Saturday, March 28, 2009

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff 20

Visualizing $1 Trillion
If you have not seen what $1 trillion looks like, this site has an impressive visual presentation. As they say in Washington, a trillion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you are talking serious money.

Taking the Risk (and fun) Out of Life
The growing trend to ban everything that poses a risk, such as tanning beds, reminds me of some of my childhood experiences. During my pre-teen years, I spent countless hours recklessly climbing trees, engaging in various daredevil activities on bicycles, and other assorted mischief. I no longer remember how many times I fell out of a tree, or flew over the handle bars of my bike, or otherwise inflicted large bumps, bruises, and gashes on my body.

I usually tried to hide these injuries from my mother, for fear that she would prohibit me from participating in the offending activity. Somehow, I once managed to hide a fractured nose. Despite my seemingly constant attempts to hurt myself, I survived with little more than a few scars and a slightly crooked nose. And I was much better for the entire experience.

While I agree that some limits should be imposed on children, those restrictions are the responsibility of parents, not the government. In the process of "protecting" children legislators are enslaving adults (as well as those children when they ultimately become adults) and taking the fun out of life.

A Different View on AIG
Wendy Milling has an excellent article at Real Clear Markets on AIG. (HT: Freedom is the Solution)
The common interpretation of the downfall of AIG is so popular that it has become accepted as unquestionable, if not axiomatic. The paradigm is as follows: AIG executives were compromised by greed. This led them to take reckless risks with their capital in an unregulated atmosphere. These risks eventually became a house of cards as the executives who did not really understand their newfangled products continued to pump them out beyond the point of prudence. When the housing bubble burst and the mortgage defaults began, the house of cards collapsed and the company was stuck with bad bets. As a result, AIG became insolvent...

But what if this paradigm is completely and totally wrong?

Wendy then demonstrates why this paradigm is wrong and who the true culprits are. The article is definitely worth reading.

Could She Do This Today?
Heroes of Capitalism carried the story of Marion Donovan this week. In 1946 the young mother tired cloth diapers quickly soaking through and began work on a plastic diaper cover. When she perfected that invention, she then began working on a disposable diaper, which she eventually sold to the inventor of Pampers.

When my wife read this story, she wondered what government regulations would have stalled, impeded, or even prevented the invention of disposable diapers today? Environmentalists would oppose it for filling landfills. Cloth makers would oppose it for threatening their market (and then demand a federal bail out). Minorities would demand race specific diapers. And the poor would demand a federal disposable diaper program.

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