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Willisms

« December 2007 | WILLisms.com | February 2008 »

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 131.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

bushsneakingout.gif

The actual caption:

President Bush walks from the Oval Office as he departs the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2008, for a trip to California, Nevada, Colorado and Missouri, before returning to Washington on Friday. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

Yawn. Surely something interesting is happening here.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, February 5. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:
obamahillaryspat.gif

And... The Winners:

1. KRW:

Candidates at Democratic debate respond to question from back of the room, "Who ordered the stripper?"

2. GOP and College:

I am not playing race politics! Can I get a whoop-whoop on that from mah sistahs?

3. rodney dill:

Obama: "... I knew Arsenio Hall, he's a friend of mine, and Hillary you are no Aresenio Hall."

Honorable Mention. Rob B.:

"While I agree with Senator Obama that we must inject racial civility into this debate and rise to the greater good of the party, I do want to raise a point of contention: My husband was "letting the dogs out" long before the Senator ever considered "letting the dogs out." Just ask Monica and Jennifer Flowers.

Captioning is the third fastest growing sport in America. Join in today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 30 January 2008 11:18 AM · Comments (18)

Why John Edwards Should Stay In The Race To The Bitter End.

Exhibit A:
1852 Democratic National Convention.

1852democrats.gif

It took 49 ballots to nominate Franklin Pierce.

Pierce received absolutely no votes until the thirty-fifth ballot (15 from Virginia).

36th ballot: 30 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 2 from Tennessee).

37th ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

38th ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

39th ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

40th ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

41st ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

42nd ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

43rd ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

44th ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

45th ballot: 29 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts).

46th ballot: 44 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 1 from Massachusetts, 3 from Maryland, 12 from Kentucky).

47th ballot: 49 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 4 from Massachusetts, 5 from Maryland, 12 from Kentucky).

48th ballot: 55 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 15 from Virginia, 6 from Massachusetts, 5 from Maryland, 12 from Kentucky, 4 from Rhode Island).

49th ballot: 283 votes (8 from Maine, 5 from New Hampshire, 5 from Vermont, 12 from Tennessee, 13 from Massachusetts, 5 from Maryland, 12 from Kentucky, 4 from Rhode Island, 6 from Connecticut, 35 from New York, 7 from New Jersey, 27 from Pennsylvania, 3 from Delaware, 15 from Virginia, 10 from North Carolina, 10 from Georgia, 9 from Alabama, 7 from Mississippi, 6 from Louisiana, 17 from Ohio, 13 from Indiana, 11 from Illinois, 9 from Missouri, 4 from Arkansas, 6 from Michigan, 3 from Florida, 4 from Texas, 4 from Iowa, 5 from Wisconsin, and 4 from California).

Brokered convention: could be possible. It's still within the realm of possibility (although, let's be serious, it's not all that likely) that a compromise candidate could emerge if the Hillary/Obama feud becomes entrenched.

Posted by Will Franklin · 27 January 2008 01:19 PM · Comments (8)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 130.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

obamahillaryspat.gif

The actual caption:

Democratic presidential candidates Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) makes a point next to Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) at the CNN/Congressional Black Caucus Institute Democratic Party presidential debate at the Palace Theatre in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, January 21, 2008. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

This important moment in modern political history deserves a much better caption. I am sure you can think of something.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 29. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:
jedwardsmeelworker.gif

And... The Winners:

1. Hoodlumman:

After hearing the old joke, "What do you call a homeless person kicking a can down the street? Moving" for the first time, John Edwards makes destroying all cans part of his plan to bring the Two Americas together.

2. Deathlok:

Senator Edwards receives his new shipment of Canned Applause just prior to the next debate.

3. Cowboy Blob:

Senator Edwards tried to open a Can of Whoop-Ass... he broke a fingernail and relented.

Honorable Mention (submitted via email). lago:

After a checkered career, John Edwards finally
discovered his real calling as a scullery maid.

Honorable Mention. Crashex:

Polishing components of his new telecommunications initiative, Edwards responds to critics, "Just wait till tomorrow when the string gets here. We'll see who's laughing then!"

Honorable Mention. Bigfoot:

We've got the tin cans ready. Send in the goats!

