Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Libertarian Links

FBI getting even more surveillance power: Under current rules, agents must open such an inquiry before they can search for information about a person in a commercial or law enforcement database. Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search such databases without making a record about their decision.

Belgium hasn't had a government in a year (did anyone else know about this?): "Dan Alexe, a Romanian-born Belgian film-maker said: "The trains and buses still run. The police are still operating. The post is late, but then it always was late. Maybe having 'no government' is preferable to having governments which collapse all the time.""

More Belgium: "Belgium has now gone for more than a year without a government and, you know what?  Life is carrying on as normal. The crops are growing, the wheels are turning in the factories, the civil servants (there are lots of these) are lingering over their coffee and speculoos biscuits. The light legislative agenda has given the country something of a boost: growth forecasts keep being upwardly revised, and the economy is expected to expand by 2.3 per cent this year." [...]With no new quangos being created, no new taxes being levied, few new regulations being imposed, the economy is growing faster than the state.

Union Power: "Taken together, over the last two decades, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association have been by far the nation’s leading political donors in federal elections, contributing about 30 percent more money than the second highest contributor, AT&T. Teachers’ unions are either the Number One or Number Two political contributor in 60 percent of U.S. states. The unions further shape the political process by providing countless volunteers to operate phone banks and knock on doors. Using these resources, they have essentially taken over the Democratic Party, which receives 99 percent of their political contributions. [...]Teachers know that tenure protects their lower-performing colleagues: 55 percent of teachers surveyed said that tenure makes it tough to weed out mediocre and incompetent teachers. Clearly, such a policy isn’t good for students. Nonetheless, 77 percent of teachers surveyed said that they would oppose eliminating tenure."

Am I actually quoting Paul Krugman in earnest?: After all, hasn’t Medicare spending risen dramatically over time? Yes, it has: adjusting for overall inflation, Medicare spending per beneficiary rose more than 400 percent from 1969 to 2009. But inflation-adjusted premiums on private health insurance rose more than 700 percent over the same period.

Facebook losing US users: The study noted that Facebook had 155.2 million U.S. users at the beginning of May but 149.4 million at the end of the month. Other countries showed losses as well; Canada dropped by 1.52 million and the U.K. dropped by more than 100,000, but the U.S. showed the biggest loss for Facebook last month.

The danger of the state controlling health care: Earlier this year, the administration, as part of its 2012 budget, proposed terminating a program that provides more than $300 million a year to the 56 free-standing children’s hospitals around the country, which train 40 percent of the nation’s pediatricians and 43 percent of pediatric sub- specialists.

Green lies: Obama's Council of Economic Advisers suggests 225,000 clean energy jobs were either created or preserved through the third quarter of 2010 thanks to more than $80 billion in the economic stimulus package. But those are estimates at best.

FDR's Treasury Secretary knew New Deal didn't work: "After almost two terms of Roosevelt’s New Deal spending, and after doubling the national debt, the result was that more than one of every five Americans was out of work. “We have tried spending money,” Morgenthau conceded. “We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work.”"

Medicare: Doctors participating in Medicare today must practice medicine under an outmoded, wasteful payment system. Typically, they receive no financial reward for talking to patients by telephone, communicat­ing by e-mail, teaching patients how to manage their own care or help­ing them be better consumers in the market for drugs. Medicare pays doctors government-mandated fees for about 7,500 specific tasks and these tasks are not on the list.

The benefits of raw milk.

American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject.

Private sector employees more than three times more likely to quit their jobs than state and local government workers.

Why are there drug shortages?: "The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been stepping up its quality enforcement efforts — levying fines and forcing manufacturers to retool their facilities both here and abroad. Not only has this more rigorous regulatory oversight slowed down production, the FDA’s “zero tolerance” regime is forcing manufacturers to abide by rules that are rigid, inflexible and unforgiving."

The Post Office: Despite facing no competition, it lost $8.5 billion last year. [...]Now that we communicate mainly electronically, more than half of all mail is junk.

There is one entire country, however, that Google Earth won't show you: Israel.

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