Category Archives: Economics

Animal’s Daily Rhino Horn News

Bob didn’t use rhino horn.

John Stossel tells us of his recent conversation with someone concerned with rhinos – the problem is, their policies are actually making things worse.  Excerpt:

Today’s environmental activists are so hostile to capitalism that they end up killing animals they want to protect.

Like the African rhinoceros.

Poachers kill them to get their horns, which can sell for as much as $300,000. Poachers mostly sell in China and Vietnam, to people who carve them into ornaments or sell them as aphrodisiacs. By the way: The aphrodisiacs don’t work.

When I started Stossel TV, my first video covered one man’s attempt to reduce rhino poaching by flooding the market with fake horns.

Matthew Markus argued that his 3D printed rhino horn would reduce demand for real horns.

“One way to devalue something is to create a lot of it,” he explained. “When things are abundant, people don’t fight, kill or steal.”

True. Bootleggers and Al Capone’s thugs disappeared when America ended Prohibition.

South Africa, home to the largest number of rhinos, once tried something similar. For 20 years, they allowed people to own rhinos and sell their horns. Rhino farmers put the rhinos to sleep with tranquilizer darts, sawed off their horns (the horns grow back) and sold the horn.

Farmers had an incentive to protect rhinos. South Africa’s rhino population quadrupled.

But in 2009, under pressure from “environmental” groups, South Africa banned sales of horn again.

The sad result: Poaching increased sharply. Poachers also killed park rangers who tried to protect rhinos.

An old man who had hunted in Africa several times in the Sixties and Seventies told me once that the safari companies in Botswana and South Africa in those days had a wink-and-nod agreement with the local authorities, namely that poachers would be shot on sight by the professional hunters and left for the hyenas.  One would think that would de-incentivize the poachers, too, but it might also start a shoot-first race these days.

Education would be great – get ignorant assholes to stop thinking that powdered rhino horn would cure boils or make their dicks stay hard longer.  That’s just some stupid, ignorant shit.  But also, why the hell now acknowledge reality and do what’s best for the rhinos, if we really do want to keep them around?  The fake rhino horn seems like a pretty damn good angle on it.  Flood the market with the stuff.  Make the poachers find some other line of work.

Markets work.  They aren’t perfect, but they usually get things right in the long run.  The people concerned with rhinos should take advantage of that, and abandon the stupid RHEEEE CAPITALISM knee-jerk.

Animal’s Daily Minimum Wage News

Don’t forget to check out my latest over at Glibertarians, especially if you’ve ever thought of taking up trapping.

Now then:  The administration of President Biden(‘s handlers) is looking into a $15 Imperial minimum wage, which is the latest stupid idea to be tacked on to a long list of stupid ideas coming from this administration.  Excerpt:

The minimum wage is the biggest issue the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) has lobbied on recently, the group told the Daily Caller News Foundation. After a series of pandemic-related victories on Capitol Hill, capped off by the December stimulus package that included $284.5 billion for small businesses, NFIB decided to lobby Congress to “do no harm.”

“Minimum wage is the biggest issue,” Jeff Brabant, NFIB’s manager of government relations, told the DCNF. “There are other issues further down the pike we’re worried about, but we’re trying to stay focused on minimum wage.”

“If your goal is to shut down independently owned mom and pop shops on Main Street and grow the market share of big-box megastores then I can think of nothing better than passing a federal $15 minimum wage today, because it will devastate small businesses,” Brabant said.

Feature, not bug.

It surely has occurred to these horse’s asses in Washington that a near-doubling of the Imperial minimum wage would have a disparate impact on small businesses, and much less impact on major corporations.  And what do we know about small businesses?  Well, they tend to be run by entrepreneurs, who tend to be independent-minded people who aren’t enamored of being dependent on a bunch of grifters in the Imperial Capitol – or, as in my case, of being the employee of a major corporation.  I did my years as a Faceless Corporate Puke, and I’ve no desire to go back to that.

And if you wanted to hurt small business, you could hardly choose a better single issue with which to do so.

Here’s the onion, though:  More than small business, it will hurt low-income workers.  Why?  Because the actual minimum wage is zero, and pricing relatively unskilled workers out of the market is the primary real effect of a high minimum wage.

