Tuesday, April 15, 2008


It is a good thing that countries which were formerly embargoed as harbingers of terror, Libya, Algeria and Iraq are making economic and political progress. It may have been a stretch for Libya to have been made a temporary member of the UN Security Council but perhaps this too will prove to be a good thing. The current economic boom in Algeria and Libya is a function of the oil market but it took the removal of sanctions to allow for this boom to happen.

North Korea is coming off the list! Korea will not allow the verification that nuclear fuel is being produced but the US has agreed to take the leaderships word! Maybe or maybe not. The Israelis blew up a facility in Syria last year which has been rumored to have been a nuclear export of some sort from North Korea. With today's technology, it seems that the US (and Israel) does not need to make a physical inspection to verify that nuclear materials are being produced or transported. From what I hear, the ability of the US to "smell or see" into North Korea is the equivalent of a Google Earth shot improved more than 1,000 times.


Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria are the big four. Cuba, the least threatening, has been on the list the longest. Last week, the people of Cuba were given the right to buy cell phones for personal use. The cost of $120 represents about 6 months salary for the average government worker but the lines were long, nothing new here. There is a major difference in these lines. There have been lines for housing, medical care and other necessities for a long time. The difference is that the government has provided "equal and free" housing and medical care to all the people. As all who understand markets would expect, there is always too much demand for free goods, which must be rationed in one way or another. The question must always come down to who gets to decide which person is treated and which person dies.

Cell phones, up to now, had been available only to those in positions of "need". The freedom to communicate is huge. Not the same as freedom of speech but a step in that direction. I can't remember the source but an old timer once said, "War is freedom's cost and disagreement is freedoms privilege". I am certainly not talking about the type of disagreement sponsored by Iran, Sudan or Syria.

The history of the world leads us to the conclusion that economic freedom generally leads to political freedom. You can dig around on the Internet and find a good site that shows the relative economic and political freedom of various nations. I viewed this site a few weeks back. As I recall, Algeria still needs economic and political reform, but then all nations do. The scary thing today is that America is at risk of taking a few steps backward just when many nations are making great strides forward. One of the problems in Algeria is that government officials control too many purse strings, resulting in the massive oil revenues being hoarded by the few. In Algeria, you just about have to "know someone" (bribe someone) to get anything approved. As a result of too much government and corrupt government, the country has had a difficult time getting money into the hands of the "local entrepreneur" who would create jobs and spread the prosperity to all.

The simple law of economics that applies to the above conversation is that a man will spend his own dollar more wisely than a government dollar. My concern about the direction of the US is the strong pull to have to let government decide how to spend more of our dollars. The huge immoral use of corn in car engines is my prime example. No rational man would waste money on this fuel while witnessing the hunger and starvation caused by the practice.

Blowing up an innocent child is no less immoral than starving him by putting his dinner in a gas tank. I am very grateful for the progress made over the past 20 plus years toward eliminating the state sponsorship of terrorism. It is my hope that people of all nations will learn the simple laws of economics that help us us scarce resources wisely. It is also my hope that the American people will continue to lead the world in exercising our individual freedoms and responsibilities to one another.