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A slow bloodletting or a quick beheading?

A comment at Hit and Run caught my eye:

If your country is going to collapse and you are 36 years old, would you rather see it collapse over a the course of 60 years or 3 years?

Many of us here have ideas how thigns could be fixed if we were given the power to do whatever we wanted as libertarian super president or if we had a magical brainwash cleansing program to convert 180 million Americans into bonafide Libertian experts overnight...but both of these scenarios are unrealistic.

This country is filled with idiots and led by idiots/evil jerks. Socialism is popular and fascism(public/private partnerships and such) are seen as wholesome goodness. The country is totally fucked. We need more bad legislation as fast as possible...I'd like to be living in a country on the other side of hell by the time I turn 40. You fuckers trying to string this shit out are idiots.

I'm young enough (34) that I'd rather deal with a lot of short term pain if there's some hope for sanity afterwards. A government default would be painful for many, but I'd prefer that to spending the rest of my life in a European-style social democracy.

People have experienced the pain of losing jobs, losing money in an Enron, etc, but have never felt the pain of the government saying, "Sorry, we can't pay you Entitlement X". That will be a harsh, much needed lesson.


Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer, ch. 2

With the fall of the Berlin Wall (and the non-physical but no less real barrier that Soviet bloc nations imposed on their citizens), it's easy to forget that intrigues and inspiring stories of people escaping from authoritarianism continue to this very day at the other end of Eurasia. Via North Korea Econ Watch comes a story about how South Korea-based organization Free North Korea Radio distributes satellite phones in North Korea to allow more communication with the outside world in the most sealed-off country in the world. FNKR, run by North Korean defectors, cautions that being caught with one of these phones can result in death, yet their contacts use them anyway.

This is f-ing incredible. I hope in my own small way to make a contribution to the cause of liberty by writing on this blog, by encouraging mutual aid at the community garden, etc., but this is real live cutting-edge action.


The impending death of Obamacare

I was out of town on a pseudo-vacation for the last week and wasn't able to keep up with the flood of information about ObamaCare, although of course I heard that it passed.

There was quite a bit of information about the contents of the bill beforehand, so it's not like I didn't see that stuff coming, but the enthusiasm and mendacity of the Democrats since the passage of the bill has been, well, appalling and completely expected.

However, and maybe I'm being too optimistic, I'm not as worked up as many people who were opposed to the bill. Frankly, the major parts of it seem to have a snowball's chance in hell of actually surviving the myriad court cases that have already started popping up. Even the US court system, as favorable to its legislative and executive brethren as it is, will have to concede that this is mostly illegal.


What's one innocent black man to the police anyway?

Radley Balko linked to a story a few days ago about a man wrongly arrested by the Seattle police, twice. I'd say mistakenly arrested, but when the victim here is not even remotely physically similar to the person the police were looking for--the victim is black and four inches taller than the white suspect--and has a different last name, it seems pretty clear that they knew they had the wrong person and respected his personhood so little that they just arrested him anyway. Those low-level tyrants are the actual agents of oppression.

Perhaps it was an honest mistake and they really thought they had their man. Either way, they're completely unfit to exercise any kind of power over anyone.


I’ll see your Friedman, and raise you.

Richard Friedman’s in the NYT? Big deal.

We’ve got PATRI FRIEDMAN on the NYT’s Freakonomics Blog and podcast! The theme is “What if economists ran the world?” (Just scroll down/fast forward a bit; he’s squeezed in between the Estonian prime minister and the ultra-high-end call girl. Location, location, location….)


Self-Sabotage

Richard Friedman in the NY Times:

“You could say I’ve been unlucky in love,” a young man told me during a recent consultation.

He went on to describe a series of failed romantic relationships, all united by a single theme: he had been mistreated by unsympathetic women who cheated on him.

This was not his only area of disappointment, though. At work, he had just been passed over for a promotion; it went to a colleague whom he viewed as inferior.

