Monday, February 28, 2011

Two new Buy Local pieces

The Library of Economics and Liberty has a new scholarly article critical of localist economic and environmental claims. Just like a math problem can be approached from different angles and reach the same successful conclusion, a fallacy like local purchasing can be broken down from different approaches and still never add up.

Authors Jayson L. Lusk and F. Bailey Norwood are both agricultural economists at Oklahoma State University and

Local food is generally more expensive than non-local food of the same quality. If that were not so, there would be no need to exhort people to "buy local." However, we are told that spending a dollar for a locally produced tomato keeps the dollar circulating locally, stimulating the local economy. But, if local and non-local foods are of the same quality, but local goods are more expensive, then buying local food is like burning dollar bills—dollar bills that could have been put to more productive use.
The community does not benefit when we pay more for a local tomato instead of an identical non-local tomato because the savings realized from buying non-local tomatoes could have been used to purchase other things. Asking us to purchase local food is asking us to give up things we otherwise could have enjoyed—the very definition of wealth destruction.

The article is yet another example of how one-sided this scientific "debate" is. I was surprised to read an agricultural economics publication published some of the localist claims - not just without criticism, but even allowed them to be published.

Also recently Russ Roberts posted another blog entry critical of localism, suggesting people look past the money and instead concentrate on the resources. It's always fun to see the comment section light up with hubris on display. Check out this excerpt:

Your comparison here is the most ignorant excuse for an argument that I've ever heard since my 8 year old nephew tried to outwit me on how much to pay for a trip on the space shuttle. Buying local does not include cars made in China, Flat screen TVs made in Japan or anything else that in this large scale production category. Don't try to focus your energy on what does not work in the equation, focus on what does.

They just don't get it. The production of complex objects simply makes the fallacy easier to spot. Does Leonard Read need to come back from the dead to explain how the production of even the simplicist object is incredibly complicated?

What I've never understood is that besides being so sure of themselves, my intellectual opponents get so emotional about their financing schemes. Criticing localist economic schemes shouldn't be received like dumping bleach on someones rug. I suppose that's why we call them sacred cows.


Friday, February 25, 2011

Terrorists make lousy bloggers

A 20-year-old college student was nabbed for plotting to blow up George W. Bush's home this week, along with a few other targets including nuclear power plants.

To save you the trouble of checking to see if he's a Muslim, yes. The suspect is from Saudi Arabia and is named Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari. A college student wanting to harm former president Bush had good odds of being a white unshaven vegan anarchist with a trust fund, but this case followed the cliche profile* instead.

This story reads like a deleted scene from Four Lions. Aldawsari got caught trying to buy concentrated carbolic acid from a chemical supplier, a substance with no household applications. He also wrote himself emails with titles like “NICE TARGETS 01” that contained lists of hydroelectric dams.

If that wasn't obvious enough for the authorities, Aldawsari kept a blog whose target audience was the FBI:

In a blog kept by the suspect, one post described how he obtained his scholarship with the hope that it “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad”. The post continued: “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”

We bloggers are a diverse community that write about a wide variety of topics from many different views. There is a very delicate balancing act in deciding what aspects of your life to make public and it can be very tricky. But personally, I draw the line at intended criminal acts - horrific acts that people take very seriously and are quick to report.

How could he have made it easier to catch him? Make his handle "Terrorist Bomber 420" or tag his posts "Things I Plan to Blow Up" and "72 Virgins Here I Come"? Even brain-dead goombahs learned to say "I want him whacked" instead of "I would like you to go out and commit homicide - 'murder,' if you will."

Perhaps the FBI should consider a new task force in the wake of this near-tragedy - one that Googles the phrase "I am a terrorist" to see what comes up.

*Fun fact: Saying most terrorists are Muslims is not even close to saying most Muslims are terrorists.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Government unions have nothing to do with corporations

I try to avoid writing posts when I have ideas that can be found everywhere else, which has be tough when I feel so strongly about everything going on in Wisconsin right now. The point I really want to get across is that union supporters like to talk about coal miners even when the issue on the table is teachers. I furrow my brow every time I see "stopping corporate greed" as a reason to justify $100,000 special ed teachers who can't be fired.

