Saturday, February 25, 2012

Is there an Upside to Higher Gasoline Prices?

SmartMoney's Quentin Fottrell argues higher gasoline prices are not all that bad on the Wall Street Journal's Mean Street (2/24/2012) to make his case:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Young Nippers on the Wane?

Life guards at public beaches are generally paid by the local government here in the U.S.  In Australian, through surf life saving clubs Aussie "surf life savers provide the community with voluntary service rescuing swimmers in distress at surf beaches."  Young nippers form "the junior stage of surf life saving, open to children from the age of 5 through to 13 years old."  As befits Aussie's love of sport and the public display of community spirit, the young nippers' training involves long traditions and pageantry.

 WSJ's Geoffrey Rogow reports from Manly Beach (north Sydney) that these being eroded:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Anglican Use in America gets an Ordinary.

More on the Anglican Use in the U.S.:  The New Liturgical Movement reports Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson's consecration in Houston as the Ordinary of the American Ordinariate.  This is the special structure Benedict XVI created to allow the union of Anglican communities with Rome.

Music by Byrd, Tallis, and Newman.  Wow!

Rick Santorum's surprising victories in Colorado, Minnesota, and Missouri have upset the pundits' calculations and have had an impact on the polls.  Romney is no longer an unambiguous frontrunner.

Real Clear Politics monitors more polls than you can imagine are taken.  The latest poll in Ohio, a crucial battle ground state, shows Romney losing to Obama 45%-41%, while Santorum is tied at 44%-44%.  In the national Gallup tracking poll, Romney is ahead with 36%, while both Gingrich and Santorum are now tied at 20%.  It has become a three way race.

Santorum has won as many states as his two main opponents have together with only 1-5% of their money.  With financial backers now sending Santorum money, the race is becoming interesting.

Walter Shapiro is a special correspondent for The New Republic. He also writes the “Character Sketch” column for Yahoo News.
"But now Santorum has the campaign schedule on his side. A three-week pause until the February 28 Michigan and Arizona primaries gives Republicans plenty of time to wonder about nominating Mitt Romney, a candidate who arouses all the passions of a dead flashlight battery."

"The man from Bain Capital has always been vulnerable to what Tim Pawlenty long ago called a “Sam’s Club Republican.” What is fascinating is that Rick Santorum, the candidate who may well prove to be Romney’s most lasting foe, has been hiding in plain sight all along."

Update: Obama has moved ahead in the polls while Santorum has clearly taken the nation lead in polls for the Republican nomination (2/19/2012.)

The Lutherans Know It Is Our Religious Freedom at Stake!

I watched and heard Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison's testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform yesterday morning at our First Things together.  



Dr. Harrison is the President of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  He testified on Thursday, Feb. 16., to discuss the recent U. S. Health and Human Services ruling mandating that all organizations no matter what their moral beliefs must provide an insurance mechanism that funds, without deductibles, abortion inducing drugs, sterilization, and contraception. On behalf of the LCMS, Harrison spoke to the issue and how it violates our freedoms of religion and conscience. 

The Synod President also issued a statement on February 3rd, 2012 about religious freedom in response to U.S. Department's of Health and Human Services requiring religious employers to cover contraceptives, even those that can kill unborn children.

Nor are these solid Lutherans sucked in by the President's supposed "compromise:" Dr. Harrison said his  church remains ‘deeply concerned’ about health plan mandate despite the White House statement.

It is difficult to know how to react to the "compromise."  Is the White House completely ignorant of economics or is it just blatantly cynical?  The compromise allows organizations and companies(?) who morally object to exclude the mandated coverage from their plan, but then must direct their employees to riders which the insurer must provide free of charge.  The first law of economics is TANSTAAFL: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."  As Robert Heinlein portrayed so well in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, somebody pays.  The insurance company, forbidden to charge directly for sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception, will smear the costs into its rates.   


The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress (1964) is my favorite science fiction book.  In it Robert Heinlein portrays a society then a century into the future.  On the earth's moon exists a colony initially established as a penal colony.  While new prisoners are deported to the moon, most of the inhabitants are the descendants of former deportees.   Much like the exiles on the First Fleet, the criminals are as likely to be political prisoners as ordinary law breakers.   (Colleen McCollough portrays British justice and horror of the process in Morgan's Run.)

The language spoken by the "Loonies" is a dialect of English with Russian and other words mixed in.  I suspect that Heinlein, an Annapolis graduate,  spent time in Australia either while in the Navy or subsequently.  There is a sprinkling of Aussie in the Loonies' vocabulary; the speech patterns remind me of Sydney;  and many of the social mores are understandable in terms of Sydney's history.  I tried to reread the book when I was in Australia (1991-3), but found that the publisher had Anglicized the language, i.e., translated American English into British English.  For an hilarious introduction to Aussie English, read John O'Grady's book.

Libertarian Heinlein teaches a fundamental lesson: TANSTAAFL or "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch."  This is a fundamental principle of economics and democracy, as the Revolutionary War proved to our Founding Fathers.

When I taught Economics 20 at St. Peters College (Jersey City), I would assign it as a reading.  The story allowed students to imagine an economy without the state.  The plot is great. Because it is science fiction, readers do not notice how seditious it is.

Buy it at Abe Books or on Amazon.

Beware: 2076 is coming fast!