Friday, November 2, 2007

Revisiting a Gold Primer

I've been meaning to post a thought or two on Viewpoint but other concerns have prevented me from doing so. However, I felt today was a special day of sorts so I determined to at least post this brief observation. It was just over three years ago that I posted A Gold Primer and at that time, gold was selling at about $400 per ounce. I suspect when, at the time, our readers saw that, they felt gold was way over-priced and certainly, there must be better investments. I suspect that when our readers see the price of gold today they may continue to believe that the price of gold is too high and...there are better investments. You see, gold just closed the trading session today at $805.00.

I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of those posts to see if they might still be relevant today and I was fascinated with the sense of timelessness I felt while reading A Gold Primer. The main threads of interest were gold, the dollar, and oil. This week oil hit record highs, the dollar hit record lows, and gold is closing in on its record high of $850 from 1980.

As I mentioned in A Gold Primer, the cost of gold hasn't really increased in the last three years, rather the purchasing power of the dollar has been diluted by the flood of "liquidity" from the Federal Reserve. Since the process of inflation tends to accelerate, as it is wont to do, it's becoming much easier to observe. In only three years, the Federal Reserve has caused the loss of a cool 50% of the dollar's purchasing power.

Ignore the representatives at the Fed who claim that inflation is "tame". Inflation is alive and well. Asia and the Middle East oil countries see it first hand. China holds $1 Trillion dollars in US government investments and in only three years they have realized a loss of $500 Billion. They can't feel very good about that. Oil is similar to gold. It's not that the price of oil has gone to record highs, the purchasing power of the dollar has gone to record lows so the oil-producers demand more dollars for a barrel of oil. That should'nt be a surprise.

The individual articles that make up A Gold Primer can easily be found using the Viewpoint Search facility but I have consolidated them into one document and shamelessly placed it in the Viewpoint Hall of Fame section.



Anti-Choice Progressives

Liberals, George Will tells us, have taken to calling themselves progressives because the word liberal has become rightly identified in the public mind with lousy ideas. Changing the name, however, doesn't change the quality of their ideas. For example, consider the upcoming referendum in Utah over a school choice/voucher program. According to Will, the benefits of the program are substantial, but it is being opposed by those who label themselves progressives. Why would liberals, who claim to be all in favor of a person's right to choose, nevertheless oppose it when it comes to our children's education? Will writes:

Passed last February [in Utah], the Parent Choice in Education Act would make a voucher available to any public school child who transfers to a private school, and to current private school children from low-income families. Opponents of school choice reflexively rushed to force a referendum on the new law, which is suspended pending the vote.

The vouchers would vary in value from $500 to $3,000, depending on household income. The teachers unions' usual argument against school choice programs is that they drain money from public education. But ... every Utah voucher increases funds available for public education. Here is how:

Utah spends more than $7,500 per public school pupil ($3,000 more than the average private school tuition). The average voucher will be for less than $2,000. So every voucher that is used -- by parents willing to receive $2,000 rather than $7,500 of government support for the education of their child -- will save Utah taxpayers an average of $5,500. And because the vouchers are paid from general revenues, the departed pupil's $7,500 stays in the public school system.

Furthermore, booming Utah, which has about 540,000 public school pupils and the nation's largest class sizes, expects to have at least 150,000 more than that a decade from now. By empowering parents to choose private alternatives, the voucher program will save Utah taxpayers millions of dollars in school construction expenses.

Opponents of school choice argue that it will produce less racially and socially diverse schools. But because students are assigned to public schools based on where they live, and because residential patterns reflect income, most of Utah's public schools are either mostly wealthy and white or mostly nonwealthy and nonwhite. Utah's Office of Education reports that the state's private schools -- which are operating one-third below full enrollment -- have a higher percentage of nonwhites than do public schools.

Intellectually bankrupt but flush with cash, the teachers unions continue to push their threadbare arguments, undeterred by the fact that Utah's vouchers will increase per-pupil spending and will lower class sizes in public schools. Why the perverse perseverance? There are two large, banal reasons -- fear of competition and desire for the maximum number of dues-paying public school teachers.

What will defenders of that idea -- former liberals, now known as progressives -- call themselves next? Surely not "pro-choice."

I've omitted a few paragraphs for the sake of brevity, but the rest of the essay can be read at the link. When a "progressive" says he or she favors a person's right to choose, the only choice they're referring to, evidently, is the choice to kill one's unborn children.


Real Heroes

This story offers an excellent look and feel for what our troops have been going through in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last four years and what combat is like there. The courage and strength these men exhibit under unimaginably terrifying conditions is truly breathtaking. It's also a story which for some reason you'll never read in the MSM.


A Brighter Dark Horse

When Senator Sam Brownback dropped out of the Republican race for the nomination for President it opened the field for the guy we've kept our eye on for the past six months - Mike Huckabee. If Huck can do well in the New Hampshire primary he'll very likely vault into the first tier of candidates, and once he's there, and people get to hear him and learn what he's about, he may be competing for front-runner status by summer.

This Weekly Standard article, especially the second page, explains what makes Huckabee such an attractive candidate for many socially conservative Republicans and even some moderate Democrats. Or you might wish to read this piece by Dick Morris. They're both helpful in understanding who Mike Huckabee is and why, if voters got to know him, he'd be a formidable candidate not only for the nomination of his party but in the November election as well.

Unfortunately for Huck, conservatives are not unanimous in their appreciation of his positions. Dissenting views have been expressed by John Fund and Hugh Hewitt among others who explain that, though they sincerely like Mike Huckabee, he's not the conservative he appears to be, especially when it comes to economic matters.

Even so, he's probably more representative of many contemporary Republicans than anyone else in the race except, perhaps, John McCain who has burnt too many bridges in the party to get the nomination. If you're not sure what it means to be representative of Republican voters you might want to read one or both of the articles linked in the second paragraph.