Thursday, October 06, 2011

Cruising the Web

Michelle Malkins notes the juxtaposition of the sad passing of Steve Jobs and all that he did to enrich our lives with his products with the Occupy Wall Street folk bemoaning the evils of capitalism.
Inherent in the American success story of the iPhone/iMac/iPad is a powerful lesson about the fundamentals of capitalism. The Kamp Alinsky Kids scream “People over profit.” They call for “caring” over “corporations.”

But the pursuit of profits empowers people beyond the bounds of imagination.

I am blogging on an iMac. When I travel, I use my MacBook Pro. I Tweet news links from my iPhone. My kids are learning Photoshop and GarageBand on our Macs. I use metronome, dictation, video, and camera apps. I use Apple products for business, pleasure, social networking, raising awareness of the missing, finding recipes, and even tuning a ukulele.

None of the people involved in conceiving these products and bringing them to market “care” about me. They pursued their own self-interests. Through the spontaneous order of capitalism, they enriched themselves — and the world.
But the protesters in Wall Street complaining about the evils of capitalism just can't understand how capitalism improves the lives of everyone. Would they prefer to have European-style socialism which is now on the brink of total collapse? How much was the common man helped by the communist societies that grew up in the 20th century? It is only capitalistic societies that have led to advances in medicine, technology, food production, kitchen appliances, transportation, you name it. Where do they think the money is going to come from to hire the people holding up signs announcing their student debt?

Meanwhile, Henry Payne wonders how Steve Jobs could help create such a tech revolution without the 70s equivalent of Obama's preference for government investment i favored industries?

Kevin Williamson rejects the complaints that Steve Jobs and Apple didn't give as much in philanthropy as some other businesses.
CNN, being CNN, misses the point. Mr. Jobs’s contribution to the world is Apple and its products, along with Pixar and his other enterprises, his 338 patented inventions — his work — not some Steve Jobs Memorial Foundation for Giving Stuff to Poor People in Exotic Lands and Making Me Feel Good About Myself. Because he already did that: He gave them better computers, better telephones, better music players, etc. In a lot of cases, he gave them better jobs, too. Did he do it because he was a nice guy, or because he was greedy, or because he was a maniacally single-minded competitor who got up every morning possessed by an unspeakable rage to strangle his rivals? The beauty of capitalism — the beauty of the iPhone world as opposed to the world of politics — is that that question does not matter one little bit. Whatever drove Jobs, it drove him to create superior products, better stuff at better prices. Profits are not deductions from the sum of the public good, but the real measure of the social value a firm creates.
But that is a logic that some will never understand.

Along the same vein, George Will dissects Elizabeth Warren's assertions that all economic success in this country is built with the aid of government and thus you owe the government in oreder to "pay forward for the next kid who comes along."
The collectivist agenda is antithetical to America’s premise, which is: Government — including such public goods as roads, schools and police — is instituted to facilitate individual striving, a.k.a. the pursuit of happiness. The fact that collective choices facilitate this striving does not compel the conclusion that the collectivity (Warren’s “the rest of us”) is entitled to take as much as it pleases of the results of the striving.

Warren’s statement is a footnote to modern liberalism’s more comprehensive disparagement of individualism and the reality of individual autonomy. A particular liberalism, partly incubated at Harvard, intimates the impossibility, for most people, of self-government — of the ability to govern one’s self. This liberalism postulates that, in the modern social context, only a special few people can literally make up their own minds.

John Feehery picks seven turning points that led to the promise of Obama's presidency turning to dross.

How sadly ironic that the Democrats passed policies that hurt banks' abilities to raise their rates for credit cards. When banks have responded by finding other ways to charge customers money, the Democrats have responded by bashing the banks in a totally irresponsible way.
Mr. Durbin, incensed at the results of his plan to transfer wealth from banks to retailers, has been urging customers to close their accounts at Bank of America. Reasonable people can disagree about which politician is more economically irresponsible—the President who wants bureaucrats to dictate profit margins or the Senator who encourages a run on a bank.

These can't possibly be the answers to a struggling economy in the U.S. and a debt crisis in Europe. As for the problems of 2008, bankers created plenty of them, though not as many as government did. In 2011, banker baiting won't help the economy, and we doubt it will do much for Democratic election chances either.
What Dick Durbin won't acknowledge is how his own reforms led banks like BOA to have to find money elsewhere and hence their charges to debit card customers. If only, as Richard A. Epstein argues, we could repeal the Durbin policy that led to the mess that banks are facing today.
What is doubly ironic is that before Durbin, debit cards were a booming business -- bigger in total dollars and total transactions than credit cards. They were leaving checks, and increasingly, cash in the dust. In hard times, why should Congress kill off one of our few industry successes?

The only cure for this mess is repeal the Durbin Amendment as quickly as possible, before it can do permanent damage to the banking system.

The Obama daughters must be even more precocious than anyone imagined. When Michelle went to Africa this year and took her daughters, she listed them as "senior staff." Not just any staff aides, they are senior staff.

The unreported side of Occupy Wall Street - all the people who have been put out of work because the OWS people have been blocking off their places of employment. Yup, if this trend spreads to other cities, I can't see it winning many fans.