Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Why Egypt will make us not regret Iraq

I, for one, used to take a stance somewhat against the Iraq war, however, in light of some recent considerations, I now support it.

Ground Rules: I will not be talking about ethics, lying and all the other charges brought up against the Bush Administration. Whatever happened to get us into Iraq is history, what we need to consider now is purely cost-benefit analysis. The remainder of the post will be devoid of any potential ethical malfeasance that may or may not have come about in getting us involved in Iraq.


When considering military action, one need not only consider the costs associated with taking action, but also the cost of inaction. Whenever a given Olberman wishes to make a case against the war, they always make an argument from the loss of blood and treasure, without considering the potential benefit of taking the action. Here are a few things to think about before outright rejecting the Iraq war.

Arguably, the most dangerous region in the world is the middle east. In order to maintain the security of the world, and avoid World War 3, the Middle East must remain stable. If there is one thing that Jimmy Carter did right, it was the Camp David Accords. By maintaining peace between Israel and Egypt, the two most militarily powerful countries in the Middle East, a period of unprecedented stability followed.

Sadly, like all treaties, this too shall pass. The current president of Egypt, Housni Moubarak, is on his last legs. At the age of 83 and struggling with esophageal cancer, people are surprised to still see him alive, let alone in any position to run the country. Nonetheless, when his day of reckoning comes, a power vacuum will arise. When that does happen one of three people, or groups of people will take over.

One possibility is that the culturally liberal Albaredi takes over. If that were to happen, Egypt will enter into a long period of economic prosperity, and Ramses the Second will rise from his tomb and walk the streets of Cairo singing "Everybody Dance Now!". Sorry I got a little carried away there. Whenever I begin a thought with something as unlikely as the election of Albaredi, I decend into ludicrousness.

Another possibility is that Hosni Mubarak corrupt son Gamal takes office. Everyone will shout death to the pseudo-monarchy, but this may very well be the US's only hope for stability.

The final possibility, which I dread, is that the terrorist organization known as the Muslim brotherhood takes over Egypt. The reason for my dread is due to their marked anti-Israeli stance. Just to put things in perspective, Hamas, the main opposition to Israel, is a wing of the Islamic brotherhood. If they take over the Egyptian government, which they are poised to do, the treaty between Egypt and Israel will be as good as gone.

This brings me back full circle to my main argument. By taking over Iraq, the USA, makes sure that the region erupts if, er I mean, when Mubarak kicks the bucket. Iraq, if nothing else, may very well be the only foothold that the United States has in the middle East. The Afghani president hates our guts, The Saudi king is on his last legs and Iran is on the brink of becoming a nuclear power.

I can't believe I am about to say this, but the only bright spot in the Middle East may very well be Iraq.

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="628" caption="Middle East"]Why will this become a hell-hole?[/caption]

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Government sucks

'Why are you a conservative?' I get asked this question  many times. Its usually phrased "Aren't you to young to be a conservative?" The short answer is no. The rest of this post will be giving the long answer.

Government sucks.

A good friend of mine once asked me 'why am I against taxes? Why not just elect representatives who would do what you want?' My answer is that the government has yet to prove its efficacy in ANYTHING. Everything that the government is in control of, has failed, while everything that the government has let go of, succeeds with flying colors. Speaking of flying colors, airline regulations were in place until 1978. Up until that point, service was terrible, prices were high, and safety was nonexistent. With the advent of airline deregulation all of that changed. The airplanes were more punctual, the prices fell to 40% (in real dollars) of what it was preceding airline regulation, and the number of fatal accidents per year fell by almost half [1]

This story is by no means atypical. For example the telephone industry [2] also had similar increases in quality and decreases in pricing when the government removed regulation.

Allow me to preempt the very obvious question, what about finance? Yes I admit, that with the deregulation of the finance system, companies were more likely to invest in things they had no business investing in, but that is not the issue as I see it. If they were stupid enough to invest in terrible assets, then why don't we let them face the repercussions of their actions? Too big to fail is unconvincing at best. I am a fan of capitalism, not big business, and a major part of capitalism is that those who do stupid things are kicked out of the market. The fact that the government's deregulation made it easier to be stupid, has nothing to do with the merits of the government.

Actually, I can use this argument to even help my case. If you were to look at the instigators of this crash, subprime mortgages, you would realize what REALLY started this. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, unlike all other companies subjected to the free market, are government sponsored enterprises who's job was to give loans to the less fortunate, aka subprime loans. Republicans argued to weaken the amount of government power of this organization, but were accused of unfair play by democrats.

Here's a little mind experiment for you. Remember the last time you stood in a really long line (...that wasn't in Disney)?  Chances are it was in a government owned building. The DMV and the post office are all examples of inefficiencies instituted by the government. The post office is unable to economically support itself [3] and the DMV's lines are miserably wrong.

