Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Free Trade? Fair Trade?

We've gone around on this before, most notably here.

I've struggled to articulate what, exactly, I've been meaning in most of these discussions. But, I read something today and I realized where I've been lacking: real-world examples. Short of finding someone who'll share doing-business-in-China horror stories with us, let me share the following.

An investment bank I know of publishes a quarterly journal highlighting research and analysis by their practice groups. One group focused its contribution on China, from which I quote:

"Among the most significant risks in implementing a successful market entry strategy are:

- A partially privatized business environment which allows unfair trade practices. For example, in many large industries such as steel and mining, banks (which are quasi-governmental agencies) provide below-market rate loans to State Owned Enterprises ('SOEs')." (emphasis mine)

And later…

"- A legal system, despite its current transition to full World Trade Organization compliance, which fails to adequately protect intellectual property and contractual arrangements. The inadequate protection results from both/either insufficient codification of rules and business principals (sic) and/or lack of enforcement. Many companies which have developed sources in China have been surprised by the quickness with which knock-offs are developed (e.g. gear and apparel by The North Face)."

When one hears politicians tossing around terms like "fair trade" or "free trade" it is wise to sit up and take note. Large is the answer to the question: what is the opportunity for mischief? Yet, there remains a fundamental challenge in trade relations when one party respects property rights and the rule of law, and the other party doesn't.

The hard truth is this: as a country, we want cheap stuff more than we want liberty for other people. Democratic societies won't be able to provide us that dirt-cheap labor needed to manufacture our stuff as cheaply as possible, so until 1) we change or 2) our trading partners become free societies, we're going to be facing this dilemma.

Which I would guess would be a long time.

I'll try and see if I can get some stories of how the social/political risk of doing business in China has hurt some companies, and will try to remember that my points would be so much more effective if they had facts to support 'em!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hey Look! *Sigh* Man, This is Getting Old


Ho-hum, more drivel from the cowards with the religion of peace.

Hey, Adam? Adam Pearlman? God, I hope you're googling your name regularly and somehow this pops up. Listen up: no matter how long that beard gets, no matter how much filth you peddle, you're always going to be that dorky Jewish kid who grew up on a goat farm. You might want to do the self-respecting thing and just kill yourself now.

You know the funny thing about this loser? When he gets caught - because he will, eventually - he's going to be treated with a hell of a lot more decency by the "baby killers" and "war criminals" that capture him than him and his people would treat one of ours.

How is this a religion again?

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day 2007

In case I don't get a chance tomorrow... our first guests are arriving around 10:30...

Happy Memorial Day! God bless all of those who are serving and have served their country. Their sacrifice allows us to debate economics, Liberty, and how many angels fit on the head of a pin. Every day that we wake up free (even if we're not as free as we should be) should be a day to thank a soldier.

The "not as free as we should be" thing? That's our fault, and another thing we should be reminding ourselves of on a daily basis.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Caption Contest

Kudos to our own Mr. Adams for the idea and the photo, courtesy of the AP.

As for now, the only award you'll get is bragging rights as to having won the first caption contest. To do so, you'll have to beat mine, which is:

Rahm Emmanuel: "Oh Dear Lord, not again with 'the children.'"

Here's the link to the picture, so you can see who the other folks are in the picture. Have fun, and thanks Samuel.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Open Query

Suppose you had a chance to volunteer for the campaign of a Presidential candidate, because you knew someone involved in the campaign. You weren't wild about the candidate, but maybe of the top names in the running, you liked this guy the best.

Would you do it? What if the guy you really liked was such a dark horse he wouldn't realistically have a chance?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

We've Got a Live One Here

So I was in the car today and happened to be listening to a CD when I thought... you know what, I'll bet Laura's just coming back from a commercial break.

And so she was, and wouldn't you know it, her guest was one Duncan Hunter, candidate for President of these United States. You can read about Duncan's positions here, and by golly, this seems like I guy I might be able to vote for.

