50 Years Ago This Week

Fifty years ago this week, Ford Motor Company, including a guy in marketing by the name of Lee Iacocca, brought to market a car that sold reasonably well, and still does: The Mustang.

In those halcyon days of proper American companies, I was a Dodge truck guy and a Buick (I still love the 63-65 Rivieras) and Chevy car guy but, it was a pretty cute car. My buddies tended to refer to it as a “Muskrat” in derision as we really prefered things like Impala SS’s and such but it wasn’t a bad car, by any means.

1966_red_Ford_Mustang_convertible_front_side

1966

Although they expected it to sell about 125,000 units, Ford’s bean counting types weren’t very excited, they thought it would pull sales from their other lines, and probably it did. It pulled sales from nearly everywhere else as well, it sold 418,812 units in the first year, for a profit of over $1 billion dollars (yes, with a ‘B’).

The 1969 Mach 1 may have been the best of the early models it was sure a looker at any rate, and it moved along, if not quite Mach 1, still it was pretty quick.

 It would pass most things, other than a gas station of course.

MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

1969 Mach 1

And that brings up an interesting point, that ’69 above put more pollution into the air, sitting in the driveway turned off, than this one does at 60 miles per hour.

2015 Mustang

2015 Mustang

One of the neat things is that for 50 years, the Mustang has stayed pretty much true to its original vision, and not turned into something else. And you know, the last 6 years or so has turned me into a Ford guy, simply because they’re still an American company, not owned by the government or the Italians or something.

Happy Birthday Mustang!

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Life, Liberty and Property

Robert R. Livingston

Image via Wikipedia

I’m bringing back some of my earlier posts since my readership is now larger and besides, they make some points that need reinforcement. I specifically asked a couple of my newer subscribers who happened to mention they were reading a lot here but, if you’ve seen something you would like to see again, let me know. This is one of them. How often these will run is obviously somewhat dependent on outside forces, since I react to current events, so there is no schedule. So by request: “Life , Liberty, and Property.” 

I know, you are thinking I misquoted Jefferson. Actually, I didn’t. I seem to remember that the first draft read, after markup:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Property the pursuit of Happiness.

Again recalling from hazy memories, it came from Edmund Burke originally. That implies that it is quite an old concept, as indeed it is. It goes on back to the  concept that ” A (free) man’s home is his castle”. Thus we see that it is very deeply ingrained in Anglo-Saxon (and associated) cultures, indeed. The wording changed because it caused a ruckus in committee (some sources say because of slavery).

You’re probably thinking it a small change. In some ways it is but in some ways it’s not so small. Let’s look at the next big revolution, the French and their slogan “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”. Specifically, think about the difference between “Created equal” and “equality”. Would I like to be equal to Sam Walton? Yeah, but I don’t want to work that hard.

Judith Miller (and others) assert that revolutions are plays in three acts, and they are correct.

Act 1: The people get fed up with the ruling class and revolt.

Act 2: The people erect a new form of government.

Act 3: A (or a group of) despot takes control of the revolution and takes tyrannical power. (see Robespierre and Napoleon, or Lenin if you prefer)

Always happens that way, except once: The American Revolution. Our Revolution stopped after Act 2. That’s what we mean when we talk about America as still the original revolutionaries.

Why? the French and Russian revolutions were revolts of peasants. I mean no disrespect, they are as worthy of respect as anybody, but they were uneducated peasants. The American patriots were educated freeman. Boy, were they educated. They had read Plato, and Plutarch, and Cicero, and Burke, and Voltaire and who knows who else. Two (Jefferson and Franklin) were members of the Royal Society many had been military officers (although mostly not regulars) and most were men of property and substance.

What’s my point? They knew history, they knew what happens to men of property when the mob takes over and they took care that it didn’t happen here.

And what did they create? The last greatest hope of private property on earth. Is it important? You tell me. What has America meant to the word in the last 235 years? Do you suppose concepts like individual freedom, equality before the law, the right to earn what you are worth, freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from illegal search and seizure, freedom of religion, and all those other things we believe in, resonate in the rest of the world? If they don’t, how did America become the beacon of freedom to men all over the world? Why isn’t it the French Dream?

You know they do, and they are all based in the right to private property. Private property is nothing less than a subset of a man’s right to himself. Private property, whether it is your house or Sam Walton‘s Wal-Mart, is nothing less than Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand made visible. It is what the market has decided that your work, your creativity, your skills, your thoughts, your determination are worth to the rest of us. It is completely objective. If I think Wal-Mart shirts are better than K-Mart shirts and most people agree; K-Mart will have to reduce the price of their shirts till we think they are worth the price asked. It really is that simple and elegant.

