Archive for May 22nd, 2008

The current farm bill is a monstrosity. It is a grotesque example of ill-directed subsidy and government profligacy at a time when the US is deep in debt and prices are going up. Only one of the three presidential candidates has come out in opposition to the bill and that person is John McCain. Even Andrew Sullivan — possibly Obama’s greatest champion in the blogosphere —admits this.

Obama’s pandering on this is pathetic. McCain deserves real kudos. And this does matter: standing up to this kind of craven welfarism is important.

Over at Reason, Matt Welch says:

This gives me a rare opportunity to agree wholeheartedly with anti-libertarian New York Times columnist David Brooks: John Sidney McCain is a thousand times better on this than Barack Hussein Obama, and one of the principal virtues of the coming McCain presidency is the prospect of him just vetoing the crap out of lousy legislation produced by emboldened Democrats (who suffer from a singular lack of Jeff Flakes).

Matt, mind you, is no McCain fan. After all, he wrote an entire book and several articles (like this one) to remind us just how frighteningly authoritarian John McCain is. So, while a McCain presidency will be a better than an Obama one on spending, regulation and some other economic issues, it could be terrible for civil liberties. We live in a world of tough choices.

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According to this article, Iceland has the happiest people on the planet:

Highest birth rate in Europe + highest divorce rate + highest percentage of women working outside the home = the best country in the world in which to live. There has to be something wrong with this equation. Put those three factors together – loads of children, broken homes, absent mothers – and what you have, surely, is a recipe for misery and social chaos. But no. Iceland, the block of sub-Arctic lava to which these statistics apply, tops the latest table of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Index rankings, meaning that as a society and as an economy – in terms of wealth, health and education – they are champions of the world. To which one might respond: Yes, but – what with the dark winters and the far from tropical summers – are Icelanders happy? Actually, in so far as one can reliably measure such things, they are. According to a seemingly serious academic study reported in the Guardian in 2006, Icelanders are the happiest people on earth.

The reason perhaps, is the social freedom that is intrinsic to that country.

‘That is not something to be proud of,’ said Oddny, with a brisk smile, ‘but the fact is that Icelanders don’t stay in lousy relationships. They just leave.’ And the reason they can do so is that society, starting with the parents and grandparents, does not stigmatise them for making that choice. Icelanders are the least hung-up people in the world.

But equally important is the high economic freedom, at least when compared to the rest of Europe:

‘I believe we have blended the best of Europe and the United States here, the Nordic welfare system with the American entrepreneurial spirit,’ he said, pointing out that Iceland, unlike the other Nordic countries, had exceptionally low personal and corporate tax rates. ‘This has meant not only that Icelandic companies stay and foreign ones come, but that we have increased by 20 per cent our tax revenue owing to increased turnover.’

Among other facts I dug up about Iceland, prostitution is legal in that country. Opium, unfortunately, is not, but then, Netherlands isn’t too far from there!

I am not trying to suggest that Iceland is a libertarian paradise. It falls short in some important areas, such as labor regulations. However there is a genuine case that all things considered, it may be closer to the libertarian ideal than any place else.

(Link via India Uncut)

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Quick updates from New York:

Today I had the awesomest street food since I came to the US. It’s a cart near Times square, on 45 street and 6th Avenue and is called Qwik Meal. I tried the lamb pita and it is to die for. Think meat marinated into such softness that it feels like tender fish.

Following that, I headed to see Phantom of the Opera. Everything you have heard about this Broadway show is true. It was amazing. There were soaring vocals, amazing acoustics and really cool special effects (though I was a tad disappointed that the chandelier didn’t really crash down as I had expected). I guess what made my experience more memorable was my rather excellent (front orchestra) seat.

My plans for the weekend include visits to the Museum of Modern art, the Met, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Sex and possibly the Bodies exhibition. As a first time NY visitor, I deserve all the pampering I can afford on myself!

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