Rebel Yid on Twitter Rebel Yid on Facebook
Print This Post Print This Post

Exploiting Government

hillary-clinton-winking

from the Wall Street Journal, Clinton Cronyism

excerpts:

For those who have followed the Clintons, this is the latest chapter in an old story. Only weeks ago we learned how foreign governments made donations to the family foundation while Mrs. Clinton was Secretary of State. Even her son-in-law is taking to the family way of doing business, with his hedge fund now benefitting from big investments by the Wall Street friends of Bill and Hillary.

Then again, is anyone really surprised? This is the same woman who as first lady of Arkansas managed to turn a $1,000 investment in cattle futures into $100,000 over 10 months with an assist from some friends.

Liberals like Mrs. Clinton typically berate tea partiers and conservatives for denigrating government. But if American trust in government is at historic lows, this may have something to do with the sight of a Beltway where people become fabulously wealthy not by bringing some superior product or service to market but by cashing in on their political connections.

The Clintons didn’t invent crony capitalism. But when it comes to exploiting government for private gain, nobody does it better.

Print This Post Print This Post

Turning Luxuries into Common Goods

george_will

from The Washington Post George Will writes How income inequality benefits everybody

excerpts:

The ranks of billionaires are constantly churned. Most of the people on the original Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1982 were off the list in 2013. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, was not born until 1984. America needs more billionaires like him, Michael Dell, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos and Steve Jobs. With the iPod, iPhone and iPad, unique products when introduced, Jobs’s Apple created monopolies. But instead of raising their prices, Apple has cut them because “profits attract imitators and innovators.” Which is one reason why monopolies come and go. When John D. Rockefeller began selling kerosene in 1870, he had approximately 4 percent of the market. By 1890, he had 85 percent. Did he use this market dominance to gouge consumers? Kerosene prices fell from 30 cents a gallon in 1869 to 6 cents in 1897. And in the process of being branded a menacing monopoly, Rockefeller’s Standard Oil made gasoline so cheap that Ford found a mass market for Model T’s.

Monopoly profits are social blessings when they “signal to the ambitious the wealth they can earn by entering previously unknown markets.” So “when the wealth gap widens, the lifestyle gap shrinks .” Hence, “income inequality in a capitalist system is truly beautiful” because “it provides the incentive for creative people to gamble on new ideas, and it turns luxuries into common goods.” Since 2000, the price of a 50-inch plasma TV has fallen from $20,000 to $550.

Print This Post Print This Post

The Arrogance of Model Makers

crichton

From a lecture given at Caltech by writer Michael Crichton in 2003 entitled Aliens Cause Global Warming

Stepping back, I have to say the arrogance of the model-makers is breathtaking. There have been, in every century, scientists who say they know it all. Since climate may be a chaotic system-no one is sure-these predictions are inherently doubtful, to be polite. But more to the point, even if the models get the science spot-on, they can never get the sociology. To predict anything about the world a hundred years from now is simply absurd.

Look: If I was selling stock in a company that I told you would be profitable in 2100, would you buy it? Or would you think the idea was so crazy that it must be a scam?

Let’s think back to people in 1900 in, say, New York. If they worried about people in 2000, what would they worry about? Probably: Where would people get enough horses? And what would they do about all the horse****?

Horse pollution was bad in 1900, think how much worse it would be a century later, with so many more people riding horses? But of course, within a few years, nobody rode horses except for sport.

And in 2000, France was getting 80% its power from an energy source that was unknown in 1900. Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and Japan were getting more than 30% from this source, unknown in 1900. Remember, people in 1900 didn’t know what an atom was.

They didn’t know its structure. They also didn’t know what a radio was, or an airport, or a movie, or a television, or a computer, or a cell phone, or a jet, an antibiotic, a rocket, a satellite, an MRI, ICU, IUD, IBM, IRA, ERA, EEG, EPA, IRS, DOD, PCP, HTML, internet. interferon, instant replay, remote sensing, remote control, speed dialing, gene therapy, gene splicing, genes, spot welding, heat-seeking, bipolar, prozac, leotards, lap dancing, email, tape recorder, CDs, airbags, plastic explosive, plastic, robots, cars, liposuction, transduction, superconduction, dish antennas, step aerobics, smoothies, twelve-step, ultrasound, nylon, rayon, teflon, fiber optics, carpal tunnel, laser surgery, laparoscopy, corneal transplant, kidney transplant, AIDS. None of this would have meant anything to a person in the year 1900. They wouldn’t know what you are talking about.

Now. You tell me you can predict the world of 2100. Tell me it’s even worth thinking about. Our models just carry the present into the future. They’re bound to be wrong. Everybody who gives a moment’s thought knows it.

Print This Post Print This Post

Racial Latte

RAMclr-032115-starbucks-IBD-COLOR-FINAL-oped-147.gif

Print This Post Print This Post

Shutting Down Startups

lemonade-stand

Perhaps nothing reflects the descent of the Yeomanry better than the fading role of the ten million small businesses with under 20 employees, which currently employ upwards of forty million Americans. Long a key source of new jobs, small business startups have declined as a portion of all business growth from 50 percent in the early 1980s to 35 percent in 2010. Indeed, a 2014 Brookings report revealed that small business “dynamism,” measured by the growth of new firms compared with the closing of older ones, has declined significantly over the past decade, with more firms closing than starting for the first time in a quarter century.

This decline in entrepreneurial activity marks a historic turnaround. In 1977, Small Business Administration figures show, Americans started 563,325 businesses with employees. In 2009, they launched barely 400,000 business startups, long a key source of new jobs, which have declined as a portion of all businesses from 50 percent in the early 1980s to 35 percent in 2010.

There are many explanations for this decline, including the impact of offshoring, globalization, and technology. But in part it reflects the impact of the ever more powerful Clerical regime, whose expansive regulatory power undermines small firms. Indeed, according to a 2010 report by the Small Business Administration, federal regulations cost firms with less than 20 employees over $10,000 each year per employee, while bigger firms paid roughly $7,500 per employee. The biggest hit to small business comes in the form of environmental regulations, which cost 364 percent more per employee for small firms than for large ones. Small companies spend $4,101 per employee, compared to $1,294 at medium- sized companies (20 to 499 employees) and $883 at the largest companies, to meet these requirements. 20 The nature of federal policy in regard to finance further worsened the situation for the small- scale entrepreneur. The large “too big to fail” banks received huge bailouts, yet they have remained reluctant to loan to small business. The rapid decline of community banks, for example, down by half since 1990, particularly hurts small businesspeople who have depended historically on loans from these institutions.

From The New Class Conflict by Joel Kotkin