Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Live Free or Move"

If creating your own country in the middle of the ocean is not for you, then try out a second solution to get “Liberty in Our Lifetime.” The Free State Project is:

"an effort to recruit 20,000 liberty-loving people to move to New Hampshire. We are looking for neighborly, productive, tolerant folks from all walks of life, of all ages, creeds, and colors who agree to the political philosophy […] that government exists at most to protect people's rights, and should neither provide for people nor punish them for activities that interfere with no one else."

So far they have recruited 8331 people to agree to move to New Hampshire, whose state motto is naturally “Live Free or Die.” Once the number gets to 20,000 they will all move up in mass, or at least that’s the idea. Their hope is to get enough people to the state to where they can greatly effect public policy decisions.

I wouldn’t join myself, but I think it is a little more practical than the aforementioned idea. I would hope that as the cost of transportation and long distance communication lessen, that people would be more willing to select areas based on their political principles. This would hopefully result in more choice in local government for the everyday citizen, and more choices are never bad.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Libertarians on the Run

I recently came across a new movement called Seasteading. The Seasteading Institute is an attempt to "create permanent dwellings on the ocean." Apparently they are using the ocean as the new frontier. By building new cities in international waters they plan on experimenting with alternative styles of "social, political, and legal systems on a small scale."

Instead of trying to change their government from the inside, they will simply create their own nation with their own rules and regulations. Patri Friedman, TSI's Executive Director and son of renowned economist Milton Friedman, states that "the public sector is simultaneously the largest industry in the world and the least innovative, with a barrier to entry and lock-in on its customers that dwarfs any private monopoly."

The authors and most of the supporters seem to also be supporters of minimal government. There is even a whole page on Why should libertarians follow this approach? It may seem like a pipe dream, but philanthropist Peter Thiel has pledged $500,000 to the cause.

I'm still unconvinced this is the route to take. Although I would love to see market competition for good governments, the idea of separating yourself from people who do not agree with you seems like it could have some disastrous results. Is there anything to stop a Seasteading group of polygymists and child molesters?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

On the Shoulders of Giants

If you read other blogs you have noticed that many of them have catchy names. Marginal Revolution, Cafe Hayek, Guesswork Theory are some examples. So I've decided to do the same. If you notice the title at the top of this page is "My Shoulders". For me this site is a chance to be plugged into a community of learning and teaching each other. I've enjoyed reading others ideas (in their comments here and on their personal pages) as much as I have enjoyed writing my own. For me, the name symbolizes that idea. I am just a dwarf, standing on the shoulders of giants. I hope "My Shoulders" help others to see a little farther.

"We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours."
-12th century theologian and author John of Salisbury

***Note: This blog name was short lived, and the name Bottlenecked was later taken for good***

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Carolinian For VP?

I recently read an article in the Wall Street Journal about Mark Sanford as a possible running mate for John McCain. As I went through it I began to realize that I would probably like my governor more than I thought. I have heard off and on that he is a proponent of tax cuts, school choice and has vetoed almost 400 bills (although most were overturned, it's still nice to see someone telling politicians to stop trying to "do" so much). He is also a big free market supporter:

"There are only two ways to raise the standard of living," he said, "through technology – one backhoe can dig more dirt than 50 men with shovels – and through brain power . . . And that's it."

You cannot have the government spend its way to happiness. Tax rebates will do nothing without future promised cuts in spending. He is also famous for what he did to get the South Carolina legislature to balance the budget. Four years ago, Mr. Sanford walked into the House chamber carrying two squealing piglets in an effort to shame legislators over pork-barrel spending. He also has some insightful things to say about the health care/insurance debate.

"Our contention has been that the fatal flaw with our health-care system is that someone else pays. And as long as someone else pays, there is unlimited demand for a product . . . someone is going to cap it. It's just a question of who it is going to be? A government bureaucrat? An HMO bureaucrat? Or is it going to be you? But it is going to be somebody, because we can't keep growing health care at double digits and expect to be competitive. . . . So we were the second state in the nation to offer health savings accounts to all state workers and all state retirees. We got that one through. We are the first state in the nation to be offering the health care choice system [for Medicaid]. . . that offers everything from traditional fee-for-service to HMOs to PPOs, but the big one that I like is the individual health savings accounts."

