Sunday, December 21, 2003

good will

reprinted from last year.

Is Christmas too "commercial?" The parking lots were full today. Today, and in prior days, busy people took time out from their busy schedules, and, using money they usually work pretty hard for (or will in the future), they thought of people besides themselves.

They studied things and shopped and dealt with crowds and fatigue and spent more than they know they should have, seeking just the right gifts; frivolous with time and money.

And frivolous with Good Will, if there can be such a thing. But I think there can be no such thing as frivolity with Good Will toward Men, which is, after all, the Christmas Spirit.

So, if the retail trade gets carried away, and even if it misses the beauty completely, The Invisible Hand is at work; people motivated by thoughts of Good will toward others are spending dear wages, granting gainful, maybe even rewarding employment, providing for the needs and comforts of life, and the means for a better future, experiencing joy, some even a riot of joy, in the simple act of giving. The giver will not lose his reward.

And so spreading Good Will becomes the Project this industrious people sets itself to in this season, and they carry it off with excellence and gusto, as usual.

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom His favor rests." Luke 2:14

And yes, His favor has on us rested. May it always be so. And may we always set ourselves to the spreading of Good Will. Perhaps the real driver of proseperity isn't our wits as much as it is our embracing of the Spirit of Good Will to Men.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

United in America

There is more, much more, that unites us as Americans than there is that divides us. Political hostilities pale in comparison to the magnificence of our land, our legacy, our destiny.

We have much, indeed to be thankful for, much to fight for, much to work for, much to look forward to.

Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island raised their right hands and swore to defend their new homeland against all enemies, internal and external.

Is this why (legal) immigrants often make the most robust and thankful Americans? Because they are willing to take that oath, they are made of the right stuff.

Would it be such a bad idea for all citizens to affirm that oath every so often?

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Chief Justice Roy Moore

It's hard to give an exhaustive opinion of the Moore case, since none of us knows all the facts and there are some bona fide rules of conduct that apply to judges. Nonetheless, there is the noble tradition of Civil Disobedience to be considered. Sometimes the Powers that Be just Be Wrong.

Moore's remarks have been that his sworn duty, as a judge, is to acknowledge God -- this was his oath of office -- and that refusing to do so is a dereliction of duty. Therefore he was put in a no-win situation.

In the big picture, it is truly abominable that he would be administratively penalized for displaying a symbol of the Ten Commandments upon which Western jurisprudence is ultimately based. No, the average American TV addict probably doesn't know this. There are similar symbols in court rooms across the country, including in DC -- at the United States Supreme Court, for example.

There is a transcript of the hearing in which Judge Moore is asked if he will "continue to acknowledge God," and of course he answers "Yes," and goes on to say that he has no regrets about doing so. It is then that the board admonishes him for being 'unrepentant' or something like that and orders him removed. Pretty chilling stuff.

By these remarks, it seems that the case has nothing do with ethics or qualifications, but about acknowledging or failing to acknowledge God publicly and/or in the line of duty.

Ironically, there is the concurrent case of the display of the Koran, the Holy Book of Islam, in a pedestaled glass case in the NYPD headquarters. I think this is the same city where Muslim fundamentalists attacked and killed 3000-plus people just two years ago.

Is it me, or is there a disconnect, a hypocrisy evident here? Wherever you stand on this issue, whether you're an atheist or a Muslim or a Born Again Christian, if your brain is in 'run' mode then you must see the double standard.

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know that you're in Wierdsville when they won't let you display the Ten Commandments in the very same room where they hand you a Bible upon which to place your right hand and swear to tell the whole truth.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

"market timing" and other non-issues

This is just a hunch, but I see the recent flood of righteous indignation against mutual fund managers who engage in 'market timing' as yet another manifestation of 'open season on deep pockets.'

As I understand it, the argument against 'market timing' is that it runs up fund expenses that all fund shareholders pay, for an activity that is engaged in by relatively few. We are reminded that the activity is 'illegal,' but I am not too certain it is immoral. Not yet, anyway.