Do you want more burger-bots?  Because that’s how you get more burger-bots.  And, more people dependent on government.

Again:  Feature, not bug.

Animal’s Daily Socialism Success Stories News

John Stossel has recently put out a couple of good articles on the non-existent success stories of socialism:

Real Socialism

Socialism Never Works

From the former:

Now that the Soviet Union is gone, MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi says, “there is no true socialist country that exists.”

No? What about Cuba, China, North Korea, Vietnam and Venezuela?

Velshi didn’t respond when we asked him.

Venezuela was once Latin America’s richest country. Now it’s the poorest. Many in the media claim that its fall has “nothing to do with socialism,” just “poor governance.”

John Oliver says, “Chavez’s programs could have been sustainable if he pursued a sound economic policy.”

“Yeah,” laughs (economist Ben Powell, author of “Socialism Sucks: Two Economists Drink Their Way Through the Unfree World.”) “Sustainable if he had a sound economic policy called capitalism.”

From the latter:

As the Democratic Socialists of America put it, “Society should be run democratically — to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.”

Sounds nice. If socialists are elected, then we’ll have a more just society.

But Venezuela’s socialists were elected.

“They can start off democratically elected,” says economist Ben Powell, director of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech, but “once they centralize control over the economy, it becomes impossible to ‘un-elect’ them.”

Hugo Chavez was elected but became an authoritarian who chose his successor, Nicolas Maduro. Maduro now gets “elected,” by having opponents arrested and “ordering state employees to vote for him or they lose their job,” says Powell.

“Socialism always becomes authoritarian?” I ask.

“Everywhere you try socialism, that’s what you get,” he replies. “It’s hard to exercise political freedom if you don’t have economic freedoms. If you’re dependent upon the state for your livelihood, you lose your ability to use your voice to oppose (the state) because you can be punished.

Read both, because both deconstruct the idea that socialism is anything but a recipe for failure – with examples a’plenty.

To summarize, though:  There are only three ways an economic transaction can take place:

  1. By force.  That is theft.
  2. By deceit.  That is fraud.
  3. By free trade.  That is what is generally known as “capitalism,” although there is no “-ism,” no underlying ideology, in free trade; just free people engaging in free enterprise, managing and trading their own assets, skills, talents and resources to others, voluntarily, wherein both sides realize a gain.

Note that last bit:  wherein both sides realize a gain.

That only happens in free trade.  Theft and fraud, whether carried out by crooks or government agents (but I repeat myself) always – always – result in a loss for the citizen.

That’s why socialism always fails.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

I’ll be the first to admit, it’s cold up here in early February.  Temps right now are down around zero at night, in the teens in the afternoon.  And the days don’t last long.  The sun comes up hereabouts at about 0930, and is down by 1700.  Plenty of snow on the ground, which I expect will stay until mid to late April.

But boy is it quiet.

The winters here, though, honestly aren’t any worse than those I grew up with in northeast Iowa.  The daylight hours are the main difference, but we’ll make up for that with twenty-hour days in midsummer.  I think we’re making a good trade, especially considering how loony Colorado (and, frankly, most of the 48) is becoming.

Moving right along, then…

On To the Links!

Haw haw haw!

No thanks, I had bugs for lunch.

President Biden continues doing his impression of an actual potato.

Stop the third party insanity.

Now do water fountains!

No shit, Sherlock.  I’m reminded of an early-Eighties-sometime interview of David Lee Roth, done by some Rolling Stone putz-head.  Roth had talked about his and his Van Halen band-mates working-class youths, and the contrast with how much money they were making with the band.  “You know, Dave,” the interviewer pontificated, “they say you can’t buy happiness.”  “Maybe,” Roth replied with his trademark grin, “…but I can buy a yacht big enough to sail right up next to it.”

They guy really did know how to command the stage.

What the Left really means by “equity.”

Yeah, Portland’s probably fucked.

Even if California kicks out Gavin Newsom, anyone who takes his place would be likely just as horrible.