He has also

"enacted a voucher system for prekindergarten students, created a statewide charter school district (local districts won't approve new charters), and has pushed for, though not won, vouchers for nearly every child in the state."

Although South Carolina is not the voting bloc you want in a Vice Presidential candidate, it would also be nice to have some Carolina representation in the White House. Something that hasn't happened since John C. Calhoun (go tigers).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Graduation Speeches

The month of May is almost here and that means graduation speeches are currently being formulated. I recently heard someone make an interesting comment on the ignorance of some graduation speeches that I'd like to discuss. In a commencement speech you may hear things like: "you face the most difficult challenges of any generation before you" or maybe "the world has never been harder" or worse yet "you are our greatest generation."

I don't want to trivialize the real and sometimes crippling hardships of the world today, but the simple truth is this: life is easier than it used to be. The life expectancy in 1900 was 42, it is now 76. In America, women and minorities have more choices and fewer limitations than ever before. Most people now carry around more information on their internet accessible cell phone than the any one person in the world had access to forty years ago. We've gotten so wealthy that we have new issues that we didn't have the luxury of worrying about a hundred years ago (think about child labor laws, global warming and animal rights). The fact of the matter is, we don't worry about starvation, political upheaval, or a whole host of diseases that no longer threaten the developed world.

This of course does not mean we should sit back and simply reap what past generations have sown. No, in fact the charge to this generation, as it has been for all, is to give our children and grandchildren a better life, just like ours have done for us.

Friday, April 18, 2008

A Catbus Named Desiree

Here is Justin and Erin's award winning short film A Catbus Named Desiree entered in the 2008 DCF flim festival. Along with the high honor of Best Film, it also won Best Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Comedy.

Also good from J & E Productions:
Robot Cat Music Video
The Making of Robot Cat

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In Thousand Word Increments

Following the theme of my previous post, here are some more descriptions of Greenville, but this time in thousand word increments. These pictures are thanks to Greenville Daily Photo, a blog I frequent and recommend if you want a taste of Greenville, SC.

Click on each picture to enlarge and read more about them.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Greenville, My Real Home

Thanks to and their blog for this awesome description of my favorite town on earth.

An easy city to find but a hard one to define, Greenville is located smack dab between Charlotte and Atlanta on that glorious stretch of congestion and construction known as I-85. However, the roads are clogged because the town is quickly growing into the hub of South Carolina business. When the coast gets distracted by the breezes and Columbia gets inundated with fat cats, Greenville, sheltered in the foothills, remains a perfect environment for business. Just ask BMW, Michelin, and OrangeCoat.

More than just business, Greenville is a place to live, enjoy, and prosper. It's home to a great art community, a booming downtown, and endless opportunities. On top of that, it is only 25 to 35 minutes (depending on who is driving) from God's country and the most exciting 25 seconds in college football.

Whether an epicure or person with simple tastes, Greenville provides a range of dining options. The barbecue sauce is tomato based and the best sauce in town is cut with a little bit of Cheerwine. Tea is always iced and always sweet, and fried is never a bad word. To avoid that impending angioplasty, you can savor a glass of wine from one of the town's many quality bistros or have a gourmet meal at one of the downtown hot spots.

Greenville is, in most ways, the very definition of that "New South" the media likes to talk about. The young eager and energetic mix well with the area's wise and experienced folk. The culture is a combination of the old Southern charm with a smattering of new Yankee bravado and energy. The town oozes with talent, ingenuity and intelligence and is growing like a uranium enriched tomato.

The greater Greenville area has a bright future and we are excited and proud to be a part of the landscape.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Check Out the New Wheels

1991 Plymouth Voyager

color: DeLorean gray

window tint: clear

amenities: tape player (no CD player), heat (no AC), Rain-X (no working windshield wipers), and of course...

optional third row seating

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Birthday Wishes for Happy Parenting

Today is the 23rd anniversary of my birth. Years from the land of my teens and seeing my own parenthood in the distance, I think it fair to say I’m older than I was yesterday. In light of this future national holiday, I decided to make the topic of this post relevant to the art of childrearing.

