Monday, January 30, 2006

What are the odds?

What are the odds of finding two interesting items about toilets in one day? From Coyote Blog and Overlawyered comes this article about how federal regulation has led to toilets being more expensive and less in quality.


Finally, Japanese heated toilet seats are coming to the US. I wonder why it took Japanese companies so long to figure out that they might have a market here? It's not like there's any shortage of other Japanese products in the US.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Firms Slim Down

Who says you need anti-trust laws to break up large companies? Why would companies voluntary break themselves up? The interest of the shareholders is why:

"Investors want these companies to unlock shareholder value, pure and simple," said Mark Keeley, whose family-run Keeley Family of Funds manages $3 billion in assets. "Investment bankers hate to hear this, but 50 percent of mergers don't work — the result can be bankruptcies or spinoffs."

Health Care Choice

From Liberty Lover, this sounds like a good idea to me as well:

The Health Care Choice Act, sponsored by Rep. John Shadegg (R., Ariz.) and Sen. Jim DeMint (R., S.C.), would let American consumers purchase health insurance across state lines, just as they now may shop coast to coast for mortgages.

Shadegg-DeMint would let insurers licensed in one state sell to individuals in the other 49. As such, Congress would use its constitutionally enumerated powers to liberate interstate commerce and transform 50 separate, closed markets for medical coverage into one open, national market for health insurance.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Income Inequality

Here's Russell Roberts take on this poor analysis of a recent study on income inequality:

The disparity between rich and poor is growing in America as the federal minimum wage has remained flat for years, union membership has declined and industries have faced global competition, according to a study released Thursday.

Interesting. Let me try a different first sentence:

The disparity between rich and poor is growing in America as the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years, Mars came very close to the earth and the global frog population plummeted.

Indeed, I'm quite baffled by that first sentence as well.

Palestinian Elections

Stefan Karlsson has a good analysis of the Palestinian Election:

The neocons have long claimed that the best way to fight Islamic fundamentalists is to do away with the dictatorships of the Arab world and impose democracy. The problem however is that public sentiment in most Arab countries were always even more anti-Israel, anti-American and pro-Islamist than the authoritarian regimes that ruled them.

For the anti-Zionists, the Palestinian cause have often been marketed as "freedom struggle". Yet how credible is that with Islamic fundamentalists aspiring to impose sharia-laws now leading that struggle? Just how well do the leftists think their pet causes of feminism (Although the Islamists and leftists agree on opposition to women being sexy in public, they are very different apart from that) and "gay rights" are going to do in a Islamic theocracy?

Bundling and Universities

I'm glad I'm not the only one that's been pondering the following:

I think universities need to move more in the direction of organizing themselves around the unit of single courses rather than bundled degrees. That way I could, say, mix and match classes on comp-sci and pop-gen in order to specialize in computer modeling of population genetics. Or mix and match courses in economics with courses in constitutional law without having to find a university that offers a special law-and-econ degree. The possible permutations are vast, and students would be much freer to craft their own course and change directions on the fly rather than feeling locked into a particular canalized path.

I've been thinking about this myself. I am an accounting major and I have to take courses that I will most likely have no use for in the future. Even if we put aside the general education courses and upper division business courses, there are requirements, like auditing, that most accounting students won't use in the future (I could be wrong, but I believe something like only 20% of students will go into the field of auditing). There's a possibility, if degrees were unbundled, that I could take some more relevant accounting courses plus some courses on business management and I could use those skills to start my own CPA firm. Yes, one could, for example, major in Accounting and minor in Management, but the problem of bundling still persists. I would have to take a number of courses that I wouldn't need.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pay Cuts for Politicians

Usually, one should beware of policy proposals from socialists, but this particular one I endorse and should be replicated by our politicians.

Bolivia leader halves his own pay


I think I'm more symathetic to environmental regulation than most libertarians, but can I go on record and say that this is just obnoxious:

California declares smoke 'toxic'

Non-Political Humor

The following has nothing to do with politics, but this video made me laugh.

