Sunday, December 20, 2009

Capitalism is Murder

...or so says a new snippet of graffiti on the Holmes Run walking path underneath I-395.

I struggle to grasp the logic supporting this conclusion. Perhaps it's a definitional miscommunication. I suppose it's possible that someone could think that private ownership of the means of production is the same thing as cold-blooded homicide, but I think it's more likely that the author of the sentiment confuses capitalism with government-backed crony corporatism. True, it doesn't have the same ring to it, but the case that Blackwater is a band of thugs is more defensible than, say, Johnson and Johnson being bloodthirsty mercenaries.

"Know thy enemy" springs to mind. I suspect that adolescent anarchists (anarcho-communists, more probably, based on some of the other graffiti in the area) don't know a plugged thing about how the relative ease of transfer of goods and services have contributed to the post-magical abundance each and every one of us enjoys today.

Interesting status dynamics arise in these sorts of subcultures. There's a funny balance between retaining outsider status, which can confer high status within the group (though, low status, obviously, outside) and attracting new adherents. As the numbers in the group swell, the local high status position is threatened. If the original members are unable or unwilling to adjust their status expectations, they will splinter. It becomes a matter of how highly they value outsider status compared to how much they value their cause. I suspect that members of splinter factions more often cherish being misfits. The label of "sellout" is extremely low status, to be avoided at great cost.

Fight the power!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Robocop: a love story

I've been mulling the Hanson/Caplan exchange about identity preservation in the case of brain uploads. As before, I'm worried about the legal implications of writing a living brain into a machine. In the case of major brain trauma, the development of neural disorders, or vegetative states, individuals retain the same legal rights as they had prior to the change. In the case of a perfectly faithful upload, the replica has no legal rights or responsibilities soever.

Also, since the thought experiments appear to be popular in this debate, consider a coma patient. Someone goes into a lingering vegetative state then awakes 20 years later, a whole new set of cells, with no cognitive continuity in the interim. Is this the same individual that fell into the coma? Does the ghost in the shell slumber next to the corpse?

Consider also the enhancement of the upload. Upgrades should be easily available, with vastly enhanced senses, improved memory, and vastly faster cognitive abilities. If you accept that identity can be transferred and you think that the individual is the sum of the parts (memory, feeling, sensation, emotion, etc), will the upload become something more than the original? Man plus? Could I still call my upgraded self me? Is there a fundamental difference between Lasik eye surgery and an enhancement that allows me to see into the x-ray spectrum?

From a practical standpoint, I'd be willing to upload myself for pure vanity. It's likely that my presence in the distant future is not going to be appreciated much by whatever Neo Sapiens is going to be around, but I'm happy being a wallflower in a fantastic future, even if it means being relegated to an old-uploads home, well away from the supercharged post-singularity world of perfect information and infinite wisdom.

Someone should write an AI bill of rights, if this hasn't already been done.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gobble Gobble

There's a lot to be thankful for in the early 21st Century: penicillin, flush toilets, Kindle, adjustable insoles, myelin sheaths in the neocortex, GPS, the Large Hadron Collider. What I'm thankful for this year is the people in my life. People are, and have always been what really makes life worth living.

I can see the appeal of the line: "L'enfer, c'est les autres", but I'd guess that Sartre didn't bother considering the alternative. Try to imagine for a moment how perfectly unlivable life would be in the absence of others. How much stuff are you able to create from the raw materials around you? How long would it take? Would you survive even a mild winter? We rely on other people for our food, our comfort, our entertainment, our very survival. The alternative to the Zarathustrian nightmare is true wretched misery, starvation, and the most terrifying of all ancient punishments: exile.

So here I am in my cozy apartment in Northern Virginia, surrounded by people on every side and I can't imagine being any more content.

Infants are unable to signal their desire to live, and in the absence of that ability, what is the Functionalist take on infanticide? Also, does criminal law dilute the efficiency of civil law? The latter is a question for the Spivonomist, I think.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bigger, Longer, and Uncut.

