Thursday, December 4, 2014

60,000 War on Drugs Deaths in Mexico from 2006 to 2012

According to CNN:

The Mexican government has been fighting a war with drug traffickers since December 2006. At the same time, drug cartels have fought each other for control of territory. More than 60,000 people have been killed from 2006 to 2012

Wow! Some things just cannot be done by Government.  Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and churches need to convince people to not use recreational drugs. Gov. is a very blunt and ineffective tool, it needs to stop its war on drugs and leave suppression on drug use to you and me.

And BTW the circumstances surrounding the death of Eric Garner show that the cigarette taxes are too high (I am looking at you democrats).

Monday, November 3, 2014

Let's Get Politicians to Commit to Some Percent of School Spending Going to Teachers

Here in Florida both of our candidates for governor are promising to increase school spending. Seeing that administration spending has risen 700% since 1970 and is huge shouldn't we get them to also commit to spending some percent in the classroom?

Years ago I heard an economist on a local radio who compared the Alachua county school system with the comparably sized catholic school system for Tampa St Petersburg. He said that in the catholic school system 90% of total spending was in the classroom where in the Alachua county school system only 50% of spending was in the classroom. (In the classroom would be the teacher compensation plus cost of physical plant plus costs of things like paper and books.)

So let's not get politicians to commit to more school spending but to more in classroom spending. We can be for lower school spending and more compensation for teachers. 

Florida spends about $10,000 student per year. So a class of 20 students would be about $200,000. I rent office space so I know we rent enough space for about 3 class rooms for about $900/month (and that includes about 1/4th of that goes to taxes and schools do not pay property taxes) so building costs should not be major expense. Total teacher compensation must be about $65,000/year. Now you do need to spend more for special education but that would be in class spending and that would not be enough to explain where the money goes.

So I think that citizens should ask for less total spending more in classroom spending. 

BTW here is an except from that tells you be careful of the numbers that you get from your local school board: They Spend WHAT? The Real Cost of Public Schools
Real spending per pupil ranges from a low of nearly $12,000 in the Phoenix area schools to a high of nearly $27,000 in the New York metro area. The gap between real and reported per-pupil spending ranges from a low of 23 percent in the Chicago area to a high of 90 percent in the Los Angeles metro region.

On Healthcare Spending Consuming most of the Increase in Income for Lower Income Earners

Tom Nagle writes:
I think it is pretty obvious why poor people are more harmed by the increase in health care costs than higher income people are. Much of the increase is a result of increases in mandated coverage for things like psychological counselling, birth control products, in-vitro fertilization, "lifestyle drugs", and very high cost treatments that merely delay death from a terminal illness. These are all things that a high income person might likely purchase (outright or via insurance) without a government mandate, but that a lower income person might be more likely to forego in order to have more income to spend on other things. The widespread satisfaction with health care among people in the UK and even Canada, despite the things not covered in the public healthcare system, is one indicator that the majority of people in developed countries would prefer to pay for less health care than government requires people to buy in this country. If it were legal in America to sell coverage equal to the Canadian system's coverage at the Canadian system's cost, I suspect it would quickly win the largest market share.
Posted November 1, 2014 6:02 PM

David R. Henderson writes:
Well said, Tom. In a speech I gave on health care once, I said, “I don’t want to mandate Canadian style health care for the United States; I want to allow it."
You could go further and say lower income people would mostly prefer to take more risk with say less educated providers and so the system of licencing in the USA states is excessive.
I am also almost certain that Government in the USA could provide taxpayer funded medical care for all citizens for less than it spends now in medicare and medicaid, if it only funded evidenced based medicine. That is if it refused to pay for treatments that do not have evidence that of net positive outcomes. This would not be death panels but refuse to pay panels, people could pay for any additional treatments.
The expensive medical care treatments generally yield very low returns to health.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Perhaps My Favorite Econ blog Post Ever

From Scott Sumner here
Here is an excerpt:
If I ask my students whether they find RE to be plausible, they almost all answer "no."But suppose I ask them a different set of questions:
1. Do you expect to get back all the Social Security that you have been promised?
Almost all say they expect less than what has been promised.
2. Then I ask whether that perception affects their willingness to save money for retirement, outside of Social Security.
Almost all say they are more likely to save for their retirement because of the perception that Social Security is on the road to bankruptcy.
It is often surprising how we fool ourselves about our behavior and the behavior of others.  We often think that people ignore incentives when they incentives have ways of working out.
Moral hazard can work out very subtilly. Often it does not require everyone to respond just on the margins. One example that I like is that you let banks fail the most conservative people would end up with more money and power relative to the risk takers and they would end up with more control of the economy.
Another example is crime deterrence, people look at crime doubt the power of deterrence but no one walks up to heavily armed guy without a weapon tries to extort money from him.