Capitalism is individual freedom and private property in action; nothing more and nothing less. Freedom of the individual is inconceivable without capitalism. America became the Indispensable Nation late in the 19th Century and we still are but, we have been coasting since at least the 50′s. That’s when in Ben Franklin’s words we began selling our freedom for some temporary safety, not necessarily from foreign invaders but from being responsible for ourselves.

America really is the Old West: The timid never started (they’re still in Europe, or the rest of the world), the weak died and the strong survived and thrived. That’s the real world, my friends. If you don’t work, neither shall you eat is the other quote. Someone should tell our occupiers (or maybe their parents). What little I have, I worked hard for. If you want what I have you can damn well work too. Don’t send the sheriff with his gun to take it for you, I earned it, you can, too. I earned the right to keep it, too. (Rant over, for now!)

What else over the years has made America different? Honest justice has. One had a very reasonable chance of getting actual justice in an American court, until recently, anyway. How does this tie in? This way: if the courts (backed by the police or army) are corrupt, if you don’t suck up to the right people, you have no chance of keeping your property.

This is a critical point, if you are Henry Ford and you just started producing the Model T, what would you do if Louis Chevrolet took Ford Motor Company away from you in a corrupt court? Raise money to build the Model A? I wouldn’t, I’d probably give up and make enough to feed my family and let the dream go. Think it doesn’t happen? It does, all over the world, all the time, that’s what started the Arab Spring. That’s also what happened to the bondholders in General Motors and Chrysler in the bail outs.

The way wealth is created is this: The creator of that wealth, owns it, to do with as he will. If he wants more, he invests it, thereby creating more wealth (and jobs!) if he doesn’t, well that’s up to him, it’s his wealth. He nearly always does, though, greed works for the common good, after all.

One more thing on property, don’t forget intellectual property when you are thinking about this. Giving a starving man a fish is good. What’s far better is teaching him to fish, knowing how to catch a fish is a very elementary piece of intellectual property. Knowing how to fish may not only feed you but, feed your family and maybe village too. That intellectual property in action. And more than a few fortunes have been founded on fishing, by the way.

What started me down this road, yet again? I was reading the other day over at Greenmountainscribes, their article on An Effective Campaign to Eradicate Poverty and I was struck by this passage:

Frankly there is not much new in this type of activity. For more than fifty years governments and charities have been focused on rushing aid to the poor and starving. Yet none of these efforts address the basic reason poverty exists in the first place. The solutions which call for more and more aid simply respond to the visual effects of poverty such as starvation, ignorance and poor health. None truly address the cause. As a result, rather than easing the situation, the number of poor continue to grow.

Most of the current anti-poverty efforts focus on redistributing funds from wealthier nations to poorer ones, either through mandatory taxation or charitable donations. This system ignores the fact that tomorrow the poor need to be fed again. Taxpayers or the voluntary donor must dig into his own funds yet again to help. The process is repeated daily, each time the poor recipient is only temporarily helped, as the tax payer or the donor become poorer themselves. Meanwhile, as massive funds are moved in and out of governments, bureaucracies are institutionalized to run the system. More and more money goes to feed the machinery of poverty than gets into the hands of the intended poor. Such a system sustains poverty rather than eradicates it.

I highly recommend that you read the entire article. They do an extraordinary job of dissecting the problems in welfare programs (nationally and internationally) and proposing an effective solution.

I don’t really think the Sudan needs “Black Friday”, but they’d probably like to feed their families.

Life, Liberty and Property.

Moving Forward: Repeal and Deregulate

OK, the Supreme Court let us down by rewriting the law. There’s lots of stuff about pressure being brought to bear floating around but, it’s irrelevant. Where do we go from here? I don’t have the definitive answers but, I do have some thoughts. See if your thinking follows mine. Time is short if we are to win, so let’s get moving.

From my comments:

Trevor Nagle, ABDsays:

And yet additional regulation is precisely what would have kept the latest financial crisis averted….interesting perspective. It was the unfettered greed and corruption in an deregulated banking system that is widely viewed as the culprit for the housing market (and subsequent global economic) collapse. You see, purely rational economics and pure free markets do not account for irrational (from a societal standpoint) economic behavior. Put plainly, from a system perspective, greed is NOT rational economics. Hence the need for regulation. It’s not about simply stealing from the rich to give to the lazy (as it’s too often framed), but rather to ensure the composite stability of a society based on the irrational economic behaviors of individuals.