I've been trying to think of ways in which our rule-making process could prevent things like this. Riding major laws on things like troop funding in order to shame those who might vote against it is not only disgusting, but reveals some sort of flaw in our system. My guess is that a majority of the representatives who voted for (or against) the health care bill read the thing, so the main driving force behind the vote was wanting to be identified with health care reform (or a more honest word, befuckupment), or not.

I propose that every bill that is voted upon first be read out loud, in its entirety, and in order to vote on a bill a congressperson must be present for, say, 90% of the reading. So not only do they have to learn how sausage is made, they have to have their eyelids pinned open and watch while each creepy element is put through the grinder.

I would love to watch around the time the budget is passed. "We're spending HOW much on WHAT?"

Perhaps I am wrong in thinking that public officials have shame, but I do know they value their time.

I also have at times thought the idea of a line-item veto would be useful, but I think that it might too often be used as a political weapon more than anything.

Any other ideas?

It's probably overblown anyway

With all the heavyweight academics weighing in on the climate e-mail "scandal" (quotes gleefully lifted from the Mungowitz), I've got my own take on the issue.

The birth pains of science were ugly. Scientific inquiry may not have themselves broken the back of the Church, but even if they kicked 'em while they were down, it's fair to say that the Scientific Method has left an indelible imprint on Western Civ. Most of the time, it's been in the service of the advancement of the species, so academic territorialism at its worst meant nothing so egregious as maintaining the status quo.

Here, we have a different situation. Artificial consensus implies massive costs on future generations. Turf wars spell untold trouble.

So should we be surprised? Probably not. Should we be worried? I think so.

Also, are politicians competition for entertainers? Is that why actors feel they have to weigh in on public policy?

Also also, big-ass laughs at KPC hoisting DeLong by a (not necessarily his own) petard.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Endangered Species

"I don't give a damn about endangered species." -Walter Williams

I don't either, but I have a suggestion for those who do...Start eating them. Well, not quite. If private ownership of endangered species is no longer prohibited, and people figure out that animals like the spotted owl are pretty tasty, there will be an incentive for people to farm them and keep the species alive. Does anyone expect cows or chickens to go extinct?

I find it interesting that environmentalists seem more concerned with the survival of currently living plants and animals rather than increasing their population.

Smile, a-hole

As far back as I can remember, I've been accused of being dour. I could be living a comfortable retirement in Spain were it not for the fact that no one was obliged to give me a nickel every time they told me to plaster a goofy grin across my sour puss. I used to just hate these comments because I (probably rightfully) resented the implicit (explicit, even?) paternalism in the sentiment. "Who are you to tell me to smile, jerkwad?", I'd think to myself, seldom voicing my ire due to the undeniable awkwardness in telling a cheerier-than-thou person to kindly STFU. Later, I began to bristle at the untoward monotony of hearing the same crap over and over again. Yes, jerkface, I know I'm a miserable cur. Now please zip thy lip and let me stew in my wretchedness in blessed peace.

These days, I've been getting the exhortation to grin a lot less often. I'd reckon it's either because I actually do smile more often or that people are less inclined to tell a grown-ass man to grin like an idiot when there's nothing around to smile at. I'd hope it's the former, because I really do like to think I'm happier with the choices I've made. I'm in exactly the place I want to be and I'm surrounded by precisely the sorts of people I want to be surrounded by. Dang, I've just ended two sentences with a preposition in one paragraph. Take that, Mrs. Underwood and fourth grade English. I'm a bit more worried that it might be the latter. In that case, it means that the signal has stopped being "we want to feel more comfortable around you, so please look happy for our sake" to "you're a lost cause, old man [I'm not old; there's only one or two of my professors who might be younger than me] so go ahead and be as gloomy as you want. We'll just make fun of your peculiar grooming habits and your malapropisms".

