Buttle's World

13 November, 2008

Whip Conflation Now!

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 15:15

This marvelously clarifying essay by Roderick Long is your must-read item for the week.

So where does this idea come from that advocates of free-market libertarianism must be carrying water for big business interests? Whence the pervasive conflation of corporatist plutocracy with libertarian laissez-faire? Who is responsible for promoting this confusion?

There are three different groups that must shoulder their share of the blame. (Note: in speaking of “blame” I am not necessarily saying that the “culprits” have deliberately promulgated what they knew to be a confusion; in most cases the failing is rather one of negligence, of inadequate attention to inconsistencies in their worldview. And as we’ll see, these three groups have systematically reinforced one another’s confusions.)

Big News in Exoplanets

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 14:47

This is history, folks. We have our first pictures of a planet orbiting a star like our own.

The planet itself is just that small dot, almost lost in the noise from the star and the light from the ring. I’ll be honest; had I been analyzing the image, I might have missed it at first. But it’s there, and it’s real. Images taken almost two years apart show that the planet is moving with the star, and is consistent with it orbiting Fomalhaut at a distance of about 18 billion km (11 billion miles). That’s four times the distance of Neptune from the Sun. It takes 872 years to make one complete orbit. The mass is not easy to determine, and is estimated using its effect on the ring; it’s likely to be about the same size and mass as Jupiter.

There’s more.

Bailing Out GM is a Bad Idea

Filed under: Posts — clgood @ 9:49

And here’s why.

The factories, computers, office space, intellectual property and so forth that are now owned by GM would not disappear; they would basically become the property of GM’s creditors. These creditors would sell the assets to the highest bidder. Assuming there is economic value to be created by continuing to operate the company as a business, private equity or strategic investors would buy the assets, shut down some plants, fire some union and exempt workers, and probably use the leverage of bankruptcy court to get a better deal from the unions. The current employees and creditors would be better off if you and I were forced by the federal government to prevent this by paying money to the corporate entity named General Motors, to then be paid to these employees and creditors. Of course, you and I would be worse off in this situation. On balance, if you believe that markets are more efficient allocators of capital than Congress is, the population of the United States would, on the whole, be worse off.

Ditto, of course, for Ford, Chrysler, etc. It’s really the absurd union contracts killing these companies.

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