Professionals in the securities industry often trade in a fashion that is completely unsuitable for non professionals, and they often do so at a fraction of the expense that non professionals would pay. To imply, in this case, that professionals are somehow breaching their fiduciary responsibility to the public at large strikes me as a typical misconstruction of the role of a fiduciary.

If a used car dealer engages in wholesale automobile trading at the auction, should it be illegal for him just because the public at large doesn't have convenient access to the same mechanisms of trade? I think not. If his activity can be shown to somehow cause real damage to the automobile buyer at large, then a case might be made. On the other hand, his participation in the wholesale market helps to support it which, in turn, supports a vibrant retail market.

There is some anecdotal evidence that this 'issue' will be blustered up and forgotten: Eliot Spitzer has, along with a selected academic or so, weighed it for potential political fodder. That's a pretty sure indicator that it's much to-do about nothing.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

sector logic

There are all sorts of 'sector funds,' and approaches to 'sector investing.' The latest craze is 'socially responsible' company grouping.

I propose creating a sector of companies that produce excellent products and/or services and treat their customers like customers should be treated -- with genuine dignity, and that don't misrepresent themselves to their customers or to the public at large. We might call it the 'honest companies producing real value' sector.

It should be a sector that disqualifies companies whose stock in trade is something that degrades the dignity of human life, or profit from stimulating and then feeding the base motives. That rules out the cable providers who traffic in pornography, for example. This isn't just a 'morality play,' though that can be a very sound investment guide. It's common sense. Just look at the chart of T after they announced thier deal with porn cable provider Telecommunications Inc., back in 2000. It looks like the cross section of a ski resort -- all downhill.

Of course it will be a very small sector, and some immediate disqualifications come to mind. From recent experience I can disqualify Verizon; in fact, most of the cellular providers are patently unqualified for the sector of honest companies. These companies have employees that have lied to me as a customer. I can't help but suspect that employees who regularly lie to customers are probably lying to other parties as well. Auditors and shareholders, perhaps. But that's just a hunch.

I have identified a natural law that says that hype is inversely proportional to value. The more hype, the less real value. This is common sense. Remember common sense? Treat your customers like they matter, not like they are disposable. If you treat customers like they are disposable, you eventually run out of customers. And if you run out of customers, what sort of business have you got?

Companies that profit from bad business, from the base and unproductive motives of people, are simply making bad bets. They may flower for a season, but seasons always change.

Good business, productive, sound, and life affirming business, if you think about, is a good bet because it supports growth in the macro sense and it has going for it another natural law: good business does not go out of style.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

first, do no harm

Suppose there is a person who is mentally unfit to care for himself. Further suppose that person is unable, physically, to feed himself. Is there a responsibility on the part of others, say, family members, to feed and care for that person?

Or should that person be placed on a bed and denied food until he dies?

If you, a perfectly healthy and vibrant human being, were denied food for a long enough period, you too would die. The only difference between you and Terry Schiavo is that you can feed yourself.

A baby is a little person who is totally beholden to another human being to care for it. That's a no-brainer. Is Terry Schiavo any less worthy of care?

Terry Schiavo has proven, for something like 13 years, that if she is fed, she will go on living. How then does she differ from you and me? Feed us, we live. Starve us, we die.

Is the answer that Terry can't live a productive life, as determined by consensus? If so, is the only life worth living one that others say is a "productive" one? Do you want others deciding if your life is worth living? Is anyone really fit to decide what life is worth living? If so, on what basis? On the basis of a persons ‘productivity’ or ‘usefulness?’ ‘Usefulness’ to whom? To the people who make law?

Entertain this. Suppose tomorrow morning you woke up and your husband or wife denied you food. Suppose further that this person engaged the entire legal and political system to prevent you from eating, and it became illegal to feed you. Let that sink in.

Finally, a bit about the legalities -- just a little common sense. The law on any 'right to death' question is very unclear and subjective, as it should be. No state worth being in existence has any stake in legalizing the killing of its citizens, least of all the weakest and most defenseless of them.

But the law on the 'right to life' is crystal clear. It is spelled out explicitly in our founding documents. Everyone is entitled to the right to life. Moreover, this right is not given by men or women, only recognized by them as being given by our Creator. It's not man's to give, and it is not man's to take away.

