Economics Archives

Biometrics Making Big Strides in India

This is not the Mark of the Beast. But you certainly don’t get there without something like this.

India has launched an ambitious program to fit each of its 1.2 billion residents with an Unique identification number (UID). Each number will be tied into three pieces of biometric data: fingerprints (all ten digits), iris scans (both eyes), and a picture of the face. Starting this month, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) will begin processing people in various locations around the country. UIDAI aims to slowly roll out the program through February of 2011 and to ID 600 million people in the next four years!

It’s being instituted to combat social welfare fraud, but it won’t stop there.

Yet the UID is going to be used for much more than social welfare programs. The UIDAI is in discussions with many institutions (banks, local/state governments, etc) to allow them to use the UID as a means of identity verification. These institutions will pay the UIDAI some fee to cover costs and generate revenue. There seems to be little doubt that once it is established, the UID will become a preferred method (if not the preferred method) of identification in India.

It’s optional now, but how long do you think that will last? Never mind the Biblical overtones, many layers of privacy are being stripped away. And the further question is, why does the government need to know every little thing that I do?

Sounds like a power grab to me.

Wikipedia Is Back

After protesting the SOPA/PIPA bills going through Congress (rightly, in my estimation) by going "dark" for 24 hours, Wikipedia is back, to the relief of students everywhere who may have never opened a real, physical encyclopedia in this post-book world. The protest brought the issue of anti-piracy vs. anti-freedom to the attention of many people.

Now, I’d like those folks who were very concerned over those bills to look up a couple of things on Wikipedia that should also have garnered their attention recently, if they’re really concerned about what government is doing without their knowledge.

Operation Fast and Furious


If you’ve not heard about this in the news, that’s perfectly understandable. They’ve been nearly blacked-out themselves regarding these issues. Which is odd considering F&F is responsible for the deaths of Americans.

Are you really concerned about what your government is doing, and you’re not just jumping on the SOPA bandwagon? Read up.

The #1 Most Charitable-Giving Nation

It’s us.

The United States now ranks the highest in terms of charity in a massive global survey that put the nation in fifth place in 2010, according to CAFAmerica, a member organization of the United Kingdom based Charities Aid Foundation International Network of Offices, providing charitable financial services to individuals, global corporations, charities, and foundations.

According to those surveyed, two out of three Americans said they donated money to charity (65 percent), more than two out of five volunteered their time (43 percent) and roughly three out of four helped a stranger (73 percent).  The new “World Giving Index (WGI) 2011” report is based on over 150,000 Gallup polling interviews with members of the public in 153 countries. The 2011 report looks at three aspects of giving behavior of individuals in the preceding month, asking if they have donated money to a charity, volunteered time to an organization, or helped a stranger. 

People like former President Jimmy Carter and singer Bono used to say that the US was "cheap", but John Stossel pointed out that that was not really true, (and Arthur Brooks noted that most charitable giving comes from the religious Right side of the political spectrum). We weren’t "cheap" then, and we’ve kept rising in this particular ranking since then.

I’m proud to be an American.

Friday Link Wrap-up

To date, 417 incidents of crime and death from Occupy Wall Street. If someone tells you OWS is just like the Tea Party, they’re lying.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (ironically acronymed "NICE") rejected a drug for MS that has been approved in the US. Seems that the costs outweigh the benefits, at least for them. I’m glad I live here. Well, until we get our own death panels.

Sorry, but I just have to quote 4 paragraphs from Glenn Reynold’s article about the higher-education bubble. When the government subsidizes something, it’s value changes over the long haul; it goes down.

This is a simple case of inflation: When you artificially pump up the supply of something (whether it’s currency or diplomas), the value drops. The reason why a bachelor’s degree on its own no longer conveys intelligence and capability is that the government decided that as many people as possible should have bachelor’s degrees.

There’s something of a pattern here. The government decides to try to increase the middle class by subsidizing things that middle class people have: If middle class people go to college and own homes, then surely if more people go to college and own homes, we’ll have more middle class people.

But homeownership and college aren’t causes of middle-class status, they’re markers for possessing the kinds of traits — self-discipline, the ability to defer gratification, etc. — that let you enter, and stay in, the middle class.

Subsidizing the markers doesn’t produce the traits; if anything, it undermines them. One might as well try to promote basketball skills by distributing expensive sneakers.

The President of the Unites States has declared that capitalism doesn’t work, and has never worked. Well, it did when we had it, but for at least 2 or 3 generations now, we haven’t had it.

The hotbed of pedophilia that is … Hollywood.

The New York Times speaks from the past, blasting Obama’s policies because no intelligent American would ever consider socialism.

Another Reason To Be Against Big Government Programs

A new source of income to pay for big new programs will never, ever go to paying just for the program.

In cash-strapped Washington, President Obama’s $1 trillion health care law is presenting a tempting target for lawmakers seeking funds for other projects, as Congress last week raided the health care piggy bank for the third time in less than a year.