Classy captioning by classy commenters. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 23 January 2008 02:06 PM · Comments (24)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 129.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

jedwardsmeelworker.gif

The actual caption:

Democratic presidential hopeful former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., left, uses a rag to clean cans of food in preparation for distribution during a campaign stop at the Lowcountry Food Bank, in Charleston, S.C., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. Volunteer at the food bank Marilyn Armstrong appears top right. Edwards placed second in Iowa, third in New Hampshire and faces even longer odds of pulling off a win in upcoming states. But he still attracts the support of as many as 20 percent of Democratic voters in national polls (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

There are ample opportunities for better captioning, here. Give it a go, won't you.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 22. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:
obamalovers.gif

And... The Winners:

1. Zsa Zsa:

It wasn't the smell of victory in the air!

2. Nathan Hale:

In the middle of the rally, Preston suddenly wondered if he had left the iron on.

3. elliot:

Gosh, all these fabulous people at the Larry Craig speech (sigh) where does one start?

Honorable Mention. OBloodyHell:

"Is that guy's hand where I think it is? Who does he think he is, Bill Clinton?"

He who captions first, laughs last. Enter today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 16 January 2008 11:34 AM · Comments (18)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 475 -- Forced Unionization VS. Right To Work.

Forced Unionization Wrecks Economies-

American labor unions, notwithstanding their electoral victories in 2006, continue to decay severely, particularly in the private sector. In the 1950s, more than a third of all American workers were unionized. Today, it's closer to an eighth of all workers, with many of those working in various levels of government. Examine the private sector alone, and union members account for roughly one in thirteen workers. Unions are desperate to stem their seemingly inevitable extinction, and they are actively cashing in on their grassroots efforts from the 2006 election to get as much pro-union policy out of Congress and state legislatures as they can get.

Nowhere is the union struggle for survival more evident than the American Midwest. Erroneously believing they could extract lavish health and pension benefits out of employers ad infinitum, powerful and corrupt unions in places like Michigan essentially destroyed their own economic base. They engaged their companies in a high-stakes game of chicken, and lost. Employers realized that they could move to Tennessee or Texas (Right-To-Work states), still find qualified and dependable labor, still pay a good wage with good benefits, and ultimately produce a better product at a lower cost.

Not surprising at all, then, are these figures (.pdf):

righttoworkstates.gif
...between 1986 and 2006, 11 right-to-work states have added 104,000 auto manufacturing jobs, a 63 percent increase. The non-right-to-work states lost 130,000 auto jobs, or 15 percent of their total over the same period.

The reason why Iowa is singled out in the chart above is that Democrats now control the entire government there (Governor, both chambers of the state legislature), and unions are demanding policy payment for their armies of get-out-the-vote "volunteers" that made the difference in '06. They want an end to Right-To-Work. They want "Neutrality Agreements." They want "Card Checks."

Iowa, don't do it, unless you want to end up like the rest of the "rust belt."

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Leaner Is Better Than Larger, When It Comes To Government.

Posted by Will Franklin · 15 January 2008 02:53 PM · Comments (1)

Quotational Therapy: Part 143 -- Ezra Levant.

"... a violation of my ancient and inalienable freedoms."-

Canada has officially jumped the shark. It needs to scrap its entire government and start over, but this time it needs to include-- among other things-- a constitutional protection for speech.

Why?

The story of Ezra Levant, the Western Standard, and the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal is frightening. To sum up what's going on, basically a guy in Canada has been hauled before a "hate speech" tribunal for publishing some political cartoons with images of Islam's prophet Mohammed ('toons reposted here). You see, in Canada, there is no freedom of the press or freedom of speech-- no First Amendment, in other words. The result is a chilling example of state-sanctioned tyranny that is almost hard to fathom in such an advanced nation that's so similar to the United States of America.

To see Ezra Levant testify before the soulless, bureaucratic tribunal reminds one of the Vogons in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy ("Not evil, but bad tempered, bureaucratic, officious and callous."). To see the testimony and questioning, go to his website, scroll down, and work your way back up.

In the meantime, here's Ezra Levant's stirring opening statement:

A troubling thought: On many college campuses in America, ironically enough, we have similar speech codes.

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

Hillary Clinton.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on most Mondays and Fridays.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 January 2008 03:29 PM · Comments (2)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 474 -- Leaner Government Is Better, Around The World.

Lean Better Than Mean-

These days, it seems like the United States is missing out on a lot of human talent and capital that is flowing to places like Hong Kong, where taxes are much lower. The lesson seems to be that leaner governments tend to perform better than bloated ones.

