California’s Manufactured Water Crisis
and Ineffectual Solutions
  -   By


California Drought

California, where I live, is in the midst of a severe drought, with 2013 being the driest calendar year in the state’s history. Naturally, people are distraught over all the implications, from agricultural irrigation to effects on wildlife habitats to personal home use. The prevailing reaction has been a call to conservation and up until recently that has largely been a voluntary statewide initiative. Guilt and public shame, it has been hoped, would be enough to dissuade a wicked and greedy overconsumption of water. 

This, apparently has not been enough, as status quo usage is wildly unsustainable, and on July 15 the State Water Resources Control Board and Governor Jerry Brown approved measures that will allow law enforcement to issue fines of up to $500 per day for households that are visibly wasting water. Unacceptable behavior include hosing off sidewalks and driveways, irrigating laws to the point of visible runoff, washing cars without a shutoff valve on the hose, and using potable water in non-circulating fountains. Additionally, municipal water agencies are tasked with implementing further restrictions or else risk incurring a $10,000 fine. Continue reading


Confession of a Climate Change Skeptic  -   By


It is to my great shame that I confess to being a climate change skeptic. I say this with the knowledge that it is quite fashionable, these days, to style a self-proclaimed skeptic as a pariah and to castigate him for his alleged ignorance and contempt for nature. Open and honest dialogue is frustrated in this environment and generally devolves into inflammatory rhetoric and one-upmanship.

It’s not uncommon for climate change apologists to mislabel skeptics as climate change deniers. I’ll say here at the outset that I am not denying the possibility that human action might cause disruptions in the global climate. I do however strongly question the present and future severity of the issue and, more specifically, the ability of humans to make contemporary changes that will have any appreciable effect on future climate outcomes. It would seem, however, that there are some critics who are pathologically incapable of distinguishing my position with one of an impassioned denier. Continue reading


The Isla Vista Murders
and the Politicization of Tragedy
  -   By

Police officers in Isla Vista respond to one of the crime scenes.

In an article I wrote last year I explored the debate on gun control, in general, following the political groundswell that seemed to support harsher restrictions and outright second amendment violations following the Newtown school shooting. Here, I will explore the implications of the immediate politicization of similar tragedies, touching on the reactions to the Isla Vista murders, which occurred last week. Continue reading


Why Bubbles Burst:
Austrian Business Cycle Theory
  -   By


Austrian economists F. A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.

In the early 2000’s a bubble formed in the U.S. housing market in which housing prices rose dramatically, new housing projects were being constructed at increased rates, and speculative buying of homes and mortgages became the latest get-rich-quick scheme.  By 2008 the bubble burst and real estate prices dropped dramatically, affecting subsequent industries and triggering a worldwide economic depression.  Why did this happen, and furthermore, why is economic history replete with these boom and bust cycles?  Ludwig von Mises explained the cause of this trend with an analogy, which I will paraphrase:

Continue reading


Minimum Wage:
Economically and Morally Bankrupt
  -   By

President Obama, in his most recent “state of the union” speech, addressed a topic that, though it has been disproven countless times, is so politically popular that future politicians will doubtlessly echo it beyond the lifetime of the present Union:

“Tonight, let’s declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty, and raise the federal minimum wage to $9.00 an hour. This single step would raise the incomes of millions of working families.”

We must first understand what a wage truly is.  A wage is a price.  It truly is little else than this; a wage is the price of an individual’s productive efforts. Continue reading


On “Common Sense” Gun Laws  -   By

Following the school shooting at Newtown, President Obama has been asking Americans in general, and Congress specifically, to unite in supporting and adopting what he refers to, most recently in a speech given in Minneapolis, as “common-sense” changes to federal gun laws.

What troubles me about this particular and oft-repeated phrase is that “common sense” usually describes a simple and cursory consideration of facts and generally calls upon preconceptions, bias, and emotion.  This may be problematic, as often ideas that appear true to one’s own understanding of common sense end up being, in fact, false. Continue reading


Full Employment is NOT the Goal!  -   By

This week, it was announced that the unemployment rate in the United States had fallen to 7.8%, the lowest rate since President Obama took office in 2009.  The data show that 325,000 jobs have been added to the economy during Obama’s tenure, numbers that are sure to be used as a talking-point in his favor in these last weeks preceding the November election.  At a rally at George Mason University, Obama noted, “We’re moving forward.  This morning, we found out that the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest level since I took office… More people are getting jobs.”  This, a claim made all the more ironic, as GMU has perhaps the highest concentration of economists resistant to the Keynesian model on which the President bases nearly all of his fiscal and monetary decisions. Continue reading