A Flaw in the State’s Grand Scheme

The state’s track record hasn’t been holding up well after Hurricane Sandy. First the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) required people needing information to look it up on their website even though power outages made accessing websites rather difficult. That glaring oversight wasn’t enough though because another of the state’s schemes isn’t working so well. It seems replacing physical food stamps with Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards has consequences:

Recipients buying eligible foods are suppose to swipe their EBT cards like any other credit card for their purchases but since Hurricane Sandy hit, most Lower East Side stores don’t have electricity to run credit card transactions and are only accepting cash. Leaving many people on EBT with empty wallets, empty refrigerators and no access to food.

“The supermarkets don’t even really want to sell anything. They’re open but if you don’t have cash, you messed up. And everybody in these projects, they take EBT…food stamps,” a La Guardia Houses resident told WNYC’s Marianne McCune.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody that a large central government builds its schemes on large centralized infrastructures. When the power goes out the state’s schemes seem to fail entirely.

Obama’s Lies About the Wars

Thanks to one of my Obamabot friends on Facebook I came across a speech given by His Majesty, Barak Obama, in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The speech was notable because Obama is now trying to make himself appear to be both a great military leader and an advocate of peace:

Thanks to the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform, the war in Iraq is over. (Applause.) The war in Afghanistan is winding down. Al Qaeda has been decimated. Osama bin Laden is dead. (Applause.)

When Obama announced America’s withdrawal from Iraq my first prediction was that United States soldiers would merely be replaced by private contractors. That prediction held out. Obama can claim that the war has ended in Iraq all he wants but so long as American foot soldiers are there, whether they be military or mercenaries, there is a war. Furthermore the fact that Obama is lying about the war in Iraq makes any claim that the war in Afghanistan is winding down is completely empty. During his speech Obama also forgot to mention the war in Pakistan.

What’s sad is that many of Obama’s supporters, including my Obamabot friend, are allowing themselves to believe Obama’s lies. When I posted the above information in response to my friend’s post she deleted my comment. Apparently full cognitive dissonance is now being practice by those trying to ensure Obama’s reelection.

Make Way for His Majesty

I have a pro tip for those of you who find yourselves traveling periodically for work: never arrive at the airport when the president is supposed to be there. Yesterday I was in Las Vegas, Nevada for work and, lo and behold, Barack Obama was there campaigning. When the president arrives he not only gets exclusive rights to whatever road he’s traveling on but he also gets exclusive rights to the airport.

After returning the rental car I was standing on one of the shuttle buses heading for the airport when the driver informed us that we were going to have to wait. Obama was heading back to the airport at the same time as I was but, being the king, Obama and his staff had priority. The bus driver also informed us that people in the airport weren’t being allowed to leave. Effectively the entire airport was shutdown so His Majesty could drive his army of servants to his tax victim funded private jet where he would get on board and fly to his next campaign stop. Yes, not only do we have to grant him sole use of the airport but we also have to pay him to campaign.

At least we were fortunate enough to be granted use of His Majesty’s airport after he left. There is some humor in the fact that this country’s founding fathers fought a war with Britain because they were sick of the king only to have the position of king reestablished.

Funding the GOP Stupid Train

The Republican Party has decided to dump their money into their stupid train. Remember Mourdock? He’s the Republican candidate who said pregnancies resulting from rape were gifts from God. After making an incredibly idiotic statement like that you would think the Republican Party would have separated themselves from the man faster than they separated themselves from Todd “women seldom become pregnant from legitimate rate” Akins (of course Rand Paul swooped in to help Akin’s campaign). Instead they’re dumping millions into the man’s campaign:

Republicans are spending big to salvage Richard Mourdock’s candidacy in the aftermath of his comments on rape and pregnancy that have imperiled GOP hopes of taking back the Senate majority.

About $4 million is being spent across the airwaves in the final week of the campaign to bolster Mourdock, from the likes of well-known Republican groups like American Crossroads, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Club for Growth. And that comes as both sides acknowledge that Mourdock has taken a hit in the polls since his comments. Democrats are now more confident than ever that their candidate, Rep. Joe Donnelly, is poised to pull off one of the biggest upsets of the cycle.