Fortunately, the United States, in relative global terms, is still somewhat lean. Fortunately for people in other parts of the world, their governments are trying to become leaner, at least on the tax side of the ledger. Will America respond? Do we have the nerve to cut our tax rates to keep pace with the tax-cutting fever that is sweeping the globe? Let's hope we do.

One study on leaner versus larger governments, from Keith Marsden of the Centre for Policy Studies in the UK, takes five prominent industrialized nations from each category, and compares them on a variety of indicators. These two categories (leaner and larger) are verbs rather than constant states of being. In other words, being a "leaner government" nation means that the nation cut taxes from a higher level in the past two decades, not that the nation is necessarily a consistent paragon of leanness. A "larger government" nation means that taxes went up in the past 20 years.

Here's an illustration why Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain, and the United States are "leaner" nations, while France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and the United Kingdom are "larger" nations:

leanversuslarge.gif

These changes produced a clear set of results.

For example, long-term unemployment:

leangovernment.gif

It's stunning how pervasive long-term unemployment is in larger government nations.

But that's just one indicator. There are dozens:

*Leaner governments reduced their tax take and other receipts, expressed as a proportion of GDP, by an average of 6.5 percentage points over the last two decades while larger governments grew their tax and other receipts by an average of 4.8%. Spending for the leaner governments averaged 37% of GDP for the leaner governments compared to 49% for larger governments.

* Per capita income was 12% higher in leaner government countries in 2003 than it was in larger government countries.

* Real GDP grew faster in lean government countries than it did in countries with larger governments (between 1997 and 2005, it grew at an average rate of 4.1% in the first group compared to 1.9% in the second).

* Leaner governments expanded their spending on public services at a faster rate than larger governments (the average growth rate in public spending for leaner governments went up from 2.4% a year (1980-1990) to 4.3% (2000-05) while it fell over the same period for larger governments from 2.6% to 2.2%).

* In terms of the UN’s Human Development Index (which is based on
estimates of life expectancy, education and standard of living), countries with leaner governments score higher on average than those with larger governments.

* Life expectancy and mortality rates are very similar for both groups.

* Total health spending is higher in countries with leaner governments than it is in countries with larger governments. In 2002, the first group of countries spent an average of 9.5% of GDP on health compared to 9.2% in the second group.

* Leaner governments spent slightly more on education than larger
governments. In 2002, leaner governments spent an average of 5.5% of
GDP on education compared to 5.4% in the second group.

* Leaner government economies have created more jobs in the last decade than larger government economies (the employment growth rate in the first group averaged 2.5% a year between 1993 and 2005 compared to just 0.8% a year in the second group). Youth unemployment has dropped in larger countries to just 12.9% whereas in larger government economies it has grown to 16.5%.

* Both groups spent similar amounts on income support to people of working age; larger government economies were more generous to pensioners (spending an average of 11.7% of GDP on pensions compared to 7.3% by leaner government economies).

* Reductions in government expenditure by leaner governments have not
widened the gap between rich and poor in those countries.

* Both groups of countries give similar amounts in foreign aid. However, in terms of imports from developing countries, leaner government economies imported far more from developing countries than larger government economies (7.1% of GNI compared to 4.2%), thereby helping to stimulate developing country econmomies.

* There is little difference (just 0.1 kg) in the average CO2 emission levels per dollar of GDP between the two groups.

* Domestic savings grew in leaner government countries between 1990 and 2003 (from 21% of GDP to 25%) but fell in larger government countries (from 21% to 19% over the same period).

* Leaner government economies attracted far more foreign direct
investment than larger government economies. It more than doubled in
the first group (from 2.0% of GDP in 1990 to 4.9% in 2003), while it fell from 1.8% to 1.2% over the same period for the second group.

* Leaner government economies have higher exports and imports. They are more likely therefore to be able to respond to the pressures of
globalisation that the more protection-minded economies of the larger
government group.

* Leaner government economies have less rigid employment practices and
are generally rated to be more friendly to business than larger
government economies.

* Leaner government economies have also seen a growth in private sector productivity. This reached an average of 1.9% over the last decade. This is now nearly twice the rate of that in larger government economies (where it has fallen to an average of 1.1% a year).

Government obesity harms the health of a nation. Leaner is better. Let's learn from this and do the right thing in 2008.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Misremembering Past Opinions On Iraq.