Robin Hanson today weighs in on the signalling of smiling, and it's funny that he of all people does so. Funny in the genuinely cheerful sort of funny, because Robin is among probably the top five happiest people I've ever met. He's unfailingly engaging and just plain cheerful. It's hard for me to picture what he looks like without a smile on his face. It kind of leads me to wonder about cultural development of signal control. Eastern cultures tend to value signal control much more highly than in the West, but what were the incentives that led to this sort of development? The Jared Diamond story of geography doesn't seem to fit, and there doesn't appear to be much reason to suspect an analog of cultural evolution at play. It has to be a Schelling point, but why select one particular equilibrium on one side of the Gobi and the other on the other?

Honest nonverbal communication is important under the condition that there is no common tongue. If I'm French and I meet a Romanian hunter in the woods, we might expect more honest outcomes if, in the absence of a common language, I were able to accurately read the other guy's intentions. In a homogeneous culture, say, the Imperial Court, I might obtain better breeding rights if I were able to snooker my peers and make them think I'm more temperate than I actually am.

Well, golly Wally. Maybe it is more of a Diamond story than I thought. The same rivers and mountains that made sure Europe would be fragmented linguistically and politically are those that gave rise to honesty in facial expressions and the wide-open plains in Central and Northern Asia that gave rise to vasty empires also spurred the closed face.

So don't tell me to smile. I'm practicing for my trip back in time to visit the Son of Heaven. Now if I could only remember where Rufus left that phone booth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Criticism of Coase

It was good timing that the day after we got to hear Coase's "The Problem of Social Cost," and two days after Judge Richard Posner was a guest on Econtalk, Pete Boettke draws attention to James Buchanan and his disbelief in the process of cost-benefit analysis in Law and Economics, especially when it comes to distribution of rights.

Buchanan's argument is made in a great 2005 article called "Cost, Choice and Catallaxy" (I hope the link works; otherwise you can just Google scholar it and it's on Google books). Before I present his argument, here's a nugget to chew on: "To cover costs and to maximize profits are essentially two ways of expressing the same phenomenon." (This is apparently from one of Coase's early articles.)

Buchanan and Coase agree on a whole lot; both think the reduction of transaction costs is valuable and neither believe in a zero-transaction cost world. Their disagreement comes from Coase being an 'objectivist' and Buchanan a 'subjectivist.' To Buchanan: "Coase is... an objectivist in the sense that, to him, 'efficiency' in resource use has an existential reality independent of the market exchange process." Basically, there exists efficiency outside of the subjective actors participating in exchange. On the other hand, Buchanan stipulates that we know trade results in a more efficient allocation of resources because we know that all voluntary trade is mutually beneficial - but we cannot say anything about transactions that do not take place. "Coase is able to place a positive value on the open trading process because it generates efficient results; I am able to place a positive value on the open trading process because only through such a process can we be assured that parties secure mutuality of gain." In the farmer-rancher example, we know that the outcome is efficient with the rancher paying the farmer for his damaged crop only because this transaction takes place. We cannot know how much the farmer values the non-addition of another steer if they don't trade; maybe the farmer would be willing to accept a payment to allow the steer, but he doesn't trust the rancher. This is a case where transaction costs can be lowered. Maybe he values his crop more than the added value of the steer. If the transaction costs cannot be lowered, no court can know if enforcing an agreement with these stipulations would be 'efficient.'

Or, in Buchanan's words "...the subjectivist cannot go beyond these limits [of mutual gains to trade] and discuss the prospective assignment of rights with a view towards minimizing transaction costs, even if possessed of an authority to do so." Or, "agreement remains the only test for efficiency."

There's a lot more in the essay; he doesn't just poke at Coase, he has a section where he posits a possible solution. And, of course, he agrees with Coase that we should kick poor old dead Pigou a few times for good measure. I think the most important aspect of this paper is that by using economic efficiency as a measuring stick for the law we're asking judges to be central planners, using information that they cannot possibly know to design efficient outcomes. We know how that usually turns out.

Thoughts? I came away from class yesterday thinking that cost-benefit analysis was a useful tool for the judiciary (though not to the monstrous level that Posner takes it) but I am now not so sure.

