fires are caused by illegal marijuana cultivation,” added Danielle Nicolaas, spokeswoman for energy company Stedin, which forms part of the project.
Once again, the government shows it believes it is allowed to choose risk for you.
It’s a curious situation in which the Dutch find themselves. In the Netherlands, selling and possessing up to 5 grams of marijuana is legal, which has led to the proliferation of the famous ‘marijuana coffee shops’ of Netherlands. But actually growing any amount greater than 5 grams is still generally illegal. This means that the legal coffee shop owners are by definition forced to do business with criminals; so players in a legal market are forced to trade with players in a black market.
Here’s an idea for the government of the Netherlands: legalize marijuana production for amounts larger than 5 grams. Then you wouldn’t have the problem of people hiding large numbers of illicit cannabis plants in their basements, or creating fire hazards. When you legalize something, you eliminate all the risks which are inherent in a black market. You never hear about industrial fires from growing tomatoes, potatoes, or corn, do you? That’s because it is legal to grow those products, and so no one is taking risky measures to hide the activity.
So we see once again the government has to regulate everything, even when it creates more risk than it would by just leaving people alone. The government always claims it is the most rational player in the market. But stories like this one dispel that myth quite handily.
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No one in Tennessee has managed to sign up for health insurance using Obamacare’s federal exchange website. This is what happens when you have bureaucrats instead of consumers and profit incentives driving the creation of a system.
It is funny, because the government doesn’t realize that you can’t just throw more processing power at bad code in the same way you can throw more money at bad laws to minimize problems. Here we have government’s ineptitude on full display.
They have had 3 years to build this software and set up servers. Any of today’s software giants would take 1 year, pessimistically, to build the same system, thanks to the profit incentive. The required software and code is relatively trivial, and the problem domain has been covered a thousand times in the free market. Some frameworks, such as node.js or Django, are designed to build something similar in as little as two weeks time! There is nothing new in the system. There is nothing there that hasn’t been coded in the past.
That’s why this is so funny. We already know that this software could be easy to use, because customers use similar software in the free market all the time. Maybe some big government supporters will learn something from this.
Here’s my prediction: someone at the White House will figure out they need to apply the profit incentive instead of retirement packages. They will throw far too much money at a relatively average or even mediocre software company, and the system will start working in 2 weeks’ time, albeit built in a horribly unwieldy Java framework, and in a manner only compatible with Internet Explorer.
But after all that, they won’t be able to afford a decent graphic designer! Welcome to a site that looks straight out of the 90s. Three cheers for plain text!
Update: McAffee founder, John McAffee, discusses just how badly designed the security of the federal exchange website is.
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Thanks to the ACLU, it has been determined that you can’t be fired for free speech.
In this case, a sheriff fired employees who ‘liked’ his opponent on Facebook. I can see how this leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially considering it’s a public office. Especially since you cannot ‘opt out’ of a public service! So maybe the free speech of employees, with respect to their voting, should be protected for those working in a public office.
The danger lies in the fact that this type of ruling could easily be extended to private employers by an overzealous judge. What about employees who publicly ‘like’ a direct competitor on Facebook? Or publicly trash their employer? Or reveal company secrets, or accuse their employer falsely of breaking the law? There are too many bad things an employee can do to an employer for an employer to not have the right to end the contract, for any reason. This really ties back into the fact that both employees and employers must be free to disassociate, as well as associate. It’s not enough to protect people’s rights to associate with one another voluntarily; we must also protect their right to break any contract at any time, without any reprimand beyond whatever the contract specifies.
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There is a good deal of speculation about who the next Federal Reserve chair will be.
One frontrunner is a woman by the name of Janet Yellen.
Yellen probably wants to print more money than Bernanke. She loves Keynesian economics.
You think inflation is bad now? You haven’t seen anything yet.
In fact, should she get the chair, she will be in a bad spot. Thanks to the historically high printing under Bernanke, there are multiple bubbles in the economy ready to pop. On the other hand, despite all this printing, unemployment hovers a few percentage points above frictional unemployment. (>7%, when it should be 5% or less) Further, many workers are ‘underemployed’, or working crappy jobs, multiple jobs, or odd hours, or completely given up, which means real unemployment is much, much higher than 7%.
So Yellen has a few options. One is to print even more money, which will cause the bubbles to expand rapidly, giving a brief downward jolt to unemployment, before ultimately causing major collapses in the economy. (Some commentators say she is too inclined toward this option; Keynesians don’t understand that government’s tinkering causes bubbles and crashes to be many times worse than they would be in a free market)
Or she could keep printing levels at where they are. But this has the problem of the fact that many bubbles are about to pop at current inflation levels within the next 5-10 years… sooner, if there is a major global state event. So it’s just kicking the can down the road…
Or she could stop printing, which is what they were supposed to do years ago, when the recession supposedly ended. This would bring about the much delayed negative side effects of high taxation combined with high inflation, and unemployment would soar.
You see, printing is like drinking. As long as you keep drinking, you won’t feel the headache… yet.