So landing on my plate this week are two Will Wilkson pieces and one by Jonah Goldberg, which dared say the same thing:

Do you recall the Great DMV cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair's famous schoolhouse sequel to "The Jungle"? No? Don't feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.
It's painfully clear what's going on here. The smog-blackened masses of the industrial revolution are being used as poster boys to protect the comfortable public aristocrats. If the worst accusations of the left are true and the Wisconsin push is just political opportunism to thwart teachers unions, I would still support their elimination. Why wait until you need firewood to tear down that rickety old shed plugging the driveway?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Funding cuts are not bans

The GOP is attempting to cut the entire $75 million in federal funding Planned Parenthood receives, along with the rest of the Title X family planning package of $317 million. What I'm hearing from my friends on the left is that this will shut down Planned Parenthood and ban abortion, a conclusion I reject.

Just like when I wrote about how opposing third-wave feminism's government programs is spun as opposing gender equality, this attempt to cut $75 million in federal funding from an organization with an annual budget of about $1.1 billion is not shutting it down. Yet, up come the placards and protests that this an assault on abortion.

Clearly, opposition to abortion plays some role in choosing this as a place to cut, but it's dishonest to present it as anything less than a funding cut. This is not a post against abortion or Planned Parenthood - an organization that also provides clearly valuable services such as contraceptives and STD testing. Instead, I'm writing about the confusion between having the government fund something or not and why that is not the same as keeping it legal or banning it.

The exact same thing happened when President George W. Bush's limitations on federal funding for stem cell research was consistently referred to as a ban. Dan Shuster wrote in early 2005:

Bush has put no restrictions on the use of adult stem cells and federal funding is allowed for [embryonic stem] cells that were derived “with the informed consent of the donors, from excess embryos created solely for reproductive purposes and without any financial inducements to the donors.” Federal funds are not provided “for the derivation or use of stem cell lines derived from newly destroyed embryos, the creation of any human embryos for research purposes or the cloning of human embryos for any purpose.” Notwithstanding, there is a current surplus of embryos that were destroyed prior to the initiation of this “ban” in 2001, which can be federally funded to develop an embryonic stem cell line. Also, it is perfectly legal to privately fund any form of stem cell research.
President Bush's limited funding approval of embryonic stem cell research was enough to put him on an Internet "hit list"by an anti-abortion extremist. Researchers still had 21 genetic lines to grow in the lab, but all these details were glossed over and the left claimed that stem cell research was banned. Not limited from certain kinds of funding, but illegal as nuclear cocaine.

When President Obama reversed the policy even CBS news put the myth in its headline "Obama Ends Stem Cell Research Ban." But the research was never banned, it just had restrictions on one type of funding. I think my opponents are either misinformed, too lazy to check the details or not creative enough to think of an alternative way to fund the projects they support.

I realize the left believes anything that creates a public good or major positive externalities must come from the government and thus can't imagine private money helping stem cell research or Planned Parenthood. However, Federal funding bans do not stop non-federal governments from funding research like California did for embryonic stem cell research in 2004.

What's to stop state governments from funding Planned Parenthood? If increasing state budgets is a concern for my friends of the left, then welcome aboard! Does it really matter if X dollars are shifted from the federal budget to the state budget. Federal taxes will either go down or not be raised in relationship to X and will be compensated by an equal change in state taxes. In addition, Russ Roberts wrote in 1995 that it's much more efficient to share costs - such as tax money - in smaller groups.

While liberal states shouldn't have trouble approving passing state funding, some of the conservative states probably would, and that's where private activists could make up the difference. The federal funding being cut is a mere $75 million and the National Organization of Women has an annual budget of about $3.5 billion. The organization could simply redirect some of its lobbying money to Planned Parenthood and use abortion funding to solicit higher donations from supporters.

There has never been anything stopping NOW, or any other pro-abortion group, from providing "abortion scholarships" to the impoverished women NOW says it stands for. One advantage here would be the people who oppose abortion would no longer have to pay for it, and the people who really believe in it would be the ones who foot the bill.

What's going on here is the marriage of the coincidental positions liberals tend to have in supporting abortion rights and their tendency to support government programs while remaining skeptical of private solutions. They are focusing the debate on the first issue and leaving the second one as an unspoken assumption. I have much more interest in the second issue - the one of funding options - and reject the notion that only federal funding can provide abortions for the poor.