Of course the state, therefore, has a duty to protect life (as do its citizens), all life, and how much more the life of the weak and defenseless, who are in the precarious position of needing constant advocacy.

And that subject leads me to an interesting analogy. If you're not a lawyer, but you have a legal issue, the law entitles to the right to obtain representation. This representative is your stand-in, your advocate, doing for you what you cannot do for yourself. To deny someone legal representation in this land is unthinkable. The law is clear that your inability to represent yourself does not deny you legal representation.

Terry Schiavo, silent and bedridden, is unable to feed herself. Should she be denied food because of that inability?

A word about politics. People who think the Terry Schiavo story is about politics have completely and predictably missed the point. It's not about politics. It's about a human life. The life of the weakest and most defenseless among us.

While we're talking politics, I observe that conservatives generally weigh in as 'right-to-life.' The other side, not liberals, but the left, is, of course, adamantly in favor of pulling the feeding tube. It's all about Terry's right to die.

But what about Terry's right to live? Ironic, isn't it, that those on the left, ever vigilant to remind the rest of us of our responsibility to help the disadvantaged, don't see Terry Schiavo's helplessness as a disadvantage worth aiding. Indeed, for some, it's only about politics after all.

It blows my mind that grown-up, intelligent people, in positions of great power and influence, can go on record in favor of killing weak, innocent human beings.

Lunatic fringe, we hear you calling. But we're bigger than you.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

death, taxes....and trading

In the aftermath of the manic 1990’s, when something called “The New Economy” was supposedly being forged, when billionaires were made -- and unmade about as fast; when, truth be told, the more things changed the more they stayed the same, at least one venture has survived the storm. Behold, a survivor of an economic revolution that really wasn't a revolution after all.

This survivor was not built from a cure for cancer or impotence, nor from a magical wireless gizmo, nor even from some newfangled alchemy that might someday turn water into gasoline. This venture is pretty much just an electronic flea market. It is called E-Bay.

E-Bay has created opportunity, employment, and wealth. Its stock performance has been stellar compared to that of the myriad others floated during its time. Thus far, E-Bay has been an astounding success; just being profitable makes it a dramatic counterpoint to the dubious dotcoms of its era. Unlike so many of its contemporaries, its business works.

They say that nothing is certain but death and taxes. But that second certainty exists because of and obscures a third -- the certainty that goods and services will be exchanged among those who have not yet succumbed to the first certainty. While we are alive, we will trade. And trade we must, if we are to obtain, produce and distribute the stuff of the business of life.

E-Bay’s success may offer many lessons, including the power of a simple idea executed well. That idea: a venue for people to exchange goods without prejudice at relatively low transaction cost. In other words, it’s a market. It's not entirely free or without regulation, but as near so as is reasonable. Such markets always work… for the living.

this is not investment advice and the author has no stake in ebay.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

"darkness on the edge of town"

The power need not be off too long before political opportunists (and other looters) come crawling out of the outlets to seize the moment for personal gain -- hmm, now that's a theme...

But the real inspiration for this post is to point out a potential solution to the fallibility inherent in complex centralized systems (be they grids of electrical or political power): encourage decentralization, localized sovereignty, personal responsibility.

In this case, consider: A tax credit for the purchase of power cells. It would relieve the power grid, prevent mass blackouts, boost an industry, create jobs, encourage research and development of alternative power sources, and make the US less vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Seems like a good reason to give some of their income back to those who earn it.

Sunday, August 10, 2003

hands -- visible and invisible

This post is going to be about the editorial in the WSJ Friday, August 8, 2003, entitled 'The End of Maestro Economics,' by Melvin Krauss. That piece discussed interest rates, and how the rising of them threatens to 'burst the housing bubble.' At issue is whether or not that is really a bad thing. I might mention that the editorial faults Alan Greenspan for 'sending signals' which allegedly caused a spike in market rates as bonds sold off.