Posted by Will Franklin · 14 January 2008 02:12 PM · Comments (0)

Quotational Therapy: Part 142 -- Hillary Clinton, Panderer, Flip-Flopper.

Illegal Aliens Are People, Too-

A couple of weeks ago, when Iowa was on the line, Hillary Clinton talked tough on immigration:

"If they committed a crime…we have to deport them immediately, no questions asked, no legal process," she said. "You put them on a plane to wherever they came from."

Some serious tough-talk. When Republicans say stuff like that, it's racist.

But now, in Nevada, with its high concentration of Hispanic voters, we get this:

hillarynowomanillegal.gif
"I have no income at all," she said. "So how will I survive?"

Choking up with emotion, the woman said, "In my neighborhood, there are brand-new homes, but the value is nothing. I'm glad you are here so I can tell you, because you're going to be the president, I know."

A man shouted through an opening in the wall that his wife was illegal.

"No woman is illegal," Clinton said, to cheers.

No woman is illegal.

And, this unintentionally hilarious quote:

We treat these problems as if one is guacamole and one is chips, when ... they both go together."

Immigration is not really a pivotal issue to me. For a lot of people, though, it's a huge issue, and they want some consistency, one way or another. In an earlier age, politicians could get away with saying drastically different things in drastically different places, but today, it's not so easy. Pandering, unfortunately though, still seems to work, which is why a quip about chips and guac, as painful and awkward as it may be, permeates through the media clutter and says to voters in Nevada that Hillary is in tune with their lives.

What's strange is that Hillary Clinton probably doesn't believe in either of her statements. She doesn't want immediate deportations without legal process, nor is it likely that she believes women should get exemptions. It's just pandering. The Clintons are better at it than just about anyone else out there.

Previous Quotational Therapy Session:

John Edwards.

The right quote can be therapeutic, so tune in to WILLisms.com for quotational therapy on most Mondays and Fridays.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 January 2008 12:50 PM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 473 -- Misremembering Past Opinions.

The Disingenuous Anti-War Movement-

Since late 2003 or so, there has been a concerted effort to re-write the history of the beginning of the Iraq war. The leader of the effort, Howard Dean, as Governor of Vermont, very well may have been against the invasion all along. John Kerry and John Edwards, however, were in the Senate. And they not only voted to go to war, they spoke about Saddam Hussein, his desire for weapons of mass destruction, his perpetration of genocide, and so forth. They were on board.

In the 2004 campaign, however, Johns Kerry and Edwards somehow got away with making the claim that it was all Bush's fault. He misled them. Never mind that-- as Senators-- they had access to intelligence reports detailing the Iraqi threat. Never mind that the most prominent Democrats in America believed Saddam Hussein was a menace who intended to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction. Never mind that WMD were only the secondary part of the seven-part case for war. Never mind any of that.

Voters saw through the Kerry Edwards claims in 2004. The 2004 election , however, bought Bush about a year to fix Iraq. By late 2005, when American casualties continued and chaos seemed indefinite, the anti-war movement started to go much more mainstream.

Something else happened heading into the 2006 midterms. More and more people began misremembering their own support for invasion.

Gary C. Jacobson, of the University of California (San Diego), published an article in the Spring of 2007, analyzing what happened in the 2006 elections. Although the article made a slight splash for its hit on Fox News viewers (asserting they were essentially uninformed religious zealots) and Republicans in general, I found this bit of information very interesting (.pdf):

iraqmemories.gif

Misremembering.

Interestingly, 9 percent MORE Republicans in 2006 recalled supporting the war in 2003 than actually did, while 8 percent fewer independents and 25 percent fewer Democrats remembered correctly.

As far as WMD are concerned, this is where a stunning 46 percent of Democrats misremembered.

Now, remember, these data are pre-surge. With some very real progress in Iraq these days, one would have to assume that some of the misremembering would shift back a bit. When there is success, people don't want to be seen as having doubted. See the Republican candidates' debate arguments over who was really more for "the surge" earlier than anyone else for evidence of this.

Back to this data, though. In 2003, I supported the invasion, felt like coalition forces would uncover something at least marginally worthy of the label "WMD" in the first few weeks of the war, and was pretty darn sure that Saddam Hussein was not personally responsible for 9/11.