Teratogens: not just for breakfast anymore.

The genome reacts to teratogens in the environment by going haywire. Sometimes, these bastards cause cancer, sometimes birth defects. Usually, where they go, misery follows. However, on a long enough time scale, they can be useful because once in a while, they induce an advantageous mutation which may be adopted through the delightful process of natural selection.

Taking the evolutionary paradigm as a model, can one make the case for lousy workers acting as teratogens in industry? Most of the time, they act counterproductively and need to be chemo'd to the curb. Occasionally, perhaps, their noxious presence leads to improvements in the way we order industry.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Downside of Specialization

As some have already pointed out, not all of the reactions to Elinor Ostrom getting the Nobel Prize were positive. The most productive comments in the link that Dr. Boettke provides read something like: "I never had to read anything by her in my PhD program, she must not be worthwhile." You don't need much imagination to guess some of the less productive comments (Hint: the commenters are as emotionally mature as 15 year old boys with a headset playing Halo).

The former of these brings to mind a question - if Orstom's work is important enough to merit a Nobel, WHY have people in PhD Econ programs not read her? I think the answer lies in too much academic specialization. Specialization, as any basic micro class will teach you, is extremely important to the functioning of the economy. The same is true in academics, God forbid if to graduate with a PhD one need master not only their subject but many others. Now, Ostrom's PhD is in Political Science, not Economics. Therefore, it would seem to follow, the benefit from reading her work would be low for an Economist. Clearly, this is false. The reason is that all social scientists are trying to answer the same fundamental questions: how to people act, and how do people interact, given different environments? This is true for Economists, Historians, Sociologists, Political Scientists...

This means that overspecializing and only reading things by people who got their PhD in Economics means neglecting valuable resources.

I want to link to a great essay, titled The American Scholar, by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here's a link. Emerson's prose is spectacular and his message pertinent. Being in a PhD program means becoming a Scholar first, seeking Truth wherever it is, and whatever you specialize in second. Otherwise, "the state of society is one in which the members have suffered amputation from the trunk, and strut about so many walking monsters, — a good finger, a neck, a stomach, an elbow, but never a man." (or woman)

(I got the essay recommendation and topic idea from McCloskey's "How to Be Human* *Though an Economist" I promise to post something and not mention McCloskey sometime soon...)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Questions from a Novice Economist

First post!

1.) C. Romer has said that the government spending multiplier is 1.6. Government does not create wealth, it only redistributes it through taxation, debt, and inflation. This leads me to think that the multiplier could, at best in some magical world without leakages be equal to 1. Does perpetual motion exist in macroeconomics? If I am missing something in the whole multiplier calculation process, could someone enlighten me?

2.) Is all involuntary unemployment, with the exception of an individual being fired for incompetence, a result of government action? Examples are price controls, taxation, regulation, and labor contract enforcement.

3.) Is a system of voluntary government funding, a lottery for example, sustainable?

I know it's a short post...but I need to get back to the Macro hw.

P.S. Sam, thanks for inviting me to contribute!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Kelo (the case, not the misspelled submarine)

Buzz on the blogosphere is on Pfizer and the Kelo case. You may remember that this was the eminent domain case a few years back when some dinkwater town in Connecticut (New London or something) bulldozed a neighborhood so that a drug company could build a bigass compound there. The case went to SCOTUS and those guys said that it was hunky-dory for a community to invoke eminent domain so long as the benefit to the community was on net positive, even if land was being taken from one private owner and given to another. In this case, it was a homeowner being relocated in favor of an impressively large pharmaceutical manufacturer.

The objection felt by many in those communities that value property rights and the rule of law was not insubstantial at the time, and largely justified. This was an utter abrogation of many centuries of well-established property rights laws and suggested that city councils could arbitrarily seize property from anyone if it suited the needs of their tax coffers (like in the recent California safe deposit box issue [H/T Mike Munger]). All of this was ex ante, and we have now arrived in the comfort of our luxury sedan to the dappled forest that is ex post, where Pfizer has decided to shutter its New London operations.