Cutting federal funding to a private program should never be confused with a ban. Opposing the federal funding a Planned Parenthood is related to the abortion debate, but it is not a proxy war. There is no contradiction in supporting abortion rights while opposing federal funding of abortions. If this funding cut happens, it will not spell the end of abortion in America, and if abortion supporters want to make the best of the situation they will figure out other ways to fund it.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

How clean are local farms?

The New York Times did a piece on "local" milk production group Maine's Only Organic this week and I saw something I haven't seen in most of these small farm stories.

Authenticity and familiarity.

In particular, I'm referring to this photo of a cow in a milking parlor.

See the dirty, rusted equipment and excrement-splattered hooves? That's what a small farm looks like, at least the ones in New England I've seen. My 4-H dairy club used to tour New England and upstate New York farms once a year and I've seen a lot of grimy animals eating barrels of surplus chocolate bars in run-down buildings. The clean straw beds and cute red barns the locavores always conjure up are an alien concept to me.

I've wondered if maybe this local purchasing push has encouraged farms to get a makeover, and I'm sure some have, but this photo really captures the smeared concrete floors and crusty legs I saw in the 1990's.

To be clear, I'm not saying that small farms are dirtier than large farms - I suspect most of them are, but I honestly don't know. What I am saying is that food snobs like to show pictures of large farms and compare them to a fictional bleached and combed small farm that doesn't exist. Farms are naturally dirty. Heavy machinery is used just to move animal waste around inside the farm. Drive by one of these places and you will quickly experience "negative externalities."

I remember one time as a reporter the entire downtown area where my office was located smelled like an open sewer for several days. We found out a local farmer had spread chicken waste on his nearby field as fertilizer. Keep that in mind next time someone suggests small farms belong in your community.

By the way, back to the story and MOO - it's really not local milk anymore when you're selling it two states away in Massachusetts.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Cutting doesn't have to be complicated

Cutting the federal budget is a complicated project - so complicated that our President isn't even attempting it.

There are many long, well-written posts out there about what strategy to adopt, how much cutting is appropiate and how to balance the needs of our nation.

This isn't one of them. It's much more simplistic.

Cut the entire Department of Homeland Security - all of it. That would be a savings of more than $37 billion, instead of the proposed increase it's getting.

No, that's not a huge portion of the budget. I understand that, but waste is waste and if you want more painless targets, how about cutting the TSA budget back to what it was a decade ago and putting Bruce Schneier in charge? How about closing down the Department of Agriculture? How about eliminating the U.S. Department of Education and redirecting half of the money to the state education departments and pocketing the rest? In all of these, we save money and lose nothing.

It's true, the real cuts need to come from non-discretionary spending like Medicare and Social Security and our military spending needs a Civil War-style battlefield amputation, but in the meantime we should make the minor cuts we can.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wish I'd thought of that

Seriously, how did Don Boudreaux beat me to the phrase "buy loco" in one of his trademark letters?

State senator Allen Paul of Indiana’s District 27 observes that “Hoosiers in Senate District 27 have found that cities like Indianapolis and Cincinnati have large, national businesses who often submit lower contract prices to gain the upper-hand in area projects” (“‘Buy local’ moves to full Senate,” Feb. 15). To address this alleged problem, Sen. Paul introduced a bill that would, as the senator says, “help ensure local businesses and their products are considered in public works project contracts” – even if local governments can get lower prices from businesses outside of their locales.

In other words, Sen. Paul seeks legislation that would (to use your word) “encourage” local-government officials to bribe local businesses for political support while simultaneously forcing local citizens to over-pay for school construction, road repairs, and other government projects.

Such ‘buying local’ is also ‘buying loco.’

For what it's worth, Senator Paul is a Republican.

You can't get rich being purposely innefficent, people. Ain't gonna happen.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

The economics of contact with space aliens

I was reading some posts speculating about what would motivate space aliens to visit earth. The usual assumption is that since they are technologically superior - and they would have to be if they came to us before we went to them - they would either be paternalistic and try to steer our society with peaceful prosperity and wisdom, or cold invaders bent on enslaving us and stealing our resources.

Even when the focus is on being more realistic - invaders using grey goo attacks and killer bacteria instead of sending a vanguard of living troops - it's taken for granted that superior aliens have no intention of treating us as equals - and to me, that would include establishing trade.

