Monthly Archives: June 2010

It is time to eliminate minimum wage laws and bring back apprenticeships/internships

Remember the “good old days” when young people would apprentice for a few years earning nothing just for the chance to learn a trade? Well, I don’t either, but that is the way things used to work.

Enter minimum wage laws. All of a sudden, working for no monetary compensation is illegal. In reality, though, the apprentice does receive compensation in return for his labor: the acquisition of a valuable skill. The apprentice receives a valuable skill and the recommendation of his teacher while the employer receives a number of years of labor and the satisfaction of helping a young person succeed.

Today, there is only one way for a young person to gain skills necessary for a career: college. If one studies the situation, one would easily see that this situation is much worse than apprenticeship. Obviously, there are some careers that require college education and many people would benefit and enjoy the broader education college provides. But for somebody who is only interested in learning a skill, apprenticeship is vastly superior than college. Instead of working without compensation a couple of years to learn a skill, the young person is forced to pay a college to learn these skills. Now, the young person has graduated with a debt of tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. How is that better off than working for nothing? And in fact, the college graduate is often behind where he would have been had he been working in the industry for a number of years learning these skills hands-on instead of in a classroom, making valuable contacts within the industry, and establishing a close relationship with a successful professional in the same field.

The young person today often chooses to skip college and go straight to work after high school. Many have no desire for college and others cannot afford it. Apprenticeships would be great for just such people, but they are now illegal, in almost all cases (political internships and graduate assistants seem to be the most obvious exceptions).

Thus, our young people are stuck in a Faustian choice between going to college and graduating with little or no hands on experience and deep in debt or working at a low skilled job for low pay. And that’s assuming they can get such a job in this environment, where the benefit an employer may receive less output from the employee than the costs of his minimum wage and other costs, such as insurance, payroll taxes, and compliance with government regulation.

As a result, young Americans are not learning the skills they need and thus earning less in later years. To help everybody become more productive and earn a better living, we need to eliminate minimum wage laws and bring back apprenticeships/internships.

Biden: We Can’t Recover All the Jobs Lost. Michael E. Newton: Yes we can!

Vice-President Biden said:

Vice President Joe Biden gave a stark assessment of the economy today, telling an audience of supporters, “there’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession.”

I say we can restore those 8 million jobs and a lot more. But first, the government has to do something it is not used to doing: get out of the way. Given the chance, the American people will work hard and smart. We will succeed, but only if the government lets us. All we ask is that the government leave us be to work and earn the wages of our success and assume the costs of the risks we take.

First and foremost, government needs to reduce its share of economic output. In reality, government produces very little, but it does take money and redistribute it, a small percentage of which goes into goods and services that Americans want, though most of these could have been produced by the private sector. Look at this chart I posted earlier. Government’s share of the economy has steadily grown over the last hundred years. Every year, government creates more jobs, but this means fewer people available to work for private businesses, fewer people started new businesses, and fewer areas where private business can work without competing with government-run agencies or publicly subsidized organizations. Private business is being crowded out of the marketplace and it should be no surprise that they are not laying people off. Government needs to reverse this dynamic and enable the private sector to create jobs, take risks, and earn a profit.

Everybody knows that higher prices leads to less demand. Everybody except the politicians in Washington. High income tax rates discourages people from working. Taxes on dividends, interest, and capital gains discourage savings and investment. As a result, Americans are “going Galt” and going into debt. Why work hard to have most of your income taken away from you and given to somebody who doesn’t work? Why save and invest, risking a loss on your investment and paying taxes on any gains, when you can go in debt and have the government bail you out? To encourage work, government should lower income tax rates. To encourage new businesses and increased production, government should eliminate investment income. In fact, why not move to a consumption tax as Alexander Hamilton argued for in Federalist #21:

It is a signal advantage of taxes on articles of consumption that they contain in their own nature a security against excess. They prescribe their own limit, which cannot be exceeded without defeating the end proposed—that is, an extension of the revenue. When applied to this object, the saying is as just as it is witty that, “in political arithmetic, two and two do not always make four.” If duties are too high, they lessen the consumption; the collection is eluded; and the product to the treasury is not so great as when they are confined within proper and moderate bounds. This forms a complete barrier against any material oppression of the citizens by taxes of this class, and is itself a natural limitation of the power of imposing them.