Liberal reporter calls out Crazy Eyes for being a lying piece of shit.  Well, not in so many words, but the message is clear.

This Week’s Idiots:
It’s not commonly known that John Kerry once pursued an acting career.

John Kerry is an idiot.  He’s also an arrogant, elitist fuck.  But Ted Cruz did a pretty good job of dismantling the asshole.

I actually burst out laughing at this idiocy.  Paywalled, but the headline is all you need.

Idiots have to be warned against doing idiot things.

Crazy Eyes continues in her usual idiocy.

USAToday‘s Rachel Mikva is an idiot.

Wired‘s Malkia Devich-Cyril is an idiot, and an idiot who has no fucking idea what the concept of free speech means.

Barney Frank is an idiot.

And So:

Just the other day our oldest daughter reminded us of this song, saying that it always reminded her of her Dad.  It probably applies even more now that we’re abandoning suburban life for rural Alaska, and it is in fact at least a half-hour to a Walmart or a grocery store.  This is Aaron Lewis with Northern Redneck.  Enjoy.

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks again to Pirate’s Cove, The Other McCain and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

So now the Biden Administration is considering a tax on the number of miles folks drive.  This will be really bad for rural people, who I might remind the good reader, are often lower-income than urban dwellers, although that is offset somewhat by a generally lower cost of living, especially real estate.  Even so, this will be hell on rural residents.  Excerpt:

It turns out that Biden favors Buttigieg’s transportation views, specifically the idea that America should move away from the gas tax and instead opt into a tax based on the number of miles a person travels. It would be a new way to provide cash for the Highway Trust Fund, which currently funding from the federal gas tax. As it currently stands, the federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and 24.4 cents per gallon for diesel.

Liberal states, like California, Oregon, Washington State, and Colorado are already contemplating this so-called “alternative.” 

Biden’s administration would have to figure out how to pay for his $1 trillion infrastructure plan, which includes $160 billion for the transportation department. 

During his confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee on Thursday, Buttigieg explained his take on the gas tax.

“I think all options need to be on the table. As you know, the gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and it has never been pegged to inflation, and it’s one of the reasons why the current state of Highway Trust Fund is that there’s more going out than coming in,” Buttigieg said about a potential tax increase. “In the long term, we need to bear in mind also that as vehicles become more efficient and as we pursue electrification, sooner or later, there will be questions about whether the gas tax can be effective at all.”

Instead, the transportation nominee wants to consider taxing Americans on the number of miles they drive.

I guaran-damn-tee you Alaska isn’t considering any such “alternative.”  But I have a few questions as to how any such (idiotic) idea would be implemented.

  1. How would the Imperial government determine how many miles a year you drive?  A mandatory GPS tracker in your vehicle?  Fuck off, slaver!  Or would you just be required to enter beginning and ending mileage for all your vehicles on your tax form?
  2. How would the Imperial government collect this tax?  Gasoline taxes are collected at the pump.  Would every citizen have to send in a check every quarter?  Would it be part of your tax return every year?  How would you collect from people who don’t file tax returns?  Some people don’t have to file annual returns, you know.  Retired folks on fixed pensions, for example.
  3. How would the Imperial government know when, as a result of this dumb-as-a-bag-of-wet-hair policy, I leave the truck in the garage and run my ATV or snow machine down the road to grab some lunch or have a beer?  Hint:  They wouldn’t.

I’m pretty sure this is a classic trial balloon.  For one thing, no such change to the tax code can be done without Congress, and the Democrat’s margin in Congress is razor-thin; I’m pretty sure enough Dems in the House that hail from semi-rural/purple districts would peg this for a bad idea and vote against it.  But it’s bothersome that the newly installed Biden Administration is clueless enough to even float this as an idea.  Stay tuned, True Believers; I’m sure this isn’t the last dumb idea we’ll see out of this bunch.

Rule Five Paranormal Economics Friday

This came out a week ago over on Law & Liberty, but I just stumbled across it, so here it is; The Democrat’s Paranormal Economics.  Excerpts, with my comments.