Sorry for the delay, Trevor, as always, you make me think, which is good. Anyway, I won’t concede your premise that additional regulation would have averted the financial crises, although regulators DOING their jobs might have. Most of that crisis was forced by Fannie/Freddie insisting on bad loans being made. If you loan an unemployed person a quarter mil to buy a house you shouldn’t be surprised when it doesn’t work out.

No, greed is not rational economics, even if we use the old catchphrase “All that the market will bear” that indicates that if I set my price point above a rational level, the market won’t bear it. And everything we purchase/consume is in that market basket.

Individual consumers will always behave irrationally (in my eyes or yours) but, it’s their money and their choice. If they want to eat at Mickey D’s, and live without electricity, it’s not my problem.

Healthcare has been perverted as a marketplace over the years.

First, FDR’s wage controls during WW II caused it to be turned into a corporate benefit when it should have been an individual choice.

Second, and possibly connected causally, health care became the equivalent of having automotive insurance cover oil changes, instead of catastrophic problems.

Third, even at the state level, the requirements to offer a policy are often ridiculous. Why should a single 59 yo man (That’s me) have coverage for contraception, which in some states I would be required to.

SOLUTION:

First, cross state marketing, If you want some unusual coverage you can probably find it.

Second, Tort reform. No don’t make anybody immune but, make it difficult to file and carry our silly suits, such as suing MacDonald’s for serving hot coffee.
This, to me, is one of the weaknesses of single-payor; they can not be held responsible for their choices.

Prosecute fraud with all the severity of the law. If an insurance company doesn’t honor the contract, let the AG fix it. I can remember Ford Motor Company being criminally indicted for Pinto gas tanks, so it’s not impossible.

Obviously, I don’t have all the answers but, I think this is the direction we should be heading. Thanks for your comment.

Life, Liberty and Property

Robert R. Livingston

Image via Wikipedia

I know, you are thinking I misquoted Jefferson. Actually, I didn’t. I seem to remember that the first draft read, after markup:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and Property the pursuit of Happiness.

Again recalling from hazy memories, it came from Edmund Burke originally. That implies that it is quite an old concept, as indeed it is. It goes on back to the  concept that ” A (free) man’s home is his castle”. Thus we see that it is very deeply ingrained in Anglo-Saxon (and associated) cultures, indeed. The wording changed because it caused a ruckus in committee (some sources say because of slavery).

You’re probably thinking it a small change. In some ways it is but in some ways it’s not so small. Let’s look at the next big revolution, the French and their slogan “Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity”. Specifically, think about the difference between “Created equal” and “equality”. Would I like to be equal to Sam Walton? Yeah, but I don’t want to work that hard.

Judith Miller (and others) assert that revolutions are plays in three acts, and they are correct.

Act 1: The people get fed up with the ruling class and revolt.

Act 2: The people erect a new form of government.

Act 3: A (or a group of) despot takes control of the revolution and takes tyrannical power. (see Robespierre and Napoleon, or Lenin if you prefer)

Always happens that way, except once: The American Revolution. Our Revolution stopped after Act 2. That’s what we mean when we talk about America as still the original revolutionaries.

Why? the French and Russian revolutions were revolts of peasants. I mean no disrespect, they are as worthy of respect as anybody, but they were uneducated peasants. The American patriots were educated freeman. Boy, were they educated. They had read Plato, and Plutarch, and Cicero, and Burke, and Voltaire and who knows who else. Two (Jefferson and Franklin) were members of the Royal Society many had been military officers (although mostly not regulars) and most were men of property and substance.

What’s my point? They knew history, they knew what happens to men of property when the mob takes over and they took care that it didn’t happen here.

And what did they create? The last greatest hope of private property on earth. Is it important? You tell me. What has America meant to the word in the last 235 years? Do you suppose concepts like individual freedom, equality before the law, the right to earn what you are worth, freedom of speech, freedom from arbitrary arrest, freedom from illegal search and seizure, freedom of religion, and all those other things we believe in, resonate in the rest of the world? If they don’t, how did America become the beacon of freedom to men all over the world? Why isn’t it the French Dream?

You know they do, and they are all based in the right to private property. Private property is nothing less than a subset of a man’s right to himself. Private property, whether it is your house or Sam Walton‘s Wal-Mart, is nothing less than Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand made visible. It is what the market has decided that your work, your creativity, your skills, your thoughts, your determination are worth to the rest of us. It is completely objective. If I think Wal-Mart shirts are better than K-Mart shirts and most people agree; K-Mart will have to reduce the price of their shirts till we think they are worth the price asked. It really is that simple and elegant.

