AllenN's blog

Why capitalism is so great, part two

In part one, I talked about the greatness of capitalism, and tried to show sort of a mathematical way of proving it. Capitalism likely improves the outcome of economic trades made by people versus trades authorized by, or restricted by, or controlled by, the government. A little improvement here and there, over millions of transactions a day, over millions of people, over thousands of days, yields a huge dividend to society. It sort of reminds me of the difference between getting 5% interest or 10% interest.

Why capitalism is so great

It is hard to write about the greatness of capitalism because it seems so obvious, like explaining why one plus one equals two. But there are so many people now who seem to embrace some form of socialism that it does seem necessary to remind them of why capitalism is a much better economic and social system. "Socialism," despite its label, is much worse for society.

Let me start by discussing a principle in Economics 101, which is that people act rationally and do what is best for themselves.

Former President Obama to receive Kennedy Center award

Former President Barack Obama has won the Kennedy Center's 2017 Profile in Courage Award for a speech he is to give to Cantor Fitzgerald, the Wall Street brokerage house. Obama will be paid $400,000 for the speech, which is expected to take him about forty minutes. That works out to about $10,000 per minute or $600,000 an hour, which means Obama will earn over 10,000 times more per hour than the average American worker.

How real journalists can combat "fake news"

There has been a lot of discussion about "fake news," with much it it fueled by the rise of the Internet. It used to be that getting your story in the newspaper faced a certain high barrier. Your item had to be newsworthy, of course, but it was also subject to review and confirmation by the reporter or editor. Publication conveyed a certain amount of legitimacy. If a mistake was made, a correction would be run.

But something strange started to happen several years ago, and maybe it was started by our love and fascination with celebrities.

Sanctuary Town fallacies

I wanted to thank Richard (Anping) Liu for his articles on the Sanctuary City/Sanctuary Town issue, as well as the other contributors we have had over the last couple of months on this topic. Richard's most recent article examines crime rates for Sanctuary Cities and Towns versus state averages.

How Chief Justice Roberts' decision helped Trump

There are probably a few big reasons and a million little reasons why Donald Trump won the Presidency, not the least of which was the flawed persona of his main opponent. But history will show that Chief Justice Roberts was a primary cause.

Roberts' correct decision not to intervene in overturning Obamacare led to Trump's victory as it galvanized opponents of President Obama and his policies, and Mrs. Clinton ran more on Obama's legacy than on her husband's. Embracing Obama allowed the many failures of Obama's presidency to be assigned to candidate Clinton.

Finance Committee fails Acton Town Meeting

At last night's Annual Town Meeting (TM), my friend Charlie Kadlec proposed an amendment to the town funding warrant article to transfer $1 million from our reserves to lower next year's tax rate, which would have saved the average taxpayer around $125. The average single-family property tax bill would still have increased to $10,988, a 2.77% increase, but would have stayed under $11,000. His amendment was defeated by about 160-110.

The clash of dictators with free societies

PART ONE IS HERE: http://www.actonforum.com/blogs/allenn/dealing-authoritarian-dictators

I'm up in Canada for a trip this week, and read the regional "Globe and Mail" newspaper, which reported on a recent attempt by the Canadian government to agree to a criminal extradition treaty with China.

Dealing with authoritarian dictators

The concept of free trade is great. We should assume every bilateral relationship with other countries would be based on the ideal of free trade. Free trade provides an economic benefit to our citizens, in that it brings cheaper, or better-quality, goods to our citizens than we otherwise would have had. And in general, competition improves the products made by domestic manufacturers.

Take the American car industry for example. Without competition, American manufacturers had a virtual monopoly and were able to make cars with planned obsolescence.

The subsidization of America

Today's WSJ had a story about some older guy, holding a cute dog in his lap, who was going to be "paying more" if the Republican plan to replace Obamacare came to pass. Nobody likes to hear about someone "paying more" so I read the article. Turns out he was a vet who ran a small office and who offered health insurance to his staff. But his costs would rise because he had an older workforce whose premiums would increase under the new Republican healthcare plan. What a shame, what an injustice!

This is an example of misleading news, if not fake news.

10 Billion apologies

The mainstream media continues to act like the tail is wagging the dog with regards to Donald Trump. He apparently spends a couple minutes on a "tweet" and the media spends several weeks dissecting it, discussing it, and commenting on it. What a master manipulator this guy is.

Fake News, part four

I was reading my favorite WSJ this morning and saw an intriguing headline in the Best of the Web column, which I will paraphrase: Is Mona Lisa happy or sad?

The politics of Living in Fear

Emotions are funny things. Our lives are governed by doing things that make us feel good, and trying to avoid things that make us feel bad.

