Progress in Stem Cell Therapies

In the past, the use of stem cells for various medical treatments was clearly over hyped. When the stem cell issue became conflated with the abortion issue, the rhetoric about the miracles of stem cell therapies went over the top. Serious medical researchers must have watched his media circus in despair, knowing that the technology was not ready but that the scientific research was solid and pointed the way to miraculous medical applications in the future. This process of initial over enthusiasm, followed by disappointment, followed by success seems to happen often for important breakthroughs. If the science is sound, the applications will eventually follow. Sometimes this happens quickly, as in the few years that spanned the discovery of nuclear fission, the first atomic pile, the first nuclear bomb, and the first nuclear power plant. This is in contrast to nuclear fusion where 60+ years after the first thermonuclear bomb, fusion power plants have yet to appear.

Over the past couple of years, there have been more and more verified improvements in health due to stem cell therapies. Brian Wang at Next Big Future blog cited a clinical trial in which stem cells were injected into hearts damaged by heart attacks. The therapy “reduced scar tissue by one third, built up healthy heart tissue and remodeled the spherical shape of the damaged heart to look more like a football-shaped healthy heart.”

Additionally, one of the researchers noted that “any condition that has to do with scar tissue could be responsive to this kind of stem cell therapy.” Obviously this opens up a vast array of maladies that could be cured by this new stem cell treatment.

As if all of this was not exciting enough, the stem cells can come from any donor. They do not have to be harvested from the patient. Also, there are no rejection issues such as encountered with organ transplants. And, ‘there are no compatibility requirements for stem cell donors as there is with blood and bone marrow, and one donor can provide enough stem cells for “many, many people.”‘

Hopefully, we are entering an era in which such stem cell therapies proliferate rapidly and become a normal part of medical practice.

The article can be read here.

Posted in Science_Technology | Tagged

The Futility of Voting – Part 5

The Futility of Voting

The Futility of Voting – Part 2

The Futility of Voting – Part 3

The Futility of Voting – Part 4

Thank goodness this coming Tuesday will soon be nothing more than a bad memory. Thus, this is the final installment, at least for this election cycle, of The Futility of Voting.

Robert Wenzel of EconomicPolicyJournal.com wrote an excellent article about why you should not waste your time voting. He also raises some important points about the difference between law and legislation, a point emphasized by Hayek in his 3 volume work Law, Legislation, and Liberty. ‘… voting implies constant change toward more and more laws that will benefit only the few. For voters are voting in congressmen to be “lawmakers”. This implies change in laws. And voting for a president means electing someone who will read and execute laws anyway he sees fit, to meet his agenda. The founding fathers made a great mistake creating a base of governing people who can change laws and a president who can run rampant supposedly executing these laws.

Jeff Tucker of Laissez-Faire Books reminds us that we have no idea what elected officials will do upon gaining office. “For months on end, I’ve heard people tell me what Romney or Obama is likely to do if elected, and, therefore, why, in the scheme of things, it would be better if one or the other were elected.

And how do people know what either is going to do once in office? Their suppositions are based on an assembly of passing data: what they have said on the campaign trail, their intellectual and personal background, what the party platform says, who their biggest financial backers are, what kind of people are voting for them, and so on.

On Tuesday, don’t forget to go about your daily business as usual. DON’T VOTE !

Posted in Political_Economy | Tagged

Political Economy Quote of the Week for 20121105

“War is a racket.” – General Smedley Butler, War is a Racket

Posted in Political_Economy | Tagged

Another Libertarian Escapes from the United States

Robert Higgs of the Independent Institute announced in an interview that he and his wife are expatriating to Mexico. “… the United States is now a police state and becomes almost daily a more dreadful and intolerable police state. Even if we supposed that we might be lucky enough to avoid the worst that this vile state inflicts on its many victims, we abhor what the country has become and look forward to distancing ourselves from it. Americans have sold their souls to the devil as politicians have manipulated their fears. Many more of them ought to have seen through this shameless and evil manipulation.

Congratulations to Dr. Higgs for taking action. Fortunately, due to the internet, he will continue to be a strong and influential advocate of liberty.

The interview can be read here.