I asked him about his work as a computer scientist and discovered that he worked long hours and relished challenging problems. But he also did some curious things to undermine himself. Once, for example, he “forgot” about an important presentation and arrived 30 minutes late, apologizing profusely.

What was striking about this intelligent and articulate young man was his view that he was a hapless victim of bad luck, in the guise of unfaithful women and a capricious boss; there was no sense that he might have had a hand in his own misfortune.

I decided to push him. “Do you ever wonder why so many disappointing things happen to you?” I asked. “Is it just chance, or might you have something to do with it?”

His reply was a resentful question: “You think it’s all my fault, don’t you?”

Now I got it. He was about to turn our first meeting into yet another encounter in which he was mistreated. It seemed he rarely missed an opportunity to feel wronged.

Of all human psychology, self-defeating behavior is among the most puzzling and hard to change. After all, everyone assumes that people hanker after happiness and pleasure. Have you ever heard of a self-help book on being miserable?

So what explains those men and women who repeatedly pursue a path that leads to pain and disappointment? Perhaps there is a hidden psychological reward.

I got a glimpse of it once from another patient, a woman in her early 60s who complained about her ungrateful children and neglectful friends. As she spoke, it was clear she felt that all the major figures in her life had done her wrong. In fact, her status as an injured party afforded her a psychological advantage: she felt morally superior to everyone she felt had mistreated her. This was a role she had no intention of giving up.

As she left my office, she smiled and said, “I don’t expect that you’ll be able to help me.” She was already setting up her next failure: her treatment.

One theory mentioned above is that self-sabotage allows one to feel superior. My experience with many low self-esteem individuals who self-sabotage is that they simply don't believe they deserve the good things in life. I have no good explanation of why such a character trait might exist.


Civil Disobedience to Obamacare

Shikha Dalmia:

It is hardly surprising then that Americans are feeling a growing panic as they watch their constitutional republic descend into a banana republic. President Obama is fond of quoting Mahatma Gandhi's line that "we should be the change we want to see." But Gandhi also said that "civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state has become lawless and corrupt." Americans instinctively understand this which is why pockets of resistance to ObamaCare are already emerging. The question is only whether they can be constructively harnessed into a grassroots, Gandhi-style civil disobedience movement powerful enough to undo this monstrosity.


He allowed saliva to hit my face

Video of the alleged "spitting" incident:

How Cleaver describes it:

But wait: when Rep. Emanuel Cleaver describes to Milloy being “spat” on, it sounds not like an intentional loogie, but like overenthusiastic yelling. He described it to Milloy as a man “who allowed saliva to hit my face,” which sounds unintentional, if not well-mannered.

Yet, every major news outlet simply ran with the story and tied it to the civil rights struggle and portrayed the protesters as the KKK. Simply shameful.

via Instapundit


Even Boulder Prediction

Someone’s gonna get a bad case of poison ivy.


Bold Prediction

Kevin Williamson:

Our budget deficit is currently about 10 percent of GDP and going higher. Greece’s is 12.7 percent of GDP — significantly higher, sure, but not outrageously so. At the end of fiscal 2009, U.S. federal government debt equaled 83 percent of GDP, 53 percent of which is held by the public. (Another 30 percent is “intra-government” debt, meaning money owed to the mythical Social Security trust fund and the like. The usual approach is to talk only about publicly held debt and to pretend that the rest does not represent real obligations, which is malarkey.) But even that does not tell the whole story: Official government debt figures do not account for the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac obligations taken on by the government, and those amount to $5 trillion, i.e. more than all 2009 federal spending. They also don’t count remaining liabilities related to the Wall Street bailout.

So here’s a prediction for you: Obamacare is not going to happen, regardless of the fact that the president is going to sign it into law today, regardless of what happens in the 2010 and 2012 elections, and regardless of any speech given anywhere in Washington. The government’s ability to simply say “Make it so!” and ignore economic reality is coming up against its limit. If Nancy Pelosi thinks the Republicans are obstructionists, wait until she wants to borrow money from people who don’t want to lend it to her and don’t have to run for reelection.

What are the chances that he's correct?