Please take a look and see if anything doesn't stand up to scrutiny. I'm going to do the same. Folks, I haven't read every key-stroke of his site, but from a quick once-over, this might be my guy.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Great Gas Out, a closer look...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I asked someone familiar to us all to grace us with a reply to the recent email message I received entitled: "Don't Pump Gas on May 15th," the text of which you may have via a little interpolation, or, if you prefer, at your request. Mr. Hargis has indeed honored my request with his latest Guest Contribution to this forum. So I withhold from you no longer, and without further ado, Mr. Hargis:

There was an email fwd travelling around the internet exhorting Americans to stay away from the gas pumps on 15 May 2007 in an effort to stick it to Big Oil and the Middle Eastern oil industry. Some questionable numbers were used to show that such a boycott would rob those greedheads of a little over $2 billion. Seems like a good idea, right? Let's look at it a little closer, shall we?

If I see a house for sale and I don't buy it, have I taken anything from the owners? The correct answer is no. If I spend $100 per week on groceries at Save-A-Lot, that doesn't deplete Kroger's bank account at all. Millions of people don't buy Chevrolet Corvettes for all kinds of reasons. The effect is the same as if they'd boycotted them, yet Chevrolet still sells every 'Vette they make. See where I'm going? Not buying a thing isn't the same as taking something away from the seller.

I will be the first to admit that $2 billion is a big chunk of change...but not compared to $500 billion. I don't know what the total yearly revenues of the oil industry amount to, but I'm guessing it's closer to the latter than the former, and probably a lot higher. Furthermore, only a tiny fraction of that $2 billion goes to the oil companies, say 25 cents per gallon. It may even be less than that considering the millions of people involved in drilling, transporting, refining, etc., over which all that money is spread. $2 billion dollars divided by $3 per gallon equals about 670,000,000 gallons of gas. Multiply that by 25 cents and you get $167,500,000. A lot of money, but a tiny drop in the bucket compared to what is spent on the world's oil market. So if 73,000,000 Americans (the email's number) refused to buy gas for one day, the only people who would notice would be those 73,000,000 Americans. It isn't as though the gas won't get sold: Every gallon of gas you don't buy is a gallon freed up for someone else. By the way, if my figure of 25 cents doesn't seem right, feel free to use your own figure.

So, the point is that if you want to stay away from the gas pumps for a day as a symbolic gesture, fine. But don't fool yourself into thinking that your action is going to force some oil company executive to have to fire his maid and start cleaning his own swimming pool. The world oil market is simply too big for you, or even 73,000,000 of you to do that.

-Mike Hargis

Sunday, May 20, 2007

AFB Book Review

I just finished Pat Buchanan's relevant and somewhat scary State of Emergency. I'm thankful I read it, although I'll never be the same (read: ignorant, at ease).

Buchanan takes great pains to illustrate the duplicity of the Mexican government and provides a historical context against which to assess the current invasion of illegals: truly, they are trying to take back lands that they have lost.

Some favorite parts...

Buchanan quotes JFK at length in one chapter of the book. As one of the "great" Democrat Presidents, JFK is adored by the Democrats, but his words are an indictment of the current policy of amnesty advocated by the Democrats (and many Republicans). It is worth noting that when people say the same things JFK said, they are labelled racists (p. 238).

He also takes an interesting look at illegal and unchecked immigration: how it hurts the poorest Americans, and wisely illustrates this by quoting Booker T. Washington (p. 230). He also notes that Samuel Gompers (founder of the AFL) was a strong opponent of unchecked immigration, and that this too is an example of how the poorest Americans are harmed by unchecked immigration.

Buchanan offers a number of great ideas, among them a "time-out" on immigration altogether (p. 251). This would give us the necessary time to assimilate the roughly 36 million immigrants in the country today.

Great point I never considered: the elites want illegal and unchecked immigration because it is a means of an enormous transfer of wealth to them.

OK, I've said enough. I recommend the book without reservation. Well, one comment: you'll feel a little like Neo in the first "Matrix" movie - once you go down that rabbit hole, there's no going back.

My new mantra is build the fence; throw out the illegals (no amnesty); time-out on immigration; assimilate those who are here legally; and legislate a common sense annual immigrant allowance (it was 157,000 a year in JFK's day, a far cry from the million and a half a year that is happening today).

Friday, May 18, 2007

National Security

Here's one area where the goofy idolizing of Reagan actually makes some sense. For the record, I loved the guy. I grew up with him as my President. First thing I think of when someone says the word "President?" I'll give you three guesses, and the first two don't count. But all anyone ever talks about on talk radio is how conservatives are looking for the next Reagan. Please stop. He's not coming back, and while he was perfect for his time, time has marched on. Love the guy, cherish his memory, but let's not start walking around with the WWRD bracelets.

