“I, Pencil,” almost on film

Competitive Enterprise Institute: “Do you know how a pencil is made? You don’t, do you? No single person on earth does–because the pencil, like most modern wonders, is the end product of an intricate chain of human activity that spans the globe.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is bringing Leonard E. Read’s 1958 essay ‘I, Pencil’ to life in a new animated short film, coming November 15, 2012. For a sneak peek, check out the trailer below.”

I can’t wait! “I, Pencil” is a great story. To read the book, click on ‘I, Pencil’ argues for economic freedom, not government control.

Should you be forced to vote?

From LearnLiberty.org, a project of Institute for Humane Studies:

In an effort to increase voter turnout, some countries have laws requiring citizens to vote or face a penalty. Should the United States adopt such a practice? Professor Jason Brennan offers several reasons for not making voting mandatory.

  • Political scientists find that most citizens are badly informed.
  • Citizens appear to make systematic mistakes about the most basic issues in economics, political science, and sociology. People who would fail econ 101 should not be required to make decisions about economic policy.
  • People who tend to abstain from voting are more ignorant than people who vote. Forcing them to vote would lead to a more ignorant pool of voters, which leads to political candidates who reflect voters’ misperceptions. The end result is bad public policy.

One objection to this argument is that the disadvantaged, the poor, the unemployed, and the uneducated are less likely to vote than other groups. Some argue that people should be forced to vote so the disadvantaged won’t be taken advantage of. Professor Brennan says this objection relies upon the false assumption that people vote for their own interests. In contrast, political scientists have found over and again that people tend to vote for what they believe to be the national interest. We don’t need to worry about protecting nonvoters from selfish voters. Instead, we should worry about whether voters will invest the time to learn which policies really serve the public good.

According to Brennan, bad decisions in the voting booth contribute to bad government; needless wars; homophobic, sexist, and racist legislation; lost prosperity; and more. While all citizens should have an equal right to vote, someone who wants to abstain from voting because he doesn’t feel he knows the right answers — or for any other reason — should be allowed to do so. Brennan concludes that mandatory voting guarantees high turnout but not better government.

A related paper on this topic that I have found useful is The Myth of the Rational Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies by Bryan Caplan, which is also available in longer version as a book. Video of Caplan is at Myth of the Rational Voter.

Electoral college: Is it relevant?

Tomorrow Ken Ciboski, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Political Science at Wichita State University, will be the speaker at the Wichita Pachyderm Club. His very timely topic is “The Electoral College: Is it relevant for today’s presidential elections?”

The public is welcome and encouraged to attend Wichita Pachyderm Club meetings. Meetings are held almost every Friday at noon in the Wichita Petroleum Club on the top floor of the Bank of America Building at 100 N. Broadway. The meeting costs $10, which includes a delicious buffet lunch and beverage. For more information click on Wichita Pachyderm Club.

Occupiers partly right, but mostly wrong

Benjamin Powell at Huffington Post: “Thousands of ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protesters were camped out in New York and other cities across the country one year ago. Their central complaint was that crony capitalism benefited the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Unfortunately, a year later, it appears that cronyism is on the rise while capitalism is waning in America. … Government bailouts and subsidies enrich established economic interest groups at the expense of society. The protesters were right to oppose TARP and Fed-engineered subsidies to big banks and financial firms. Unfortunately they were all too silent when it came to green energy subsidies like Solyndra received. … The occupy movement wanted to throw the baby out with the bathwater. They identified ‘capitalism’ and ‘the rich’ as the problem as much as they blamed cronyism. … The government’s vast economic power is the real source of the problems the occupy movement was upset about. Capitalists don’t make society poorer when they have to win your voluntary purchase of their products. These wealthy people are only a problem when they get government to act on their behalf. If the government didn’t have such vast spending and regulatory powers there would be nothing for crony capitalists to hijack. Unfortunately, the size and scope of the U.S. government has continued to grow at the expense of our economic freedom. Too bad the occupy movement didn’t slow that trend.”

Occupy Wall Street: A One Year Retrospective

Delphi technique, visioning, sustainable communities

From Resist21: The Delphi Technique Revealed: “The Delphi Technique is being utilized in virtually every community in the United States today. Stakeholder councils go into communities under the guise of receiving input from citizens regarding the ‘visioning’ process of turning their towns into ‘Sustainable Communities.’ Concerns of citizens are ignored in favored of preconceived outcomes. People soon discover that private land ownership is jeopardized and their lives are changed immensely as the stakeholders start to take control of their situation. … This video shows the manipulation of the audience to gain public consensus for a regional transportation plan the metropolitan transportation commission was assembled by a number of radical environmentalist groups, social justice, social equity groups, in response to California’s AB 32 and SB375.”

Wow. Let’s hope the Delphi Technique doesn’t make it to Wichita.

Discussion: The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure

John A. Allison, president of the Cato Institute, speaks on his book The Financial Crisis and the Free Market Cure: Why Pure Capitalism is the World Economy’s Only Hope. From Cato Institute Video: “Not only is free-market capitalism good for the economy, says John A. Allison, it is our only hope for recovery. As the nation’s longest-serving CEO of a top-25 financial institution, Allison has had a unique inside view of the events leading up to the financial crisis. He has seen the direct effect of government incentives on the real estate market and how government regulations only make matters worse. In this provocative book, he discusses why regulation is bad for the market and for the world, what we can do to promote a healthy free market, how we can help end unemployment in America, the truth about TARP and the bailouts, and how Washington keeps entrepreneurs from building a better future for everyone. With shrewd insight, alarming insider details, and practical advice for today’s leaders, this analysis is nothing less than a call to arms. Allison explains how government incentives helped expand the real estate bubble to unsustainable proportions, how financial tools such as derivatives have been wrongly blamed for the crash, and how Congress fails to understand that it should not try to control the market — and then completely mismanages it when it tries.”

Who is buying whom?

“They don’t write big checks for mailings like this out of the goodness of their hearts. They’re buying something and it’s fair to wonder what.” That’s an op-ed in the Clay Center Dispatch, lamenting the role of money in political campaigns. The target of the writer’s disdain is the Kansas Chamber of Commerce and campaign contributions it made to the opponent of Tom Hawk, who the newspaper endorsed.

But looking at Hawk’s campaign finance report, I see state university employees, labor unions, highway contractors, and the teachers union. What, are these going to ask Hawk for nothing? Aren’t they buying something?

At least the Kansas Chamber (mostly) advocates a limited government agenda, leaving more personal and economic freedom in the hands of people, not government.

Hawk, who on the 2010 Kansas Economic Freedom Index scored 0 percent as a member of the Kansas House of Representatives, works for larger government. The unions and contractors that fund his campaign will want their payoff, and that means more government spending and more taxes.

An evening with Stephen Moore, in Wichita

Kansas Policy Institute: “Stephen Moore delivered the keynote address at the 2012 Annual Dinner of the Kansas Policy Institute October 18, 2012. Moore is an economic writer and policy analyst who founded and served as president of the Club for Growth from 1999 to 2004. He is currently a member of the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, regularly writes for that paper’s opinion page and frequently appears on national broadcast media including CNBC and Fox News.”