Praytell, was it Greenspan's hand, or was it the wisdom of the marketplace responding to the signal that it's been peering for in the fog for so long; the inevitable signal indicating that the cost of money as measured by the best measuring stick -- the market -- has been too low for too long.

As for whether or not the 'bursting of the housing bubble' is a bad thing, I might point out that Mr. Greenspan was faulted for NOT doing anything to 'burst the stock market bubble' before it went the way of all bubbles. Too bad he can't win.

Nonetheless, a housing bubble is not a good thing and it's high time that the bubbles moved on so that intelligence might once again be brought to bear in the marketplace; so that the invisible hand might be left alone once again to straighten out the distortions created by well meaning but less capable 'visible hands.' Perhaps this is what Krauss means when he announces The End of Maestro Economics.

Wednesday, May 07, 2003


There can be no true prosperity without liberty. And material prosperity is no substitute for liberty. Liberty is the true prosperity of the human soul. From liberation of the human soul flows the joy and creativity and compulsion to serve that result in economic abundance.

As long as there are enemies of liberty, there will be no true peace.

And as along as there are enemies of liberty, true peace will only come through war. I wish it weren't so, but it is.

Sunday, March 16, 2003


The way the terms 'peace' and 'war' are being tossed around, it is clear that they are thought to be -- or rather, are presented to be -- polar opposites. But, as with the ideas of 'love' and 'hate,' such polar opposites sometimes work together.

For example, to love something is to imply the hatred of something else. To love good is to hate evil (and vice versa). To love truth is to hate lies. Further, it has been noted by observing lovers' quarrels, that being in love can compel someone to feel hatred at times, in the case of betrayal, for example. Still again, children who love their parents have been known to 'hate' them, temporarily as it were, for enforcing seemingly unreasonable boundaries on their activities.

Now to the subject of war and peace. How can these work together? In an imperfect world, hostilities can arise between an irrational aggressor and a peaceful people. Is the second party required, in the name of peace, to remain passive in the face of the aggression of the first party? Will peace result if it does?

What will result is submission to tyranny, which is a wretched imposter of peace. No, when the liberty of the innocent is threatened, the threat must be resisted at all cost, including bloodshed if necessary.

What if the peace and liberty of an entire globe is threatened by the actions of a power that mocks the rule of law? Is there no recourse for the defenseless? Are not the strong and sure obligated to protect the weak and innocent?

Today, Sunday, March 16, 2003, a great many people the world over -- myself included -- are praying for a peaceful resolution to the Iraq and North Korean crises. But if war is unavoidable in the preservation, the advancement, of liberty, may it be speedy, may the innocent be spared, and may the guilty know a change of heart.

'Peace through strength' is a credo that is most realistic in light of the history of nations. Peace ultimately is synonymous with security, well being, and freedom. Lying down with the enemies of liberty is not peace. It is worse than death. Ask any survivor or Auschwitz or the Gulag. Ask yourself if it is wise to trust a proven bully with the keys to your home, where your children depend on you for their protection.

The sad reality is that sometimes, peace can only be secured through war. May the cause of Liberty and Justice for all prevail. Also for the citizens of Iraq.

Sunday, March 09, 2003

irony lost

Last Thursday night, President Bush addressed the nation to update it on the pending action in Iraq. After the speech, the meeting was opened for questions.

The President withstood a repeated assault on his character which came disguised as sophisticated, righteous journalistic inquiry. He responded with a grace that magnified that character so much as to make those of the questioners virtually disappear by contrast.

The President said, among other things, that he was sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States. If he were Saddam Hussein, and this were Iraq, or another, similar nation, those same journalists would either be dead or put in a dungeon or exiled for daring to confront the President.

Of course, this isn't Iraq. This is America. And the Constitution that the President insists on defending is the one that allows the press to berate the President and flog someone's leftist agenda under the guise of journalistic inquiry.

Do these journalists, the ones who help promote the idea that the President's motives are personal and irresponsible, that 'peace' means pacificism in the face of aggression, who ignore the responsibilities of the Chief Executive in this Constitutional Republic; do these journalists consider what it must be like to do what they do in places like Iraq? Do they think that they alone are entitled to the right to question their President without retribution, but that journalists in Iraq are not worthy of any such right?

