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I’m moving!

April 17, 2010

Hello all!

I am moving my blog here. Please update your links and feed reader!

Cheers,
Rick

Irony

March 27, 2010

Re: “We need to do something!”

March 24, 2010

The idea of “we” is an important one. “We” are paying for what “we” the United States is doing. However, there is no such thing as “we,” only a lot of different individuals, all working to take care of themselves and their families.

“We” the taxpayers[*] cannot reduce our tax burden without spending so much time doing so that we would have nothing left to tax.

Politicians cannot cut spending in general without cutting spending in their district. They can’t do that without getting fired. Hopefully, they will get fired for not cutting spending, but we have to recognize that they would have gotten fired had they cut spending.

The “Throw the Bums Out” theory of governance does not get us far. The history of government is less a story of heroes and villains, and more a story of people responding to incentives. The problem here is not that there are a lot of people in congress screwing us over, it’s that our government is a system that incentivizes its own growth without regard to outcomes. The recent health care bill is only a symptom of a much larger problem. The same is true of every other bad piece of legislation. Throwing the bums out is the equivalent of blowing your nose.

“We” do need to do something. But what we need to do is much bigger than merely throwing the bums out. We need to start fixing our political system. We need to ask, “what got us here and how do we get back?” We need to continually ask, “what is the proper role of government?” and we need to be able to explain why.

[*]It should be noted that even if your tax return says you don’t pay taxes, you do. They are capitalized into the price of everything you buy.

Mar 25: Mission College (Santa Clara CA)

March 22, 2010

Mar 25: Mission College (Santa Clara CA) – The Standup Economist, Free Show. Who’s in? http://ow.ly/1pw4Q

Don Boudreaux on Public Choice | EconTalk

March 20, 2010

Don Boudreaux on Public Choice | EconTalk | Library of Economics and Liberty http://ow.ly/1oUcZ

Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts have an excellent conversation introducing some of the fundamental insights of Public Choice Theory. This should be essential listening for those who are not already familiar with this important research program.

Letter to the Editor – Spartan Daily (Published Version)

March 8, 2010

Letter to the Editor: Student protesters don’t know full story

On Thursday, students and staff demanded more money for SJSU. For most, the issue seems like a no-brainer: budget cuts suck, so throw some money at the problem. They fail to recognize that what the government gives you it must first take away from someone else. SJSU faces trade-offs because the resources necessary to run a school are scarce. There is no free lunch. But school leaders feel no shame in wasting money while the quality of education declines.

The school will spend $90 million to renovate the Student Union, leaving students with furlough days! By cutting more intelligently, the school can “keep the doors open” without begging for more tax dollars. Students alone will benefit from their education – your degree doesn’t get me a job, nor does mine make you smarter – and yet most SJSU students are aghast at the prospect of paying for their school. Tuition is rising, but we will still only pay a fraction of the cost. Students should worry about having to pay higher taxes the for rest of their lives. Education may be a right, but school is not. All life experiences are educational, but the resources necessary to operate a school require the cooperation of others. To declare my right to taxpayers’ income is to declare my right to the sweat off their backs.

While several students at the protest were willing to actually talk with me, other students showed their narrow-mindedness by jeering. One student went so far as to physically attack me because he was too short to cover my sign. If the school’s mission is to teach students to think critically and keep their minds open, it has failed. Too many of our students believe in a free lunch and too few are tolerant of dissenting opinions.

Rick Weber

Letter to the Editor – Spartan Daily

March 7, 2010

Hundreds of students and staff showed up to the protest on Thursday demanding more money. For most, the issue seems like a no-brainer: budget cuts suck, so throw some money at the problem. They fail to recognize two essential points: 1) What the government gives you it first has to take away from someone else. 2) There is no free lunch.

There is no “bad guy” cutting the budget for kicks; the budget is being cut because there isn’t enough money to go around. SJSU faces trade-offs because the resources necessary to run a school are scarce. But School leaders feel no shame in wasting money while the quality of education declines. The school will spend $90M to renovate the student union leaving students with furlough days! By cutting more intelligently, the school can “keep the doors open” without begging for more tax dollars.

Students alone will benefit from their education–your degree doesn’t get me a high paying job, nor does mine make you smarter–and yet most of the students at SJSU are aghast at the prospect of paying for their education. Tuition is rising, but we will still only pay a fraction of the cost. Students should be concerned with the prospect of having to pay higher taxes the rest of their life. Taxpayers who aren’t using the CSU system should be angry that they’re paying for something they don’t benefit from.

Education may be a right, but school is not. Noting the difference is important. All life experiences are educational, but the resources necessary to operate a school require the cooperation of others. If I have a right to school, someone else must have a duty to provide necessary resources. To declare my right to taxpayers’ income is to declare my right to the sweat off their backs.

One student was quoted as saying “I’m here because I have to be here…The state depends on students.” The students depend on the state, not the other way around. The world was not chaos and terror before the CSU came on the scene. Even if we didn’t have subsidized schools, people would still go to school in much the same way people eat, buy books, shave, buy cars, pay rent and everything else we do in life.

While several students at the protest were willing to actually talk with me, other students showed their narrow-mindedness by jeering. One student went so far as to physically attack me because he was too short to cover my sign. If the school’s mission is to teach students to think critically and keep their minds open, it has failed. Too many of our students believe in a free lunch and too few are tolerant of dissenting opinions.

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