Why do we imagine beings brilliant enough to travel across the stars, but who still have a brutish seventeenth century understanding of economics?

It's because most people are clueless about Comparative Advantage - the idea that everyone benefits if the strong cooperate with the weak. It would be a bit of a culture shock to people in the Western Hemisphere - an advanced culture that wants to cooperate with them. Instead of aliens just giving us miracle medical machines, they may want us to coordinate factory work on Earth in exchange - or some other form of labor we have never imagined.

It would be a leveled-up version of the debate over sweatshop labor. Aliens could provide us with working spaces far safer and more humane than anything we have to offer, but not as good as those on their home world. Perhaps alien politicians and activists would try to stop these working spaces from being built on Earth out of concern for our well being and impose high standards, and no working spaces would be built.

You would also see earthlings afraid that the wonderful future technologies and goods the aliens give us would make us poorer because of the destruction of Earth jobs. If medical technology increases enough, the demand for child-sized coffins falls. They'd be right about the destruction of specific jobs, but exactly wrong about what that would do to our standard of living.

Contact with an advanced civilization has a great chance to improve our quality of life. If alien beings can unravel the mysteries of space travel, then somewhere along the way they would have discovered economics and would understand comparative advantage too.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

New layout, same smirkiness

I owe a huge thanks to Jeremy Corbally-Hammond, who volunteered to redesign the new layout from the color scheme I suggested. Jeremy is a friend and a regular commentator here and I don't think I could do a full introduction justice, but let me demonstrate his open mindedness with a single detail. He reads what I have to say on here, occasionally in agreement and occasionally not, despite currently being the Chair of the Maine Green Independent Party. He is clearly someone who thinks for himself, and his comments add a level of flavor here that my writing needs.

Thanks again, Jeremy.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people"

I try to be careful and say that holding a stupid idea does not necessarily make someone stupid, but I still had a good laugh at a brief Moe Lane post when it read:

Marxism is intellectualism for stupid people – and, believe me: if you’ve got books by Stalin in your library and you’re using those books to look for ideas… yes, you are a stupid person.
I figured he was being unfair. Surely modern Marxists are tripping over themselves to dismiss the Soviet Union as not-real communism because "real communism has never been tried," a tired and dishonest claim because communism has been tried over and over again, it just doesn't produce what a primitive writer promised it would. The recipe is flawed.

But, sure enough, the Russia Today clip of a trendy New York City overwhelmingly-white Marxist clubhouse clearly showed books by Stalin literally sitting on the shelf.

I'm reminded of the amusing anecdote of what Robert Conquest suggested when he was asked to give a new title to The Great Terror. It had to be updated because his original estimates of 20 million murdered by the Soviet Union were too low. However, I have a strict blogging policy against vulgarity so I'm outsourcing that title to another blogger.

The modern advocates of Marxism are so frustrated with their own failures that they have to claim capitalist countries as success stories for socialism and move the goalpost to things like the literacy rate or claim gulag slave labor defeated unemployment.

When it's 2011 and the intellectual support for your belief has crumbled and the only advocates left are on the fringe, when you are one of the richest persons both in history and the world but still complain you don't have enough and when you seek answers from dusty half-developed recipe books responsible for a nine-digit body count, well, maybe that is enough to call you stupid.

Update: I hope most progressives will notice I'm not talking about left-wing views in general - I'm talking about Marxism in particular. This isn't about people who support, for example, government-run health care, it's about people who want to replace capitalism with central planning.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Democrats get help from Tea Party to thwart GOP, Obama

A coalition of House Democrats and "Tea Party" Republicans stoop up to the GOP and President Obama yesterday and blocked an extension of the Patriot Act.

Does this mean that my lefty friends are going to thank the Tea Party for something? Maybe, maybe not. The embarrassing thing is that most of the freshmen GOP did vote to extend the act, and this issue is far from over, but what matters here is enough of them did vote against it.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Is domestic violence funny?

Quite a few people on this hidden camera show think so.

So it's out of the way, yes, I have personal experience with this. It causes you to notice things you otherwise would have missed.

A few years ago I was flipping through the channels and saw a bit from the show The King of Queens where the wife got a bad haircut and the husband accidentally said something insensitive about it while trying to be nice so she punched him in the arm and he yelped in pain.

