While working on HoundWire I would often go to Park Bench Deli (a few blocks up the hill from where that photo was taken) in Altadena with various interesting people. One fellow diner was our intern from Caltech. Caltech is the west coast rival of MIT so they have some very smart professors wandering the halls. One out of every thousand alumni has received the Nobel Prize. The point is that the professors there know a little bit about what they teach.
To the story. Stephen, the undergrad, had a math class that was being taught after an economics class. The econ teacher inconsiderately left his scribbles on the chalk board for the math professor to deal with. According to the story the math professor walked in, looked at the econ equations for a minute, turned to the class and proclaimed “This is complete nonsense”.
A great analogy I heard about economics is that of a book report. Modern economists look at novels, run statistical analysis on the average words per paragraph and paragraphs per chapter. It’s all very scientific, high brow stuff based on calculus. Then they use that information to try to predict what the author’s next novel will be about. Of course that’s completely ridiculous but it explains why economists have predicted 9 of the last 4 recessions.
The Austrian School argues that you can’t predict the author’s next book unless you understand human nature. One of the most important books in the Austrian School is called Human Action by Mises. It just makes sense in my not yet well enough read opinion.
Most people think of higher gas prices when they hear the word inflation. I like to look at how our food portions shrink while retaining their prices. The outcome is the same, higher cost per ounce, but it probably makes more business sense to put fewer chips in the bag than to raise prices. Apparently this phenomenon also angers sausage eating southerners as evidenced by the following recording.
I keep wondering what the Fed is going to do about this situation. I imagine that by the middle of December things will be worse and they’ll be forced to cut, probably 50 basis points. Let the sausage lovers eat cake.
When I searched for ‘happy turkey’, a common Thanksgiving greeting, Flickr found this photo of happy Turkish kids. Which I think is more cheerful than a picture of a hapless, flightless, delicious bird.
Here’s a video in case you feel like making turkey soup with the leftovers:
I love the irony that is Trader Joes. It’s a shining beacon of capitalism frequented by anti-capitalists. Sometimes, when debating the Left, I like to use their favorite grocer to make a point. The left wants socialized medicine because capitalism shouldn’t be trusted with something so important. When I debate people that don’t know me I like to take it further.
Me: “Yeah, I totally agree. Food is at least as precious to the nations health so we really should get rid of food stamps and socialize food as well. We could set up government run supermarkets and copy the policies and procedures used by the DMV to manage the operations and lines. Then, once we got the hang of it, we could get rid of private doctors.”
At this point they realize my logic is perfectly aligned with theirs but, in the back of their head, they’re imagining waiting in line for a half hour for a bottle of Two Buck Chuck that has been replaced with Schwarzenegger Vineyards. Which would require 40 tax payer dollars and 38 unionized workers to make it to the shelf. But hey, it’s free!
We can give food stamps to the poor and they can shop at Trader Joes so why can’t we do the same with health stamps instead of socialized medicine? The typical response to that question goes something like. “Well, that addresses the poor, but I wouldn’t be caught dead using food stamps.”
So I’ve been getting closer to the crux of the issue. The implication of the left’s stance is that they don’t want free healthcare in the form of stamps because the government is much better able to hide the wealth transfer. People would rather get crappy but “free” healthcare from a bureaucracy than swallow their pride and go knock on their rich neighbor’s door to get better healthcare.
In other words: Hiding the wealth transfer from the rich to the middle class (using a layer of bureaucracy) allows the belief that we can all be productive members of society to continue even when we’re getting handouts. The reason we have food stamps and not health stamps is because the middle class can afford food. I would predict that if the wealth divide got big enough people would shun food stamps and demand that the government take over Trader Joes and let politicians run the supermarkets. Because that’s apparently more dignified.
* Note: I don’t really like the terms upper and lower classes because it implies that the rich are somehow morally superior. Click the photos for their Flickr pages.