The irony? That the man who's principles they attack is defending their right to do so. That doesn't happen in places like Iraq.

And they just don't get it.

Saturday, March 08, 2003

we are the world

What is America?

America is a place where people from all over the world come to seek opportunity. People come here to get away from governments that steal from them, that treat them like slaves, that try to run their lives. Where else can people go to find a nation that provides in its founding documents, in its charter, the rights to 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' and guarantees those rights with an elaborate system of legislative, judicial and executive offices that are designed to limit the power of government?

America is a place that has, for centuries now, inspired people in other lands to sacrifice possessions and leave behind the familiar to answer the call to be free. To simply be free. To live life. To take the risk to be alive, as opposed to embracing the certainty of living death. There are doubtless multitudes who wish that they could be free, too, but for some reason have not paid or cannot pay the price.

When a handful of nations that have obviously questionable motives (see below), or a body of delegates that claims to speak for 'the world' speaks, who is really speaking? Is it the people of those nations, or the power structures of those nations? The answer is self evident. No other nation in the world has a power structure designed to be of, by and for its citizens. When these nations or bodies speak, they speak from the high and lofty halls of power. Power that has, too often, been secured and maintained by the blood, sweat and tears of simple people for generations.

When America speaks about world issues, who is speaking? America is like a garden, with plants and flowers of every variety. Almost every nation is represented here; that is, the citizens of America are former citizens of almost every nation in the world. They came here, and they speak from what they know. And they elected a man (please see the red and blue election map), to speak for them. And he has vowed to uphold the oath he took to protect them from aggressors.

Because of the makeup of its citizens, and the representative nature of its government, it can be said that when America speaks, voices from all over the world are speaking. And who are they speaking to? To the power structures of the world. When the power structures of the world respond by demonizing the man who represents their former citizens, one should not be surprised to detect palpable animosity. The citizens of the world, represented by the aggregate of world citizens now know as American citizens, are saying to the administrators of the dysfunctional power structures of their beloved former homelands, 'been there and done that.'

Are America and our allies against the world? No. American citizens and our idealogical allies the world over are standing up for liberty in the face of the unjust power structures of the world. Just like Americans always have.

We are the world. We are speaking. We declare: Liberty will not be defeated.

Are you listening?

Friday, March 07, 2003

more about oil

The pot can be fairly reliably counted upon to call the kettle 'black.' Once again we revisit the neo-mythical mantra that "Bush just wants the war for oil." We leave aside as self-evident the fact that such a remark is basically a non-sequitir.

The inspiration for this issue of {Speculations} was, originally, Russia's self-righteous alignment with France and Germany in opposing a war on Iraq. While many may choose to believe that Russia has and does mark the zenith of moral ground, people with their eyes and ears open will more likely be suspect of her motives. And rightly so.

Might oil figure in her motives? Why, might she want Saddam Hussein to remain in power, continuing to oppress masses of citizens (something Russia perfected in the last century), because Russia has oil concessions with the present Iraqi government which might be jeopardized in the event of the inevitable 'regime change?' I think so.

Too, mightn't Russia, one of the largest exporters of oil on the globe, have some vested interest in selling its wares at 'war premium' prices, significantly above the cost of production and distribution? I think so again.

I said that the original inspiration for this installment was Russia's position on Iraq. The actual impetus, the spur that set me to typing, is China's alignment with Russia. More specifically, it is China's alignment with Russia in the context of the fact that Russia is about to build a pipeline to pump some of its abundant oil into China.

China is of course a sweatshop of a nation that is being forced into the 21st century along with the rest of the world. Forgive me for pointing out the obvious, but the alignment of two communist regimes, with records of oppressing perhaps hundreds of millions of people between the two of them, against the liberation of still millions more innocent people in Iraq, for the sake of oil and the money associated with it, is pure evil.

Thank you, China and Russia, for demonstrating to the audience of the world what it is that you really stand for. Germany, with its own past romance with a totalitarian nightmare, is finally in good company.

