27 November 2007

The Powerlessness of One

My dad, a Liberal voter, claims that he would vote for the Liberal Party because he thinks that John Howard's decision to not ratify the Kyoto Protocol along with the U.S. was the right move. He claims that because China and India pollute so much, any reduction in emissions by Australia would have negligible effect.

He is right. Australia ratifying Kyoto will have negligible effect. In fact, there are six billion people on this earth and if any one of us considers cutting carbon emissions, it will have negligible effect. You are just one individual out of billions.

This then is a prisoners' dilemma problem. If everyone cooperates, we can win, but if everyone expects no one else to cooperate, they don't have an incentive to cooperate and as a whole everyone is worse off.

Although China is the world's biggest polluter in aggregate terms, that is simply because of their massive size. China's population of 1 billion people dwarfs Australia's 20 million. However, in per capita terms, Australians are the biggest polluters in the world. A reduction in Australian pollution would mean the average person would forego luxuries like SUVs. For the Chinese, however, a reduction in pollution may be difficult because the average Chinese is still poor.

Liberal voters claim that each person's greenhouse emission is insignificant compared to the greenhouse emissions of everyone else, and so nobody should bother trying. However, the same argument can be made about voting. Each individual vote from a Liberal at an election makes negligible difference compared to the votes of everyone else, so if the Liberals truly believe ratifying Kyoto is pointless then they should also believe voting is pointless.

What a pity voting in Australia is compulsory. If it weren't, Liberals wouldn't vote.

Children: The Ultimate Luxury Good

I have seen many families whose parents are proudly thrifty, telling everyone just how cheap they are.

The guy at The Simple Dollar, when reviewing a book called The Tightwad Gazette, gives the following advice:
Introduce frugality to your kids (p. 536) If you’ve introduced them to money, frugality is easy. If they want gummy fruit treats, show them how much cheaper real fruit is. If they want juice boxes, show them how much cheaper juice is in bulk even if you buy a reusable container to drink it out of. Not only does it teach the child how to think frugally, it can cut down on junk food, too.
What I don't get is if the mum or dad are so concerned about saving money, why did they have children in the first place? Children are not really necessary and many people happily live without them. Children are a drain on your resources. Having children is like driving a gas-guzzling 4WD. In fact, most parents who have children do drive 4WDs, so that's a double whammy in terms of costs.

If you have children, don't pretend to be frugal. To have children is to be anti-frugal.

Image: Gep

Matthew's Gospel on Porn Consumption

Is it un-Christian to look at porn? Based on the following, probably not:

Matthew 15:11 says, "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man."

This suggests that watching porn is okay so long as you don't actually mimic what you see.

However, that would be contradicted by another verse from the same book.

Matthew 5:28 says, "But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

26 November 2007

Malcolm Turnbull a Libertarian?

I hate so-called social conservatives, people who go around telling you how to pray, how to have sex (or not have sex), what you can look at on the Internet, and so on.

After the 2007 Election, the Liberal Party was annihilated by a rejuvenated Labor Party led by Kevin Rudd. Liberal leader John Howard was beaten in his own seat of Bennelong. Peter Costello, who was expected to take over, refused to lead the party. Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, and Brendan Nelson have all expressed interest in the job. I don't know anything about Nelson, so I won't say anything. Tony Abbott unfortunately is a social conservative, a hard-core Catholic (aka the "mad monk") who has tried to prevent abortion pill RU486 from being available. Malcolm Turnbull, on the other hand, seems to be admired by the LDP, Australia's libertarian party:
John Quiggin is predicting the end of the Liberals. While it would certainly be interesting to see a new party form out of the ashes of the old, I don’t think that is likely. I think they will continue, but the bigger question is which direction they will take. Will they continue with Howard conservativism (Abbott, Downer), shift towards the libertarian position (Turnbull) or take the UK Tories approach of going moderate (Nelson, Bishop)? How much influence will the religious right have in the new party? I don’t know… but it will be interesting to watch.
John Humphries from the CIS says the following: "Turnbull has consistently called for lower tax and was apparently a fan of my 30/30 paper. He is friends with libertarians (Peter Saunders, David Russell) who sugget [sic] to me that he is one of the good guys (relatively speaking). He also apparently agrees with gay marriage."