Posted in Expatriation | Tagged

Economics:Physics::Work:Productive Economic Activity

On this blog I have commented extensively about the broken window fallacy and Bastiat’s wonderful essay that was the origin of the phrase. I have also noted that the broken window fallacy is more properly called the principle of opportunity costs and that a litmus test for separating good economists from bad ones is their understanding of this basic premise. Thus, when the mainstream media began to parrot the line that hurricane Sandy would stimulate economic growth, I was not going to respond. Not only am I tired of having to point out something that should be obvious to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of economics, but Pater Tenebrarum of Acting Man Blog and others have clearly shown the absurdity of the mainstream media’s views on this matter.

However, it occurred to me that another analogy may be worth presenting. Let us set up this analogy by quoting some of Tenebrarum’s critiques of those who believe that destruction of life and property is good for the economy: “Why is it that modern-day economists always seem to insist that the destruction natural catastrophes and wars bring about is really a ‘good thing’ economically? We believe the main reason behind this stance is the unquestioned acceptance of one of Keynes’ great fallacies: namely the idea that all economic activity – even unproductive activity – is somehow ‘good’. Keynes for instance famously advised that governments could battle recessions by paying people to dig ditches and then fill them up again. He also published variants of this train of thought, as e.g. in his references to the joys and advantages of pyramid building.

This is an important insight and one of the primary examples of the quackery that is Keynesian economics. Let us use an analogy from physics to further elaborate. In physics, work is defined as: \mathbf{W} = \int \mathbf{F} \cdot d\mathbf{x} , work is force applied through a distance. If I exert force by pushing an object there are two possible outcomes. If the object moves, then I have performed work. If the object does not move, I have NOT performed work. Note that positive effort, the force that I exert, does not determine if work has been done. The only thing that matters is that the object must move.

The analogy with economics is the following. If I exert force on an object and the object moves, thus performing work, this is analogous to engaging in production of goods or services that are desired by consumers as expressed by their purchase of such products. Work in physics is analogous to productive economic activity. If I exert force on an object and the object does not move, thus performing no work, this is analogous to engaging in the production of goods or services that are not desired by consumers.

Returning to hurricane Sandy, the rebuilding that will take place was not desired by consumers before the storm. Such efforts are not economically productive. Let us consider a man whose car has been destroyed by the hurricane and who purchases a new one. If he had intended to do so before the storm, this is economically productive activity. If he had not intended to do so before the storm, this is not economically productive activity from the viewpoint of the man at a time before the storm.

As I have pointed out repeatedly in my series of posts about mathematics versus economics, such basic concepts of economics like opportunity costs, must be explicated again and again.

Posted in Mathematics, Political_Economy, Science_Technology | Tagged , ,

Spanish Fraudsterity

We continue to hear much nonsense about so called austerity measures by the Spanish government. As expected, this is nothing more than a meaningless word mouthed by the brain dead mainstream media. Heaven forbid that they actually take a look at numbers such as the number of government employees and report that there is no austerity. Fortunately, the internet has opened up entry into the media to anyone such that we have bloggers like Mike Shedlock to report what is really happening. In a post titled “Spain Still Has 60,000 More Public Employees Than in 2007“, Shedlock translated an article from a Spanish free market publication that clearly shows the fraud that is austerity in Spain. Take a look at this graph of the number of public employees from 2001 to present:

While there is currently a downtrend, the number of public employees is still above the pre-crisis level. We will know when Spain is serious about getting its budgetary house in order by keeping an eye on the rate of job cuts in the public sector.

Posted in Political_Economy | Tagged , ,

Young, Hopeless Europeans Flock to Former Colonies

This post title is the title of an article published on CNBC.com today. Young Spaniards are fleeing to Latin America, Portuguese are fleeing to Brazil, Indonesia, and Angola, etc. This trend has been happening for a few years and is accelerating as the PIIGS spiral down the drain. When I saw the trend occurring, I thought of a couple of interesting business ideas.

First, was an internet job site for each of the destination nations. While there are jobs to be found, they require the seeker to travel to the country and start looking around. In other words, boots on the ground. Even if these nations have the equivalent of something like Monster.com, many medium and small business will rely on local newspapers, signs in the window, and word of mouth. I envisioned employing people to travel to the nations listed above, find open jobs, and list them on a web site. Unfortunately, I got sidetracked by other life issues, and never followed up on the idea. It may still be viable, so someone reading this article may be able to make this happen.

The second idea I had was a concierge service to assist immigrants. I never put much thought into this, but again, it may still be a viable idea.

The article referred to in the post title may be read here.

H/t Schiff Radio

Posted in Business_Ideas, Political_Economy | Tagged , , , , ,