Archive for February 2011

“Society as a whole benefits from greater economic freedom.”

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Our elected officials would do well to remember that the most prosperous countries are those that allow consumers—not governments—to direct the use of resources. Allowing the government to pick winners and losers hurts almost everyone, especially our poorest citizens.

Recent studies show that the poorest 10% of the population living in countries with the greatest economic freedom have 10 times the per capita income of the poorest citizens in countries with the least economic freedom. In other words, society as a whole benefits from greater economic freedom.

via Charles G. Koch: Why Koch Industries Is Speaking Out –


Written by breckfield

February 28, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Baseball, Jackie Robinson, and White Guilt

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The New York Times reports that the United States government will be making another payment to the White Guilt fund by  “commemorating” an apartment that was, for a few months in 1946,  the home of Jackie Robinson and his wife.

The quaint Montreal duplex that served as sanctuary to the Robinsons during the early part of his struggle to break baseball’s racial barrier is being recognized by the U.S. government. That chapter in American civil rights will be celebrated Monday when U.S. diplomats unveil a commemorative plaque at the apartment the couple called home in the summer of 1946.


Certainly, Jackie Robinson’s debut in the Major Leagues was very important for Baseball, and important for America. And there can be no doubt that Robinson faced great adversity, both on and off the field, because of his race.

And Robinson’s contribution to The Game went beyond race relations. He was a great player in his prime, and he drove opponents crazy with his aggressive baserunning.

But why is it necessary to designate an official annual Jackie Robinson Day? Why is it necessary to prohibit any Major League player from ever wearing the number 42 again? And why is it necessary to attach a plaque to everything that Jackie came in contact with?

Why can’t we simply document that Jackie Robinson was a great player, who also overcame tremendous adversity to help integrate Baseball…and leave it at that?

Let’s not cheapen Jackie Robinson’s legacy with “George Washington slept here” gimmicks.

Written by breckfield

February 27, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Ducks On The High Seas: An Epic Adventure

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In January 1992, a shipping crate containing thousands of plastic ducks fell off a ship in the Pacific Ocean. Since making their bold escape from captivity, the ducks have split up and gone their separate ways. Sailing the world’s oceans, they have occasionally been spotted on beaches from Hawaii to Scotland. Their global galavanting has provided useful information to those studying the world’s ocean currents.

From The Independent:

Now the creatures, nicknamed the “Friendly Floatees” by various broadcasters who have followed their progress over the years, have been immortalised in a book titled Moby-Duck. It not only chronicles their extraordinary odyssey, and what it has taught us about currents…

Authorities refuse to disclose if any of the missing ducks are being held for ransom by Somali pirates, but they do suspect fowl play.


Written by breckfield

February 27, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Posted in news, science

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Rahm Emanuel & Judy Erwin: That’s The Chicago Way

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If Rahm Emanuel is looking to maintain the same ethical standards in Chicago that he did running President Obama’s staff, then he’s off to a good start. He hasn’t been Mayor-Elect for even a week and already the co-chair of his transition team has resigned because of ethics violations in her previous job. As CNN reports:

A recent decision by the state Executive Ethics Commission says Erwin used her state e-mail account and phone to campaign for Obama, engaging in campaign fundraising activity and using staff resources to help plan her trip to the 2008 Democratic National Convention…

“The atmosphere for (Board of Education) employees must have been heavily colored by Ms. Erwin’s political activity on the job,” the ethics board said…

It also found her explanation that she made a campaign contribution to a state representative who was chairman of the higher education appropriations committee “particularly troubling.”

“This suggests that she was responding to a real or imagined pay to play incentive within state government,” the decision states.

I’m not certain why Erwin resigned. With ethics like that, she would seem to be a perfect fit.

To call Rahm Emanuel “Machiavellian” is an insult to Machiavelli.

Written by breckfield

February 26, 2011 at 6:39 pm

“If They Knew What They Liked, They Wouldn’t Live In Pittsburgh.”

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The Economist‘s so-called Intelligence Unit has released its 2011 Liveability Rankings, which claims that the most “liveable” city in the United States is…


Well, perhaps they’re right. But I can’t help recalling this exchange from Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels:

Aw, what do they know in Pittsburgh.

They know what they like.

If they knew what they liked, they wouldn’t live in Pittsburgh!


Written by breckfield

February 22, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Wisconsin Labor Union Protests: Money and Power

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The public employee labor union protests have been making the headlines this week.

While state congressional Democrats have been hiding out (literally) in Chicago bars, Wisconsin’s teachers have been leading the revolt in the streets. The average Wisconsin teacher earns about $50,000 per year and has received a 21% pay hike over the past decade.

So why are teachers skipping school, obtaining fake doctor’s excuses, and protesting?

As the old saying goes, follow the money. You’ll find clues in some of the news reports and analysis, as in this paragraph from a recent Politico article:

Yet another element of the legislation could have even greater political consequences. The Republican would end the automatic deduction from their workers paychecks and make the unions collect the dues themselves, a move that would almost surely result in less cash flowing into labor coffers. It would block unions from collecting money from consenting workers’ paychecks for political operations and it would force annual elections on whether state workers even want a union, a lethal threat to public sector labor.

[emphasis mine]

As I said recently:

But many union leaders are not satisfied with the job well done; are not satisfied with simply maintaining a fair and equitable balance. Like the dictator, the union leader’s primary goal becomes retaining and expanding their power. And so they suppress their people with threats and rules. Or they tell them how the Evil Company Management will strip them of all they hold dear, were it not for The Union and its Leaders.

As with most unions, it all comes down to money and power.

Written by breckfield

February 20, 2011 at 9:17 am

Posted in business, politics

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Unions, and Other Dictatorships

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Many dictators rise to power because they fill a real need, address a problem. They create order out of chaos, restore national pride, lead the battle against enemies, both foreign and domestic. Hitler filled a void for Germany in the wake of its World War I defeat. Mussolini “made the trains run on time”.

Inevitably, there comes a stage in the life-cycle of a dictator when he no longer is needed. He has restored order, led his nation through the crisis, and gotten his people back on their feet. They are now both confident and competent.

At this point, the primary goal for most (if not all) dictators becomes survival. The good of the country takes a backseat to the need to retain and expand the dictator’s power. He may suppress his people, or he may try to keep himself on the throne by convincing them that they still need him. Without me, he says, you would starve. The wolves (Imperial, Capitalist, Christian) are always at our door and you need me to keep them at bay.

Like many dictators, many unions initially rose to power because they, too, filled a legitimate need. They have leveled the playing field with management, improving working conditions and ensuring fair pay for quality work.

But many union leaders are not satisfied with the job well done; are not satisfied with simply maintaining a fair and equitable balance. Like the dictator, the union leader’s primary goal becomes retaining and expanding their power. And so they suppress their people with threats and rules. Or they tell them how the Evil Company Management will strip them of all they hold dear, were it not for The Union and its Leaders.

This progression from justice-seeking to power-grabbing has occurred with many unions over the decades and centuries: The AFL-CIO, The SEIU, The NAACP, political parties and church clergy. Yes, unions may represent more than just a group of laborers, and power can corrupt them all.

Unions are not inherently evil; only when they fail to limit themselves to serving the greater good.

Written by breckfield

February 18, 2011 at 9:21 am

Posted in business, politics

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