There seems to be some more evidence on the Internet that Turnbull is a libertarian. On his blog he says the following: "I have a little bit of the inner libertarian dog in me."

Further Reading: Liberals and the LDP

Is Christianity Anti-Inquiry?

Many have asked: Is it sinful to doubt or criticize Christianity?
Is it sinful to criticize Christianity?

Is it sinful to doubt Christianity and try to explore other truths?

Is it sinful to attempt to try solidify your faith by opening it up to interrogation, even if by doing so there is a risk you may lose your faith?
Many may say it's okay for a Christian to, e.g. read some atheist books for curiosity, books like Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion.

But I think I have found a pastor who believes that this is not the case. Listen to this guy: Should Christians Watch Movies?

This guy argues that Hollywood movies are filled evil worldly and sinful things (e.g. violence, sex, materialism, etc), so much so that we should not even watch them because they will fill our mind with sinful thoughts, and sinful thoughts can cause us to become sinful ourselves. This idea seems to be backed up by the bible. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things."

So if it is forbidden for a Christian to watch movies then why wouldn't it be forbidden for Christians to read atheist books?

A Tribute to John Howard

Yesterday John Howard, Prime Minister of Australia for 11.5 years, was defeated in a landslide by Kevin Rudd.

I have always believed John Howard was deception, lying, and corrupt. But this is politics and perhaps lying is necessary. As John Roskam says, John Howard's racism may be necessary to defeat racism itself.

When economies are integrated in a process known as globalization, there are winners and there are losers. Losers are usually angry and envious of the winners. Bashing immigrants or foreigners is a way these people can release their anger and though focusing on characteristics like skin color or any other characteristic other than money and income, they can feel as if they are united with the ruling class.

When Pauling Hanson came along in the late '90s with a plan to reduce Asian immigration, John Howard could have easily denounced her loudly. But this would only make the losers (or Battlers) more angry and more and more of them would vote for Hanson. Instead, John Howard pretended to accept Hanson's views, so much so that the Hanson voters switched votes to the Howard Government. Under his leadership, Howard ran the largest, most open immigration program in Australia's history, turning Australia into a highly diverse country. People in Australia started to get used to the diversity. Even though Howard increased immigration, only 30% of Australians thought immigration was too high, compared to 70% before the Howard Government existed.

Because of John Howard, Hanson's support waned and her party imploded.

Even as Howard sent immigrants in, even as his seat of Bennelong was filling with Asians, he kept pretending to be racist. In an attempt to mimic Paulie Hanson even further, he had a go at Africans and Muslims.

And in 2007 he was destroyed as the battlers and Asians struck back at him. The very people he sent into the country were voting against him. Howard must have known the immigrants would vote against him but he continued to send them in. This I suspect then was an act of self-sacrifice. Pauline Hanson represented sin and John Howard represents Jesus. Howard sacrificed himself so that Australia could become a better country.

24 November 2007

The People Don't Trust the People?

This I think is interesting:
For one thing, although the Chinese don’t elect their leaders, they trust their government more. According to recent World Values Surveys, 96.7% of Chinese expressed confidence in their government, compared to only 37.3% of Americans. Likewise, 83.5% of Chinese thought their country is run for all the people, rather than for a few big interest groups, whereas only 36.7% of Americans thought the same of their country.
Source: http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/shiller40

18 November 2007

How Immigration Can End African Poverty

Jeffrey Sachs believes the reason why Africans are so poor is because of their unfortunate climate. The country is hot, and this causes problems with malaria, etc. There are also very few coastlines compared to land area, which means most Africans cannot trade with the outside world via ships.

Others believe the problem lies in the lack of institutions, like courts, police, etc. The governments presently in Africa are accused of corruption.

