Posts Tagged ‘rant’

On Friday, May 8, 2009, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) wrote to his constituents in an email newsletter that the “President Proposes Cuts to Key Ag Programs.” He writes that the proposal “includes ill-advised cuts to the farm safety net without a serious attempt to trim back the bloated federal budget and reduce our national debt.” This is probably a valid point. I don’t pretend to know the nuances of our “farm safety net”, having never heard of it. But I am certain that we need a serious attempt to cut spending and reduce our national debt. I might have just deleted the email, but there was one glaring example of the systemic problems we battle when it comes to a huge, imperial federal/central government and career politicians.

At one point he writes, “Time and time again, we have seen the administration unfairly target agriculture programs to achieve savings and completely discount the hardworking men and woman that rely on these programs for their livelihood.” Read that again, especially the last bit. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

I really want to know what programs provide “hardworking” folks their “livelihood”. I’ve tried to imagine what that really means. I know that many (if not almost all) people who work in the ag industries are hardworking. Farming ought to be the fundamental example of how entrepreneurship, hard work, personal responsibility and the free market works. But it bothers my work ethic to picture anyone using any Federal program as a regular and primary means of support, and this is worded in a way that assumes just that scenario. It also assumes a permanent flow of funds, rather than temporary assistance through a tough season.

I think he may have simply overstated the level of their reliance (I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt), but it does highlight a point or two that should be made.

First, Chambliss the politician is typical in that he hates to see a cut in programs that benefits his own constituents, even if the benefit is actually a shackle that keeps them from moving on to better things. From a libertarian point of view, this type of welfare, by keeping entrepreneurs locked into an unsuccessful business model, hinders freedom and the creation of new products, services and industries and is therefore not an actual benefit at all.

Second, Chambliss can display outrage at the kind of unprecedented spending we’re witnessing, but the Federal government has been overstepping it’s fiduciary authority (and thereby enslaving people while buying their votes) for generations – even when the Republicans were in charge. Saxby’s Republicans differ only in a) to whom the funds are targeted and b) what the size of the check will be.

Now that the Democrats won so handily in 2008 there seems to be some legitimate remorse in the Republican Party, and they are beginning to (perhaps desperately) look at many issues now in the same way that the Libertarian Party already does and always has. But there’s no guarantee of his continued contrition once a Republican returns to office. There are, however, extraordinarily good odds that a Libertarian Party candidate will adhere to libertarian principles once in office. Why would he run as a libertarian if he didn’t already hold those values as his own?

The two major parties are different only in degree. Voting Libertarian is the real vote for change.


Georgia is suffering short supplies of gasoline this week and last, and the idea that I might not find enough fuel to get to work has been a little frightening. But as in any other crisis, this one serves as a background to highlight how stupid some people can be.

From the USA Today:

The pipelines that supply the region are operating at less than normal capacity, due largely to storm-related power outages at Texas refineries, said Kenneth Medlock, energy fellow at the Baker Institute, a non-partisan public policy think tank at Rice University in Houston.

“In isolation, neither of these storms would have been that big a deal, because there’s enough inventory (at stations) to make up the shortfall,” said Medlock. “But there was a three- to four-week period of refinery capacity not operating. That’s basically a month when nothing’s being produced.”

Panic buying — drivers topping off every time they happen across a station that actually has gas — made the problem worse, said Marylee Booth, executive director of the Tennessee Oil Marketers Association.

“If people saw a tanker drive up to a station, they’d start lining up. The panic has died down. It’s getting a little better every day.”

From WJBF News Channel 6 Reporter Joy Howe:

…experts say all of this mess is over when we, the consumers say it is… topping off does not help the problem.

Dr. Mark Thompson, ASU Association Professor of Economics: “When you’re at half a tank, you really don’t need it… Put it into perspective for the person who is at that quarter of a tank or the red light is on. You want when you’re at that point to be able to get gas, so don’t take somebody else’s gas when you’re at that half tank.”

“Topping off” does not, mathematically, affect gas supply. That is just ignorant. I’m angered by Dr. Thompson’s implication that the crisis is entirely the fault of the consumers. Ms. Booth is equally wrong if she thinks it “made the problem worse”, unless she’s only referring to the problem of long lines at the pump. The shortage is a real problem; long lines are just an inconvenience. But the shortage has not gotten worse due to people topping off their tanks.

Imagine a restaurant with two banquet tables and a banquet that is expected to go on for hours. The waitress at one table fills each diner’s water glass only when the glass is nearly empty. The waitress at the other table tops each water glass after every sip. Assuming both tables are equally thirsty, which waitress runs out of water first?

The waitress who tops off after each sip will be much busier, her activity giving the appearance of greater need, but the amount of water poured depends entirely on consumption – the rate of depletion – not the frequency of refill. Each waitress will run out of water at the same rate over the course of the banquet.

When the dinner guests begin to stash water in their purses, salt shakers and soup bowls in the expectation that the waitress will fail to serve their table – that’s hoarding, and it does directly affect the availability of resources.

I have heard several (badly researched) news reports claiming that this shortage is being made worse because drivers are filling up when they “really don’t need it.” Topping off makes the lines at gas stations longer, but does not actually cause gas to run out sooner. It’s the clowns like the woman Carol saw Wednesday night last week filling up milk jugs and orange juice cartons that are causing the problems. It’s the idiots who have not changed their consumption habits during this shortage. But most of all, it’s the lack of supply that’s created this mess.

So hold your nose, fill up when it’s convenient, and in a few weeks we’ll have all forgotten what the big deal was, anyway.

Monday September 29, 2008 – 10:32am (EDT)