[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Government Sucks"]Woohoo I can do rollover text![/caption]

Here's a challenge to anybody out there. Name one successful government program. One program that achieved the goal it set, and is not insolvent.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The market solves racism

One more reason to love the free market: it ends racism. Does this sound ridiculous? Probably at first but hear me out. I just read Economic Facts and Fallacies by Thomas Sowell which addresses this very issue. Its an excellent read that deals with many of the misconceptions associated with the free market, but by far my favorite part was when he addressed how the free markets solve the problem of racism.

There is some confusion in dealing with labor in the market, but what's important to realize is that labor is just like any other product that is bought and sold on the market. Let's assume that we have an economy with two groups of people: purple and green. We'll also assume that both the purple and the green people have the same qualifications so that the labor of purple people and green people are substitute goods. Let's also assume that we have two employers who make cars, one who is racist against green people and one who is indifferent. The racist employer is willing to go out of his way and discriminate against the green people in hiring. We'll also assume that the market set the wages of both groups of people at the same wage, $8/hr.

Some of you sharp Microeconomics AP students will realize exactly what this is. This is a change in consumer tastes. If a portion of the consumers, employers in this case, believe that a given product is worse than another product, then regardless of the truth of that statement, the 'worse' product will be cheapened while the 'better' one will be made more expensive. Now because the racist manager has increased the demand for the labor of purple people and decreased the demand for the labor of green people, the wage of the purple people move up from $8/hr to $9/hr, while the wage of the green people fell from $8/hr to $7/hr.  Now we have an employer who only hires purple people at $9/hr while the other one, reacting to the drop in the wage of the green people, hires only green people at $7/hr. The employer who only hired green people now has lower costs then the purple manager and is thus able to sell cars at a lower cost to the market. The market, which doesn't have any way of differentiating between cars except by pricing, then chooses only to buy goods from the non-racist employer, while the other employer is priced out of the market to be replaced by another. If the other employer is racist then the cycle continues until all of the successful employers do not differentiate between races and then the market equalizes all wages to $8/hr once again.

This works fine, unless there is a minimum wage. Let's say for practical purposes the government set the minimum wage at $9/hr. Now there is no longer the cost to being racist. Instead of there being a price difference between the cars produced the prices are the same, and the racist employers do just as well economically as the indifferent one's. Sounds real good in theory, right? The question then becomes does this bare out in practice.

The most convincing example of this in the book involved the country of South Africa. During apartheid, the government essentially enforced racism. There were laws on the books that required construction crews to have a certain minimum ratio of whites to blacks. This caused a significant drop in the wages of blacks as the demand for their labor decreased. The most successful foremen, who were able to outbid the more expensive companies, were those who violated this law and hired an 'unacceptable' ratio of blacks to whites. They were fined, but continued to do so anyways which meant that even with a cost associated with indifference, it was still better for them to hire more blacks than legally allowed.

To conclude, the free market solves the problem of racism, while price controls, like the minimum wage, allow people to indulge their prejudices at no cost to them.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rational Christianity

Yeah I know this is allegedly a political blog, but I think holy week warrants a blogpost on the topic.

After going through high school, there  is one thing that I notice all far leftists agree to as a basic tenant of life, it is impossible to be rational and Christian at the same time. I recently picked up several Apologetics books, lectures, and debates and found out that the belief couldn't be farther from the truth. I am going to attempt to amalgamate all that I have read so far and see what happens. My objective is to show that faith can be based on reason.

My argument will be outlined as follows

A. God exists

  1. Moral argument

  2. Cosmological argument

  3. The teleological argument

(Dr. William Lane Craig)

B. Christianity is true

  1. Jesus existed

  2. Jesus stated that He is God

  3. Jesus was crucified

  4. Jesus died

  5. Jesus was buried in the tomb

  6. The tomb was empty

  7. Jesus' followers claimed to have seen Jesus after his death

  8. Saul of Tarsus, an opponent of Jesus' followers, had a vision of Jesus and became a Christian.

  9. Those who had visions continued to support their claims of Jesus being God till death.

  10. There are no plausible naturalistic explanations for the above facts.

(Dr. Gary Habermas)

1. Moral Argument

This argument goes as follows:

  1. God is necessary for objective morals to exist

  2. Objective morals exists

  3. Therefore God exists

There are a couple of important clarifications to this argument. This does not mean that atheists cannot be moral. It is also not arguing that life would be too horrible without the existence of God. Simply put, if you believe the first two then the third necessarily follows.

1.God is necessary for objective morals to exist

This claim is widely accepted by most philosophers. By objective here, I mean independent of human opinion, and therefore inter-temporal. So without God all morals are simply based on opinion. Very uncontroversial claim in most circles.

2.Objective morals exist

This is the more controversial claim. The problem with this claim is that there is no evidence for it, outside of personal opinion. If you are of the opinion, that objective morals do not exist, this argument does not apply to you. But there is good reason to believe that objective morals exist. If there are no objective morals, then nothing is "wrong." It all becomes a matter of personal preference. Making the statement "Rape is wrong" is the equivalent of saying "2+2=5 is wrong." If you believe that morality is simply a convention created by humans, then one has no right to criticize someone for doing an "immoral" act as morality is simply a matter of preference. Saying "helping others is good" is the equivalent of saying that "chocolate is good".

