Monday, September 1, 2014

Political Corruption

John Hasnas writes:


When retiring as Senate majority leader in 1994, George Mitchell, who left the Senate with the highest reputation for integrity, gave an exit interview to National Public Radio. To explain what made the long hours and aggravating work worthwhile, he recounted how, because of his position as majority leader, he was able to get the Clinton administration to reverse an order requiring the federal government to purchase recycled paper—presumably, a measure that would serve the common good—in order to protect the jobs of workers in paper mills in his home state of Maine. He then related how, a few weeks later, a mill worker came up to him “shaking with emotion” to tell him how much saving his job meant to him and how that moment was “indelibly imprinted on [his] mind” and was what “makes all the aggravation worthwhile.” 
All Things Considered: An Exit Interview with George Mitchell (NPRradio broadcast, October 17, 1994).

I doubt that the use of all recycled paper would really be i the public good but Mitchell did not claim that it was not in the public good. He implied that he did what he did in order to save the jobs of his constituents and though this might sound good at first glance once one thinks about it one should realize that it is imoral and corrupt. Is it not corruption to take from all to give to those who can vote for him with no other reason but they can vote for him?


What about those congressmen who have military bases built in their districts? Even if it matters little for efficiency where the installations are built wouldn't it be more moral to put them where the most need is?

In fact the most tender mercies of our politicians are corruption and rather than hide it they are outspoken about it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Pizza Belt


Gawker has an article with the title: The Pizza Belt: the Most Important Pizza Theory You'll Read

The author writes:
Indeed: Beyond the Greater Pizza Belt Area is a wasteland. In most parts of California, for example, the chance that a randomly-chosen pizzeria will produce adequate-to-good slices of pizza is close to one in eight; in Los Angeles it is lower than one in ten. Here, there is bad pizza—in the vast wilderness, in الربع الخالي‎. We do not speak of it.[3][4]
I could not agree more.

To me it seems that USAers not of Italian decent think that adding more cheese always makes a better pizza. To me that ends up as a mess. My favorite Pizza from back in Providence RI (I hear they also have it in parts of NY state) is the Italian bakery pizza which has no mozzarella cheese and just maybe a little parmesan cheese. 

My friends here in Florida like the pizza belt pizza better when they get a chance to try it, so it seems that it is not just what you got accustomed to in your youth which is very interesting. Maybe good food is less subjective than we think.

I will say though that pizza and food in general is getting better in parts of the USA outside of pizza belt. My theory is that the better pizza it is due to all the culinary school grads and better other food in due to that and immigrants making into all corners of the USA. Last year I got good past in Moab UT, of all places. 20 years ago that would not have happened.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Voters Concerned About AGW Should Insist on a CO2 Tax or Nothing Else They Get Scammed

Anything more complicated than a straight forward as a carbon tax it is impossible for voters to know what reduces CO2 going into the air (let alone the costs for the reduction) and what is politicians scamming voters for fun and profit.

Below is Matt Ridley (the new Julian Simon? ...maybe) on his Rational Optimist blog:


A year ago I wrote in these pages that it made no sense for the consumer to subsidize the burning of American wood in place of coal, since wood produces more carbon dioxide for each kilowatt-hour of electricity. The forests being harvested would take four to ten decades to regrow, and this is the precise period over which we are supposed to expect dangerous global warming to emerge. It makes no sense to steal beetles’ lunch, transport it halfway round the world, burning diesel as you do so, and charge hard-pressed consumers double the price for the power it generates.""There was a howl of protest on the letters page from the chief executive of Drax power station, which burns a million tonnes of imported North American wood a year and plans to increase that to 7 million tonnes by 2016. But last week, Dr David MacKay’s report vindicated me. If the wood comes from whole trees, as much of it does, then the effect could be to increase carbon dioxide emissions, he finds, even compared with coal. And that’s allowing for the regrowth of forests.


With all such programs it is difficult to tell if the effects are positive let alone the cost per unit of CO2 saved. 

Another example is CAFE which MIT estimates costs 6 to 14 times (see excerpt below) more than a carbon tax per unit of CO2 saved.

For comparison, she defined FES and RFS regulations that would achieve a 20% cumulative reduction in gasoline consumption between 2010 and 2050. She also designed a gasoline tax policy that would elicit the same cumulative reduction. (The tax was implemented as a constant percentage of the gasoline price, starting at $1.00 per gallon in 2010.) Consistent with other studies, her analysis of those three measures indicates that taxing gasoline is 6 to 14 times less costly than the alternative policies in achieving a 20% reduction in the use of that fuel between 2010 and 2050.
People get upset when the see new taxes but the cost of increasing MPGs is hidden in the price of a car and so voters are oblivious to this tax, and it is a tax. Of course the politicians know this but they like their positions.