While the working public pays exorbitant tax rates, the government has increased the incentives to not work. The government now provides 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. The government has expanded the food stamp program. The government has been “modifying” loans for those who were underwater. While I certainly believe we should be helping those hard hit by the recession, why not do it smartly? Instead of paying people not to work, let’s spend that same money encouraging business to hire more people and invest capital. In other words, lower taxes and reduce regulation. That is the best way to help those who are unemployed.

Federal Government Boycotts Arizona. Time to Return the Favor!

Foxnews.com reports:

Two federal agencies have joined the “boycott Arizona” trend and nixed conferences there out of concern over the state’s immigration law, a Democratic Arizona congresswoman said, calling the development “very troubling.”

Any cancellations by the Department of Education and the U.S. Border Patrol may have been more out of a desire to steer clear of controversy than outright protest of the law. But Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who has written to dozens of cities and groups in a campaign to persuade them to end their boycotts, said it was disturbing to learn that the federal government would withdraw from the state over the issue.

If the federal government feels it is appropriate to boycott Arizona, Arizona should boycott the federal government in return. Earlier this week, I called for civil disobedience by the states. Arizona should now do all it can to recover the losses from the canceled conferences. Arizona should sue the federal government for violating Article I Section 9 of the Constitution. Arizona should also sue for slander and libel because of the lost business which was the direct result of the federal government’s attacks against Arizona’s anti-immigration bill.

Arizona should also mention “secession” as a possibility. Arizona has no interest in seceding, but the threat will show the Feds that Arizona is serious. Many states have already mentioned the secession possibility, so Arizona will join a growing crowd of states.

When the federal government no longer represents the people, we need the states to represent us. When they fail to do so, we need to take to the streets. The tea party movement began the street campaign long ago. The states now need to assert their proper role in our federalist system. I am proud that Arizona is leading the fight against the growing collectivism of the federal government.

It is time for civil disobedience by the states

As we learned with the Civil War, states cannot simply secede from the union or nullify federal law. However, they can take a page from Henry David Thoreau and Mohandas Gandhi by simply refusing to enforce federal law.

The federal government itself is selective in which federal laws it enforces. For years, the feds have ignored their own immigration laws. Now, some states, most notably my home state of Arizona, are trying to enforce those laws and the Obama administration is trying to stop them.

If non-enforcement is legal and laudatory, the states should do so as well. Many states have already said they will not enforce the new health care reform bill. California has legalized many forms of drugs that are banned by the federal government. Technically, federal law still applies, but the states choose not to enforce them. Thus, if the federal government puts out a warrant for an individual who failed to comply with the health care law, the state law enforcement agencies could choose to ignore the warrant.

Of course, this situation is far from ideal. It would create chaos and uncertainty, but that is far preferable to the certainty of centralized control and tyranny.

On an individual basis, we are already seeing this civil disobedience. Millions buy goods over the Internet without paying sales tax. Legally, if the Internet retailer does not charge it, it is still the individual’s responsibility to pay it to the state. But nobody does and many buy online to avoid the sales tax and, thus, save money.

Additionally, the American people, by and large, are already “going Galt,” meaning they cut back on the hours worked to give less money to the government. Why work extra hard to have most of the money confiscated by the government and given to those who do not work? Why save and live below your means when you can go deep in debt and then get a government bailout or “government loan modification?”

Along the same line of “going Galt,” our high rates of taxation have also given a huge boost to “do it yourself.” See this post!

In a democratic system, the majority can always vote to take from the minority to give to the majority. The United States has left its republican roots (small government, rule of law, indirect elections) and become more democratic (direct election of Senators, ballot propositions, poll watching). Now that we are a democracy, the liberal/socialist/union/bureaucratic wing finds ways to create a majority of “takers” to elect them into office. Voting them out, permanently, has become impossible. We can overthrow them for an election cycle, maybe even a generation, but the left-wingers always reappear in some new disguise.

It is time to take more permanent action. Conservative states have to lead this effort. They have to oppose federal law through the courts and through non-enforcement. Individuals can go Galt and avoid paying taxes, but risk being sent to jail or having liens put on their property. States though have little to risk by opposing the federal government. A state cannot be put in jail. Fund can be denied it, but that is unlikely and is likely to further calls for secession.

