Owls, Trains, Budget Cuts

Reading today’s paper:

Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2011


Environmentalist Wisdom: Shoot One Owl to Save The Other

By James L. Huffman

About the spotted owl, “The Fish and Wildlife Service says the species could be rejuvenated  over the next 30 years at a cost of about $127 million.”


(Defenders of Wildlife counts 1,700 pairs in WA and OR. That’s $37,352 per each spotted owl, if counting pairs counts heads fairly.


Sunk costs are not effaced in this accounting.)




The Debt Limit Hobbits

By editorial staff of WSJ


About the Boehner debt reduction plan:

“In the years for which claims of spending restraint are most credible – fiscal 2012 and 2013 – the Boehner bill would cut $25 billion and $47 billion from the outlays that the Congressional Budget Office projected in March.”


(Food Stamps could cut pop and candy, donuts, take-and-bake pizza, and other foods high in high fructose corn syrup, fat, cholesterol, and sodium from its allowed list and save $40 billion in 2012. No recipient would lack nutritious food. $25 billion is cut-less and gutless.)



Bullet Train to Nowhere

By Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.


Trains are “just something to spend money on.”

“The real purpose is spending without purpose.”

(My cousin stated that the last two bridges he built were a waste of taxpayer dollars. They totaled $6.5 million. The animal crossings he built were a similar waste.)

“Politics has long been defined as the process of determining who gets what. Politicians are professionally motivated to increase the resources under their control.”

(Bastiat wrote, “Government is the great fiction, through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” It’s pilferage and gifting.)

2011 and 1085

Wan An-shih (1085) undertook a pervasive governmental domination of the Chinese economy. “The state,” he held, “should take the entire management of commerce, industry, and agriculture into its own hands, with a view to succoring the working classes and preventing them from being ground into the dust by the rich.” He rescued the peasants from the moneylenders by loans at low interest. He encouraged new settlers by advancing them seed and other aid, to be repaid out of the later yield of their land. He organized great engineering works to control floods and check unemployment. Boards were appointed in every district to regulate wages and prices. Commerce was nationalized. Pensions were provided for the aged, the unemployed, and the poor.

What undermined the experiment? First, high taxes, laid upon all to finance a swelling band of governmental employees. Second, conscription of a male in every family to man the armies made necessary by barbarian invasions. Third. corruption in the bureaucracy.

From the book The Lessons of History, by Will and Ariel Durant. Chapter IX, Socialism and History.

Pensions and Markets

What is the real market return? This matters greatly when calculating state pension shortfalls.

Montana decided 7.75% return is to be expected. Rhode Island recently changed their assumption from 8.25% to 7.5%.If Montana recalculated pensioners’ unfunded pension liabilites at 7.5%, how much more dire would this graph be? What about 7%? What is real?

The present unfunded liability is $3.3 billion.

Move your mouse over here!

Books Read Recently

Faust Part II

That book makes me want to know German so I can read it in the original. Powerful stuff.

How An Economy Grows and Why it Crashes, by Peter D Schiff and Andrew J. Schiff

This lesson is excellent. Production over consumption. Saving over consumption. Deferred gratification. Investment. Sound money. Market distortion. The cartoon graphics are most welcome.

The Red Market, by Carne.

He examines markets in organs, blood, babies and wombs. His chief concern is exploitation, leaving concerns about kin identity, human bonds, sanctity of the body aside. Hi approach is that of a reporter, not ethicist.

Now 1/10 of the way through The Iliad.

The introduction was so good, I wondered if Homer would be eclipsed. It set me up well.

Homer’s doing fine so far.


Building Your Own Bridge

My father refused FEMA funds to rebuild our bridge the flood of 1981 took out.

His independence is admirable.

Sections from his journal and my mother’s journal verify this event.

Barbara’s Journal: June 22, 1981

Picked up Walt Harris on my way home from Livingston on the paper route. His home address is …Lilburn, GA 30247. He was hitchhiking with a guitar and heavy pack. Even though I hardly ever pick up hitchhikers, I felt prompted to give him a ride. He was interested in coming home to our place to pitch his tent for the night and sing and play some old-time music. We took him to town to deliver bread at IGA and to KBOZ to get the tickets to the circus Shauna won, and then to the garden to pick out a few weeds, (at Bronson’s). He stayed the next day wanting to help Darwin on the bridge and sawmill. We all enjoyed his company.

Darwin’s Journal: June 7, 1981

The creek is up 6 inches tonight.

July 9, 1981.

Tom, Del, Shauna, Heidi, Barb and I hauled rock for the bridge. We made fair improvement. I need about 4 more loads in pickup plus some top material.

June 20, 1981.

Chris Wood and I hauled 3-4 loads of concrete chunks from town to build the bridge abutments. I paid him $10 for 6 1/2 hours work.

Jun 22, 1981.

Al Randall stayed here until last Thursday (June 18) after I told him I could not afford any more pay. He had to spend 3 weeks nights in jail in Livingston for drug possession.


School Choice

The Year of School Choice

No fewer than 13 states have passed major education reforms, (in recent legislative actions, signed by their governors.)

LA, OH, NC, WI, IN, FL, GA, OK, TN UT, etc.


Wall Street Journal, July 5, 2011


Not MT. HB 603 died, leaving MT as only one of ten states without a charter school law.


(The WSJ story had a funny typographical error: Standards must behigher than they are.)

Are Americans Independent?

Farmers depend on taxpayers for ethanol subsidies.

Homeowners depend on solar and mortgage subsidies.

Electric car drivers depend on taxpayer subsidies.

One in seven Americans depends on taxpayer food stamps for their pop and chips. (Unhealthy foods are mostly what food stamps buy.)

Nearly forty percent of pregnant women depend on taxpayers to deliver their babies, with Medicaid.

Dependence is not independence.

Independence is so much more dignified.

This Independence Day, let’s honor independence.