Environmentally concerned democrats should insist on a carbon tax or nothing. Your politicians are scamming you, not because you are stupid but because they are professionals who work on this stuff all day everyday and you are amateurs, as you should be but you can win on this issue. If they vote for stuff like ethanol or biomass throw the bums out. Even cap and trade is complicated enough that they will eat voters lunch is it is passed.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Other Complaint About A Basic Income Guarantee

The Other Complaint About A Basic Income Guarantee (BIG)

Yancey Ward writes:
I have never really thought a BIG was ever going to work. Just as soon as the first news stories appear where Dad spent all the money on booze that was supposed to pay for the school lunches for the children, you would start to see the welfare programs themselves resurrected. I doubt it would even take 5 years to end up with all them resurrected to fill in the gaps from poor behavior.
My Reply: 
Today dad has to trade the food stamps for booze or cash. 
Look in reality food is very cheap and people can and do have their children taken away for neglect now and in a country with BIG dad and mom have fewer excuses.  As an added benefit a BIG might enable more of the better poor parents to be able to keep their children.
Also, in a country with BIG the need for charity would small enough that private charity (which is often underestimated because it between siblings and friends or church member to church member) could meet the needs.
In my experience non-poor people overestimate the number of poor people who do not care for their children to do well. Thankful almost all parents, even most heroin addicts, care for their children and the few who don’t can mess them up just as bad with the piece meal system that we have now. When I was in school, even with the tax funded schools a few children seldom showed up for school.

Basic Income Guarantee Again

People are contending that the Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) would cost more than the current system but if you design it as outlined below it would save money.

Each  adult US citizen would get $200/week. To lower the cost you would:

  • Raise the tax rate on lower income people to consume that $200 more rapidly, they currently pay no income taxes. Income up to $26,000/year tax rate would be taxed at a 40% rate. So at $26,000/year of earnings the net effect of the BIG on their income would be zero. The tax rates on income above $26,000/year would then drop to the current rate and rise as the current rate does form there. 
  • With the BIG you eliminate SS.There is Absolutely no need for SS with a BIG!
  • You replace Medicaid and medicare with something like this:

The state would provide insurance to all Americans but the annual deductible would be equal to the family’s trailing year adjusted income minus the poverty line income (say $25,000 for a family of 4) + $300. So a family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $30,000 would have a deductible of $5,300. A family of 4 with a trailing year adjusted income of $80,000 would have a deductible of $55,300. Middle class and rich people could fill the gap with private supplemental insurance but this should be full taxed. This would encourage the middle class and rich, who are generally capable people, to demand prices from medical providers and might force down costs. They could opt to pay for most health-care out of pocket while the poor often less capable would be protected.
It is not a perfect plan but it might help. Some deregulation of health-care would also help the poor gain access. The gauntlet that Doctors have to run these days to get to practice seems like an anachronism in today’s world. Let smart people get to practice medicine after on the job training. Let the medical businesses decide who is qualified to practice medicine. 12 years of training to tell if my child has an ear infection is overkill and reduces access to health-care for the poor.
Another benefit of my plan is that it would encourage capable Americans (the rich and middle class) to be a counter weight politically against the providers.
Of course our politicians are too corrupt to set up such a program but any discussion of a BIG is pure theory anyway.

All of our debt and inefficiency problems come from rationally ignorant voters and corrupt politicians. With rationally ignorant voters politicians almost have to corrupt of ignorant to get elected.

NOTE: (You would still need programs for the very disabled)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Aaron Carroll and Jon Chait Try to Blame the Arrest of Mother for Letting Her Child Play in a Public Park on You and Me

Friday, June 20, 2014

Iraq Again?

There seems to be a move to push the USA to enter the new civil war in Iraq. I want us to stay out of this Sunni, Shiite war.

I do understand that this war will be really bad for the people of Iraq and I especially feel for the Christians who are likely to be caught in between the Sunnis and Shiites. I would support helping the Christians get out of there, perhaps by providing green cards to any still in Iraq but beyond that I do not see anything positive that we can do there and I do not even see how we can help ourselves over there, we certainly do not need the petroleum nor do I see a threat to us from Iraq. The ISIS are not international terrorists who threaten us, this is a war between faction in Iraq, let's stay out.


Time to start doing nothing which we should have started doing long ago.