4-27-13 Hodgepodge

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Bad News: America's Economy Needs a "Savior"

A CNBC story calling America's $2 trillion underground economy "recovery's savior" takes note of the ominously increasing similarity between our economy and others:

You normally see underground economies in places like Brazil or in southern Europe," said Laura Gonzalez, professor of personal finance at Fordham University. "But with the job situation and the uncertainty in the economy, it's not all that surprising to have it growing here in the United States."
Let's not treat the "job situation" or "the uncertainty in the economy" as if they were bolts from the blue. With our nation increasingly becoming one of men, and not laws, businessmen increasingly have to factor into their decisions human whim -- be it in the form of absurd regulations, haphazard enforcement, or even laws that are impossible to comply with (as Tom Bowden notes below).

No wonder the only options for growth that most people can see are either to join the gang in power, or to try to operate under its radar.

Weekend Reading

"An insurance policy that reflects your risk profile is not a subsidy; an insurance policy that has been engineered by bureaucrats to artificially lower the insurance costs for some people at the expense of others is." -- Rituparna Basu, in "How Obamacare Law Fleeces the Young", at Politix

"[E]mployers who wouldn't otherwise concern themselves with workers' lifestyles now have an incentive to do so in order to collect federal funds." -- Paul Hsieh, in "Big Brother Has A New Face, And It's Your Boss", at Forbes

"As someone who cares about this overly self-effacing person, your job is to convey, in words and actions, that, 'You don't have to be this way with me.'" -- Michael Hurd, in "Make a Decision! Have an Opinion!", in The Delaware Wave

"In my experience, the only people with sustained recoveries are those who make a serious, initial commitment to transforming their character." -- Michael Hurd, in "What's so Great About Rehab if it Usually Fails?", at The Delaware Coast Press

"If read literally, the Sherman Act of 1890 (and the European Union's legal equivalents) prohibit virtually every action a profit-seeking business needs to survive." -- Tom Bowden, in "What Are The Search Results When You Google 'Antitrust'?" at Investors Business Daily

My Two Cents

The Basu article does a good job of debunking the idea that there is no difference between (a) how insurance companies spread risk in a free market and (b) government-forced subsidies. Basu then goes further to show just how badly this scheme throws a monkey wrench into the personal plans of the young.

Dueling Magicians

Something is art because someone says so. A glass of water is an oak tree because someone says so. Guess how disputes are settled in such a world:
Michael Craig-Martin's 1973 conceptual artwork An Oak Tree presents a glass of water with a plaque explaining that it's a tree -- not symbolically but literally: "The actual oak tree is physically present but in the form of the glass of water."

This is a comment on transubstantiation and, by extension, on the patron's faith in an artist's presentation of his work, but it backfired: When the National Gallery of Australia bought the piece in 1977, customs officials barred it as "vegetation."
I'm no fan of government officials wielding arbitrary power, but Craig-Martin got a surprisingly tame (and amusing) version of what he asked for -- by adopting for his own use the very notion he purported to question.


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