Why is the Republican Party wasting its money on this guy? Oh, that’s right, it’s because they’re piss poor money managers. If the Republican Party had a brain it would withhold any further money from Mourdock as a lesson to the rest of its candidates to keep their offensives statements to themselves during campaign season.

It’s a Good Thing We’re Sinking Money into FEMA

Remember what I said about the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) lacking the specialized knowledge required to deal with natural disasters? The agency decided to demonstrate my point:

When President Barack Obama urged Americans under siege from Hurricane Sandy to stay inside and keep watch on ready.gov for the latest, he left out something pretty important — where to turn if the electricity goes out.

Despite the heightened expectation of widespread power and cable television failures, everyone from the president to local newscasters seem to expect the public to rely entirely on the Internet and their TVs for vital news and instructions.


A call to FEMA’s news desk, however, found even they didn’t have any non-Internet information readily available beyond suggestions that people call 911 in an emergency. When asked where folks should turn for information if they have no power, a FEMA worker said, “Well, those people who have a laptop with a little battery life on it can try that way. Otherwise, you’re right.”

This agency, which so many statists claim is necessary, doesn’t have enough knowledge to know that power is often knocked out during natural disasters. Needless to say the Internet isn’t a terribly useful tool if you don’t have power. Yet people will continue to claim that FEMA is not only necessary but a demonstration of how competent the federal government is at handling problems no state government or group of individuals can.

How Price Gouging Saves Lives

With the recent storms that hit the eastern coast of the United States there has been some talk regarding price gouging. People get up in arms when store owners jack of their prices during a natural disaster. Those who lack an understanding of economics claim that price gouging is immoral and should be stopped. The truth is that price gouging is actually beneficial and can save lives:

Let us postulate that a small Orlando drug store has ten bags of ice in stock that, prior to the storm, it had been selling for $4.39 a bag. Of this stock it could normally expect to sell one or two bags a day. In the wake of Hurricane Charley, however, ten local residents show up at the store over the course of a day to buy ice. Most want to buy more than one bag.

So what happens? If the price is kept at $4.39 a bag because the drugstore owner fears the wrath of State Attorney General Charlie Crist and the finger wagging of local news anchors, the first five people who want to buy ice might obtain the entire stock. The first person buys one bag, the second person buys four bags, the third buys two bags, the fourth buys two bags, and the fifth buys one bag. The last five people get no ice. Yet one or more of the last five applicants may need the ice more desperately than any of the first five.

But suppose the store owner is operating in an unhampered market. Realizing that many more people than usual will now demand ice, and also realizing that with supply lines temporarily severed it will be difficult or impossible to bring in new supplies of ice for at least several days, he resorts to the expedient of raising the price to, say, $15.39 a bag.

Now customers will act more economically with respect to the available supply. Now, the person who has $60 in his wallet, and who had been willing to pay $17 to buy four bags of ice, may be willing to pay for only one or two bags of ice (because he needs the balance of his ready cash for other immediate needs). Some of the persons seeking ice may decide that they have a large enough reserve of canned food in their homes that they don’t need to worry about preserving the one pound of ground beef in their freezer. They may forgo the purchase of ice altogether, even if they can “afford” it in the sense that they have $20 bills in their wallets. Meanwhile, the stragglers who in the first scenario lacked any opportunity to purchase ice will now be able to.

Increasing prices of goods during natural disasters encourages conservation, which increases the chances that those goods will be available to those who need them. Jacking the price up encourages those who aren’t in critical need of a good to go without whereas those who separately need a good have access. Using the above example of ice, somebody wanting to keep beer cold may be unwilling to spend $15.39 to buy a bag of ice whereas the diabetic needing ice to keep their insuline cold will be more than happy to spend $15.39 on a bag of ice and will likely be grateful that the price increase ensured ice was available.