So Yellen can
a. drink until we pass out
b. continue to drink slowly… we will still pass out, it will just take longer
c. stop drinking, which will bring about a massive headache.
Her options are terrible, because America has been drinking for decades.
What we should have done is never gone to the bar of ‘spend, tax, and print’ in the first place, and then we wouldn’t have needed taxation or spending to pay for the drinks, either. But you can’t convince a Keynesian economist that drinks are unhealthy for the system!
To whomever the new Federal Reserve chair will be: Good luck. You are going to need it.
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Exams. Fear inducing, stress collecting, dread compelling exams.
Exams are a fundamental part of American life. After work scheduling, exam scheduling and preparation are probably number 2 in both importance and as a cause of stress.
‘Will you drop drop me off at a study session tomorrow? I have an exam.’
But what do exams test? Information in your brain, of course. So that’s a good thing, right?
But do exams prepare you for the real world? No.
Think about it: do you need an exam to prove you know how to repair a car? Organize a conference call? Fill out paperwork? Build a computer from scratch? Write software? Pour a cement sidewalk? Or in the worst case scenario, flip a burger? Clean a patients teeth in a dental practice?
Is there any useful skill in which the best, or most accurate way to evaluate someone’s ability is an exam?
Of course not. Instead, you could simply put together a small project while your instructor watches you, or put together a large project and turn it in by a certain due date.
An exam to test marketable real world skills is as useful as a butter knife to eat rice. Exams just don’t work, and they are causing mental starvation, because students can’t consume the rice.
What do exams measure? Things which are not usable in the economy, don’t produce any real product, or are otherwise so nebulous that exams are the only way to test knowledge of them.
I’m actually having a hard time coming up with subjects in which an exam is the only way to test knowledge. Even mathematics has the option of real world applications, like budgets, spreadsheets, homework sets, or papers complete with proofs. Geography has the real world application of map making; music has the option of song composure; art has the option of evaluation of art pieces and materials; psychology has the option of treating patients for free in a school clinic.
There aren’t many subjects that can’t be tested through real world application, and those that can’t be tested with real world application don’t create a consumable good, and therefore do not benefit the economy or consumers.
Not only would abolishing exams increase student interest and graduation rates, lower stress association with exams, reduce the number of domestic arguments about exams, but it would also give more students a marketable skill, and a much better chance at post graduation employment, based on their practice with real world application by the time of graduation.
Let’s save the economy… and abolish exams!
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I just watched this excellent video by Karen Straughan on YouTube. It’s 20 some minutes long, but I recommend checking it out.
I would definitely say it is NSFW. Not only because of language (she uses strong language a few times, and talks bluntly concerning a few issues), but because she says some things, which taken out of context, could be quite offensive.
However, I like to think her argument is well crafted enough, it should be able to convince almost anyone that there is a need for change in the way society treats masculinity.
Check out the video below, and then read my comments on it.
Something that I noticed: She touches on the “Xbox, beer, hookup, part jobs they don’t care about” culture among young men today, and how it is caused by a lack of respect for men, male desires and wants, and masculine tradition in the workplace, and in the dating arena. As she mentions in the video, men derive identity from what they do. Unlike women, who derive identity just by being women, and so relate more readily to other women than men relate to other men. This is a new concept to me, which is one reason I wanted to share the video. When what they do is feminized, the competition removed, with an increasing a focus on “feelings” instead of “future of the company”, men become disinterested and stop investing in those areas of their lives.
Men act differently around women than they do around men, but they have to suppress their competitive spirit and drive in so doing.
This is one reason video games are immensely popular among men, young and old. You can say what you want, speak bluntly (up to a point), spit, compete, push hard, and joke with your buddies, all without worrying about what women want. There are no tests to succeed or fail at, no unspoken social rules to worry about, no one to offend (After all, your teammates are all presumably emotionally tough alpha males just like you are). There is just you, your team, and the objective. It’s black and white whether the team won, and whether you pulled your own weight. You don’t have to look over your shoulder.
Many men thrive in this environment. But you don’t see it in schools. You don’t see it in most service oriented jobs (except perhaps a few elite executive jobs, or a few construction/heavy labor jobs where bureaucracy and a love of ‘getting along’ over ‘getting it done’ hasn’t yet taken hold). And it is on the way out even in traditionally male strongholds like the Boy Scouts. (The Boy Scouts which may soon need to include girls, if some get their way)
So where is this environment in which men thrive? You just don’t see it in many areas of society anymore. There aren’t many places men can be men, with a focus on drive, competition, etc. It used to be in the workplace; now it isn’t. And until men have the right to create exclusively male organizations again, you won’t see the traditional male drive for competition and innovation, which helped to power the industrial revolution, return.
In the meanwhile, men will continue to sit back, drink beer, participate in “hookup culture”, and play the next Call of Duty game until 6 am in the morning.
That’s tragic… I think a society that misses out on the input and drive of 50% of its members is truly tragic.