Capitalism is individual freedom and private property in action; nothing more and nothing less. Freedom of the individual is inconceivable without capitalism. America became the Indispensable Nation late in the 19th Century and we still are but, we have been coasting since at least the 50’s. That’s when in Ben Franklin’s words we began selling our freedom for some temporary safety, not necessarily from foreign invaders but from being responsible for ourselves.

America really is the Old West: The timid never started (they’re still in Europe, or the rest of the world), the weak died and the strong survived and thrived. That’s the real world, my friends. If you don’t work, neither shall you eat is the other quote. Someone should tell our occupiers (or maybe their parents). What little I have, I worked hard for. If you want what I have you can damn well work too. Don’t send the sheriff with his gun to take it for you, I earned it, you can, too. I earned the right to keep it, too. (Rant over, for now!)

What else over the years has made America different? Honest justice has. One had a very reasonable chance of getting actual justice in an American court, until recently, anyway. How does this tie in? This way: if the courts (backed by the police or army) are corrupt, if you don’t suck up to the right people, you have no chance of keeping your property.

This is a critical point, if you are Henry Ford and you just started producing the Model T, what would you do if Louis Chevrolet took Ford Motor Company away from you in a corrupt court? Raise money to build the Model A? I wouldn’t, I’d probably give up and make enough to feed my family and let the dream go. Think it doesn’t happen? It does, all over the world, all the time, that’s what started the Arab Spring. That’s also what happened to the bondholders in General Motors and Chrysler in the bail outs.

The way wealth is created is this: The creator of that wealth, owns it, to do with as he will. If he wants more, he invests it, thereby creating more wealth (and jobs!) if he doesn’t, well that’s up to him, it’s his wealth. He nearly always does, though, greed works for the common good, after all.

One more thing on property, don’t forget intellectual property when you are thinking about this. Giving a starving man a fish is good. What’s far better is teaching him to fish, knowing how to catch a fish is a very elementary piece of intellectual property. Knowing how to fish may not only feed you but, feed your family and maybe village too. That intellectual property in action. And more than a few fortunes have been founded on fishing, by the way.

What started me down this road, yet again? I was reading the other day over at Greenmountainscribes, their article on An Effective Campaign to Eradicate Poverty and I was struck by this passage:

Frankly there is not much new in this type of activity. For more than fifty years governments and charities have been focused on rushing aid to the poor and starving. Yet none of these efforts address the basic reason poverty exists in the first place. The solutions which call for more and more aid simply respond to the visual effects of poverty such as starvation, ignorance and poor health. None truly address the cause. As a result, rather than easing the situation, the number of poor continue to grow.

Most of the current anti-poverty efforts focus on redistributing funds from wealthier nations to poorer ones, either through mandatory taxation or charitable donations. This system ignores the fact that tomorrow the poor need to be fed again. Taxpayers or the voluntary donor must dig into his own funds yet again to help. The process is repeated daily, each time the poor recipient is only temporarily helped, as the tax payer or the donor become poorer themselves. Meanwhile, as massive funds are moved in and out of governments, bureaucracies are institutionalized to run the system. More and more money goes to feed the machinery of poverty than gets into the hands of the intended poor. Such a system sustains poverty rather than eradicates it.

I highly recommend that you read the entire article. They do an extraordinary job of dissecting the problems in welfare programs (nationally and internationally) and proposing an effective solution.

I don’t really think the Sudan needs “Black Friday”, but they’d probably like to feed their families.

 

Solyndra-Part II

Cliff Stearns

Image via Wikipedia

CNN Money is talking about Solyndra as a case study of whether the government should be financing risky ventures in the private sector.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Until recently, few outside the solar power industry had even heard of Solyndra Inc.

Now the company’s bankruptcy has become a case study on an issue likely to gain increasing attention: Should the government be investing taxpayer dollars in promising — but risky — startup companies?

The takeaway quote to me is:

“Taxpayers may be better served by putting that money towards reducing the deficit,” said Rep. Cliff Stearns.

And there’s this:

So far, the department has backed nearly $40 billion in projects that range from solar and wind farms to nuclear power plants.

Read it all.

Ace has the story of the ABC coverage and a link to Mark Levin at Hot Air.

Not the longest report, but the questions were properly framed — “Did the White House rush a half billion of your dollars to a company certain to fail?”   Read the rest.

The Washington Post reports that the program also failed to create jobs, green or otherwise. They are claiming amongst other thing that it saved 33,000 jobs at Ford Motor Company (about half of its payroll). Link here.

And finally here’s the Solyndra Story Final Memo from the House Energy Committee.

ps. For those of you that still think Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) is settled science, another Nobel winning physicist has resigned from the American Physical Society of their promotion of AGW. The story from Climate Depot

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