I guess pain is also like an emotion. The body produces physical pain in order to teach you how to protect yourself. If you touch the hot stove and it really hurts, you won't likely do that again. But if you were able to sever the nerve connections between your finger and your arm, so that the pain message never got to your brain, you could hold your finger to the stove until it was well done.

Fake news--part three

In 2015, during the presidential campaign, Trump made many statements about illegal immigrants causing crime. After a pretty lengthy discussion, the Washington Post fact checker (Mchelle Ye Hee Lee) gave Trump's statement "four pinocchios" for being false. This is defined as a "whopper" and the worst rating for falsehood. This is a clear-cut example of "fake news" generated by the mainstream media.

Here is the link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/07/08/donald-tr...

Examples of Fake News--Part Two

After posting my fake news article this morning, I was remarking to a friend how much snow we've gotten and how California has turned from drought to plenty with regards to water. I made the statement that California's drought must be over, based on overflowing dams and reservoirs, with more rain on the way.

"Oh, but the aquifers might never recover," he said. Say what?

Examples of Fake News

I agree with President Trump that the media is biased against him, that the news is often slanted against him and "Republicans" in general, and that the media is, by and large, his enemy.

Acton school assessment may rise five times more than Boxborough's

The original School Committee's budget (discussed at last night's meeting, which I did not attend) proposes that Acton's assessment increase by 4.3%, while Boxborough's increase is proposed at 1.15%. That means Acton's assessment will be increasing at almost four times the rate of Boxborough's, and twice the rate of inflation (which was around 2% in 2016).

Update on lawsuit over CPA funding grants to local Acton churches

The lawsuit has just been approved to be heard by the Superior Judicial Court of Massachusetts (SJC) which will make the final decision. It is expected to be argued in September.

Besides the brief filed by the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (read it here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/16P1675-Appellant_Brief.pdf ), there is an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit by the ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts. (Read their brief here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/FINAL_Caplan_Amicus_Brief.pdf ).

For previous articles on this topic:

LOL at the Boston Globe

My wife still likes to get the Globe, but I only read it for laughs these days. We continue to receive the print version but I called today to cancel it. Now that winter is almost over, I don't need all that extra newsprint around for starting fires.

But last Sunday, the Globe had the irony of all ironies in its front-page story, titled "WE ARE STILL A NATION OF LAWS" (caps original!). To see this visually, click here: http://www.actonforum.com/sites/default/files/globecover.jpg

Sanctuary Town status discussed at Acton Board of Selectmen meeting

I attended the "surprise" BOS meeting which had the issue of Acton becoming a "sanctuary town" on the agenda, although if you had just read the agenda, you would have had no idea this was the actual topic for discussion. The issue was instead framed about making Acton a "safe community." Yeah, right. Safer for law-breakers, maybe, but not necessarily safer for law-abiders.

These Orwellian descriptions (used by both political parties) are getting quite annoying. We don't want to "offend" people so we come up with calling black, white and up, down.

No place for illegals in Acton

Some members of the Acton Board of Selectmen are going to attempt to make Acton a "sanctuary community." This is a terrible idea on so many levels and if you are opposed to defying federal law and encouraging illegal activity, you should attend the Board of Selectmen meeting this Monday and prepare to speak out against this outrage.

You can read some of the background materials on the town website here: http://doc.acton-ma.gov/dsweb/Get/Document-58011/040%20(3)%20%20Safe%20Communities%20Information.pdf.

Time to go full nuclear

I used to be a "moderate Republican." That was before the presidency of Barack Obama, who showed me that moderation and bipartisanship has no place in American politics, not for the foreseeable future, anyway.

Democrats and the media (sorry for the redundancy) like to say that Obama's decision to "use his pen and his phone" to unilaterally implement his agenda, illegally, and against the bipartisan history of the Senate, was OK because Republicans wouldn't compromise.

Health Insurance Working Group holds secret meeting

If something isn't broken, you shouldn't try to fix it.

Someone needs to explain this simple concept to our representatives on the Board of Selectmen and the AB Regional School Committee, who have chosen to negotiate changes to the health insurance plans and payments across all union entities in executive session rather than in public. That might be a reasonable procedure, except these same negotiations were done four years ago and everything was done in public. The process worked fine and the results were good, so why the change?

Silver dollar blues

In the Star Trek universe, members of Star Fleet do not get paid; at least, there is no reference to it that I can recall. Everybody seems to work for free and the reward is being able to be a member of the space-faring club and wear the snazzy uniform. They go on their five-year mission and all of their needs are taken care of.

They also never seem to use the restroom. Could it be the zero-g environment?

Donald Trump and lies

There was a very strange article last week in the WSJ, written by the editor, Gerard Baker. In it, he argued that Donald Trump told a lot of falsehoods, but they weren't technically lies because a liar needs to know they are lying when they utter the statement. If you don't know something is a lie, and it turns out to be false, you may be guilty of several things but lying may not be one of them.