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 the BIG more rapidly, low earners 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 from there. 
  • With the BIG you eliminate SS.There is Absolutely no need for SS with a BIG! Also eliminate the minimum wage.
  • 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. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Do we know anything about nutrition at all? Or did we know everything in 1960

Aaron Carroll asks: Do we know anything about nutrition at all? 

I got to thinking about it and maybe we knew everything about nutrition in 1960.  

You need sufficient amounts of the 12 essential amino acids which almost all Americans get.
You need sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals which almost all Americans get.
If you eat more calories that you burn you get fat. 

And that all those newer findings; low fat, low carbs, more antioxidants, Mediterranean diet etc. are just spurious findings.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The NCAA has an Agreement on Athlete Compensation but not on Coach Compensation

The NCAA has an agreement on athlete compensation and they enforce it pretty well, but interestingly they have no agreements on coach or executive or for that matter professor compensation.   It might be difficult to have an effective agreement on executive compensation because the better executives could move to non NCAA organizations, professors you could probably do as long as the cap is high enough and coaches could surely be done because:

  1.  Where would the coaches go.  Some could go to professional sports but those positions are limited.
  2. Winning in NCAA sports is a zero sum game and though you would loose some talent the effect would be inconsequential.

So I propose that the NCAA members agree that coaches  not be compensated more that $250,000/year.  That is enough that they should still be able to attract sufficiently qualified candidates. 

This would mean that we are treating the NCAA as a single organization as fare as sports goes.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Response to Dean Baker's Great Post: "Medicare Is a Steal, but for Whom?"

Clearly our Governments Fed and local should combine all Medicare, Medicaid and all 

Government employees into one insurance program to maximize buying power and:
1. Squeeze providers.
2. Refuse to pay for care that has not shown strong evidence of net benefit.  

But our politicians are so corrupt (and fearful of seniors and Government employee unions) that they will not even do that. AND BTW Seniors and Government employee unions would not in the long run be hurt but helped on net by such a move though they would surely see it as a negative.

When given a choice between what is good and right for the people and what is good them politicians will choose to do what is good for them 90%+ of the time. You can count on that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Health Income Gradient Steeper in Canada than USA

This is from

Indeed, the health-income gradient is slightly steeper in Canada than it is in the U.S. 

Now the folks over at knew this at one time and yet they post this:

Fairfax County, Lowrey explains, is one of the richest counties in America, and in turn has one of the highest life expectancies in the country: 82 for men and 85 for women. McDowell County, on the other hand, is one of the poorest in the country, with predictably short life expectancy: 64 for men and 73 for women—about the same as in Iraq.It’s excellent reporting, especially with its grasp of the underlying research, so go read it in full. One thing Lowrey didn’t mention, however, was the link between the social determinants of health (which often correlate with geography) and healthcare costs. That’s where The American Health Care Paradox, a new book by Elizabeth H. Bradley and Lauren A. Taylor, comes in.
Just me trying to set the record straight. Even if you are all for more Government Social spending you should avoid the use of irrelevant arguments even if they are for more Government Social spending.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Anthropogenic Global Warming

BTW anthropogenic global warming is the correct description the description climate change is not a good description. The only solid scientific prediction from increased co2 is higher highs and lower lows.  

Interesting discussion  here, Summers, Lomborg, Tabarrok, and Cowen on climate change.  

My thoughts are that you need a carbon tax and a payout to those who net remove CO2 from the air then you could reach equilibrium. 

But, could rationally ignorant voters ever get the politicians to properly implement such a scheme, not until AGW brings temperatures to a level where negative effects are obvious. So sit back and enjoy milder winters for now.

Another possibility would be geoengineering measures to cool the planet.
I am not worried though because I think that removing co2 from the air or cooling the planet will not be very expensive.

So don’t worry be happy.