RANT: Dead Men Farming


Dead Men Farming
By John Stossel
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

John Stossel is an award-winning news correspondent and author of Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel–Why Everything You Know is Wrong.

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Besides all the obvious ones, there’s another reason to end farm subsidies. They show us to be hypocrites. How can we preach free trade in talks with developing nations when we subsidize farmers who then dump their crop surpluses in poor countries and wreck their domestic farms?

Give me a break.

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Ron Paul has said that nuking the Agriculture Department is a top priority.

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MONEY: withdraw roughly 4 percent of my retirement savings each year


Retirement: The 4 percent solution
Many retirees are confused about how much of their savings to take out each year. Money Magazine’s Walter Updegrave explains the 4 percent rule.
Money Magazine
By Walter Updegrave, Money Magazine senior editor
August 14 2007: 10:32 AM EDT

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NEW YORK (Money) — Question: I’ve read that if I withdraw roughly 4 percent of my retirement savings each year to live on, my money will last virtually forever. But does this 4 percent include the money my portfolio already kicks off in dividends and interest? Or is the 4 percent withdrawal on top of that? – Doug Martin, Syracuse, New York

Answer: First, let me say you’re not the only person mystified by the workings of the 4 percent withdrawal rule. I get questions about it all the time, so I’m happy to clear up the confusion.

Money Magazine’s Walter Updegrave gives his advice on the best way to maximize your retirement savings when you are just starting out.

And while I’m doing that, I’d also like to point out that, like any rule of thumb, this one is really only a general guideline. It’s not as if the Retirement Gods have decreed that everyone must use a 4 percent initial withdrawal rate, or that doing so guarantees the best retirement.

But before I get into some of the subtleties about this oft-quoted rule, let me explain how it works. Many people think that the 4 percent rule means that you simply withdraw 4 percent of retirement savings each year. But that’s not right. In fact, the 4 percent figure applies only to the percentage of your savings that you withdrawal the first year of retirement.

You then increase the dollar amount of that initial withdrawal for inflation each year.

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Rules of thumb are great. Even if they made the mistake and took 4% each year, they wouldn’t be far wrong. And, if else fails, one COULD — not recommended — buy a low cost annuity and take all the guess work out of it.

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GUNS: RKBA what it means to be an American


Bearing arms
Scott McPherson
August 13, 2007

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Scott McPherson of the Future of Freedom Foundation writes: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms is an important and integral part of what it means to be an American. In fact, it could be said to represent the most important and integral part of being an American. When our ancestors followed the example of half the state governments and included a “right to arms” provision in the Federal Bill of Rights, they unapologetically and irrefutably established a nation of free and autonomous individuals.”

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Hopefully, we can get control of the government without using the final “check” in the Constitution’s “Checks and Balances”. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem unavoidable.

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LIBERTY: it’s nice for somebody to cut a ribbon for a new structure


Why is America falling apart? Ask Ayn Rand
Collapsing bridges, flooded subways, trapped miners: our recent disasters recall a novel from a half century ago. Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky explores the nation’s ‘Atlas Shrugged’ moment.
FORTUNE Magazine
By Adam Lashinsky, Fortune senior writer
August 14 2007: 6:16 AM EDT

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As for the political leadership, infrastructure spending is one of those rare instances where President Bush’s take is spot-on correct, though his words likely won’t be heeded because he is so unpopular and divisive. (The immigration debate, where the president has been pragmatic and right from the beginning, also comes to mind.) Asked if gasoline taxes should be raised to pay for infrastructure improvements, the president chastised Congress for favoring attention-getting new projects over boring maintenance needs.

He’s right. Liberals like Chuck Schumer agree. “Routine but important things like maintenance always get shortchanged because it’s nice for somebody to cut a ribbon for a new structure,” Schumer recently told the New York Times.

Today’s Randians, of course, have an answer to our woes: Privatize everything. No way a bridge falls if a profit-seeking company, properly incentivized, had been charged with maintaining it, goes the argument. That, however, is dangerous thinking. There are certain things the market just can’t be trusted to handle. Imagine that bridge-maintenance company having to cut expenses this quarter by delaying work for just a few days. Imagine how the CEO might feel if the stock would drop if he couldn’t make the quarter.

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Of course, the CEO of the bridge maintenance company might delay maintenance for a profit. But, I’ll bet a dollar that the insurance company and the Board of Directors, and their insurance companies, will be all over his ass!

If there is a one thing that insurance companies know, it that collecting premiums is much more profitable than paying claims.

And, auditors usually report directly to the Audit Committee of the BoD. All they have to do is whisper that there is a problem and everyone is running around like their shorts are on fire to solve it.

So, I’d suggest that we would all be far safer if the gooferment got out of planning, operating, and maintaining anything.

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