I look to the states to lead us back to republicanism and federalism. And I look to the individual to vote for and defend the Constitution from the always growing federal government, from the many complicit state governments, and from the large population of people who vote themselves benefits at the expense of others.

The “do it yourself” trend caused by high taxes

For at least 2,400 years, philosophers and economists knew the benefits of specialization, also known as division of labor. Xenophon wrote in the 4th century BC, “he who pursues a very specialized task will do it best.” Adam Smith greatly elaborated on this, as did many others.

Today, however, we are starting to see a trend away from specialization toward “do it yourself.” Here’s an example:

Do-it-yourself trend growing

People stretch dollars by doing their own chores

Across the country, people are taking on chores that only a year ago were hired out to someone else. They’re dyeing their own hair, shoveling their own snow, washing their own cars and taking up paint brushes to brighten their living room walls.

This trend toward “do it yourself” is partly caused by the high rates of taxation in the United States. I’ll give you an example:

If I need a plumber to come fix my sink, first I have to earn the money and give 40% or so to the government in taxes.

Using the money I just earned, or the 60% that remain, I hire a plumber. The plumber knows that he needs X dollars per hour for his work. But because he has to give 40% of his income to the government, he actually charges 67% more than he receives after taxes (ie. he needs $60, but charges $100 with $40, a 67% increase in price, going to the government).

So to pay for $60 of plumbing work, I actually have to earn $167 ($167 – 40% of $167 is $100 to pay the plumber’s $100 so he can keep $60).

Thus, the cost of hiring somebody to do a $60 repair is $167. Even if it takes me three hours to do the repair instead of 1 hour, it just about pays to do it myself instead of hiring somebody.

The result of our high rates of taxation is a terrible choice. The homeowner can either hire a plumber to do the work for him, but with a 40% tax on income, he must earn nearly three times the amount of the plumber’s after-tax income to pay him for his work. Or he can do it himself, in which case the plumber loses income and the homeowner loses both time and income he could have made working at his job.

British government suspends new spending. Waiting for the United States to copy them…

Treasury Suspends $12.6 Billion in Spending Projects, Axes Other Programs

U.K. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander suspended 12 projects costing 8.5 billion pounds ($12.6 billion) announced by the previous government and cut completely other programs totaling 2 billion pounds.

Most of the money affects one contract, to supply search- and-rescue helicopters to the defense ministry and the Department for Transport. The 7 billion-pound project, which will now be reviewed, is with the Soteria group made up of CHC Helicopter Corp., Thales SA, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, and Sikorsky, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. Deliveries under the planned 25-year deal were scheduled to start in 2012.

I applaud the new coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for making necessary cuts. I also applaud the British people for kicking out the Labour party and blaming these cuts on that prior free-spending administration.

Alexander said that out of 34 billion pounds in spending commitments made by Gordon Brown’s Labour government between Jan. 1 and the May 6 election, “we’ve had to cancel 2 billion pounds and put 9 billion into the spending review.”

Prime Minister David Cameron accused Brown of using his final months in office to target spending at electoral districts Labour looked as if it might lose.

A YouGov Plc poll this week found that 48 percent of respondents blamed Brown’s administration for current spending cuts, with 17 percent blaming Cameron’s coalition government of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

The U.K. finally appears to be on the right track, though they still have a very long way to go. Unfortunately, we have seen no such sense of fiscal discipline here in the United States. Congress and the President continue to push for more spending, not less. Most recently, a $50-90 billion jobs bill.

In 2006 and 2008, Americans voted for “change” after Republicans proved themselves to be incompetent on issues such as Hurricane Katrina, the war on terrorism, immigration, and spending. Now, the Democrats had their chance and have proven themselves to be just as incompetent, if not more so. The two parties have proven one thing over the last four years: our government is incompetent regardless who controls it. As a result, the American people are demanding smaller, more effective government. Of course, the people always want more effective government, but now people realize that government can only be more effective if it reduces its size and focuses on a few key jobs.

God willing, the United States will copy the United Kingdom by kicking out the current administration. And hopefully, the new administration will copy the U.K.’s David Cameron and Danny Alexander (and Chris Christie in New Jersey) by cutting government spending and beginning to restore fiscal discipline to a country that has not had any in well over a decade.