Since when did men stop being men? Here's a simple formula for success, courtesy of the Gipper: we win, they lose. But it has been said better than that...

"It is a principle incorporated into the settled policy of America, that as peace is better than war, war is better than tribute."

This from the "Father of the Constitution" James Madison.

A good conservative would never bow to threats and sabre rattling from some third-world loser. America is the most powerful nation on Earth. We are to be respected and, to a degree, feared.

All of which just makes me disappointed in two aspects of the Iraq War. First, the President is the Commander in Chief. Congress is not. Nor should the President have a "War Czar." The prosecution of the war is the domain of the Executive, and while a President cannot micro-manage a conflict, he can lay out the vision, delegate to his Generals, and speak directly to the American people to garner support (since little seems to be found in the Congress).

I've heard discussions about how bad the rules of engagement are in our conflict in Iraq, which is the other disappointment. If anyone has some first hand experience or stories of what our troops are going through, please share. It doesn't sound good, if half of what I've heard is true.

Public Service Announcement

Perhaps you're a recent high school graduate, and candidly, you slept through most of your civics requirements.

Or maybe you're the Speaker of the House of Representatives and as an utter embarrassment to your country, you're confused about the separation of powers principle (you think the President's job includes rallying votes to pass moronic amnesty legislation, for example; which is the responsibility of your elitist counterparts in Congress).

For both of you, fortunately, there's a convenient guide you can reference when you have tricky questions you can't answer (like, "is it the domain of Congress to act as Commander in Chief?"): it's called the Constitution.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Time For A Nationwide Write-In

Here's what I've had on my mind lately. We can thank the stellar "candidates" running for office in 2008 for illustrating just how bad we have it in the United States. There's days that seem to carry some glimmer of hope in them and others that just seem to expose the utter idiocy of the people who have managed to take positions of "leadership" in the United States.

Any candidate should/must exhibit, in no particular order, the following characteristics: self-government; humility; fidelity; honesty; conviction; leadership; faith; wisdom; courage; and commonality.

For a man who fails to exhibit the dual graces of self-sufficiency and self-restraint; or the man who places himself above others in his mind; or the man who is unfaithful in his heart; or the man who is dishonest with himself or others; or the man who can't stand up for a principle; or a man who can't inspire other men; or a man with no beliefs; or a man who isn't smart enough to know that he doesn't know everything; or the man who shrinks in the face of challenges; or the man who cannot relate to his fellow man, no, none of these men are fit to govern others.

Sadly, I see a little bit of the above in every candidate. Recognize some of these things in Rudy? McCain? Even my current favorite, Romney? Yes to all of them.

Beyond that, then there's more principles, like the one nearest and dearest to my heart, balanced government. Which to me, is just another way of saying a proper reverence to the construction of the Constitution and the intentions of those who created it.

Beyond that, then there's real issues - these are the things that people talk about in coffee shops and around the water cooler. We need to seal our border and begin immediate deportation of every illegal alien in our prison system. After that's done, INS must begin rounding up the law breakers that just haven't been caught yet. Those illegally here should be deported immediately as well, and anyone employing them should be fined for being an accessory to a crime. Concurrently, federal public aid should be abolished immediately and forevermore; if states elect to provide public aid, let that be their business. As the open borders "Economism" (see more here) philosophy teaches us, there's lots of jobs that the illegals are doing that are going to need to be filled. So let's get the "under-employed" employed, shall we?

What else, what else? Oh yeah, a War Czar? I'll devote another entire post to what a conservative candidate would say - and do - on national security and foreign affairs.

All right, I know. Go take a bath or something and calm down. Not a bad idea. But hit me with challenges, I'm ready for 'em, and I think I've got better answers than the frauds who are lining up and taking cash while selling America down the river.

Economic Initiative

Subtitle: Socialists Might Be The Stupidest People Alive

"[Freedom] is a right which is important not only for the individual but also for the common good. Experience shows us that the denial of this right, or its limitation in the name of an alleged 'equality' of everyone in society, diminishes, or in practice absolutely destroys, the spirit of initiative, that is to say the creative subjectivity of the citizen." (emphasis mine)

Check out the current issue of Imprimis for a thought-provoking speech by Rev. Robert Sirico of the Acton Institute. The above quote is not Rev. Sirico, nor a famous economist, but the late, great Pope John Paul II.