Either way, the libertarian/capitalist ideology provides a solution to the problem. The problem is that the African people are living in an area that is not good. If immigration were completely free then the African people can move to better climates where there may be better institions, e.g. to Europe or to Asia via land or to America via sea. The decrease in the number of people in Africa will lower land prices. Industries will then move into Africa to exploit not only natural resources but also cheap land prices. Africa then will become a new industrial continent, specializing in that area in which it has a comparative advantage, i.e. producing materials.

The essense of libertarianism or capitalism is that there is freedom for economic inputs like labor or capital to move to where it is most productive. Freedom of immigration then is not only an essential Human Right but an important prerequisite for economic efficiency.

12 November 2007

Greens Pollute the Most?

According to NowPublic, wealthy inner-city suburbs pollute more:
People living in Australia's wealthiest inner-city suburbs are responsible for more than double the amount of greenhouse pollution than households in less affluent areas, because of their high levels of consumption....

The Consumption Atlas shows households in areas straddling the harbour in inner Sydney and the banks of the Brisbane River in Queensland are the country's biggest greenhouse polluters. These areas are closely followed by the inner suburbs of Canberra; Woollahra and Mosman in Sydney; Southbank and Docklands in Melbourne; and Fortitude Valley and Newstead in Brisbane. The lowest greenhouse polluting Australian households are in Tasmania, in the Derwent Valley, Kentish and Brighton areas.
So Southbank and Docklands are the highest polluters in Melbourne.

However, looking at the results of the 2004 election we find that the people who vote for the Greens tend to be wealthy inner-city people. Only in wealthy inner-city electorates do Greens votes reach double digits (i.e. over 10%).

In Melbourne (including the CBD, Southbank, Parkville, Kensington, Docklands, etc) 18.98% voted for the Greens. In Melbourne Ports (Williamstown, Port Melbourne, St Kilda, etc) it is 14.10% In Higgins (Armadale, Malvern, Toorak, etc) it is 11.35% and in Kooyong (Kew, Hawthorn, Balwyn, Canterbury, Camberwell, etc) it is 12.54%

All the other electorates farther from the city, and even in the Liberal mortgage belts, have single-digit percentages of Green voters. E.g. Aston (4.86%), Ballarat (6.73%), Batman (6.93%), etc.

So what can we conclude from this? It seems as if Greens voters pollute the most.

08 November 2007

Review of Anne of Green Gables

Link: Anne of Green Gables (Librivox)

Anne of Green Gables is about a couple, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, who plan to adopt a boy with the intention of using him around on the farm. By mistake a little girl is sent to them. Marilla is not happy and intends to send her back to the orphanage, but after spending some time with the little girl, Anne Shirley (Anne with an E), they decide to keep her. This story, by Lacy Maud Montgomery, is very nice. The main character Anne talks a lot, and she is very vain.

After the Cuthberts decide to keep Anne, the story moves into descriptions of her time at school. Anne also gets up to many antics around Green Gables. If there is anything wrong with this book it is that after Anne is adopted the story read like a journal of someone's childhood. The rest of the chapters are a series of small events that are quite typical of children and teenagers, such as exams and boyfriends. There is not much substantial things that happen. But otherwise, it was an enjoyable book because Anne is a very likable character.

06 November 2007

Free Rice Vocab Game

Anyone who is literate should go to Free Rice and use your vocab skills to get free rice for poor people.

Image: Kayray

Fraser on Howard's Economic Qualifications

Link: History Backs Keating's Claim

Many people I talk to think Howard's Liberal Party has stronger economic credentials, but former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser claims otherwise. Fraser was Prime Minister when John Howard was treasurer. Fraser claims Howard produced little reform.

05 November 2007

Insurance Against Exam Failure

There's an insurance for car theft, so why not have an insurance for exam failure?

Suppose a student were nervous about whether he would fail or pass can exam. To insure himself against loss of future income from failure of an exam, he can insure himself. If he fails, the insurance company pays him.

I proposed this to someone and they said, "Why do that? Why insure yourself? Why not just study?"