Head of European Commission warns we are back on the path to tyranny

The UK”s Daily Mail reports:

Democracy could ‘collapse’ in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless urgent action is taken to tackle the debt crisis, the head of the European Commission has warned.

In an extraordinary briefing to trade union chiefs last week, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso set out an ‘apocalyptic’ vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money.

Meanwhile, the head of the European Trade Union Confederation said:

This is 1931, we’re heading back to the 1930s, with the Great Depression and we ended up with militarist dictatorship. I’m not saying we’re there yet, but it’s potentially very serious, not just economically, but politically as well.

After World War II, just about everybody swore off fascism, even though it continued to exist, most notably in Spain and Argentina. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the world said the same thing about communism. But Friedrich Hayek warned us in the 1956 preface to The Road to Serfdom:

Though hot socialism is probably a thing of the past, some of its conceptions have penetrated far too deeply in the whole structure of current thought to justify complacency.

Not only have we seen outright socialism reappear in places like Venezuela and Bolivia, it slowly took over Europe and the United States so that government now accounts for 47% of the European economy and 43% in the US.

Now we face a challenge similar to the one we faced in the 1920s and 1930s. Will we embrace totalitarianism and its false promises of effective government, cradle-to-grave support, and national rebirth as Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union did? Or will we re-embrace liberty, economic freedom, and personal responsibility that our Founding Fathers gave us and resulted in the freest and wealthiest society the world had ever seen?

Montesquieu quotes for today’s world

From Wikipedia:

“Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment. He is famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers, taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. He was largely responsible for the popularization of the terms feudalism and Byzantine Empire.”

His The Spirit of the Laws was a guide for our Founding Fathers when they wrote the Constitution.

In my book, The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny, I frequently quote another influential Montesquieu book, Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and their Decline. I think you’ll enjoy these quotes, as they are just as relevant to today as they are to ancient Rome. I’ve added my own comments relating them to today’s situation.

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“The government of Rome was admirable. From its birth, abuses of power could always be corrected by its constitution, whether by means of the spirit of the people, the strength of the senate, or the authority of certain magistrates.”

American’s Founding Fathers established the same balance of power between the people (House of Representatives), the more exclusive Senate (representing the states), and the President. It added even more checks and balances with the Supreme Court and federalist system, reserving most of the power to the people and states.

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About Sulla: “The whim that made him give up the dictatorship seemed to restore life to the republic. But, in the frenzy of his successes, he had done things that made it impossible for Rome to preserve its liberty.”

Unfortunately, during wartime, and sometimes even without wars, the United States has given Presidents extraordinary powers to defend the country. Though this is done in the best interest of the republic, it often makes liberty more difficult to maintain. A great example of this is the Patriot Act. The theory behind the Patriot Act, to monitor and catch terrorists, is noble and worthwhile. However, the rights of all citizens are infringed upon by it (see the Know Your Customer rules for financial institutions).

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Sulla “gave the lands of citizens to the soldiers, and made them forever greedy; from this moment onward, every warrior awaited an occasion that could place in his hands the property of his fellow citizens.”

Instead of giving to soldiers, the government today takes from the citizens and give to special interest groups. Unions, teachers, government employees, and welfare recipients receive from the government at the expense of private businesses and their employees. These takers have become greedy and government employees now receive higher pay and better benefits than those in the private sector.

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“Just as the old Romans strengthened their empire by permitting every kind of religion in it, so was it subsequently reduced to nothing by amputating, one after the other, the sects which were not dominant.”

The United States was founding as a country tolerant to all religions. But in recent years, the government along with liberal groups such as the ACLU have been banning religion from government institutions. This would be of no concern had the government remained small. But with government everywhere, most especially in our schools, this ban on public religion has the effect of amputating all religions. What Rome did one religion at a time, the United States is doing all at once.

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“Augustus (this is the name flattery gave Octavius) established order — that is, a durable servitude. For in a free state in which sovereignty has just been usurped, whatever can establish the unlimited authority of one man is called good order, and whatever can maintain the honest liberty of the subjects is called commotion, dissension, or bad government.”

Rome had experience a series of civil wars, first between Julius Caesar and the Senate led by Pompey, then between the republicans led by Cicero against the Second Triumvirate of Mark Antony, Octavian, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, and finally between Mark Antony and Octavian. After years of unrest, all caused by the Roman’s desertion of their republican ways, they were happy to have order restored, even if it meant “a durable servitude” to a dictator.