US government debt now stands at $20 trillion, or roughly 100% of GDP. This should be a concern, but Democratic economists are not worried. A much-discussed November 30 paper by former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former Council of Economic Advisors Chairman Jason Furman suggests that Democratic thinking has veered into the paranormal, with an emphasis on levitation. Governments will be able to borrow and spend as much as they want for whatever purpose they want, the authors argue in so many words, and interest rates will remain low forever.

As Washington Post editorialist Charles Lane commented Dec. 7, “Far from burdening future generations, governments have a golden opportunity to fund long-standing needs by borrowing for investments in future prosperity—the list includes child care, early education, job training and clean water.”

Note than none of those things have been shown to result in long-term economic growth.  You could make an argument for job training, but since our education system seems to emphasize Underwater Ethnic Dog-Polishing Studies over the trades, well, color me skeptical.  This crap is vote-buying, nothing but.

The price of insurance against a currency collapse has risen, but that does not mean such a collapse is inevitable. Why can’t the United States simply ignore the warning signals, as Furman and Summers propose, and continue to borrow and spend? Japan’s government debt now stands at 240% of GDP, more than twice the American ratio. Japan appears able to sustain a much higher debt burden. Why can’t the United States?

The difference is that Japan has a current account surplus and nearly $4 trillion in net foreign assets, while the US has a current account deficit and a net international investment position of negative $13 trillion. Japan finances its government debt by selling bonds to Japanese institutions and households. The dollar is the world’s principal reserve currency, which gives the United States the benefit of free or cheap credit from the rest of the world. Foreigners hold trillions of dollars of deposits in dollars to pay for transactions, and these constitute a loan to the United States.

I do not believe that the dollar’s reserve status is in immediate danger, but the world has shifted markedly away from dollars during the past several years. As of late 2020 the world cleared as many transactions in Euros as in dollars through the interbank SWIFT electronic transfer system.

The gist of the Left’s argument, as described and refuted here?  Debt is good.  All hail the almighty debt!  It’s economic suicide.

The Left (and, to be fair, plenty on the Right as well) are awfully good at cherry-picking data points from a variety of sources to prove their own points without having to adjust any of their thinking, anytime, ever.  In this case, they picked Japan; in others, they’ll pick Denmark or Norway.  But they never, ever present just one coherent economic model.

At the moment, though, the Left has seized the levers of power – and what we are seeing from the incoming Biden Administration is economic mayhem.  The incoming administration promises to be a cluster-fuck of epic proportions, and not just on economic matters.  Growth is about to be dragged down to a crawl.  On Day One, President Biden, at a stroke, not only wiped out thousands of good-paying American jobs, prompting an angry response from the Governor of Montana, but also alienated our closest neighbor and #1 trading partner.

What an asshole.

Want to see economic growth?  That comes from innovation and creativity.  Want to see innovation and creativity?  Stay the hell out of the way.

Animal’s Hump Day News

Happy Hump Day!

This will probably be the last regular post of the year, unless something really amazing happens that I just can’t wait to discuss.  The holidays beckon, and I have kids and grandkids to see, Kung Flu be damned.  Next year Mrs. Animal and yr. obdt. will be in the Great Land and winter travel more… complicated.

For now I’d like to use this space to thank all you True Believers for reading and commenting throughout this train wreck of a year.  Best and heartiest wishes to you all from the Casa de Animal for a merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, productive and profitable 2021.  Enjoy some holiday totty from now until January 4th, and we’ll see you in the new year.  Frohe Weihnachten und ein glückliches Neues Jahr!

And with that…

On To the Links!

The first domino to fall?  Well, not yet, but this is interesting.

National treasure Dr. Victor Davis Hanson:  But he (Biden) will face Nemesis in a way that few other presidents have ever encountered the cruel Greek god. Biden’s hubris and that of the media/Democratic Party fusion almost guarantee such divine retribution.

Guardians.

Members of the new U.S. Space Force to be addressed as “Guardians.”  I can only accept this if the highest-ranking member of the Space Force carries the title of “Star-Lord.”

CDC tracking allergic reactions to the new Kung Flu vaccines.  Just like every vaccine ever developed, some people will be allergic.  As of last Saturday, there have been six reactions out of 272,000 doses.  Speaking as someone who has been in the business for thirty years, that’s not out of the ordinary.

