Relentless Pursuit of Wisdom and Liberty

The weblog companion of, dedicated to pondering, "If Patrick Henry could see us now..."

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

What to do with extra time while on business travel?

Read, of course! Here are a few notable articles from yesterday and today:

Tech Central Station makes a great distinction between fools and idiots in the debate over Social Security reform and the so-called "riskiness" of personal accounts:
But notice the distinction: these people are fools, not idiots. An idiot wants to invest sensibly, but can't decipher the hard words and long numbers in the investment brochure. A fool wants to get rich quick, and fully intends to suspend his common sense while doing so. A compassionate society protects its idiots. But a prudent society poses no obstacle between fools and the cruel Darwinian realities that pursue them. Consider, too, that even if you prevent the fool from investing stupidly now, the fool will simply squander his money down the road. Foolishness is an aggressively retroactive tax.

In a free society, risk = the potential for wealth. If you seriously believe that some people are too stupid to be trusted with any risk, then you've effectively excluded those people from any significant form of wealth accrual. And while some people might indeed be that foolish, why should the remaining 99% of us be held hostage to their incompetence?

Speaking of Social Security, NRO's Donald Luskin continues to show why he is one of the best explainers of the case for reform, and for private accounts:
The deficit amount of $10.4 trillion was given as 3.5 percent of payroll and compared with $295.5 trillion of total payroll.

Doing this may have toned down that big, bad $10.4 trillion number by setting it against a big, good $295.5 trillion number. But this is misleading, too, in its own way. If payrolls are $295.5 trillion and the deficit is $10.4 trillion, that means Social Security’s anticipated payments to the infinite-horizon must, by definition, be $305.9 trillion — which is a really big, bad number. But we didn’t hear any panels or committees or demanding that number be shown. No, the public must only be shown good numbers.

If you want context — so that the public is sure not to be misled — then how about this? That $10.4 trillion number represents the value of economic assets today that would have to be contributed to the Social Security system to assure its perpetual sustainability based on the best estimates we can make at this time. To set things right, then, we would have to contribute today virtually the entire market value of the S&P 500. We would have to throw down the gaping maw of Social Security almost every share of every major company in America today in order to satisfy the hungry beast.

Townhall's Phyllis Schlafly gives us another reason to avoid the public schools:
On Jan. 3. the Kansas Supreme Court ordered the Kansas legislature to appropriate more money for public schools. According to the National Center for Education statistics, Kansas spends $8,206 per pupil per year, but the judges said the state must spend much more to give schoolchildren the "suitable" education guaranteed by the state constitution.

The Montoy v. Kansas decision implied that the state must spend an additional $850 million or more annually on public schools. The court then suspended its final order to goad the legislature to raise taxes by a court-imposed deadline of April 12.

Since when do judges tell legislatures what laws to pass and what taxes to levy? If any governmental function is (or should be) a legislative function, it is imposing taxes and spending citizen money.


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