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18 February 2011


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Norbert M. Salamon


I agree with your posting to Walrus, with one caveat:

the successful part [e.g. California] will have to solve the energy supply situation in light of declining global export supply. Sans energy there is no industry [in the modern sense].


Col. Lang, the "licensed Florist" regulation is significant to me only in that it demonstrates just how petty and dispiriting this form of rent seeking behaviour - "Licensing" can become, and it always reduces economic activity and job creation.

Australia post WWII had the most over regulated economy and labour markets in the world outside the Soviet Union. It was justified on the basis of "industry development". I grew up in it.

It strangled growth in industries where Australia was competitive (agriculture, mining) in the interests of perpetuating poorly paid jobs, lazy unionists and bad management in uncompetitive industries like textiles, clothing and footwear.

This was eventually swept away in "the recession we had to have" in 1990. That recession bankrupted Tens of thousands of businesses causing major unemployment, broke the wages setting power of the big unions, but also drove inflation down, permanently.

New businesses emerged from the rubble with very low cost bases and few, if any, impediments to growth. The whole process was like the regeneration of a forest after a fire.

I have been looking for signs of a similar regeneration in the American economy, but either I'm missing them or the recession hasn't yet become deep enough to get rid of the backward looking, rigid thinking that seems to obtain in all American legislatures.

I hope that common sense prevails before the strains become large enough that there is talk of secession. Would the South rise again?


“There are two novels that can transform a bookish 14-year-kld’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish daydream that can lead to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood in which large chunks of the day are spent inventing ways to make real life more like a fantasy novel. The other is a book about orcs.” – “The Value of Nothing” by Raj Pate

The best way to overcome rent seeking behavoir is to establish a Land Value Tax. Something I believe Australia relies on in part. As neoliberalism and The Von Misis Institute duke it out there is another way, called the third-way of economic philosophy, also know as distributism. Also like the Muslim (was Christian at one time) idea of banning interest--fees are more honest.

But our present system is too rigid to change until it collapses and the owners of the world debt will try to collect their pound of flesh. But at heart I'm an anarchist who likes to walk his well trained dog in the park without a leash, avoiding the park rangers.


optima: I get your point on Nixon's paranoia, it's one I've made myself from time to time. Maybe he had a reason to be paranoid, he was living in DC.

With 35 years of hindsight, I grow fonder of Nixon by the year.


An interesting aside, George Keenan was considered one of the fathers of the Vermont secession movement.


William R. Cumming

Jackie! Based on close range inspection from growing up and living in the DC area for most of my 68 years but for the last five I firmly believe that the 1992 election is vastly understudied by American political historians. No ROSS PEROT no William Jefferson Clinton. That election tipped me off that both parties were at the beginning of a substantial realignment of their followers, a process which historically in the US has averaged about a 3 decade span.
You ask why Republicans don't mention NIXON and Eisenhower? Foreign affairs was largely the reason these two President's were elected. And notice a number of Democratic Presidents that are really never mentioned for their foreign affairs expertise!
Foreign policy and foreign affairs has actually determined our (US) impact on the world since we put two million men overseas in 18 months in WWI. But because it has been the province of the elites or the diplomats or military the average American just does not understand that not only has American foreign policy been heavily influenced by other Nation-states but perhaps arguably determined by other nation-states. In other words we (US) may have been the necessary nation just as some have referred to George Washington as the necessary President (Gary Will). But it is not because of our exceptionalism or because we are inherently more qualified to determine historical outcomes. As PL constantly points out foreign policy and foreign affairs can turn deadly in a hurry. The trick is not to be the one killed. The problem now is that some of our past success has been attributed to skill and competence when perhaps it should have been attributed to other factors including dismal performance by those who have opposed US.
The growth industry known as Presidential Historian is still in its early phases. The classified record since before and since WWII have blurred some of the records of those Presidents. But you do have to start someplace. Labels and rankings sometimes mask real knowledge. The problem is that both Republicans and DEMS continue to mask their deep deep problems as political parties. Garnering a winning coalition is a difficult task in the US so tricks are often resorted to by both parties. All that is really known is that year by year more people, including me, identify as independents.


Col. Lang,

I also apologise for misreading your post.

As to licensing in Australia, there are requirements regarding the licensing off corporate facilities such as steel mills, and the licencing of professional providers such as lawyers, Doctors, etc.

As a general rule, if I wish to open a business I am free to do so without further demur by anyone, so long as I comply with EPA and zoning requirements common to all businesses.

Some enterprising chaps opened a steel mill about Five miles from me a while ago. If I want to, I could open my own next door to theirs with no "licence" required, and the local municipality would welcome me with open arms.

P.S. This is not to say that Australian business folk are saints, we would love the clout our American compatriots have if we could get it. Unfortunately we have a career civil service that gets in the way of our lobbying.

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