It's important to understand that the positions of the entrenched leaders of these countries, like corporate CEO's who retain their power by force, do not necessarily represent the convictions of their citizens. In fact, it's a safe bet that the majority of thinking people in these nations are deeply disturbed at the implications of this idealogical alliance.

Oil. Indeed.

Saturday, February 22, 2003

"it's all about oil!"

Like a stereophonic cacophony of whining, I keep hearing things like "Bush just wants to start a war for oil!" Initially, I dismissed this proposition prima facea as propaganda that is sophomoric, emotionally charged, and completely disconnected from reality, which it obviously is. But I began to ponder the argument. And here is what is crystal clear.

Since the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the price of crude oil has doubled. During this time, the government of Iraq has been the antagonist in a slow motion game of hide-and-seek-the-weapons-of-mass-destruction. Each UN resolution subjecting Iraq to inspections and disarming, and each manuever to evade each resolution, has ratcheted up the tension between the free world and Iraq. The US is the only nation morally and militarily capable of enforcing any such resolutions in the Middle East -- should force be required. We have been put in the position of leadership in the protection of the free world from rogue nations with weapons of mass destruction. Rightly so.

Now, the question is: who benefits from higher oil prices -- the buyer or the seller? Clearly Iraq, which has been exporting oil in violation of yet other UN resolutions against doing so, is selling to a captive market at better than twice the price it was getting a little more than a year ago. And the free, industrialized world is paying a little more than double for a strategic commodity, suffering economically as a result. Wealth is being redistributed from free nations, from the economic engines and breadbaskets of the civilized world, to the little kingdom of Babylon. So, who's really pulling shenanigans 'for oil?'

Who's motives are dispicable here? Is it the leader of the strongest nation in the free world; one who has not shrunk from the moral responsibility to do everything in his power to judiciously and forthrightly hold the slick bully accountable, or is it the malevolent antagonist rattling his saber, cooperating with vicious terrorists who have no value for life, who are consumed with hatred; an antagonist who is waxing richer and richer each day he keeps the game going as a result of bullying and terrorizing peace-loving and well-intentioned nations?

Removing this self-centered megalomaniac will not only liberate a nation from his dictatorship, it will remove a major disturbance in the balance of the business of life across the world. When the oil market is no longer held hostage by Saddam Hussein, consumers of oil will be freed from the need to scramble to purchase future supply all at once, and the price of oil will decline to something more closely related to what the demand for it and supply of it ought to be under peaceful conditions. The cost of doing business will decrease, as this 'terror tax' is removed. Productive people will prosper. Hungry people will be fed. Weak nations will have a chance once again to become economically viable as terrorism, the oppressor of liberty and joy, is vanquished.

So, in a way, war might be about oil. But just not the way the cliche suggests. The leader of Iraq, in cooperation with terrorists and perhaps even unions in South America, has played a cruel and deadly game of market manipulation. Shame on him. It's time for him to be held accountable. The rest of the world deserves a shot at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

ho hum

So, Yahoo! is profitable, according to its accountants. They have singlehandedly breathed life enough for another lap into the hope (or rather, the dream) of the 'new economy.' As a trader, I find that to be interesting news.

As a consumer and a citizen, the story is even less exciting. Yahoo! has apparently pulled some black ink out of its hat, in part by selling popup ads. Ads that popup anytime I check my email, which I do frequently. Ads that are so annoying, and so interfere with the function of my computer, that I'm considering abandoning my Yahoo! email accounts altogether.

So put off am I, that, no, I wouldn't pay $9.95 a year to stop the ads. Paying that anecdotal extortion fee won't stop all the unsolicited garbage that Yahoo! allows into my email boxes. And who knows what other clever ways they'll find to stick ads in our faces, since it seems to pay them to do so? Not to mention what sort of data they are gathering and selling.

Those with vested interest, like corporate insiders, and the poor souls who bought the stock for more than a hundred dollars per share, might think a popup ad deluge is a small price to pay for the sight of some daylight on the monthly statement. But, my cable ISP email account is marvelously efficient, works with Microsoft Windows seamlessy, allowing me to send just about any file to anyone I'd like to in the simplest way possible. This is paid for anyway by the cable service charge. I have never received an obscene or mass marketing piece in that account. Competition is a marvelous thing for the consumer.