This is the real reason so many today advocate anarchy and anti-globalization. They do not really want anarchy. Instead, they want to establish a situation which would call for immediate order, to be established by the government and “intellectual elites.” First stage is anarchy, second is totalitarianism. These “anarchists” hope they can direct events towards socialism, as they successfully did in Russia in the 1910s and attempted to do in Italy and Germany, though other collectivist regimes beat out the socialists and communists, though both the Fascists and Nazis adopted socialist platforms to win favor among the people.

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“No tyranny is more cruel than the one practiced in the shadow of the laws and under color of justice — when, so to speak, one proceeds to drown the unfortunate on the very plank by which they had saved themselves. And since a tyrant never lacks instruments for his tyranny, Tiberius always found judges ready to condemn as many people as he might suspect.”

The American people are unlikely to put up with obvious and damaging law breaking by the President or other politicians. But they have the complexity of the law to hide behind. Most recently, President Obama has been accused of bribing potential congressional candidates not to run for office, a direct violation of the law. The administration does not deny that actions were taken to convince these people not to run for these offices, but hide in the complexity of the laws, arguing that no jobs were actually offered, only suggested, or that they were offered non-paying positions which are not real benefits. More damning has been the misuse of the IRS by numerous Presidents (FDR, JFK, Nixon, Clinton) to defend allies and attack enemies. In the United States, we do not tolerate outright tyranny, so the powerful do it in secret under the cover of the laws which they write and defend.

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“A wise republic should hazard nothing that exposes it to either good or bad fortune. The only good to which it should aspire is the perpetuation of its condition… Rome was made for expansion, and its laws were admirable for this purpose… It lost its liberty because it completed the work it wrought too soon.”

The first and foremost goal of a republic is to maintain itself. A republic is of no use if it cannot survive. The United States has become a global policeman and source of funds for every country about to fail, even though the U.S. is deep in debt and running huge deficits. The United States can no longer afford overseas adventures (even if we could afford them, one could argue against them too). I never did understand the premise behind fighting the Spanish in the Philippines back in the Spanish-American War or the reasons for fighting in World War I. The primary goal of our republic should be to survive and protect our life, liberty, and property, not to bail out Greeks for spending more than they have or to defend Japan from North Korea (Japan can afford to do so for themselves).

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“It is wearying, in the history of the emperors, to see the infinite number of men they put to death for the purpose of confiscating their wealth.”

Though emperors no longer execute the rich to steal their wealth, big government still verbally attacks the rich and threatens to throw them in jail (and has done so many times) if they do not give over a large portion of their wealth to the government, a small portion of which is given over to the needy while the vast majority goes to bureaucracy and graft.

Not only does the government “confiscate” much wealth through taxes, politicians shake down businesses for even more. With the power to shape legislation for or against them, businesses have little choice but to fork over billions of dollars to political campaigns, lobbyists, and friends and family members of politicians to avoid damaging legislation against them.

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“Pursued by tax farmers, the citizens could do nothing but seek refuge among the barbarians or surrender their liberty to the first person who wanted to take it.”

The wealthy actively avoid taxes by setting up offshore accounts, moving overseas, and creating trusts. Unlike the Romans, who had no free societies to flee to, Americans can leave the United States and live in other free countries, taking their wealth with them. Unfortunately, this harms the United States. Hopefully, we will realize the harm we are doing to ourselves before all the wealthy flee, leaving the U.S. with a depleted capital base but enlarged welfare society.

Benford’s Law: Cool math and fraud detector

Since I enjoyed writing about the St. Petersburg Paradox, here’s an interesting mathematical law for you.

I noticed a weird distribution looking at the market indexes the other day. Today, I see the S&P trading at 1099, Dow at 10273, and NASDAQ at 2266. Strange. Two indexes begin with the number 1 and the third with a 2. Looking at the other indexes, I see lots more beginning with 1s (there’s an 1860, 1865, and 11566). There are indexes that start with most of the other digits, but none starting with 8 or 9. Calculating the numbers:

  • 29% of the indexes begin with a 1
  • 12% with a 2
  • 18% with a 3
  • 12% with a 4
  • 0% with a 5
  • 24% with a 6 (3 of the 4 are Russell indexes, which I bet is not coincidence)
  • 6% with a 7
  • 0% with an 8
  • 0% with a 9

Though not a perfect distribution, you clearly see a lot more of the first three digits (59%) than the last three (6%). Why is this?

