Willpower

I just finished reading Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength, by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, and you should, too. It had been a while since I read a self-improvement book because I’ve read so many years back that I thought I pretty much already knew more than I was willing to implement anyway. But Willpower is different. It has fresh insights backed up with a lot of research. (That part will be a turn-off if you are bored by science; just skim over those parts.) This book actually answered a lot of questions I was puzzling about. Here are some highlights:

Intelligence and self-control are the two most important traits that predict “success,” and self-control is easier to improve.

It gives the right amount of information about the history and trends of society’s attitudes about self-control. Did we get down on self-control because Hitler was up on it?

Self-control is in; unconditional self esteem is out. Instilling self-control in children is a big advantage to them.

Why does every society have words in their language that everyone knows but no one is supposed to ever say?

Having people try to monitor and control their behavior in some areas (dressing neat, not slouching, not saying bad words, keeping to a schedule) gives them more self-control in other areas almost instantly (two weeks in one study).

There is a lot of practical advice for one to improve his or her own self-control.

I hope to apply it to make some difficult behavioral changes in my own life and I’m already doing some minor things differently.

Thank you, Baumeister and Tierney.

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Liberty article on the Ultimate Cause

In the long run, a society’s attitude toward the free enterprise system will determine whether it  thrives or flounders. Unfortunately, our society is mostly uninformed about the “beauty, balance, and wisdom” of the free enterprise system that made our society a great place to live.

This is why I say the most important cause that one could pursue is educating the masses (or small groups or individuals) about economics and public choice theory. If “we the people” determine the form of our government, shouldn’t we educate ourselves enough to make an informed choice?

Here’s a well written article hot off the press from Liberty that describes the problem well: Poisoning the Well.

My first post about this: The Ultimate Cause.

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Occupy Wall Street

The Occupy Wall Street movement is a sad statement about the state of economics education in our country. The most common message from OWS is against greed, so lets address that fallacy here:

All voluntary transactions increase the wealth of both parties. If someone gets rich from voluntary transactions they had to deliver at least as much value to others as they received. The most generous thing anyone has ever done for us is get rich by selling us what we want for the best deal we could find – aka voluntary transactions.

Forced transactions do not have this advantage. In fact, they do the opposite, destroy wealth of the parties forced to participate.  (That’s why parties have to be coerced to do them.)

I love seeing people energized to improve things in society. Its just a shame that ignorance of economics causes their energy to be misplaced. If they knew what causes the problems they hate, they’d become enthusiastic volunteers for Ron Paul’s campaign.

Maybe libertarian groups should pass out some economics books and/or offer free lectures near these protests.

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Thoughts on 9/11

We call it simply “9/11″ because we will never forget the year

3,000 died from three terrorist attacks

War or murder? No

Not “civil” war nor a foreign state

No soldiers harmed; no military assets destroyed

Terrorism

Religious. A “cult” if they were us

“War of terror” for the defense industrial complex

Destroy the murderers, all of them

Secure the cockpit doors on our jets

Bury the dead

Fight oppression and embrace liberty

Honor them with liberty
and the pursuit of happiness

3,000 died on 9/11
54,000 Americans died in Korean War
60,000 Americans died in Vietnam
150,000 Americans have been murdered since 9/11 by other Americans
418,500 Americans died in World War 2

The 9/11 attack has been exploited by the state to justify dramatic takings of our liberty, privacy, and, ironically, even our security: wars with nations that are no threat to us; unlimited detentions without due process and searching/spying on citizens without court orders (Patriot Act); a new federal police force (Homeland Security); nationalizing the whole airport security industry. These things dishonor our fallen loved ones.

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EPA Gas Can Fail

Thanks to the EPA, gas cans are getting worse, and my guess is, so is the environment. Intentions were noble: requine gas cans to be designed to leak less fumes and cause less spills, to protect the environment.  However, the new required designs are also very slow to pour because there is no vacuum release valve. The “self venting” output nozzle is supposed to obviate the vacuum release valve, but it is much slower.  It gurgles more than pours.

I live on a lake (hence the stupid name of this blog?) and we all use these gas cans to fuel our boats. Until this week I was the only neighbor who had not drilled or poked a hole in the gas can to make it pour faster. One friend uses a nail to plug the hole. Another neighbor used an ice pick to make the hole and doesn’t try to plug it up with anything. Clearly, these custom modifications leak more fumes than either the original market gas cans or the new EPA required gas cans.

You can imagine this going on all over the country. This is a good example of unintended consequences.

On a DIY kick lately, I went over the top to add a vacuum release valve to mine. Drilled a  1/2″ hole, screwed in a 1/4″ brass nipple, and topped it off with a 1/4″ brass cap.  Looks good and doesn’t leak any gas fumes noticeably. See the pic.

I had thought about spending the big bucks for a racing fuel gas can but decided against it. I guess the volume is just too low for these things to be priced anywhere close to a regular gas can. But if you want to splurge instead of modify, take a look at cans like this:
VP Racing Fuels Square Jerry Can – White 3524

You can also spend more money and buy one of the old designs, new but manufactured before the EPA ban.

Just google “non-EPA gas can” and you’ll see all the complaints and all the alternatives to get around this regulation.

Here’s a funny video of someone modifying their gas can:

 

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How to Fix Unemployment

I often tell my friends and family, “you can do anything you want but you can’t do everything.” Fixing unemployment is something we could do, but we can’t do it and also have a nanny state. Which do we want more? Here’s the recipe for full employment:

1. Quit paying people to be unemployed (unemployment insurance). Not being cruel here; I have no problem with a social safety net, but we have that. This would motivate a lot of people to work who are now more comfortable not working. Also, eliminating the corresponding payroll tax would reduce the cost of employees to employers which would increase hiring.

2. Quit outlawing jobs. Repeal the minimum wage. If minimum wage laws actually worked we’d make them $70,000 per year and win the war on poverty and lower middle class to boot. But of course they don’t work. They just make a whole class of jobs illegal. That’s stupid and immoral.

3. Keep deregulating until you finish fixing unemployment. All regulation makes it more expensive for businesses to do what they do. That means less profit, less investment, less growth, and less hiring. Start with the rules that don’t even exist yet, but scare employers away from hiring. I’m talking about ObamaCare.

Then keep repealing regulations until you’re done.

We would get to full employment quickly.

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