December 30, 2013

Belated Thought About the Obama Selfie Incident

At the Mandela memorial service, Obama took a selfie with the attractive Danish prime minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. It's disputed whether Michelle was angry (but note that the previous link does not mention her changing places with Obama who thereby was no longer sitting next to the PM).

I am no fan of Michelle Obama:
Michelle Obama’s scowl is so ingrained that, figuratively and maybe literally, it is her expression in repose.
That said, one wonders if perhaps she has reason to scowl. At first blush it seems unthinkable that Barry would fool around like FDR, Ike, JFK, LBJ and WJC did. Why? (Another possibility is that Barry has reason to fool around.)

December 28, 2013

The WW1 Christmas Truce & US Partisanship

Worthwhile read about the truce here (HT: Ace). Two reactions:

1. Note that the truce only happened early in the war. Subsequently high commands clamped down and the misery of war took its down on latent goodwill.

2. The extracts of wartime propaganda reminded me of (much but not all) commenting in the political blogosphere. For example, the derangement at Little Green Footballs continues apace. Not a promising indicator for the future of American democracy. Ben Franklin warned that at some point a citizenry brings despotic government upon itself.

December 24, 2013

"Inequality: Government Is a Perp, Not a Bystander"

That's the title of Dean Baker's piece posted by a leftist think tank (HT: Instapundit). Public choice theory is not mentioned; unsurprisingly, people with political axes to grind are not enthusiastic about clear-eyed exploration of their motivations.

Also unmentioned is my notion about taxes and inequality:
From time to time I point out that, given a graduated income tax, income inequality maximizes the government’s revenue, all else being equal. In that sense, notwithstanding protestations to the contrary, income inequality is in the government’s interest—and the politicians know it.
(Otoh, that comment's concern about a VAT proved unfounded. So far.)

IMHO Baker is correct to write that:
Inequality did not just happen, it was deliberately engineered through a whole range of policies intended to redistribute income upward.
But he doesn't go far enough.

(When billionaires ostentatiously call for their taxes to be raised---but don't make donations to the Treasury---, I don't think they expect to lose money in risk-adjusted terms. IMO they are proposing a quid pro quo whereby the government protects their wealth from the vagaries of a market economy.)

Addendum 20140103: Roger Simon chimes in with some good lines, but IMO he doesn't go far enough. Per this post, Simon's "Soros Socialists" get a net benefit from the policies they espouse.

Is this a step toward full socialism? Maybe, maybe not; not immediately, anyway. Even if the statist crocodile eats the sorosians last, for the time being it protects them from attack via the free markets---and fattens them up.

December 12, 2013

Appalling, If True

A cancer patient who complained about his health insurance coverage being dropped, and an activist who tried to help him, have both been hassled by the IRS. (HT: Neo-Neocon and Ace).

Also astonishing is the claim that existing federal law does not allow cancellation of health insurance to people with life threatening conditions. The question, I suppose, is whether the Obamacare legislation preempts the previous law.

December 2, 2013

Orbital Tourism for ~$150K?

Eventually, according to Elon Musk.


And he'd like to get to Mars for $500K.

Though I wonder if the biological challenges, e.g. breeding and growing up in nonterrestrial gravity, may be more difficult than the astronautical ones.