Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Quickies: Around The Web

I have a "day from Hell" scheduled -- they usually occur on Wednesdays, come to think of it -- so allow me a quick spin around some articles of particular interest:

1. So, you want $15 an hour, do you?

Elevations of the minimum wage inevitably cause a shrinkage of employment. Automation often plays a part:

Fast food doesn’t have to have a negative connotation anymore. With our technology, a restaurant can offer gourmet quality burgers at fast food prices.

Our alpha machine frees up all of the hamburger line cooks in a restaurant.

It does everything employees can do except better....

The remaining employees at the fast-food place might get $15 per hour, but they'd be best advised to watch their demands from now on.

2. You get what someone else pays for.

Neo-neocon sees the figure in the ObamaCare marble:

[T]he fact that enrollees are older than expected—and therefore much more likely to make claims and reduce insurance companies’ profit margins—is okay because government will take up the slack. And by “government” we mean, of course, the taxpayer. And by “taxpayer” we mean, of course, predominantly the wealthy, although the middle class will pay as well in many circumstances....

So Obamacare giveth to the insurance companies and then it taketh away. And then it giveth back again, in a sort of shell game. A significant amount of the revenue that insurance companies get from Obamacare is from the government subsidizing those who might not otherwise buy insurance, and a significant amount of the money the government gets in order to go about subsidizing those people is from taxes paid by insurance companies, which are then given back to the insurance companies in the form of customer subsidies for low-income policyholders, and then…well, you get the idea.

Money, as Thomas T. Thomas noted in First Citizen, is "inherently non-fluid:" some of it "sticks to the walls" of any conduit it passes through. Alternately:

    Ashford asked, "What about lawyers?"
    Lawrence started to answer, but Magruder intervened. "No lawyers, Johnny. What do lawyers specialize in?"
    Ashford shrugged. "Getting their scumbag clients off?"
    "Nope. Law school teaches 'em one thing above all others: Find where the money is coming from, where it's going to, get square between 'em, and catch as much as you can."

[From On Broken Wings]

And governments are always top-heavy with lawyers.

3. For every engineer, there is an equal but opposite engineer.

...which is why Marc Faber and I prefer gold and silver to Bitcoin:

"I prefer physical gold and silver, platinum to bitcoin. Bitcoin can have a lot of competition. Gold, silver, platinum -- they have no competition. How do you value a bitcoin? I can value gold to some extent and compare say gold to the quantity of money that is floating around the world, to the wealth increase, and to the monetary base increase, to the credit increase, and so forth and so on, and to the production costs. So I have an idea of where gold should be. I'm not sure because prices overshoot. How do you value Netflix? Is it overpriced or underpriced? Is Tesla overpriced, underpriced?"

Bitcoin, for all the column-inches it's received, is a human artifact -- and a digital one, at that. Someone will eventually reverse-engineer and counterfeit it. Barring the development of fully controllable nuclear fusion reactors, that won't happen to the precious metals...and should that day ever come, all our troubles will be over for other, happier reasons.

4. Mask slippages dept.

You can count absolutely on the pro-totalitarianism bias of any and every left-liberal. Former New York Times editor Bill Keller is no exception:

Lisa Bonchek Adams is currently hospitalized and being treated for Stage IV breast cancer. Since her diagnosis in October of 2012 at the age of 37, this mother of three has been blogging and tweeting about what she has been through mentally, personally, physically, and medically. For a chilling and revealing reason, former New York Times editor Bill Keller has a big problem with this....

On the pages of the Sunday Times Keller reveals a monstrous philosophy that in so many ways is revealing of the elite left as a whole -- especially as it pertains to ObamaCare. In so many words, Keller just can't bring himself to understand why Adams doesn't give up her fight and die. In his mind, her death is inevitable and all she's doing is spending a lot of money that could be better spent elsewhere:

In October 2012 I wrote about my father-in-law’s death from cancer in a British hospital. There, more routinely than in the United States, patients are offered the option of being unplugged from everything except pain killers and allowed to slip peacefully from life. His death seemed to me a humane and honorable alternative to the frantic medical trench warfare that often makes an expensive misery of death in America.