The same can apply to taking out an insurance to protect yourself from car theft. You could take measure to prevent the theft, such as buying a lock or an immobilizer for the car. Even so, any crook can damage the car, and if such a thing happen you'd want to be insured. Likewise, for an exam you can study extra hard, but sometimes there are just random things you cannot control, such as the kinds of questions that will come up, whether you will be sick on exam day, etc.

Someone else told me that if there were exam insurance then someone can just take out the insurance and then deliberately fail the exam to get the payout. But this problem exists in any insurance. It is called moral hazard. Actuaries have come up with ways to fix this problem, such as making the client pay a portion of the payout.

04 November 2007

Killing Okay if it Saves Many More Lives

Link: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,22694359-2703,00.html

The man who bombed Hiroshima believes what he did was great and noble because, by killing 160,000 innocent people, he forced the Japanese to surrender early thereby preventing a long, drawn-out war as seen in Germany. He claims it's okay to kill innocent people if more lives are saved.

I suppose that means I am allowed to kill that man and then, using his blood and organs, donate them to several sick kids. He wouldn't mind that.

If what he says it correct then it's okay for me to go around killing innocent people on the streets so I can harvest their organs and give these organs to sick people.

This is illegal in most countries because it goes against individual rights. An individual's right to his own life is more important that the interests of "society." Ironic then that the Hiroshima bomber fought for America, the land of the free, whose constitution claims that all men are endowed with rights for "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

03 November 2007

Asian Gender Imbalance Not a Problem

Link: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=a9R.dwXkar1U&refer=home

The guys at Bloomberg are claiming that the surplus males in India and China will have terrible effects on the economy. Normally there are more females than males because men tend to die off. This is what we see in most countries like America and Australia. However, in India and China, for whatever cultural reasons, parents prefer males over females, and so it is estimated that in China alone there soon may be 20 million men who won't be able to find a wife.

This all assumes that women will only have one husband, which may be a reasonable assumption. The article also assumes that these Chinese men who are likely to be very rich in the future, won't be able to find wifes overseas. China, after all, is right next to Russia, where many mail-order brides are. Chinese men could find wifes or girlfriends from Japan, Thailand, Australia, or anywhere.

Some might argue that Chinese men will not want non-Chinese women because of cultural differences. But all individuals have different ways of behavior and unless you marry your sister your girlfriend or wife is not going to be very similar to you. But there's nothing wrong with differences. In fact, most people like differences. Nobody wants to marry their sister (almost nobody).

If there is a scarcity of females then the price of females will go up to reflect this scarcity. If we are to apply libertarian policies to address this issue, we should simply allow the marriage market to freely operate and to make it more dynamic and competitive the Chinese government should open its borders and allow for free immigration and emigration, which will correct any excess supply or excess demand of women around the world. Females will move from one country to another to arbitrage their sexual and non-sexual services.

The Bloomberg article claims that sexual frustration from Chinese males will harm the economy. I disagree. If anything, I believe it will improve the economy. Why? Most people (most men at least) work and make money only for the sake of sex. Men make money so they can invest in status symbols like luxury cars or imported watches. With status symbols the men signal to females their reproductive fitness. Suppose females are scarce. This scarcity means they will demand a higher price. Instead of each Chinese female demanding her man drive a Ford, she may want a man who drives a Mercedes. This increases competition among men, which means more work, which means more economic growth.

02 November 2007

Tea Preparation as Status Symbol

I laughed so hard when I read this:
In Britain and some Commonwealth countries, the order in which the milk and the tea enter the cup is often considered an indicator of social class. Persons of working class background are supposedly more likely to add the milk first and pour the tea in afterward, whereas persons of middle and upper class backgrounds are more likely to pour the tea in first and then add milk. This is said to be a continuing practice from a time when porcelain (the only ceramic which could withstand boiling water) was only within the purchasing range of the rich - the less wealthy had access only to poor quality earthenware, which would crack unless milk was added first in order to lower the temperature of the tea as it was poured in.
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tea

01 November 2007

Women's Equity Fund

Link: http://www.womens-equity.com/

Here is a mutual fund that specifically attempts to battle sexism.