Via Secular Blasphemy

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Funny Stuff from '05

From Colby Cosh:

Unintentional-funniest moment from the McLaughlin Group's 2005 year-end awards

McLaughlin: Okay, time for the Group to grade planet Earth, A through F, for 2005. Pat?

Buchanan: I'm going to give it an F. I think the world is really headed toward a war of civilizations. I think the West doesn't realize the trouble it's in. I think the whole global trade regime is coming down. And I think the Islamic threat is coming to the West.

McLaughlin: Elinor.

Elinor Clift: My list of threats is different from Pat's. I think the environmental degradation is something to be really concerned about. Even Republicans acknowledge global warming is real. More people are getting AIDS than last year. The trend line is the wrong way.

[Somehow this seems to sum up "conservative" and "liberal" in a nutshell: equally pessimistic about the world, for entirely different and mostly bogus reasons.]

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Possible Good News

The Governor said that voters should decide whether California should adopted an Oregon-style assisted suicide law. This could lead to a possible referendum on the issue.

Schwarzenegger wants voters to decide suicide law

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Lobbying Reform

It seems like lobbying reform has become a hot topic. IMO, lobbying reform, much like campaign finance reform, is largely a red herring. Rent seekers will always try to get their slice of the pie so long as there's a pie to be divided. The answer lies in shrinking the size of the pie. Okay, now all this talk of pies is making me hungry!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

SCOTUS Upholds Oregon Euthanasia

I'm glad to hear that SCOTUS upheld Oregon's Euthanasia law, but I wonder if SCOTUS upheld the law for the wrong reasons. In this AP article there's no mention of the ninth or tenth amendments.

Update: Good News. California might enact a similar law.

Update 2: Here's Catallarchy on the issue.

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Matthew Dailey believes that the Governor is trying to spend his way into popularity and that he's no better than former Governor Gray Davis. Here's an excerpt:

Arnold Schwarzenegger was elected governor of California in a recall election two years ago, promising to bring reform and fiscal restraint to the state government. He was committed to "changing the entire political climate" of California.

Schwarzenegger suffered a resounding defeat when all eight of his proposed reform measures, dubbed Governor Schwarzenegger's Reform Agenda, were voted down in last November's special election.

Having been politically wounded, Schwarzenegger said he has "learned my lesson" and has worked to move back to the center. He hired a former aide to Governor Gray Davis, Susan Kennedy, a Democrat, as his chief of staff last month.

In anticipation of this year's gubernatorial election, the California governor has dropped his opposition to many Democratic pet issues, such as raising the minimum wage, importing low-cost prescription drugs, and freezing higher education fees. The most obvious sign that Schwarzenegger is failing back to the free-spending ways of his predecessor is his proposed $222.6 billion spending program.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

My Trip to Russia

I went to Russia to meet a friend of mine. The area of Russia I went to is called Perm, which is near the Ural Mountains. Some of my pictures were blurry. This is because it was so cold that my hands were shaking when I took the pictures. Here they are:

A statue of Lenin

Yes, there were a lot of things devoted to Lenin. Heck, even the street my hotel was on was called Lenin Street.

This is the Kama River. It's almost completely frozen over and looks kind of dull in the winter, but I'm told it looks beautiful in the summer.

This is a picture I got from inside of an ice cave that I visited. Yes, that's my finger in the bottom right of the photo. Silly me.

Here's a picture of a Russian Orthodox Church.

I took this picture because I don't see many yellow buildings where I'm from. I believe this is a movie theater. They also had pink buildings as well.

There were also a number of old wooden buildings. As you can imagine, a lot of them were burned out. This is a pic of a one in pretty good condition.

These are some of my better pictures. I might post more later.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Economic Freedom 2006

Before I post on my vacation, I want to note that the Heritage Foundation has released its 2006 version of the Index of Economic Freedom.

Link via Johann Norberg

Monday, January 09, 2006

Back From Vacation

I just got back from my trip. I'll have a more detailed post about it when I get over the jet lag.