And the laugh track sounded.

There's a slogan that says there is no excuse for domestic violence. Of course, when the victim is a man there are nothing but excuses, and its socially acceptable to make them.

Think about this video the next time you see a woman strike a man. It's not empowering or justified, and it certainly isn't funny.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Cheap goods do not ruin society

It's amazing how the Cracked magazine, a weak and transparent imitation of the almost-funny Mad magazine has been reborn as, a clever and entertaining bear trap of a website. It's like if Maxim magazine changed to covering opera and wine tastings - and did it well.

Articles follow the template of 6 Bizarre Forms of Discrimination That Can Lose You a Job and 5 Complaints About Modern Life (That Are Statistically B.S.) - a wonderful alternative to the filler-laden "top 10" circuit. Most of them are pretty good, and the headlines always lead readers to clicking several more each time.

But I recently came across a piece on overrated future technologies entitled 5 Awesome Sci-Fi Inventions (That Would Actually Suck) and it started strong with flying cars and jet packs representing untold danger to the casual user, but it finished off with a classic Luddite fallacy when it said matter replicators would destroy the economy.

Matter replicators are machines that craft objects on command, from lumps of coal to artificial hearts. Prosperity would explode, but the author warns:

The bad news is, of course, it would eliminate your job. Your job, and all your friends' jobs, and, well, almost everyone else's. No need for farms or factories or stores. The only people who'd still be working are doctors and the people who make replicators. Oh, wait, you can just have a huge replicator that makes replicators. Nevermind.

It's just as well, even if there were jobs, there would be no way to pay you. You could make bars of gold in your replicator. Yes, we're talking about the utter collapse of the entire basis by which every society has ever existed on the planet.

There are two charges here. Replicators would both destroy jobs and significantly change society. Both are true.

Preserving the jobs our society currently employs is not a worthy goal, as destroying jobs is progress. Jobs exist to produce things, not to keep people busy, and individuals jobs come and go. The time of blacksmiths came and went, along with phrenologists, court jesters, milkmen, Pony Express riders and explorers. Some of these fields still exist in different forms. Comedians have taken the mantle of the court jester, but their job descriptions are completely different. Explorers will be needed in the colonization of space, but they won't be trained on wooden ships.

So if replicators destroy factory jobs, good. That will free people up to pursue other things society needs. It will also make goods cheap and plentiful enough to allow people to retire earlier. These replicators will probably need resources to operate, and the things they create will still need to be designed. But what if those issues are solved - what if robots gather all the fuel and building materials we need, take care of our sick and protect us from harm, but give us all these things for free without expecting us to do anything in return?

Mission accomplished!

The second part is the changes this would have on our world. File sharing has introduced some major copyright problems. People can copy music, movies and entire books, but matter replicators would let people copy action figures, televisions and automobiles.

It's impossible to know what laws would be introduced, but I would expect buying all of these things would become cheaper and the penalty for copyright infringement would increase, perhaps to the point of serving serious jail time for pirating a car.

As for all currency systems being destroyed by these machines, this just lacks imagination. It's true the ability to conjure precious metals would finally kill all hope of returning to the gold standard (that's a feature, not a bug) but a fiat currency could still exist. Perhaps each dollar bill would have a unique code that is scanned during each transaction, or we would have an entirely electronic currency that doesn't depend on any physical representation.

Or more likely, a technology we have never conceived of would make the idea of an electronic currency seem crude and outdated.

Society is helped, not harmed by rising living standards, abundance and cheap goods. A future with matter replicators would be a better one.

Update: Jeremy's comment asked if production of food is so much higher, why aren't we retiring earlier. Shouldn't cheap food make life easier?

Just as a warning, this is not a "zeroed" graph so it makes a stronger case then it should with an artificial Y axis.

We do have cheaper food, as well as most products. The difference is that our wants and needs are growing. We are already rich in Victorian England standards, but we new things like computers and iPhones. I am supposing that we will encounter some kind of "singularity" that will let production increase at such a rate that our desires will be met. I may be wrong about this, of course, and our desires could continue to grow.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Usage-based Internet billing criticism translated

I stumbled across a recent call to action - complete with a useless online petition - to thwart an attempt to charge Canadian Internet users for the amount of bandwidth they use, instead of an all-access pass.