It’s Benford’s law at work!

Benford’s law, also called the first-digit law, states that in lists of numbers from many (but not all) real-life sources of data, the leading digit is distributed in a specific, non-uniform way. According to this law, the first digit is 1 almost one third of the time, and larger digits occur as the leading digit with lower and lower frequency, to the point where 9 as a first digit occurs less than one time in twenty. This distribution of first digits arises whenever a set of values has logarithms that are distributed uniformly, as is approximately the case with many measurements of real-world values.

This counter-intuitive result has been found to apply to a wide variety of data sets, including electricity bills, street addresses, stock prices, population numbers, death rates, lengths of rivers, physical and mathematical constants, and processes described by power laws (which are very common in nature). The result holds regardless of the base in which the numbers are expressed (except for trivial bases), although the exact proportions change.

Here’s a table of the actual distribution:

1 30.1%
2 17.6%
3 12.5%
4 9.7%
5 7.9%
6 6.7%
7 5.8%
8 5.1%
9 4.6%

Here’s an example showing why Benford’s law works:

For example, if a quantity increases continuously and doubles every year, then it will be twice its original value after one year, four times its original value after two years, eight times its original value after three years, and so on. When this quantity reaches a value of 100, the value will have a leading digit of 1 for a year, reaching 200 at the end of the year. Over the course of the next year, the value increases from 200 to 400; it will have a leading digit of 2 for a little over seven months, and 3 for the remaining five months. In the third year, the leading digit will pass through 4, 5, 6, and 7, spending less and less time with each succeeding digit, reaching 800 at the end of the year. Early in the fourth year, the leading digit will pass through 8 and 9. The leading digit returns to 1 when the value reaches 1000, and the process starts again, taking a year to double from 1000 to 2000. From this example, it can be seen that if the value is sampled at uniformly distributed random times throughout those years, it is more likely to be measured when the leading digit is 1, and successively less likely to be measured with higher leading digits.

One of the more interesting applications of Benford’s law is fraud detection:

Based on the plausible assumption that people who make up figures tend to distribute their digits fairly uniformly, a simple comparison of first-digit frequency distribution from the data with the expected distribution according to Benford’s law ought to show up any anomalous results.[5] Following this idea, Mark Nigrini showed that Benford’s law could be used as an indicator of accounting and expenses fraud.[6] In the United States, evidence based on Benford’s law is legally admissible in criminal cases at the federal, state, and local levels.[7]

Benford’s law has been invoked as evidence of fraud in the 2009 Iranian elections.[8]

I am always looking out for cool mathematical laws and puzzles. If you know about any, forward them to me or leave a comment.

Book Recommendation: Founding Myths by Ray Raphael

I recently read Founding Myths by Ray Raphael. This book documents a number of myths regarding the founding of the United States. Mr. Raphael describes what really happened and examines how and why these myths developed. Founding Myths is very interesting and insightful.

I hope the readers gets more out of this book than just a retelling of American history. This book teaches us of the importance to question the motivations of historians, which could include questioning Mr. Raphael and his book or even me and my book, The Path to Tyranny. Many historians seek to idealize or vilify characters in the past. Even historians who try to be fair and impartial may be misled by predecessors who were not, as Mr. Raphael clearly documents.

Anybody interested in American history should check out this book.

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On the same note, I sent this email to the author, Ray Raphael, to which he replied very kindly:

Mr Raphael,

Just finished reading Founding Myths and enjoyed it very much.

Unless I somehow missed it, you didn’t mention what could have been the inspiration of Molly Pitcher. I don’t mean the person it is based on, but the need to create such a person.

In the Crisis #1 (http://www.ushistory.org/paine/crisis/c-01.htm), Thomas Paine writes, “…and this brave exploit was performed by a few broken forces collected and headed by a woman, Joan of Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow sufferers from ravage and ravishment!”

Either people created this Molly Pitcher to fulfill the need that Paine saw, or Paine was a great prophet of men and history.

____

Michael E. Newton