How about ol' JPII? He was sounding absolutely Founding-Fatherish, if you don't mind me saying so. All you'd have to do is change the "shows" to "shews" and it's right out of the 18th Century. Just goes to show that the truth never goes out of style.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Great Gas Out of '07

History will be made this day, ladies and gentlemen, May 15, 2007.

That's right, folks, the Austin, Tx. paper indicated that gas prices could go as high as $4. per gallon later this year. In protest of this anticipated and unacceptable hike in gas prices we're (you and I) being asked to participate in what history may well record as "The Great Gas Out of 'O7."

Read on...


According to...someone's calculations 2.292 billion dollars is almost 3 billion dollars. First, 2.292 billion is closer to 2 billion than it is to 3 billion. But for the sake of clarity, and the mathematical practice of rounding up, let's just say that 2.292 billion is almost 2.3 billion, not 3 billion. And for simplicity's sake, let's use the 2.3 billion dollar figure from here on out, shall we? Okay, now that we've cleared that up let's try and define what this figure represents...

As I understand it there are approximately 73,000,000 Americans (American members?) currently on the internet (network?) -that's 73 million, and it's closer to 70 than it is to 200 million, btw. Seeing as how the average car requires about 30 to 50 dollars to fill up (I'm a little unclear here as to whether these average cars are generally on empty, or, whether they have some "average" amount of gas in 'em when folks fill them up? I'm also a bit unclear about the other relevant factors involved in calculating these particular numbers, but anyway...), if all users were to not go to the pump on May 15th (that's today) it is suggested that the aforementioned 2.3 billion dollars would be removed from the oil companies pockets for just one day. This suggestion is followed by an appeal to: "please do not go to the gas station on May 15th." Okay, are we clear about the 2.3 billion dollar figure? Good.

Now, besides the fact that the "oil companies" are not the only entities involved in the sale and distribution of gasoline, I get the feeling that the person/persons who worked up these numbers think that the 2.3 billion dollars is all the pockets of the oil companies? But seriously folks: "when demand exceeds supply, prices go high; when supply and demand meet, prices are sweet." I thought of that all by my little self. Nonetheless, my version of the email message (I did mention that this was a request via email didn't I?) is concluded with these words:

"If you agree (which I can't see why you wouldn't) resend this to all of your contact list. With it saying, ''Don't pump gas on May 15th."

Well, I don't agree. And I've alluded to a couple of my reasons why. I thought it'd be an interesting exercise (and we might even learn something) for us to engage this topic. If you agree (and I can't see why you wouldn't) post a comment.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Mother's Day 2007

A special Happy Mother's Day to Mrs. Monarchist, the best mom any two little Monarchists could ask for! Mrs. M. is a wonderful parent and constantly sets an example for me in patience and kindness that I am sure I will never attain.

To my Mom, to all the Moms - God bless you this day and always and may your children learn to be as principled and virtuous as you are.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hey, Look! The Religion of Peace!

This story was all over talk radio this afternoon. I'm going to guess that we'll hear Congressional Democrats applauding this about as much as Rosie O'Donnell. God forbid that they condemn terrorists - that might mean that George Bush is right!

Here's my favorite - although "favorite" might not be the right term - part of the article: three of the men were here illegally. Imagine that! Imagine my confusion... haven't the amnesty advocates said that the people who are here illegally are either 1) Catholic or 2) just trying to make a better life for their families? Could they be, gasp, wrong? Maybe we should add "3) mentally ill jihadis obsessed with killing Americans" to that list?

Wait, well, this might be a close second:

"The arrests renewed worries among New Jersey's Muslim community. Hundreds of Muslim men from New Jersey were rounded up and detained in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, but none were connected to that plot.

'If these people did something, then they deserve to be punished to the fullest extent of the law,' said Sohail Mohammed, a lawyer who represented scores of detainees after the 2001 attacks. 'But when the government says `Islamic militants,' it sends a message to the public that Islam and militancy are synonymous.'

'Don't equate actions with religion,' he said."

Hey, um, Mohammed? You've got yourself an image problem, no question about it. BUT IT IS YOUR OWN DOING. Using the term "Islamic militants" is fair in that it is qualifying the type of militants we're talking about (as opposed to "Gay Rights Militants", "Animal Rights Militants", "Global Warming Militants", etc.). That you fail to recognize this makes me think the Mohammed doth protest too much. And spare me with the lawyering. If they did something wrong? I think they did - they tried to buy automatic weapons and planned to attack Fort Dix.