So how should we react to this? Schadenfreude? Some people are, and for the sake of civility, I won't attack any of them for impropriety (indeed, I quite sympathize). Instead, I've been mulling my own mixed reactions. One hand has on it the same righteous indignation it had from the original ruling, while another bears the weight of a great feeling of futility. From a practical standpoint, the common law was eroded for what was, ex ante, an illegitimate display of coercive authority and ex post has shown to have been the simple destruction of wealth. Both my inner Hanson and my inner Caplan are weeping. One from the mirror of history and the other from the muddy earth of a scrapped industrial park. Both liberty and efficiency have been mugged by a blind lady who probably has nothing on under her billowy robes. Tell me how this makes ours a society that best suits the will of the people.

The Kilo class submarine is a Russian diesel-electric boat, known for its surprising silence when operating on battery power. No relation to the case, other than New London being well known for submarines.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bourgeois Virtues

I really like the name of this blog, I must say. How one can go through life as a pessimist I don't know. Maybe you get caught with your pants down a little less often, but in the terms of Professor Walter Williams, I prefer opting for the type II error when it comes to predicting a better future than a type I error (he professes the reverse, though, but after having dinner with so many politicians maybe it's merited).

We as economists (or future economists) should be optimistic about most things not related to the expansion of government. If you listen to the popular idioms regarding economists - that they've predicted nine of the last five recessions, etc, heck, Economics's nickname is the Dismal Science thanks to the writings of the Reverend Malthus, and if you read the writings of the Reverend Krugman you might be inclined to think the definition is still valid. Really though, if you look at what Economics tells us, it's hard to think of it as anything BUT an optimistic science. The Fundamental Theorem of Exchange tells us that voluntary trade is mutually beneficial, which means that people, by the simple act of trading with each other can make everyone better. Ricardo teaches us that everyone - not just the rich, the powerful, the least ethical, so on, but everyone can be enriched by specializing in the thing they are comparatively best at. Economics even tells us that greed, that dirty vice that we're all supposed to resist, can be turned into a productive force.

Despite all of this, there is hardly a shortage of doom-saying Economists. If you took a poll of Economists writing for a public audience, they might say that the Mayans were unrealistic in believing that we would get to 2012. Certainly, when the economy is rocky people are more willing to listen to the people who think we're on a train to hell.

So what I want to do is highlight an economist who is telling us just the opposite - Deirdre McCloskey. McCloskey is, as maybe some have heard, my current academic crush. I recently read her latest book The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce. It is a book seemingly aimed at two audiences: first and more generally, it is aimed at those who think Capitalism is a force of amorality or immorality, and she argues that it is in fact conducive to a moral world. Her second target audience is the economist, especially the Utilitarian economist, and her goal is to preach the virtue of Virtues. Economics seems to have become a science where Prudence, or Utility, is king (if there is even anything else in play). She thinks we economists should remember and take into account ALL of the virtues when practicing our science.

She reaches back to Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas for these virtues, of which there are seven; the Pagan four, Courage, Justice, Temperance, and ol' Prudence, and the Christian three, Hope, Faith, and Love. As a side note, while previous sentence contains scary words like 'Saint' and 'Christian,' non-believers like me can take just as much from it (and heck, even Ayn Rand once said the only philosophers ever worth a damn were the three A's: Aristotle, Aquinas, and... you guess). Ever the economist, McCloskey actually has a chart of each of the virtues, with 'self vs community' on the x-axis and 'profane vs transcendent' on the y axis. So what does McCloskey qua virtue ethicist have to say to economists? Well, lots of things - this is a 600 page book and volume one of a conceived of six volumes - but the basic message is this: the economy cannot run on Prudence alone. Entrepreneurs require Courage and Hope and Faith (not just a low CRRA), workers and capitalists require a Love of their work and a love of those close to them, and a love of your fellow man doesn't always hurt. Society must be Just (something Pinochet didn't understand) and, yes, Prudence and Temperance are necessary for making things work.