I’ll finish this post with a quote from her video:
“One thing they (traditionalists and feminists) are never going to realize, is that using shame to try to coerce men to do what’s expected of them isn’t going to work this time. Because while it’s possible to shame a man into giving his life for his country, if there’s a promise of respect in it, it’s impossible to shame someone into working his behind off, and risking his whole future, just for the joy of looking in the mirror, and seeing Homer Simpson, or Ray Barone, or Dilbert looking back at him. When the cost of society’s approval is the self respect you derive from a positive identity, it ceases to be worth it to a lot of men.” – Karen Straughan
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Mr. Zucker says his treatment at the hands of the commission should alarm fellow entrepreneurs: “This is the beginning. It starts with this case. If you play out what happens to me, then the next thing you’ll have is personal-injury lawyers saying ‘you conducted the actions of the company, you were the company,’ “
That’s a quote by the former CEO of ‘Buckyballs’, a small magnetic toy marketed mostly to adults and the 13+ market. But the Consumer Product Safety Commission believed that these toys were unsafe, and took a series of actions, including requesting complete recalls, that led to the bankruptcy of his business. Among their actions:
- Called up his retail customers to warn them about the ‘dangers’ of the product
- Required his company, Maxfield & Oberton “to file a ‘corrective-action plan’ within two weeks or face an administrative suit related to Buckyballs’ alleged safety defects.”
- After his company went bankrupt, sued Mr. Zucker to make him personally liable for the actions of his company, even though he broke no laws in his conduct.
If this story doesn’t chill your entrepreneurial spirit, I don’t know what will. When the government can single out one person for excessive persecution using the ‘long arm of the law’, it discourages innovation, and will ultimately lead to a stagnate economy. Be sure to read the whole story.
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I stumbled across this little article linked via HotAir.com, Allison Benedikt of Slate.com says that you should send your kids to public school, even if it means they will have fewer opportunities in life.
I kid you not. She’s not even trying to convince you they will get a good education. Check out what she writes not two paragraphs down:
I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.
This, my friends, is what leftism, liberalism, whatever you want to call it, is all about. You need to make sacrifices now, give away everything, even the good of your own children, so that sometime, some day in the future, some nebulous meter of ‘public goodness’ might increase by some minor amount. And the incredible thing, which can be seen by many decades of the ‘war on poverty’, and ‘public school reform’, is that it doesn’t work.
Whatever the government touches, it warps, degrades, bankrupts, injures, and ultimately ruins. Just look at every area of Detroit. Look at Chicago’s schools. Look at the taxes in New York.
Not only are private schools and home schools vastly superior to public schools in academics, and ultimately post graduation opportunities, but they cost less per child per year, and don’t cost taxpayers a dime!
So this author, in her audacity, says you should stop spending less of your own money to get a superior education for your child, and instead spend more of someone else’s money to get a mediocre education for your child.
If this show of liberalism (and it truly is an ‘ism’) doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will.
Now, I don’t want to spend all my time bashing liberal ideas without suggesting market based alternatives. The best alternative, which would eventually dismantle teachers’ unions through free choice, is ‘vouchers’.
Don’t take kids out of good schools. Let’s take the poor kids out of bad public schools and put them into good schools; for less money!
Since private schools cost less on average than their public counterparts, allow every family to choose to take their share of public school money, and send their child to a private school, where there are no unionized employees. This will vastly increase the quality of education for children. Any money that is left over should be put into a rolling educational account for the child. At an average of $4,000 difference between private and public schools per year, that’s $48,000 by the time the child graduates high school. That’s a great deal for poverty stricken kids, since they could then use that money to go to college debt free, all while receiving a vastly superior private school education.
That’s the difference between liberalism and conservatism. Liberalism requires the destruction of wealth, to promise something ‘good’ in the future. Conservatism requires the building of wealth, so we can all be wealthier together in the future. It’s the difference between a view of scarcity and unfair distribution, and a view of abundance and, yes, unequal wealth distribution.
But if you ask me, I’ll take unequal abundance over shared misery any day!
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Detroit’s abandoned train station, Michigan Central Station, is missing quite a few windows. But as of March of this year, the station has had 5 new windows installed.
I discovered this little gem in the above article:
The original version of this article stated there were currently no permits for the new window work, per our initial conversation with Marcell Todd on Friday.
That’s right. You have to get permission from the city of Detroit to fix your own private property. I repeat: you need to fill out paperwork to fix your own property.
I don’t even know what to say.
With a government that requires permission to maintain your own property, it’s no gosh dang wonder the city is in ruins! You’d better be careful if you own property in Detroit; you wouldn’t want to accidentally do any illegal maintenance work.
I wonder how this fits with the Keynesian love of broken windows? You know how leftists believe if you break windows, it generates demand for window repair, which stimulates the economy?
How does that work if the government won’t give you permission to fix the broken windows? Maybe someone needs to revise this portion of Keynesian economics.
Then again, leftists don’t like math much… too many red numbers. They prefer spending money.
Update: the owners of the Michigan Central Station are hosting a website where you can submit ideas for how to best use the building. I’m a bit skeptical. If community organizers, busy bodies, and leftists could fix anything, wouldn’t Detroit be a utopia?
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