2. Cosmological argument

This argument is just as simple as the last one. It goes like this:

  1. Everything that comes into existence has a cause

  2. The universe came into existence

  3. The universe has a cause

This is actually a really old argument. Most objections to it were on the basis of the second contention. Back then most atheists believed that the world existed universally. That view however is untenable given modern science.

This one is actually really hard to dispute.

Some try to argue that the universe is everything and therefore the argument is simply tautological. The simple response is that there are "things" outside of the universe  like abstract concepts. For instance numbers, and mathematics exist independent of time and space. No one ever argues that the number 7 came into existence, therefore the number 7 is uncaused.

3. Teleological argument

This is the argument that the universe is so fine tuned that its so unlikely that all of the universal constants, like gravity, the weak force, are so fine tuned that the universe must have been designed.

Some argue that regardless of what the universe's constants are some form of life will exist. Easy response:
Stephen Hawking estimates that a decrease in the expansion rate of even one part in a hundred thousand million million one second after the Big Bang would have resulted in the universe’s recollapse long ago; a similar increase would have precluded the galaxies’ condensing out of the expanding matter.

These all provide adequate arguments for the existence of God or at the least provide evidence that God's existence is possible. Given the possibility of God's existence, then you cannot reject the resurrection a priori. So now let's analyse the possibility of the resurrection.

The historicity of the Resurrection

The following facts are accepted by the majority of New Testament scholars:

  1. Jesus existed

  2. Jesus stated that He is God

  3. Jesus was crucified

  4. Jesus died

  5. Jesus was buried in the tomb

  6. The tomb was empty

  7. Jesus' followers claimed to have seen Jesus after his death

These facts are accepted by both liberals and conservatives alike, both atheists and theists. The thing is, atheists must provide an alternative, naturalistic explanation for these facts. Some atheists take the position that Jesus was never really dead, although this view has been largely abandoned as ridiculous. Another argument that attempts to explain these facts is that the disciples had a delusion that made them believe Jesus was risen from the dead. That would not explain why Saul, a man who stood against the church and had everything to loose by becoming Christian, became a Christian.

All of these facts are widely attested, and support the existence of the Christian God. Perhaps I did not convince you to become a Christian, but I believe I provide good evidence for belief in Christianity to be rational. There are plenty more arguments that I don't even mention, but I think this is a good basic explanation. To quote Blaise Pascal:

I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time.

You were expecting a religious quote weren't you?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I have now moved to wordpress

Here is the address:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

On Education

There is probably not a single parent or student alive who is happy about the public education system in the US and for good reason. The academic performance of students in the United States is not improving and is getting worse relative to other countries.  And like every other problem, thousands of people are proposing solutions. Sadly these "solutions" are simply throwing money at the problem and hoping it goes away. As a nation, we have been trying this solution and the sane among us have come to the forgone conclusion that it doesn't work. Let us bring to light some solutions that solve the problem, rather than strengthen the Educational Legislative Complex *Eisenhower rolls in grave*.


  • Make it easier to become a teacher
Often times, people with real world experience, being economically fulfilled, think to themselves that they want to give back to their community. They want to spread the knowledge and experience that they got throughout their careers. They take one look at become an educator and are turned back immediately. Why? By the time they get their credentials they wouldn't want to teach anymore. In order to get your credentials, it takes a full year and a half after which you will work as an intern for two to three years. Does it really take that long to retrain a professional to become a teacher?
  • Remove tenure for compulsory education
In college, a professor should be free to study controversial topics and challenge their adult students in provocative ways. That is the purpose of tenure, to give professors liberty in teaching. These same reasons don't apply in the pre-college world. In post-secondary education, tenure is seen as a "keep up the good work" award, but when it comes to high school and lower it becomes a "you've made it" award. By giving a teacher tenure, you are giving them job security. Once you do that, there is no way to fire an inept or lazy teacher.
  • Free up the market
Imagine if you woke up tomorrow and the government decided to nationalize the fast food industry. Another rule is that you can only go to the fast food place in your geographic zone. You will pay for it through taxes, but you have to eat there, even if there is better food elsewhere. This doesn't make any sense for fast food, so why should it make sense for education? Under the current system, there is no accountability. If you are unhappy with your school, you can file a "complaint" that will be taken under "consideration". 

  • Issue Merit Based pay
Competent teachers should be compensated better that incompetent ones. The process is simple. Make two tests, one in the beginning of the year and one in the end. The difference in score multiplied by constants for income of parents and other socially significant factors, is how much the teachers get paid. Teachers will suddenly see a direct correlation between time spent working with students and their pay checks. 

These are all systemic changes that will not cost a dime. For a more exhaustive study on this topic, here is a documentary made by John Stossel.