Among doctors here, there is a growing appreciation of palliative care that favors the quality of the remaining life rather than endless “heroic measures” that may or may not prolong life but assure the final days are clamorous, tense and painful. (And they often leave survivors bankrupt.) What Britain and other countries know, and my country is learning, is that every cancer need not be Verdun, a war of attrition waged regardless of the cost or the casualties. It seemed to me, and still does, that there is something enviable about going gently. One intriguing lung cancer study even suggests that patients given early palliative care instead of the most aggressive chemotherapy not only have a better quality of life, they actually live a bit longer.

This put me in mind of a "debate" some years back:

For John Harris, saving a life and delaying its end is one and the same.

Using this logic, Harris, a bioethicist at the University of Manchester in England, figures that scientists have a moral duty to extend the human life span as far as it will go, even if it means creating beings that live forever.

"When you save a life, you are simply postponing death to another point," Harris told LiveScience. "Thus, we are committed to extending life indefinitely if we can, for the same reasons that we are committed to life-saving."

But the loss of a child and the passing of an elderly person are not the same thing at all, says Daniel Callahan, a bioethicist at the Hastings Center in New York. The first is premature, while the latter comes, hopefully, at the end of a well-lived life.

"The death of an elderly person is sad, because we lose them and they lose us, but it's not tragic," Callahan said. "One can't say this is a deranged universe to live in because people die of old age."

"Bioethicist" Callahan has on several occasions argued against life-extension and other gerontological research, on the grounds that it "discriminates against the less fortunate." If there's an ethical principle behind condemning Smith to an avertible death because Jones can't afford the treatments he needs or wants, I must confess that I can't find it.

Left-liberals are closeted totalitarians, indistinguishable from the Nazis in their readiness to sacrifice every right and every virtue to "the needs of the State." Keller and Callahan are overt about it. Many others are not, and will pretend to be offended if you brace them about it. That doesn't change the underlying dynamic: "Everything within the State, nothing outside the State."

Bear always in mind that totalitarians want power over all things, including life itself, for its own sake:

"The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power....The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?"

Don't turn your back on one, especially in these days of ObamaCare.

5. The New Segregationists: A Conscience Qualm

This comes a bit late to do much good to the longsuffering people of Great Britain, but it's welcome anyway:

In January 2014, Nick Robinson, the political editor of the British Broadcasting Corporation, said they had made a “terrible mistake” over their coverage of immigration for years. He admitted that they had censored legitimate concerns amid fear they could trigger racism. Robinson said BBC figures in charge during the 1990s and 2000s believed an open debate over immigration would “unleash some terrible side of the British public.” “They feared having a conversation about immigration.” One-sided reports meant that viewer’s concerns about the negative effects of mass immigration had not been addressed by the state broadcaster.

This is an open and frank admission of media bias and censorship. Unfortunately, there is every reason to believe that the same problem exists in other countries, too.

Please read the whole article, which is one of Fjordman's most important. I've been hammering this point for years. Perhaps the admission by their British cousin will evoke similar candor from America's media barons...but I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it, if I were you.

That's the news for today, Gentle Reader. And now, back to our Swedish movie.


YIH said...

Several months ago at The American Conservative one of their writers who was ga-ga over bitcoin posted When whiskey was money and Bitcoins might be. Just the headline alone was enough to set off my BS detector.
Because while yes, in post-revolution America whiskey was money, the reason it was is also the reason Bitcoin can't be.
Whiskey can easily be tested for both quantity and quality, Bitcoin? No.
Whiskey existed long before electricity, Bitcoin? No electricity, no internet, no bitcoins.
And as you noted, bitcoins aren't a tangible good, and in fact have no use other than a way to conduct financial transactions online.
Precious metals make nice jewelry, whiskey is an antiseptic, liquid fuel, and cleaning agent among other uses.
Also, a recent variant of bitcoin known as dogecoin, was hacked and pilfered this past Christmas.

Drew said...

The Mask Slippage one really shows the imbalances in the Progressive theology, especially when contrast with your last quickies about the BBC. It blows my mind how any rational person can hold two diametrically opposed views within the same issue. (We have to do this because it is compassionate to kill these people?)

I must confess I do get an undue amount of entertainment from pointing out these divergent positions to my liberal in-laws when they pop up. It makes my day when the father in-law stands there with his mouth moving, and nothing coming out as his mind does backflips to make it all fit.

Fran, thanks for a great read this morning.