Neandertals may have… hibernated?  Color me skeptical.

We continue to mortgage our grandchildren’s futures, and history will rightly damn us for it.  Here’s a short list of crap that has no business being in a Kung Flu relief bill, like the Appropriations Committee’s “Office of Diversity and Inclusion” and “Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery.”  This, True Believers, is why Congress-critters have approval ratings somewhere between cockroaches and polecats.

This Week’s Idiots:

Paul Krugman is and always will be a cheap hack, and an idiot.

Salon‘s Amanda Marcotte is an idiot.

The Conversation’s David Hope & Julian Limberg are idiots.

If these idiots do this, this is actually racist.

NBC New’s Michael Mann is an idiot.

The Hill’s Joe Concha is an idiot.

Robert Reich remains an idiot.

And so:

There’s been a lot of talk about how the GOP should proceed, after a much-better-than-expected set of Congressional elections and a apparent narrow Presidential loss tainted by a yet-to-be-determined amount of shenanigans in several big (and blue) cities.

I do, as it happens, have some thoughts on that, and maybe we’ll explore those in the new year.  Bear in mind that I’m not a regular conservative but a minarchist libertarian, so my ideas may be quite a bit different than how most of the GOP may be thinking.  But as for demeanor, well, Alice Cooper may have some advice for Congressional Republicans, and I think they may want to listen to him.  From 1990’s Alice Cooper Trashes the World, this is No More Mr. Nice Guy.  Enjoy.

Animal’s Daily Urban Flight News

According to libertarian scribe Kirsten Tate (and plenty of other folks) people are fleeing the major cities like never before.  Excerpt:

What developed this year is a cascade of residents leaving large cities in blue states. Among the biggest losers this year, in terms of total population loss, were New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and the District of Columbia. New York lost at least 300,000 residents this year. San Francisco saw 90,000 postal changes of address out of the city, while its median apartment rent took a nosedive of 20 percent in 2020. Los Angeles recorded more than 25,000 moves out of the city, while Chicago logged over 20,000. Even the District of Columbia lost 15,000 residents. Other cities that had sustained growth in the last decade also face severe drops in interest.

Residents who fled large cities in blue states overwhelmingly relocated to red-state cities, mostly in the Sun Belt or the West outside of California. Phoenix, already booming before the coronavirus, retained its spot as the fastest growing city in the country; its metro population now displaces Boston. The other overall winners in the demographic game this year are Nashville, where home prices continue to surge while real estate inventory is down 40 percent; Las Vegas, which tempted Bay Area techies to follow the Raiders to Sin City; Charlotte, which now has a larger population than San Francisco; and the greater Charleston area, which is likely the home of Boeing’s next expansion and has benefitted from manufacturing jobs moving south.

The Kung Flu influenced this, to be sure, but the trend was already in place, for two reasons:

  1. Advances in technology have made telecommuting more and more practical for a great number of office jobs, and the ‘rona just accelerated both the trend and the acceptance of the practice in business circles.
  2. People are sick of being asked to pay through the nose for the privilege of living in the mega-cities.  Look at the pattern of the relocations; from high-tax to low-tax jurisdictions, in every case.

To be sure, Mrs. Animal are now a part of this relocation, but more for personal reasons than political or financial ones, although I admit that’s a nice fringe benefit.  And one of our kids, just this year, decamped the Denver area for greener pastures (literally) in Iowa, where they can maintain the same income level and enjoy a much lower cost of living.

The precautionary note in all this, of course, can be seen in the results of the last election – and in the unfortunate fate of the very Colorado that Mrs. Animal and I loved for so long.

Animal’s Daily Blue State Exodus News

Before we begin, check out my latest in the Allamakee County Chronicles series over at Glibertarians!

Here’s another interesting bit on the ongoing flight from daffy old Californey.  Excerpt:

Eight years ago, an Investor’s Business Daily editorial laid out the reasons Californians were moving “To Texas (And Arizona And Nevada),” all of them fueled by progressive public policy. That same year, a Manhattan Institute report detailed “the great ongoing California exodus . . . reversing the storied passages of the Dust Bowl era.” The authors attributed the mass departure to policy decisions making the state a less desirable place to live. Two years earlier, in 2010, New Geography asked: “If California Is Doing So Great, Why Are So Many Leaving?” and noted that the state’s “domestic migration has been negative every year since at least 1990.”