Here's the skinny: Bandwidth is a precious and limited resource, and some Internet users use more than others. Much like customers at a gas station often pump different amounts of fuel into their vehicles, Internet service providers intend to charge customers for how much strain they place on the system and send price signals, instead of the buffet restaurant plan they use now.

Opposing this plan, Jason Koblovsky writes:

...It took only a few complaints by Canadians to get [Federal Industry Minister Tony] Clement to act on census reform, 80,000 to let him know Canadians wouldn't settle for US style law suits on consumers for downloading music, and now we are at close to 190,000 signatures on a petition calling for an end to usage based billing, and Clement is taking a hands off approach to things right now. Are the Conservatives truly aware of the economic and political costs here of not acting on this? It’ll be much more than video game publishers threatening to pull out of Canada if we didn't reform copyright especially if Canadians don’t have meaningful access to the digital marketplace at a fair price
I added the emphasis on the word "fair" in order to ask, who determines what price is fair? I can't help but notice that the opposition to these "pay for what you use" systems always come from people who use a lot of bandwidth - World of Warcraft addicts, digital movie thieves and copyright opponents. Here's what they're really saying:
Please sign this useless online petition as many times as you can or else people like myself will have to pay for the amount of resources we use, while retired people who only log on to e-mail their grandchildren will no longer continue to pick up the tab for my hobby.
This is naked self-interest at play. The food world has both traditional pay-for-what-you-eat and buffet restaurants available, and single-rate plans should still be available to consumers, although I expect adverse selection will make them cost more than they do now. Shut-ins with huge digital libraries will end up paying more and market pressures should ensue that light users pay less.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

After-school luddites

One of the suggested causes of the increased number of fat children today is technology - that instead of running to the baseball diamond when class is out, kids are running to the flat screen to cruise the Internet or blast aliens. The lack of physical exercise is sapping the strength of today's youth, we are told.

I think that is probably a factor, absolutely. But instead of labeling these new activities as a problem, let's try to understand them a little more.

First off, things like video games are fun - and apparently more fun than kick the can, since the whole premise is that kids are choosing the virtual world over the real one. There's something to be said for letting people - even young people - spend their time they way they want to. If stickball can't compete with Gears of War, why make kids play it?

Granted, missing out on exercise is a notch against these physically-undemanding activities. Sports like baseball and football have a positive side effect in exercise that you don't find in video games, Internet activities and yes, wholesome old-fashioned book reading. Sports are a great way for kids to spend their free time.

Assuming, of course, they can walk.

But that isn't true for all kids. These "good ole' days" of outdoor childhoods may have offered a lot of choices to the general public, but not to the unfortunate kids with wheelchairs or seeing-eye dogs. If the do-gooders of today had their wish and pushed all the children outdoors, where would these children go? Should they just roll themselves home, hidden from the able-bodied world?

Technology has given children a lot more options of what to do with their time, and the tails have been long. Instead of every kids sort-of enjoying baseball, modern children can spend their time doing something they truly enjoy. Handicap children don't just have books anymore, they can learn HTML and build Web sites, they can start a video blog or climb to the top of the leaderboards*. Above all, they can do more things today where other kids will aspire to be like them.

I think another factor is the awful overprotective parenting culture of today and the institutionalization of sports. Keep in mind that the pick-up game of pee wee baseball is dead - there are no longer mobs of 10-year-olds roaming the playground unaccompanied anymore to start an impromptu game, and why would they when adults organize the sports for them. Sometimes kids wants to be left to their own devices, and indoor activities offer a lot more breathing room these days.

Don't forget that the days of active kids had more child freedom - the tails were shorter because kids had less choices for what to do with their time, so it was easier to find teammates when they wanted to play, and it was mostly up to them to organize their own games anyways. Today's culture is very different so we shouldn't be surprised that kids will make different choices.

It's easy to find fault with the modern world if you have an idealized concept of the past. For all negative things associated with today's children, there are a lot of good that gets overlooked.

*I do want to caution that one of the most disturbing things I have witnessed was an autistic child playing a crude World-War 2 game on the PlayStation 2. Someone put the difficulty on really low and all he would do is run up to the enemy soldiers and stab them in the chest over and over before moving onto the next one.