The Needma Family

Here is an article about a typical Canadian family and how much sugar and salt they consume.   While I think the probably eat way too much salt and sugar, I also realize what they eat is their business.

If they were overweight and had high blood pressure, there would be a real reason to say they should eat less sugar or salt.  However, from the photo it looks to me like nobody is seriously overweight, and the article doesn’t mention any other health problems.

I think people should eat whatever they want as long as it doesn’t create a health problem.  If they have a health problem, and changing their diet can make the problem go away, then they should change their diet.  I’m not saying we should make them, I’m saying it’s what they should do.

I don’t go around telling fat people to eat less, or telling drunks to drink less by any means.  I don’t even go around telling smokers to stop smoking.  When I chose my career, I’m very glad I didn’t go into medicine.  Because I would have a very strong urge to suggest to my obese patients that they should eat healthier, my patients who smoked tobacco that they should stop and to tell my patients who drink more than moderately that they should cut back.  Not because I want to butt into their lives, but because it would be my job to tell them how to keep healthy even though I don’t want to butt into their lives.

Poverty From A Classically Liberal Perspective

Leftist liberals seem to blame the rich for creating the plight of the poor.  I have a close group of friends who have been friends for a long time.  Three of us are better off financially than the fourth.  Leftists would say the three of us are exploiting the fourth guy.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

The truth is the classically liberal view of poverty, which is poor people are poor because they make poor decisions.  My friend makes bad financial decisions, and a couple of us have tried to educate him to make better decisions.  Our advice has fallen on deaf ears.  So to remain friends we largely keep our advice to ourselves.  Or more accurately, we don’t keep beating him over the head with our opinions when he doesn’t listen.

The United States of America was a free country last time I checked.  If you want to destroy your own life, there is nothing we can do to stop you.  We can try to talk you out of it, but that only goes so far.

I firmly believe we should educate people to the consequences of their actions.  That doesn’t mean however that we shouldn’t let them make their own choices, and let them live with the consequences.  I wish I lived in a world where nobody smoked or drank themselves to death, but I do.  I can’t prevent them from doing it.  Outlawing alcohol or tobacco would only create more problems than it solves.

Best Thomas Friedman Column Ever?

Instapundit links to a Power Line post which links to a post by Rob Long that is criticizing a column by Thomas Friedman of the New York Times.  I frequently disagree with Mr. Friedman’s work, but his critics are wrong in this case.  Mr. Friedman’s column is making a very simple but important point that was true when he wrote it, and is just as true now as it was then.   To prove his point, Mr. Friedman’s exaggerates and says that Amazon is doomed.  Did he really think Amazon was doomed?  I don’t think so.

The point he’s trying to make is that when he wrote the column Amazon (and other Internet stocks) were trading at prices which would never be justified by their future earnings.  In the midst of a market where everyone was buying any stock even remotely connected to the Internet without regard to its price or value, Friedman writes an article implying that the whole Internet thing might just turn out to be a bubble.  Yes, Amazon was trading at less than $60 per share then, and its trading at over $180 per share now.  Later in 1999, the price of Amazon stock rose to over $100 per share, before falling to a low of $8 per share in 2001.  It took several years before the share price rebounded to 1999 levels.

How can Amazon have been overpriced in 1999 if it is selling at a much higher price today?  The only way is if it is overvalued now, much like it was then.  As I write this, Amazon stock is trading at about 72 times earnings, and WalMart is trading at about 12 times earnings.  I’m not saying that Amazon doesn’t have a bright future, because I think it may.  I do have to ask though, if Amazon’s future prospects are six times brighter than those of WalMart? I don’t think so.  That was Friedman’s point in 1999, and its just as true now.

The Electronic Book Revolution Is A Good Thing

In my previous post, I pointed out that Borders is going broke because they’re stuck on the idea of selling paper books through brick and mortar stores.  I wish that all the nice people at Borders weren’t going to lose their jobs, but sadly there is nothing I can do to change that.  The revolution in electronic books is a good thing in spite of the obvious costs.

With either a Nook or Kindle it is possible to buy lots of low priced books in the $2.99 or less range.  In fact their are a lot of 99 cent books available.  We’re ushering in the age where a self published author can sell a book online, and get 30% to 70% of the proceeds.  The electronic revolution is going to eliminate a lot of expenses of the distribution channel.  This is going to be a negative for publishers and employees of physical bookstores.  However it means that book buyers will get more books, and authors will get a larger cut of the proceeds.

For a voracious reader who spends hundreds of dollars a year on books, the electronic book revolution means being able to buy more books,  and being able to carry them around with you everywhere if you want. It may be the first technological innovation in a long time to increase literacy, unlike television and movies which have served to make us less literate.

Why Borders Is Going Broke

Jesse Jackson, Jr. is blaming the iPad for forcing Borders to close stores.  Let us be clear, as a former Border’s shopper, I think a great deal of issues Borders is experiencing have to do with their having missed out on the electronic book revolution.  Two of the biggest authors in the news, John Locke and Amanda Hocking have no titles available at Borders.  The reason is that their books are primarily sold in electronic form.  And while Borders sells electronic book readers,  Locke and Hocking only publish for the Nook and Kindle.

I have been thinking about buying a particular computer book, and it isn’t any cheaper in electronic form rather than paper.  Borders web site had several books by the author in question, just not the latest one.  Even if they had it, I wouldn’t have bought it from them, because the books I saw were priced at full retail.  I presume if I had a Borders discount card, I could get a discount, but I’m not going to bother signing up for a discount card to shop on the Internet.

Since we moved two years ago, the closest Borders store is no longer more convenient than the closest Barnes and Noble store.  Barnes and Noble seems to at least be trying to compete with Amazon in both Internet sales and electronic books.  Sadly, it seems Borders has missed that change, and this miss was pretty obvious, even without the iPad.

The reason Borders is gone, and I’m not the first to predict their demise is almost everybody who buys books buys them somewhere else.  The general public buys at WalMart or Sam’s Club, the voracious readers buy from Amazon or Barnes and Noble over the Internet, whether paper or electronic.  Anybody in the middle who doesn’t fit into either group, was probably closer to a Barnes and Noble store before the closings.  After the closings, they’re almost certainly closer to a Barnes and Noble.

Hat tip to Instapundit for linking to the story.

Taxes Are Done!

I finished the taxes last night, so this weekend I may have a chance to post some new content here.  I have been thinking about our nation and it’s spending problems.  The problem is that we’re a nation of idiots who spend every cent we can make or borrow.  Why should we be the least bit surprised that we elect a President and Congress with the same problem?