(deep breath)

OK, I'm better now.

Remember to say a prayer of thanks tonight for the hardworking law enforcement officers who are working overtime to stay a step ahead of these "homegrown" jihadis (a term I object to, considering only one was what I'd call "homegrown").

Heck, say that prayer every night.

Monday, May 07, 2007

More on McCain

This old fighter may have a few rounds left in him.

The media practically declared McCain's candidacy dead in the water, right before he told this joke. Listen here, courtesy of YouTube. Unlike the botched joke of Jean-Francois Kerry, I think McCain's comments were well considered. For a guy who has been not the favorite son of most conservatives, a gentle reminder that he's tough - very tough - on defense will warm even the most hardened heart (witness mine, as Exhibit A).

McCain then has a pretty good performance at the debate and takes a shot at Rudy today.

I'm not sold yet on any candidate; for me, it's too early for that. They've all got weaknesses, for that matter, and how this chess match goes remains to be seen. But don't be surprised if McCain's numbers rise - probably mostly at Rudy's expense - as he begins to slowly hammer home his message. That message is going to be: I'm more conservative than Rudy, and better on defense than Romney. If he can control how the differences are framed, he might up and surprise both of those guys and take their lunch money. He must, however, avoid any discussions of the Gang of 14 and "Campaign Finance Reform" like Bill Clinton avoids Hillary.

Additional concern? Maybe, maybe not. Hugh Hewitt was a guest on the Michael Medved show today, dissing Fred Thompson's speech right after the GOP debate. According to Hugh, Fred seemed to fall down a little bit. It was a huge opportunity, with a lot of excitement in the air, and he just came out flat. Of course, Hugh's got a book out on Romney, so take it with a grain of salt, perhaps?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Senator John McCain

Look, people, this guy is a bona fide war hero.

Yes, there's always a "but" isn't there, Mr. Monarchist? Yes, there is. I heard the Senator on the Michael Medved show earlier today talking about abortion and being pro-life.

(deep breath)

So McCain says that he's a "federalist" on this issue, after a little prodding by Medved, and that should individual states decide in the case of the eventual overturn of Roe vs. Wade to create their own laws on abortion he thinks that's appropriate.

(Big, huge, Al Gore-mocking SIGH)

Let's take it from the top, shall we? Governments are instituted among men to protect our God-given rights. Among the rights given us by our Creator is the right to Life. Government at any and every level should be in the business of protecting the inalienable rights of citizens. To suggest that a state has the right to pass laws endorsing abortion is as patently absurd as suggesting that a state has the right to pass laws endorsing slavery. They don't, for the record. And anyone who tells you so is an utter fool. Well, that's a little harsh. Maybe they just don't dig on the Declaration of Independence, that's all.

That sound you hear is our greatest President, the Old Rail Splitter, rolling over in his grave.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Happy Birthday!

To our dear friend Mr. Adams! Samuel, you're looking as good as ever. May the "Spirit of '76" keep you forever youthful!

Mr. Adams pointed out to me that yesterday was Law Day in these United States. Can't say I ever recall hearing that, so you do, in fact, learn something new every day.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Abject Stupidity

I've always wondered what goes on in the minds of "immigration rights" activists when they organize their marches for May 1. Could you pick a more offensive day? And while I'm asking rhetorical questions, what "immigration rights" are they fighting for again? I confess: I can't keep up with the constant word games of the Left.

The Tribune devoted a fair amount of bandwidth to the march today, which the police estimated at 150,000. Uh-huh. You know, there weren't constant reports of the city being shut down with all of these hard-working people taking the day off. I can only conclude that they're a little off on their estimate or the marchers might not be so hard-working.

Breathless reports abounded about how people just wanted to keep their hard-working Catholic parents from being deported. Did we mention that they are Catholic, just like you? Nice sentiment, I say. Here's a tip, absolutely free of charge: don't break the law. That's a start.

And while I'm giving out free tips, here's one for the conservatives: a winning ticket must include building a fence and enforcing our immigration laws. After that, if there are SOOO many jobs that "Americans won't do" as we so often hear, then (and only then) let's discuss matching people and jobs.

Oh, yes, and one more thing to the conservatives: would you kindly print out this tip using a large font and on colorful paper to get the attention of the GOP? Thanks.