Must Reads For The Week 12/16/17

Pentagon To Undergo First Ever Audit After Decades Of Sloppy Accounting And Missing Trillions, at zerohedge.com. Trying to make government agencies more efficient is a fool’s errand. Government agencies have no incentives to be efficient. If you want to cut spending by making bureaucracies more efficient you have put the cart before the horse. The only way to constrain spending is to cut their budget. Cutting their budget by say 25% would reveal what is and is not important to the Pentagon. They will cut spending on what is least important. If you cut their budget another 10%, the next wasteful marginal activities will be revealed. The Pentagon can’t spend what it doesn’t have.

Net Neutrality And The Problem With “Experts“, by Ryan McMaken, at mises.org. The term “Net Neutrality” sounds just as good as “The Affordable Care Act”. No one could be against these policies could they? Progressives are great at making up clever names for their regulations. Unfortunately the results of these regulations are the direct opposite of their names. Net Neutrality is about individuals in government (the deep state) wanting to control the internet. The insiders knew they couldn’t get their regulation passed legislatively, so they used the FCC to implement the policies. If you are for “Net Neutrality” I have one question for you. If the internet, with all its complexity, came to exist today without government regulations, will it continue its growth under government regulations?

Here is a quote from George Gilder: “Socialist and totalitarian Governments are doomed to support the past. Because creativity is unpredictable, it is also uncontrollable. If the politicians want to have central planning and command, they cannot have dynamism and life. A managed economy is almost by definition a barren one.

Harvard Business School Professor: Half Of US Colleges Will Be Bankrupt In 10 to 15 years, by Abigail Hess, at cnbc.com. I have said for years that we can cut the cost of educating high school and college students through online education. This is an example of the creative destruction of the market. Colleges will try to protect their monopoly position by lobbying government to decertify online education and use taxpayer money to prop up their failing business model. Will the market (decisions made by individuals) win, or will individuals in government intervene?

Germany Ends Tesla Model S Subsidies In Massive Blow To Company’s Government Funded Business Plan, at zerohedge.com. Elon Musk is a scam artist. He has become wealthy by convincing individuals in government to give his company tax payer dollars directly and through subsidies for buyers of his product. Under normal market conditions consumers wouldn’t be as ‘charitable’ with their own money. Electric cars may be the cars of the future. That future could come to exist incrementally as the unsubsidized cost of electric cars becomes less than the cost of gas-powered cars. But the cost isn’t the only factor. The electric car must also be a better product according to the desires of consumers. And each consumers desires are subjective, with cost being just one factor.

Ban The Bike! How Cities Made A Huge Mistake In Promoting Cycling, by Lawrence Solomon, at businessfinancialpost.com. Here is another example of government central planning creating economic inefficiency. Using scarce resources for non productive activities is what government does best. Free markets (what results when people are allowed to produce, exchange, consume and save what they want according to they subjectively value) channel scarce resources to their most productive uses. This is why bike advocacy groups spend their time and money lobbying government to get what they want, because markets would constrain their plans.

John Cochrane On Surge Pricing, Economic Freedom And The Sad Paradox Of Free Markets…. by Mark J. Perry, at carpediemblog. Raising the price of tolls during rush hour is a free market solution (trade-off) to traffic congestion during rush hour. Toll road I-66, in the Virginia suburb of D.C., has increased tolls during rush hour to relieve congestion. Of course everyone is complaining. Which means politicians are trying to step in and get these ‘unfair’ prices reduced. People don’t understand how markets work. But they seem to believe that politicians using government power can conger up a solution to an economic ‘problem’. The laws of economics are still in play even though government tries to wish them out of existence. The reality is there is more demand for road space during rush hour than what exist to handle this demand. During normal times of the day there is less demand for this same road space. We could call it an over-supply of road space. One ‘solution’ would be to supply enough road space to handle rush hour demand. But at what cost? The new supply of road space would be a waste of scarce resources at all other times except rush hour. Raising tolls during rush hour is not a solution as much as it is a trade-off. The scarce resource of road space can be rationed through price increases. The increased price of the toll allows individuals to make the trade-off between purchasing higher priced road space now, or lower priced road space at some other time.

Here is an excerpt from the article: “It does not occur to anyone that you’re really not paying tolls to the government. You are paying your fellow drivers to stay home, carpool, come later, so that they will get out of your way and let you sail to work.”

“The reaction to Uber surge pricing is a similar test. Economists love it. You mean rather than sit in the rain and wait, I can pay more, compensate someone else for waiting, encourage a driver to skip dinner, and take me where I want to go, now? I’m in. Or, I can save some money and to later. Everyone else hates it. and gets cities to ban it. And we to back to waiting.”

“The fundamental reason so many markets are not free, and so dysfunctional, is that the voters of our democracy don’t really want freedom. Freedom will come when we want it, when we insist on it, when the average voter sees a free market solution rather than endless controls as the answer to real world problems. The sad paradox of free markets is that free markets don’t need people to understand them to work. But democracy does require voters to understand how things work.

Is The Oil Glut Set To Return? at zerohedge.com. Simple supply and demand. The American fracking industry is what is keeping the price of oil from increasing. OPEC’s attempt to increase oil prices by constricting what they will supply won’t work. As soon as the price increases, because of their production cuts, it becomes profitable for American fracking to increase production. This in turn drives the price back down. The only reason oil is staying around $50 a barrel is because the price rose to an average of $100 a barrel from 2008 to 2014. This price made it profitable to start fracking. During this time period the fracking industry found more cost efficient ways to extract the oil. Today they can pump oil profitably at prices above $40. Free market prices work.

Chicken Wing Spot Prices Collapse 30% As NFL Protests Take Their Toll, at zerohedge.com. Not only are fewer people going to NFL games. Fewer people are going to wing restaurants to watch NFL games. Politicizing the NFL has economic consequences.

Is Free Trade A Problem If Some People Use Their Greater Freedom To Eat More Than Intellectuals Think Wise? by Don Boudreaux, at cafehayek.com. Free trade increases the number of choices for consumers. This is a good thing, unless you are a central planner. Central planners don’t like free trade if the choices people make don’t coincide with what the planners think is wise.

NRA-Republican Backed Bill Makes It Easier For Feds To Disarm Citizens, by Tho Bishop, at mises.org. Excerpt from the article: “While Republicans and supporters of the NRA may not fear the Trump Administration coming after their guns, it is obviously reckless to grant additional power and resources to future administrative states that may be quite hostile to the right to gun ownership. To put it simply, there is never a good reason to give Federal agencies the power the revoke an individual’s ability to lawfully purchase a weapon without due process.”

Can We Be Honest About Women? by D.C. McAllister, at thefederalist.com. With all the allegations of sexual harassment, maybe we need to step back and take a look at the reality of human nature.

CARTOONS, from therightreason.net.

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