Nor is the California exodus limited to desperate residents. Joe Vranich, a relocation specialist once headquartered in Irvine, California, but now settled in Pennsylvania, has been tracking business departures since 2008. Vranich says that he became “irritated by repeated comments from California politicians, including governor Jerry Brown, that business departures . . . were not a big deal.” As he analyzed the companies, jobs, and capital fleeing the state, he realized the drain was significant. The state’s toxic business environment, Vranich estimates, caused as many as 13,000 “disinvestment events” from 2008 to 2016.

It’s popular on the daffier fringes of the political Left (and, sometimes, not even on the fringes) to deride business-people as selfish schmucks interested only in profit.  Speaking as a small businessman myself, I can only say “well, sure,” but in producing that profit we also produce goods and services that improve everyone’s lives – business folks, big-corporation employees, trust-funders, children, retirees and dole scroungers alike.

But it is just that attitude, leaking into government, that is causing the continuing downfall of not only California but most, if not all, of the blue states.  And that’s also what is driving the exodus to the red states, where taxes and regulation are far more business-friendly.

If it were only small business folks (and in some cases big business folks) fleeing the blue states, it wouldn’t be that much of a problem.  But the thing is this:  Plenty of folks are moving to follow the jobs that the blue states are shedding, and plenty of folks who aren’t concerned with jobs or business-friendly environments are moving to places like Colorado because the scenery is great and there are lots of fun things to do, and all of these people are bringing their voting patterns with them.

So folks like me are leaving our once-red states that are now turning blue.  And so the nation’s drawing further from the center, self-segregating into enclaves.  I’m not seeing a good ending for all this.  At least, so far, Alaska doesn’t seem to have been too badly affected; the Californians who try moving to the Great Land almost never make it through their cheechako winter.

Animal’s Daily Debt Cancelling News

“Cancelling” student debt is a stupid idea, and here’s a good explanation as to why.  Excerpt:

An unthinkable conundrum is our reality: the dumbest people in your high school class are now in political power, making the same thoughtless demands they made back when you thought it was just their hormones. 

“I don’t feel like paying my debts because it’s too hard,” is the summary of their I WANT FREE STUFF demand du jour. 

“OK, so who should pay your debts?” you ask. “That’s selfish and racist,” is the response. Seriously. 

This would all be a fantastical, hysterical story, if it were not real.

In anticipation of Biden’s looming presidency, leftists began organizing their FREE STUFF priority lists. On the top of many lists you will find cancellation of student loan debt and free healthcare. Where do they think the money will come from? Why, your wallet, of course! Biden is expected to raise taxes to pay for that “free” stuff. 

Never forget this: the understanding that they must take money from the working to pay for the debts of those not working (or not earning as much) — is in itself proof that they know “free” or “cancel” is a lie. There is no such thing as free because someone always pays for it, and leftists know this. That’s why they call to raise taxes “on the rich” — a puffed lie because it is not wealth that is taxed yearly, but earnings, income, work product. It is work that is taxed, not “wealth.” 

The article makes a good point; advocacy of “cancelling” student debt is a direct subsidy of Gender Studies degrees by plumbers, carpenters, car salesman and every other productive citizen in the country.  That’s bad enough to condemn the idea in and of itself, but the most important thing that makes this a bad idea is missed in the linked article:

Responsibility.

Every damn one of these mindless brats yelling to have their loans paid by someone else – make no mistake, that’s what they are asking for – signed a furshlugginer loan agreement, detailing terms of repayment, interest rates, conditions for forbearance, and so on.  It’s the law.   Now they want a mulligan.

What’s next?  Will they buy a new Mercedes, and demand to have their car loan forgiven with no consequences?  Their mortgage?  To hell with that.  As go any loans, so go student loans:  You signed.  You agreed to the terms.  You pay.  End of story.