What bothers me, though, is the rampant misremembering. It's just too convenient. It's far too simple for people to absolve themselves of responsibility by claiming, falsely, that they were against the war all along. Or, maybe they correctly recall being against the war, but they erroneously recall believing Iraq was totally WMD-free. Not only that, but anyone who actually believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was and is some sort of idiot.

I see it all the time in real life, not just on debate stages featuring Democrats.

The history of the Iraq war is still being written. And rewritten. As far as I am concerned, people can misremember all they want to the extent that we win this thing, but if that misremembering leads to a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq, just as tangible progress is seemingly being achieved there, it will be shameful and dangerous. And when Iraq becomes a haven for terrorists much like Afghanistan was before 2001, many of those same misrememberers will assuredly further misremember and whine that we didn't finish the job like we should have.

People, you're on record. It's fine to change your mind about the war, but don't act like you didn't flip-flop. Maybe, like John McCain, you can successfully claim that you supported the war but opposed Rumsfeld and the Bush administration's execution of it. Okay, that flows, logically. That lets us win. That doesn't make you so intellectually and emotionally vested in failure.

If, however, the singular goal is a premature evacuation from Iraq for the sake of cleansing your guilty conscience ("oh, dear, how could I have ever supported war"), I might suggest hypnotherapy or pills or something else that doesn't harm the future security and stability of the United States.


-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Stocks Go Down When Congress Meets.

Posted by Will Franklin · 11 January 2008 11:43 AM · Comments (0)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 128.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

obamalovers.gif

The actual caption:

Supporters for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama watching the results of the primary election in Nashua, NH. Experts on Wednesday said there was no single reason why opinion polls predicting a clear victory for Obama on the eve of the New Hampshire presidential primaries were so wrong. (AFP/Emmanuel Dunand)

There seems to be something more happening in this photo. Surely you can come up with something better.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 15. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:
womanscreaming.gif

And... The Winners:

1. Hoodlumman:

There was nothing Rose hated more than cooties on her sternum.

2. Zsa Zsa:

OH MY GOSH! THERE ARE MEN!!!!!

3. Nathan Hale:

David Spade had to be fired from the latest Hollywood cross-dressing movie when it was discovered that not only does he play an effeminate wuss on TV, he is one.

Honorable Mention. Rodney Dill:

I cod take a frigid dip, just for the halibut.

Captioning: The Only Pure Art We Have Left. Participate today!

Posted by Will Franklin · 9 January 2008 01:57 PM · Comments (20)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 472 -- Stocks & Congress.

Less Is More-

Roughly a year ago, WILLisms.com brought you a post on how sessions of Congress impact the stock market. The gist: stocks do better when Congress is not meeting. From 1897 to 2000, one dollar invested only on days Congress was in session would have yielded a two dollar return. That same dollar invested exclusively on days Congress was not in session would have given the investor 216 dollars and ten cents. Quite a stunning difference.

Pretty fascinating stuff.

Well, how about 2007?

According to Andy Roth of The Club For Growth, the same basic pattern held up (for the S&P 500):

In session: -2.8% Out session: +7.0%
s&p500congress.gif

It's not just up due to a big day here or there, either. The likelihood of the market being up is quite a bit higher on Out-Session days than In-Session days:

During this past year, the stock market was up 51% of the time (97 days out of 189) under the In-Session scheme. That's compared to 61% of the time (38 days out of 62) for the Out-Session scheme.

Pretty amazing. And it seems to impact foreign markets, as well. More detailed thoughts on all of this in last year's post on the subject.

-------------------------------------

Previous Trivia Tidbit: Air Quality Is Getting Better.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 January 2008 11:15 AM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 471 -- Air Quality.

Breathe Easier-

The other day, someone at a Christmas party mentioned off-handedly how "the air keeps getting worse and worse... with no end in sight" in America. It wasn't a preachy point, and it was entirely peripheral to the conversation, but it was out there, nevertheless.

I usually let comments like that go in casual conversation, especially when it's a stranger, since correcting facts like that inevitably puts the individual on the defensive. Then it's awkward. So it's usually best to just let it go.

This time, though, I had to interject. The air is not getting worse and worse. At all. Not even close. The very worst cities today are still better than the average cities of the 1970s. The air continues to get better. Things will continue to get better, too, even as we build new power plants and drive more cars and engage in more commerce.