Congress last week axed a part of Democrats’ signature domestic achievement to find $11 billion to cover the cost of repealing a withholding tax that otherwise would have hit government contractors in 2013. Mr. Obama signed that bill into law on Monday.

The withholding bill follows two other efforts — one in December and another in April — that reworked the health care law to squeeze savings for other priorities. The December bill funded higher payments for doctors who treat Medicare patients, and the April legislation repealed a paperwork provision in the original health care law that businesses said would be onerous.

All told, Congress and the president have tapped some $50 billion earmarked to pay for benefits and programs in the health care overhaul in future years to fund more-immediate spending needs.

In order to game the cost estimates (which only look out 10 years in the future), the health care bill started colleting taxes for a few years first before benefits hit. But a pile of money sitting around doing nothing (presently) is something Congress just can’t stand to see. So, it’s more than just giving DC too much power is a bad idea, but giving them the money to exercise that power means that their influence will expand even beyond the program itself.

Not a good idea.

Friday…er, Tuesday Link Wrap-up

I’ve been on something of a sabbatical with regards to blogging and news-reading in general. I have, however, saved some links during that time, so here’s a bunch of them.

If even the Dutch have fallen out of love with windmills (by which I mean, they can’t afford to keep subsidizing them), you gotta’ wonder.

Right after Alabama’s illegal immigration law kicked in, unemployment dropped in a big way. Yeah, those jobs you keep saying Americans won’t do? Turns out they just might.

Spain has apparently had enough with the failed policies of socialists. They voted them in to appease terrorists back in 2004 following the Madrid bombings. But since then, Spain has been tanking economically along with the rest of Europe, and what seemed like a good idea at the time has now been revealed to be a huge mistake. This past weekend, conservatives won a landslide victory.

Iranian Christian pastor update: "Yousef (also spelled Youcef) Nadarkhani, sentenced to death a year ago after a court of appeals in Rasht, Iran, found him guilty of leaving Islam in September 2010, is in deteriorating health, according to a member of Nadarkhani’s denomination, the Church of Iran, who requested anonymity. "

"Who would Jesus protest?" According to Jimmie Bise, working from the New Testament, He wouldn’t be protesting government. He’d be changing hearts, one individual at a time.

Iran with nuclear weapons capability. This shouldn’t surprise anyone, but I’m certain many on the Left will be shocked, unfortunately.

And finally, the oldest social network is new again. (Click for a larger version.)

Taxes and Morality

Daniel Hannan, writing for the London Telegraph, poses the following question.

Now that [Archbishop of Canterbury] Rowan Williams is intruding into the debate about a financial transactions tax, I’d like to ask him a question. Which does he consider more meritorious – to give your own money to good causes…or to force your customers, clients and shareholders to do so in the name of ‘corporate social responsibility’? Which has more virtue – to ‘sell that thou hast, and give to the poor’, or to be expropriated through the tax system?

His article is a good, short read on the subject.

Thinking Alike

Looks like someone else got the thought that Occupy Wall Street had a problem with one of the 10 Commandments.

A Survey of "The 99%"

The Wall Street Journal did a survey of 200 Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park to get an idea of what they thought. Does this sound like a grass-roots movement of 99% of the country? Does this look like America? Among the findings:

  • 31% would support violence to advance their agenda.
  • 65% say that government has a moral responsibility to guarantee all citizens access to affordable health care, a college education, and a secure retirement no matter the cost.
  • 77% support raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans (though I suppose it depends on who they consider "wealthiest").
  • "Thus Occupy Wall Street is a group of engaged progressives who are disillusioned with the capitalist system and have a distinct activist orientation. Among the general public, by contrast, 41% of Americans self-identify as conservative, 36% as moderate, and only 21% as liberal."

The pollster, Douglas Shoen, who was a pollster for Bill Clinton, summarizes their politics. "What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas. "

People need to know who these protesters are before deciding to support them and their causes.

The "Grass Roots" of Occupy Wall Street

The OWS crowd insists that their uprising is purely a grass roots one. While some of it was certainly spontaneous, it’s origins were clearly planned by anti-capitalists.

The man behind the movement is a radical Canadian leftist agitator by the name of Kalle Lasn.  Lasn is founder of Ad Busters.  A self-described group of anarchists and neo-Luddites, Adbusters are not merely environmentalists, animal-rights activists, anti-technology activists, or neo-Prohibitionists. They are all these things and more.  In his book entitled Culture Jam, Lasn writes, “we will wreck this world.” And that is ultimately the goal of the organization he founded and runs.

A little research has uncovered the fact that the domain name was registered by Lasn’s organization in June 2011, several months BEFORE the first protests began in New York City.  What is a Canadian citizen doing registering a domain for a grassroots movement months before the protests began?  Its questions like this that are not being asked by our mainstream media.

The Left criticize the Tea Party’s "grass roots" bona fides because guys with lots of money happen to agree with them. But I doubt you’ll find the Koch brothers’ names on a central domain name used by any local Tea Party group months before the initial rallies.

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