Mimsy Were the Borogoves

For the wisdom of the wise are the criterion of your madness.

Bipartisanship in the defense of big government—Monday, July 17th, 2017

Think about everything Democrats have been saying about Trump since he became the nominee. Why would they want to give the Trump White House more power?

I’ve long been critical of both Republicans and Democrats for not looking for common ground to advance their own views of freedom in the United States. There are always issues of commonality, or at least issues that the other side’s rhetoric makes it impossible to oppose, that could be introduced by the party that is out of power.

When President Clinton claimed that he was the victim of an out-of-control prosecutor, Republicans should have introduced legislation protecting people outside the beltway from out-of-control prosecutors.

When Democrats claimed to be worried about a President Trump’s executive overreach, they should have announced that they would support any Supreme Court Justice on Trump’s pre-election list: all of them would be strong opponents of an imperial presidency.

In my opinion, Donald Trump is mostly the fault of the political establishment, for failing to take advantage of opportunities to advance freedom in a bipartisan manner. Whoever is out of power complains about their power-hungry opposition, and whoever is in power uses that power. When politicians fail to live up to their campaign promises, voters will turn to non-politicians.

Democrats have decided, in the face of Trump, to continue blindly opposing literally everything he does, even things they called for earlier, such as firing James Comey.

But of course there is one policy they’re willing to work with Republicans on: increasing the power of an imperial presidency.

Why, after complaining that Trump is using the power of the White House to oppress Democrats, would Democrats introduce a resolution that makes it easier for Trump to act unilaterally? Why would they do this ahead of the 2018 elections, an off-year that traditionally goes in their favor?

Health insurance reform? What health insurance reform?—Thursday, July 13th, 2017

I recently received a “Truth About Republicans Survey” which asks me a whole bunch of questions about topics the National Republican Congressional Committee thinks are important. And then it asks me for money, of course. Which they are not going to get because one very important issue is missing:

Truth About Republicans Survey July 2017

Where in this survey is a question about restoring our ability to purchase health insurance? The closest is question 14, which, given how they literally left out any question about their number one promise over the last seven years, I’m surprised they included.

In good news, the Senate today added the Cruz-Lee Consumer Freedom Option to the Senate version of the repeal. Given the intransigence of Republicans on living up to their past promises, this may be the best option to reduce the cost of health insurance and health care after the ACA caused them to skyrocket.

Economies of scale and government-run health care—Friday, July 7th, 2017
Reagan For the Little Guy

One of the common arguments in favor of government takeovers of a service is that government agencies can perform the service cheaper because of “economies of scale”.

Since insurance is a requirement… more premiums should bring the price down.

This argument shows a profound misunderstanding of what an economy of scale is and how scaling up works to raise the quality of a service or product while also bringing the price down.1

More premiums, like more of any service, only bring prices down when people are free to buy or not to buy, and when buyers are free to negotiate with sellers for what they want to buy and what they are willing to pay for it. The ACA, for example, mandates what people are required to buy within very narrow boundaries, and mandates that they must in fact buy it (or pay a penalty). This is guaranteed to cause prices to rise drastically. The skyrocketing prices and reduced access to health care providers that we now see was predicted during the law’s passage based on that simple economic principle.

Economies of scale only work when they allow a leaner competitor to discover a way to provide the same or better service at a cheaper price.2 An economy of scale doesn’t automatically cause the same old processes by the same old business or government agency to suddenly become cheaper. If anything, large scale in a monopoly will cause prices to rise and quality to drop as competition moves from competing to reach more people and persuade them to purchase the service, to instead competing for turf inside the bureaucracy.

This shift to bureaucratic infighting causes increased prices to pay for the extra soldiers in the turf war; and it causes lower quality service as the employees turn inward and pay more attention to the bureaucracy than to their customers. Why shouldn’t they? Their customers have no choice.

But even worse, increased scale in a government or government-created monopoly also results in increased complexity for the people who need the service. The inevitable turf wars mean that individual services become spread across multiple departments, any one of which can block or delay service—such as some person’s needed health care. Navigating the system becomes an essential skill, and it is one that people with more resources—who can hire dedicated navigators—will do better at than people with fewer resources.

The last time an actor assassinated a president?—Friday, June 23rd, 2017
Last time an actor assassinated a president…

Johnny Depp asks, “when was the last time an actor assassinated a president?” That’s an interesting and odd question, because the last time an actor assassinated a president was when Democrats were very, very angry that a Republican president had ended slavery. Democrats did everything they could to keep President Lincoln from successfully waging war against the Democratic base among slave-holders.

And they continue to do so today. The control-left still wants that kind of control over everyone, especially minorities. They’re angry as hell, and filled with hate, that people not only voted against their agenda in November, but that, despite a hate-filled media onslaught people continue to vote against that hate-filled agenda through four special elections.

Why would Johnny Depp want, in this climate, to remind everyone that Democrats perpetuated slavery in the United States, defended slavery in the United States, still promote policies of dependence in the United States, and turn violent whenever anyway tries to end those hate-filled policies?

Why would he want to remind them that the climate of hate that the left is promoting now has been with them since at least the Civil War and the Democratic-founded white-sheeted terrorism that followed? That violence was directed against Republicans, too.

Is he secretly a friend of Abe? Perhaps Gary Sinise should reach out to him.

VidAngel: Here We Go Again—Friday, June 9th, 2017
VidAngel DVD copies

A thousand copies (or so) of Revenant in VidAngel’s DVD vault.