Responding to the fear that America will continue to follow in the footsteps of Europe and begin to have less and less children, economist Bryan Caplan makes the argument in An Economist's Guide to Happier Parenting that an extra child on average is beneficial, not harmful to a society. To encourage people to do so, he made a list of four things you can do to make parenting a more enjoyable experience.
1. Don't bite off more than you can chew. Don't plan three activities every Saturday, and wind up exploding at your kids' behavior in the middle of the third. It's far better for them and you to do one thing together that you can all enjoy, then let them watch t.v. Seriously.

2. If you can afford a nanny, get a nanny. If you can't afford a nanny yet, consider waiting to have kids until you can. If you're the typical person who isn't sure if he or she wants kids, you're well-educated and have good income potential. So if you can't afford a nanny yet, you'll be able to soon enough.

3. Don't let American prejudice against live-in nannies influence you: Live-in nannies mean you can sleep in, stay out, and get a break when you need one. Your best bet is to get a mature woman to bond with your kids when they're infants, and keep her happy. A little respect goes a long way.

4. Read Judith Harris' The Nurture Assumption. Don't worry about "moulding" your child for life; you couldn't do it if you tried. Realize, instead, that the purpose of discipline is:
a. To keep your kid in one piece.
b. To make your life easier - you count too!
c. To force your kid to sacrifice very short-run gains (playing ten more minutes) for short-run gains (not being cranky later today)
The main observation about parental unhappiness is this: The last 10% of parenting hours causes half of all the parental unhappiness. First two hours with your kids: a joy. Second two hours: pretty good. Hours 5-8: Tolerable. Hours nine and ten: Pain. Remaining hours: Anguish. There are few better illustrations of the law of diminishing marginal utility.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Curse of Foreign Aid

Several studies have found that countries with plentiful and profitable natural resources have not helped them to become wealthy, but in fact, have big a major influence in the poverty of millions of people. This "natural resource curse" is a paradox that refers the negative correlation between abundant natural resources and low economic growth. The primary reason cited for this counter intuitive parallel is the ease from which political corruption can occur when these industries are nationalized (taken over by the government). Oppressive regimes must have control over a lot of money to pay off their followers, i.e. their cronies, and the resulting inflow of money from resources like diamonds and oil are perfect for this. These tyrannical governments, it is safe to say, are not good for economic growth. Nations like Angola, rich in diamonds, and Venezuela, abounding in oil, are perfect victims for this problem.

As scary as this idea is, even scarier is the similar outcome of foreign aid. Foreign aid, from one government to another, does not help the people of needy country, but instead acts a natural resource of easy money for controlling governments. The United States must attempt to be a beneficial government because voters pay the bills. Take away that incentive and governments only have to keep people happy enough not to revolt. No representation without taxation. Here are some articles I found on the subject: Aid and the Resource Curse and The Curse of Aid.

The solution I have come to is this: if we want to help the impoverished people of the world, we'd be better off (and so would they) to lower legal barriers and open trade between these nations.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Washington, My Home

***Addendum: unlike like George Washington (pictured below) I apparently have no problem telling a lie. I didn't cut down a cherry tree and I sure didn't get a job in the great state of Washington. April Fools!***

I usually try to keep the narrative out this venue to avoid boring people with my personal life, but I feel like this is important enough to mention. I recently accepted a teaching position via Teach for America at Clallam Bay High School in Washington. That's right, Traci and I are heading to the west coast. The main pull to this area in particular was their higher salary, $46,000 and their opening over the summer. I'll be teaching Advanced Placement Economics in their summer "Pull Ahead" program. This a program that has apparently been in the Cape Flattery School District for a while that offers a handful of advanced class to help eager students take the extra classes they might need to graduate a year early. The process has begun as we are now looking for a house and church. So if you know any in the area give us a ring. Traci and I are hoping to be settled there before I start in June. Here we come Washington!