The USA and Russia:  A New Guinea State of Mind

The USA and Russia: A New Guinea State of Mind

The dangerous macho posturing between the USA and Russia brings New Guinea to mind. Until the middle of the 20th century, remote tribes in the jungles of New Guinea were still largely untouched by civilization and living as they always had.  That is, they were engaging in tribal warfare, stealing each other’s womenfolk, and having each other for dinner—not having each other over for dinner, but having each other as the main course. Anthropologists couldn’t understand the enmity between the tribes, since they didn’t need to attack each other to obtain enough food, shelter, or other resources....

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Dogs Have Better Medical Care than Humans

Dogs Have Better Medical Care than Humans

When my wife and I recently moved to Tucson from Phoenix, we had to find a new family doctor.  Then, shortly after the move, we got a new puppy—which we named Cato—and had to find a veterinarian. There was a marked contrast between the two experiences. In short, it’s better to be a dog in America, at least in terms of medical care. There are four veterinary clinics within two miles of our house.  Choosing among them was quite different from choosing a doctor. As a first step, we dropped in without an appointment at the veterinary clinics and spoke with whomever was at the front desk.  We...

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Dear Teachers:  Are Roofers Underpaid?

Dear Teachers: Are Roofers Underpaid?

A question for teachers:  Are roofers underpaid? We’ll come back to the question momentarily, but first, some background. As with other states, public school teachers in my adopted State of Arizona are demanding a large pay increase, claiming that they are underpaid and that the Copper State ranks last in teacher pay. Although facts don’t matter when teacher unions demand more money, I wasted my time when I had a newspaper column years ago in conducting a detailed analysis of the facts of pay for public school teachers.  The analysis considered hours worked, employee benefits, pensions,...

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Free Market Thinkers Have Stopped Thinking

Anthropologists say that humans became human about 200,000 years ago.  Evolutionists say this was the result of a million years or so of evolution.  Creationists say it was the result of creation.  For purposes of this commentary, it doesn’t matter who is right. What matters is that modern capitalism and the Industrial Revolution didn’t begin until a few centuries ago and thus have only existed for about .15% of human history.  Adam Smith was born in 1723, or about 199,700 years after hominoids stood upright and entered the African savannah.  Karl Marx was born 95 years later, in 1818. There...

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Do Facts Matter in the Immigration Debate?

Before answering the above question, three egghead points are in order about facts, beliefs and public policy in general. Egghead Point One:  Few public policies come about through the following reasoned sequence:  First, facts are brought to light; second, the facts lead to beliefs; third, the beliefs lead to public policy.  An example of a reasoned sequence was the establishment of the TSA, whatever one may think of the agency.  The sequence began with the fact that airliners were easily hijacked on 9/11.  This led to the belief that airport security needed to be hardened, which in turn...

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Conservative Erectile Dysfunction

I don’t have a rooster in the ongoing cockfight between liberals and conservatives.  But I do pay attention to both liberal and conservative media. Paying attention serves as an early warning system of when they are hatching plans separately or jointly to steal household silverware or endanger Americans by throwing gasoline on smoldering resentments around the world.  It’s probably delusional to think that if I knew in advance what they’re hatching, I could do something about it. If Solomon were to return to this world and listen to the left and right media, even he would be incapable of...

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Politics 101 for Libertarians

Libertarians embrace civil liberties more than liberals, markets more than conservatives, and freedom more than just about anyone. Yet they can’t get elected to public office in meaningful numbers.  It’s the same with independents. It’s not as if getting elected is that difficult.  After all, one does not have to be a genius or principled, as evidenced by most of Congress. Moreover, unlike most other mammal species, a politician doesn’t have to be the biggest, strongest, and hairiest alpha male to boss others around, although Hillary Clinton comes close.   Nor does a modern American...

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Government Ineptitude Score: Florida 17, Iraq 110,000

Americans are understandably sickened by the massacre of 17 people in Florida and want something done to prevent such school massacres from recurring. Less understandably, they don’t seem as concerned about the 110,000 people who have been killed as a result of the second Iraq war, including Iraqi women and children and 4,497 American soldiers who died in combat and otherwise. Some estimates put the death toll at 250,000 Iraqis.  Other estimates say that children account for 30 percent of the deaths from air strikes.  The numbers are squishy, but the deaths are certainly far greater than...

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