Why the Bourgeois Virtues? Well, because we're all Bourgeois now. Even the detractors of Capitalism are all Bourgeoisie these days - how many Proletarians get to sit around for four years reading and learning how evil wealth is?

So let us Economists stay optimistic (Hope + Faith + Courage) and convince others that our science is anything but dismal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Good on Paper

There's an old canard mocking the rift between theory and practice: "it looked good on paper". You hear this one with failed civil, nuclear, or mechanical engineering projects from time to time, but most often, you hear it with failed social engineering projects, like building pointless dams in Haiti or Egypt, or slapping price controls on, or creating silly make-work projects to restore employment. Of all the failed social engineering projects I hear "it looked good on paper" about the most frequently, the one that sticks in my craw is that of Socialism.

I can't find anything even remotely appealing about Socialism, using any metric, including equality. It's inefficient, illiberal, unjust, and tyrannical, and that's on its face. In practice, I agree, it's far worse than on paper, but by no stretch of the imagination does it at all look good on paper. I do so wish people would stop saying that it does.

Turns of phrase are the shambling undead. To kill them, you need a clean headshot.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Price of Men

A homemade sign by my house advertises, “Free truck and two men. $49!” I could use a free truck, so I called the number.

“Hello?” A man answers. He sounds slightly distracted. I hear a TV and conversation.

“Hi, I’m calling about the free truck.”

“Oh, yes!” I have his attention now, “a free truck and two men to help you move, only $49 for one hour.”

One hour? That’s not enough time to get to IKEA and back. “I’m not moving,” I explain, “I just need the free truck.”

“No, no. You pay for the men, and then you get the free truck.”

I think I’m beginning to grasp the free truck concept. “Ok then, tell me about the men. Are they tall?”

“They are tall enough to move anything in your house!” he enthusiastically assures me.

“I’m not moving,” I remind him. “Are they dark? Are they handsome?”

“Are you joking with me?” I sense some frustration. “Ya Allah!”

“Ya Allah,” I agree, a bit frustrated myself.

“You speak Arabic?” His tone changes suddenly. We are soon to be friends.


“Where are you from?”

“California.” I explain, “I learned Arabic in the army. Where are you from?”


“My favorite professor is from Lebanon! Someday I want to visit there.”

After telling me about some of the places I must see, my new friend eventually gets back to the original conversation. “For you,” he generously offers, “a free truck and one man, only $35.”

We’re finally getting somewhere. “But,” I reason, “if the two men are $49 and the one you’re offering me is $35, the other must be only $14. I’ll take him.”

He laughs, “You are very smart. Ok, $25.”

Now, I’m trying to be an economist, not a mathematician (as my other favorite professor can attest), but things don’t seem to be adding up, so I calculate aloud, “Two men together are $49, but one at a time they are $35 and $25 – a total f $60. Are you telling me you have a bulk discount on men?”

“Ya Allah!”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Picking my pony

I think Alex Tabarrok is a pretty cool guy. Eh writes textbooks and doesn't afraid of anything. However, he also thinks Arnold Kling is wrong about inflation being just around the corner. His graph of nominal spending suggests that we could use a spot of inflation to boost nominal spending. I think the subtext (and when I asked him in person, he briefly mentioned it) that there could be a big threat of deflation. I don't disagree with any of this, but I don't share his confidence that inflation (and a big surprise inflation, at that) isn't a-comin' for lil' Opie Cunningham to whistle about through his big ol' buckteeth.

Naturally, I have a picture of my own.

I didn't bother marking up my picture the way Dr. Tabarrok did, but mine kind of speaks for itself. Yes, the data only goes back until 1975, but if you're willing to take me at my word, I assure
you that the mostly straight line that stretches to the left continues to stretch to the left way back farther than 50 years. (Data is from the FRB)

Now, I'm 100% on board with Alex's reasoning. To figure out inflation expectations, you check the markets. TIPS (Treasury Inflation-Indexed [Protected] Securities) are government bonds that adjust their coupon against changes to the CPI (Consumer Price Index). As we can see in the next picture (wow! 2 pictures in 1 post, how about that for value?), TIPS spread against normal 10-year bonds is pretty stable.