I doubt that I am the only one who had hoped that there was much more to the new economy than obnoxious ads aimed at base motives. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

Saturday, January 04, 2003

"da doo doo doo"*

There are many different ways that the government can take your money. It can take it all at once, or a little at a time. It can let you keep a little bit and live like a pauper or it can let you keep most of it and sit back and allow you do productive things that improve everyone's existence, including your own, thereby giving you and others more money to take a little less from.

So what does this have to do with doo doo? That can be summed up in the headline that appears on Yahoo! news which reads, "Bush's Economic Plan Could Cost $600B Over 10 Years." This dire warning was suspended over an AP story with like theme. Dear, that sounds horrible when put like that, doesn't it? But whom will it cost? And what will happen to all that money? (We can assume, for the sake of discussion, that the size of the number is in the ballpark. But let's say up front that the assumption is certainly questionable).

It will cost the government, in the short run, in terms of reduced income. And all that money will remain under the control of the people who earned it in the first place. Is that bad news?

It might be, if one happens to be the beneficiary of a government largesse that is, under the scrutiny of what is best kept a tight budget, done away with. We could do with fewer government subsidized vats of urine with certain religious symbols submerged in them, for example.

Imagine, leaving all that wealth in the hands of those who's blood, sweat and tears produced it. Why, they might get out of debt. Or invest in their businesses. Or support their favorite charities. You know, charities are best policed by their donors, not by Central Command and Control zombies.

Whatever the wealth producers do with their wealth, it will find its way back into the economy. The money will circulate. It will become income for others, which will be taxed. It will support state and local income and sales taxes. It will do so more frequently, if those who earn it are allowed to keep it. They will spread it around, creating more earners, who will spread it around, creating still more earners, and so on, and so on. You see, free people are a phenomenon to behold -- they reverse entropy. Free markets allow human productivity to prosper. And then there's more, more, more income available to generate tax receipts. Frankly, the economy could use an extra $600 billion the way a faithful workhorse could use some good hot mash on a cold day.

So, is a tax cut really going to 'cost' anyone anything? No, no more than your best investments 'cost' you anything. When you have a good, productive investment, you want to put more of your available funds into it. You do better that way. Wouldn't it sound ridiculous if your sour-pussed Auntie started screeching about how much that investment was going to cost you, how much it was going to deprive your children of their goodies, how much less say she might have in what you do with it? Of course it would. You might want to invest double just to teach her a lesson.

Let's put it this way. Suppose you grow corn. A single kernel will yield a stalk, from which one or two ears will yield an average of 800 more kernels per ear. Corn makes more than 1,000 products that can be bought at the grocery store. Praytell, with that kind of math, wouldn't it make sense to put as many kernels in the ground as possible, as often as possible? Or should you put most of the kernels in Auntie's silo? Plant more, and Auntie comes out with more, in spite of herself. But then, she depends on you, and not the other way round. The way she whines about it, one might think that giving up control of your kernels is something that Auntie dreads.

Corn is good. But people are even more productive than corn. How else can it be explained that so few support such a large beaurocracy, and so many other deprived people the world over? There is no greater investment than in the prosperity and morality of free people. Cutting their taxes costs nothing. It's an investment that pays incalculable returns to everyone in the vicinity and many who aren't.

Wealth is not a finite quantity -- it's created all the time, by free people; more so when their right to manage the fruit of their own labors is not out-legislated. As for Yahoo!, AP, and all the other rhetoric-generators and thought-shapers, one can't help but wonder what cause of theirs is really at stake, buried under all that slung mud. Why do they use their influential pulpits to shout with Auntie about harvesting more and more of your corn?

"Their eloquence escapes me*."

*Da Doo Doo Doo -- The Police

Note: Ironically, minutes after this was published, the headline quoted was replaced. It would be presumptuous to attribute causation to this piece. I am remiss for not linking to it immediately.