VidAngel just went to court on Thursday to appeal the injunction against their streaming movie filtering service. VidAngel is an interesting streaming service that allows you to buy a movie and then filter the movie according to your tastes at that moment; for example, you could change your filters depending on who is watching.

Or you could, if the courts would let them perform the service. Currently there’s an injunction against them.

VidAngel is a very neat idea. Their ads are very funny. Is VidAngel as useful as their ads say? Probably. Now, most movies are not as funny or as well-directed as VidAngel’s ads. But their ads are also a little misleading. Specifically, there are three things that are clearly explained on their web site but that are implied to be otherwise in their very funny and well-made ads:

  1. You can’t rent movies for $1. You aren’t renting movies at all, if they’re telling the truth: you’re buying movies for $20 and then getting $19 back. Except that if you have a widescreen television set, you probably want to buy the HD version, which also costs you $20, but you only get $18 when you sell it back. So for most people nowadays it’s going to be $2 per movie.
  2. You can’t wait any longer than RedBox to return the movie. Just like RedBox, you get charged what is basically a late fee for every day you don’t sell it back. The movie costs you $20; you buy it and you own it. You can (and probably will) sell it back to VidAngel to get some of your money back. If you sell it back within 24 hours, they’ll give you $18 or $19 for it. For every 24 hours after that, they’ll pay you less.
  3. Most importantly, you can’t actually watch it how you want to watch it, unless you always want to watch it filtered.

Now, all of these are clearly explained on the web site. I went in expecting to try out a movie-watching site where I could watch filtered or unfiltered for a buck as I wished, but by the time I got to the actual “give them money” step, I knew that wasn’t the case.

Trump vs. the Media: authenticity and humility—Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
Medicine-Show Man

Several days ago I saw a Vox meme come across social media. It compares what then-Senator Barack Obama wrote at the Israeli Holocaust memorial in 2008 and what President Donald Trump wrote during his recent visit.

Obama wrote:

I am grateful to Yad Vashem and all of those responsible for this remarkable institution. At a time of great peril and promise, war and strife, we are blessed to have such a powerful reminder of man’s potential for great evil, but also our own capacity to rise up from tragedy and remake our world. Let our children come here, and know their history, so that they can add their voices to proclaim ‘never again.’ And may we remember those who perished, not only as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed like us, and who have become symbols of the human spirit.”

Trump was more succinct:

It is a great honor to be here with all of my friends—so amazing & will Never Forget!

Now, I actually agree with the gist of what this meme says. What then-Senator Obama wrote was the kind of stuff that might go into history books.1 What President Trump wrote is not. It was written for the people showing him the memorial, not for later visitors.

If that sense of historical importance is what you want in your politicians—and it is reasonable that many people do—you are going to be disappointed by President Trump.

But my initial reaction on seeing that meme was not how great Obama’s side of the meme was. It was that the poster, who had until then been reliably anti-Trump even when Trump agreed with him, had come around to seeing Trump favorably.

My initial reaction on seeing this was favorable to Trump. Because where Trump’s note differed from Obama’s is that Trump was personal and humble. His note was filled with a feeling of both honor for what an actual person did to show him something he hadn’t seen; and humility for how much has been sacrificed.2

Trump left a personal note, not one scripted by a team of writers, crafted to play well back home and through the years. It was genuine gratitude for his hosts—and humility.

It was authentic.

2017 in Photos—Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

For photos, memes, and perhaps other quick notes sent from my mobile device or written on the fly during 2017.

Who wants a driverless car?—Wednesday, April 19th, 2017
Maximum Overdrive semi

Is this what self-driving cars mean?

There are a lot of people in the car-talk industry wondering what will happen when driverless cars are perfected. A lot of people looking back fondly on their own car ownership, and wondering why kids today don’t care so much about owning a car.

Shelia Dunn on the NMA blog asked, “do you want a driverless car?

I’m not a control freak by any means but I bristle when I read that the driverless car is inevitable—a foregone conclusion. Is it just me or does anyone else feel like that the driverless car is being crammed down our throats at a break-neck pace by over-zealous techies who think that the driverless car is really cool, so we must all want one too?

I agree with Dunn that the current push for driverless cars is an artificial one. It may actually delay their acceptance, especially if the driverless cars pushed on us aren’t as safe as they need to be. I especially think that most people probably don’t want their own car to be driverless.

But think about the steps toward the driverless car. Think about all of your friends who hate parallel parking. Think about all the parallel parking spaces you’ve seen that were big enough for your car, but too small to ease into. A driverless car that works would be able to park in those spaces, spaces you would never be able to park yourself.

And what about taxi service? Would you prefer your taxi to be driven by a human or by a reliable computer? If you had the choice in some future city, which would you choose? Personally, I’d prefer to drive my own car, but I’d definitely prefer my taxi to be automatic.

Especially if it’s cheaper. How much of a taxi driver’s cost goes to maintaining the car, and how much to the driver and the driver’s managers? Only the maintenance cost remains with driverless cars. All of the costs that come with hiring and maintaining drivers disappear.

How much of the inconvenience of taking a taxi goes to finding one when you need one, with a driver who is reliable enough to get you where you need to go on time?

Driverless cars also solve several other parking issues. Imagine parking your car in the 15-minute loading zone right out front of where you need to be… and it’s programmed to leave and find a better parking space on its own, and return when you need it.

Or instead of leaving your car in the airport parking lot, you drive to the airport, get out in front of the terminal, and your car drives itself home, parks itself in your garage, and comes to pick you up a week or two later, knowing from your phone that you just landed and will be out front in about fifteen minutes?

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