For example, although (relative to 1980) we use more coal, drive more miles, have bigger houses with more and better appliances, and our economy is larger, the air has improved in a major way:

airpollutiongoodnews.gif

Credit where credit is due. Some of the improvement, the environmental movement can certainly claim. That's-- ostensibly-- their entire purpose. Some of the improvements, though, are just the result of consumers opting for more efficient vehicles and household apparatuses. And sometimes the regulations and taxes and prohibitions meant to help the environment only result in red tape and bureaucracy (and economic costs), all while the real environmental gains come from millions of individuals making millions of individual choices.

Back to the Christmas party comment: I really don't understand the pessimism that pervades today's thinking. As long as we create the conditions for vibrant economic growth, people will solve our supposed environmental problems. That's what rich societies do-- they move from mere survival mode into problem-solving mode. Eventually, instead of solving things like "we need fewer people with polio," they start solving things like "we need more bike paths in our town." The problems of substantial gravitas begin melting into lifestyle and aesthetic problems. What seems to have happened in the environmental movement is a recognition that the environment is not on the verge of collapse, and because big problems remain in our world (to name one, terrorism), environmentalists grudgingly realize their concerns are at the bottom of the "to do" list. So, what do they do? They say the world is on the verge of collapse. Global warming will destroy civilization, flooding our coasts and drying up our plains. Our air is making us all sick. There will be no water left to drink in a few years. It will be Mad Max. A post-apocalyptic dystopian nightmare.

It's just not true.

I tend to think of myself as an environmentalist, but completely removed from today's movement. I reject the Marxism that pervades the modern environmental movement. On the contrary, the way we can best improve our environment is to make everyone rich enough to afford it (something that is already happening); once enough people have enough dough, they move into the next phase of human actualization. Sure, we still have to cross a few priorities off the top of the ole "to do" list, but once a critical mass of people can afford a cleaner environment, they'll go ahead and buy it.

The answer to future environmental problems will be found in the minds and efforts of entrepreneurs, who can only succeed if there are plenty of yuppies wealthy enough to afford to become early adopters for various green ideas. Sometimes I wonder how much healthier our environment would be if we had seen a GDP growth rate of just 1 or 2% higher each year, over the course of the 20th century. The U.S. could easily have a 30 or 40 trillion dollar-per-year economy, instead of a 14 trillion dollar one. Then I start thinking of how 1 or 2% each year over the next century could mean the difference of hundreds of trillions of dollars of wealth, yet how we're not always maximizing our pro-growth policies. Those hundreds of trillions in potentially-lost dollars are precisely what could produce the brilliant breakthroughs that will improve our planet.

So, to me, when I see enviro-luddites burning down homes and torching SUVs, when I see so many people transfixed on punitively taxing carbon and subsidizing allegedly better alternatives, when I see anti-intellectual hysteria over a degree Fahrenheit of global warming over a century's time, and when I see all sorts of anti-business taxes and regulations masquerading as necessary for the environment, I see a lot of negative unintended consequences. I see people standing in the way of progress. I tend to view today's collection of largest environmental interest groups, replete with anti-human population control worldview and socialist overtones, as-- at best-- neutral for the environment in the short term and terrible for the environment over the very long term.

So, back to the initial point about enviro-pessimism and random people at Christmas parties, it's probably best to let it go, but my response sort of did the trick: "You know, I was surprised [not really] to read the other day that just about every pollutant, from carbon monoxide to lead to sulfur, is way down in this country in recent years. And, come to think of it, Houston sure is less smoggy than it was just 7 or 8 years ago."

A little tidbit of good news is always incredibly sobering to enviro-pessimists.

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Previous Trivia Tidbit: Laffer Action Pow!.

Posted by Will Franklin · 3 January 2008 01:43 PM · Comments (5)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 127.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:

womanscreaming.gif

The actual caption:

A women runs screaming out of the water during the annual New Years day Coney Island Polar Bear Club swim in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2008. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

A women, eh? Does. Not. Compute. Really, that's a terrible caption. Surely you can do better.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, January 8. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:
hillarypointon.gif

And... The Winners:

1. heckrulz:

Borat Sagdiyev deftly points out Hillary's "Vageenia" to members of Kazakhstan's news media.

2. Hoodlumman:

Hillary couldn't help but become ecstatic when she saw the opportunity to pull an Iowan's finger.

3. rodney dill:

The bars were under-designed by 100%

Captioning at WILLisms.com: A Tradition Since 1857.

Posted by Will Franklin · 2 January 2008 04:46 PM · Comments (17)