Pretty wild, huh? Banks are hanging onto massive excess reserves and nobody seems to think that this implies a wave of inflation in the next decade. How can I possibly explain this?

Well, I could borrow from the behavioralist school and suggest that investors are mad, but I don't believe that for a moment. I think a more reasonable story is that people believe that another asset bubble is coming (or that there are going to be some unprecedented market interventions by the Fed and Congress). I won't mention what I think the worst case scenario is because I don't want to violate the spirit of the blog. Still, I worry that if Alex gets his wish, a little bit of inflation (enough to get us out of a nominal spending slump) won't stay small for long. It would be like pouring a bucket of applesauce down the throat of a sweaty pirate named Sweaty Pete. Once you open up the floodgates, Jerry, that'll be all she wrote. Clamping down on what we'll observe when banks lend out normally again will be hella painful.

Optimistically, the Fed will be able to deal with potential inflation in a timely and smooth manner. Let's stay optimistic.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Vote Counted

On Tuesday I voted in the Virginia election. There were only five (or was it six?) positions to vote for. I want to tell you all a little about my experience voting.

First off, I only voted for three of the positions: governor, attorney general, and house of delegates. I guess that last one is like the state legislature or something? I really have no idea.

Well, leading up to the election, I was unsure as to whether I should vote for the D or the R guys. On the one hand, D is pretty close to B, which is the first letter of my first name. But on the other hand, R *is* R, the first letter of my last name. In the end, I chose to go for the R guys, and for reasons other than the first-letter-of-my-name thing.

Bob McDonnell’s competitor had put signs up all over Fairfax saying something to the effect that Bob wanted to get rid of schools. I’m not a fan of public schools, so if Bob is against them, he’s my guy. I just don’t understand why his Creigh Deeds would have gone around paying for a positive advertising campaign for his election competitor.

I voted for Bob McDonnell, and he won by 6%. It’s a good thing I voted for him, because without my vote, he would have undoubtedly lost.

The race for attorney general had a similar story. The guy running against Cuccinelli (I don’t even remember his (or her) name) has been playing ads all over TV saying how Cuccinelli once said that he wouldn’t enforce laws he didn’t agree with. Wow! What a strong endorsement!

Seriously, these Democrats are horrible at the PR game. You guys are supposed to advertise negative qualities about your competitors (or at least talk up the good points of your own business). No wonder Republicans owned the elections last night.

Well anyway, I voted for Cuccinelli. This was a much closer race — Cuccinelli only won by 1%! My vote really counted here.

So in case you’re not keeping track, my vote has counted in two of two cases.

However, there is still the general assembly election. There was no R in this race, only a D. Having run as a third party candidate in the past, I can empathize with the lower-ranked parties. So I voted for the Green Party candidate, Anna Choi. I mean, I like the color green, so why not? And I can tell by her name that she’s Asian, and I like Asians.

Furthermore, her website claims she is a fiscal conservative… which in conjunction with being a Green means she probably just favors raising taxes really high to offset government spending. But that’s ok, because I learned recently from doing my macro homework that in a Keynesian world (which we live in), an equal increase in government spending and taxes results in a net positive effect on the economy. What’s not to love about this kind of fiscal conservatism?

Unfortunately, Anna lost her bid to serve us. It went to the D.

But I refuse to let one bad race prevent me from enjoying my democratic freedoms in this country and knowing that, at the very least, my vote counted in two of the three races.

Remember Remember 5 Nov

In celebration of the 404th anniversary of Guy Fawkes' attempt to explode parliament, we inaugurate this blog to carry the torch of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of an illuminated future.

I'll say briefly that a good conscience sometimes demands righteous rebellion from time to time, and even if gunpowder treason might cause history to remember you as a blackguard, advancing the cause of freedom is worth a bit of ignobility.