Monday, March 15, 2004

I'm on a role....

Thomas Jefferson wrote that the U.S. Constitution gave Congress the power to criminally punish “treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations, and no other crimes whatsoever.”

Yes, this is today's 3rd quote from an old, dead guy, but with good reason: these people appreciated the philosophical underpinnings of proposed legislation and governance. They also understood their role in building an impermanent form of government.

A tip of the hat to my favorite blogger-gone-mainstream, Radley Balko:,2933,113861,00.html

I guess the offshoring argument is at least 300 yrs. old......

"It is the maxim of every prudent master of a family, never to attempt to make at home what it will cost him more to make than to buy...What is prudence in the conduct of every private family, can scarce be folly in that of a great kingdom. If a foreign country can supply us with a commodity cheaper than we ourselves can make it, better buy it of them with some part of the produce of our own industry, employed in a way in which we have some advantage."

Adam Smith, in "The Wealth of Nations," Book IV, Chapter II

Just curious.....

2 of the bigger hot button political issues right now are 1) job outsourcing (to foreign locations) and 2) prescription drug prices.

I wonder how many people have a unified view of the 2 issues? This is a meaningful question, since the most common solution to problem #2 is problem #1 - i.e. lower prescription drug prices thru the direct importation of prescription drugs from other countries (use cheaper foreign sources to deliver lower prices.) Importing goods or services can deliver lower prices for consumers, but for some reason imported products = good, imported services = bad. Hopefully this is just a phase that we'll grow out of, but I'm still shocked by the naiviety towards these issues by prominent politicians.

One batch of naive politicians are the group that would tend to be pro-outsourcing and anti-drug importation. This is contrary to the free market point of view that would argue for transparency and low barriers to curency (or product) flow.

Worse so would be the point of view that is anti-outsourcing but pro-drug importation. Unfortunately, this is the current populist perspective espoused by far too many prominent politicians abandoning principles for vote$.

But even this policy is preferable over a legislated middle ground that would include price controls and some form of control over job transfers.

The States and Outsourcing

TJ on govt. spending & politcal power

"When all government shall be drawn to Washington as the center of all power, it will render powerless the checks provided of one government on another, and will become as oppressive as the government from which we just separated." - Thomas Jefferson

Enough Talking about Fiscal Responsibility -- Let's Cut Spending

Sunday, March 14, 2004

1 yr. ago: A Marine's Journal

Interesting journal entries from a Marine infantryman during the Iraq war. It seems so long ago, but it was only a year ago.

OpinionJournal - A Marine's Journal

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Road to Serfdom after 60 Years

I'd describe this as a reminder to place liberty - specifically economic liberty in front of whatever competiting priorities we may experience on a daily basis. Without this reminder, it might be easy to argue for a new social program that could act as a band-aid instead of foregoing the program at a short term cost but long term gain in liberty.

Another reaction: wouldn't it be great if these philosopies were in some way introduced to high school students during their formative years? I can't say that this would be easy or broadly effective, but if only a small handful of high school graduates were 10% more fluent in this topic - the spirit of which I believe is part of the American DNA - I'm sure the country would be better off.

The Road to Serfdom after 60 Years

Monday, March 08, 2004

Just saw this Twain quote.....

that is wisdom to live by:

"'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do.'

Mark Twain"

Hasta La Russa?

I've said for a long while that Tony LaRussa - often branded a "genius" has recorded average results for more than a decade, which this article corroborates.

LaRussa's great innovation was the handling of relief pitchers, particularly 1) retread starting pitchers, and 2) the extreme reliance on favorable lefty-lefty or righty-righty matchups in high-leverage late inning situations. (i.e. his handling of Rick Honeycutt and Dennis Eckersley.)

Over time, the rest of the league either imitated him or anticipated his moves, and he has largely come back to earth. He's had the benefit of one of the top budgets, but has continued to NOT develop young pitching - a common thread wherever he has managed - thus he's posted mediocre results, though his apologizers say that he has unfairly not had enough pitching (but he would if he developed any!)

All of this comes with one of the most expensive price-tags in the game. I'm stunned that the Cardinals have accepted LaRussa's performance at his price.

Hasta La Russa?

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Courier News Story

Quoted again - also regarding our meeting with the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, Jim Wallace.

Courier News Story

Gatecrash Wall St Wallace tells Scots - [Sunday Herald]

Hey, I'm quoted!

Gatecrash Wall St Wallace tells Scots - [Sunday Herald]

Buffet's 2003 thoughts.....

One document that I try to read every year is Warren Buffet's annaul letter to shareholders - I've read every one since about 1990. I find this annual letter important for 2 reasons. For one, the guy always has some lucent observations about what's going on in the world and the financial markets.

More importantly, though, it is important to hear an eminently qualified voice like Buffet espouse more conservative, long term managerial strategies, such as his dislike of stock options as managerial incentives, his avoidance of fads (such as investing in the internet in 1999-2001), and his willingness to sit on huge piles of cash when most observers argue that this destroys value.

Here's this year's edition. If you're interested, all of the old letters are also on the Berkshire site.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China

With my new friends on the Great Wall of China
Click to go to my online photography

World sun clock

Uncommon Man's Creed

"I do not choose to be a common man. It is my right to be uncommon -- if I can. I seek opportunity -- not security. I do not wish to be a kept citizen, humbled and dulled by having the state look after me. I wish to take the calculated risk; to dream and to build, to fail and to succeed. I refuse to barter incentive for a dole, I prefer the challenges of life to the guaranteed existence; the thrill of fulfillment to the stale calm of utopia. I will not trade freedom for beneficence, nor my dignity for a handout. I will never cower before any master, nor bend to any threat. It is my heritage to stand erect, proud, and unafraid, to think and act for myself, to enjoy the benefit of my creations, and to face the world boldly and say, "this I have done." All this is what it means to be an American." -- Anonymous