"Yeah, I'll tell you about the whale. That's a story I'll never forget."
A good lesson of strict liability. Hilarious!
"Yeah, I'll tell you about the whale. That's a story I'll never forget."
A good lesson of strict liability. Hilarious!
It is not the taxes we pay that are the true cost of government, but instead, the resources diverted from use elsewhere are the true cost of government.
Think of that when you read about a hair-brained idea like this. Americans (What about the Canadians and Mexicans? Aren't they, too, Americans?) should be rebated tax dollars for every day the government is shut down. For instance,
This would be simple to do. For every day the government is shut down, every American's 2013 tax bill would be reduced by one day's worth of income taxes. Here’s the math. The average family earns about $50,000 per year and pays about 12 percent of that in federal taxes. That works out to about $16 a day. Might not sound like much, but a two-week shutdown would generate a rebate of about $230. If you earn $100,000, the rebate would be close to $500. If the shutdown lasts for a month, you’d be pushing a $1000 rebate.
Since nearly all government services have neither shut down nor been eliminated (most have simply been deferred until the shutdown ends), government is still consuming resources, either now or slated for the future. Therefore, what's not leaving the coffers of the U.S. Treasury today to pay for government programs or transfers, will resume once the government shutdown ends, and retroactively for those programs and employees currently suspended. That is, grandma and government employees are going to receive their full payments for the days the government was shut down, so if you rebate taxes today, you're just going to have to increase them later.
The comments represent a trove of lunacy. Remember, the reason that Congress's approval rating as a whole is so low, yet any individual represenative's rating is so high (at least in his or her district), is because of us, not them. I want my rep to keep funding my favored program(s) using your tax dollars, but I want your rep to keep their hands out of my pocket to fund your favored program(s). As long as we expect government to provide for more and more of our wants, yet expect others to pay for it, we will never exit our current situation voluntarily. It's not necessarily about the people we elect (other than the fact that politicians have every incentive to misrepresent facts and mislead voters), but the reasons for why we elect them.
I once witnessed media bias first-hand. It wasn't what was said—a sin of commission—but what was not said—a sin of omission—and who the news outlet chose to interview during the broadcast. The story was slanted in my favor, but it was biased nonetheless and I knew it.
I couldn't help but feel the same way watching the video embedded in this story. (I won't give the story further credibility by embedding it here.) Both the politicians who attacked Hillsdale College's President Larry Arnn, and the way the story has been portrayed by the media, make it out to look like President Arnn is a racist. From my relationship with Larry Arnn, he is no racist. Was it a poor choice of words? Possibly, but you have to be an idiot or have a political agenda to misconstrue the point he was making and the people he was ridiculing with his choice of words.
I am very proud to have worked at Hillsdale College under the leadership of President Arnn. Among many other great experiences, one of the most memorable moments for me came while having lunch (it might have been a dinner) with members of the 1956 football team. These guys were invited to play in the Tangerine Bowl in Florida, with the invitation stipulating that their black players were not invited. Hillsdale College refused the invitation, which was a big huge deal to forego. I asked a few of the former players sitting near me if it was a difficult decision for them to make, refusing the invitation to the Tangerine Bowl given that their black teammates were not invited. Without a second of hesitation, they all immediately broke in and said no. I'll never forget what one of them said next, "They were our friends; we were not going without them." That same standard of acceptance of all people stands today.
My experience with President Larry Arnn is that he is a man of great vision who has made Hillsdale College more prominent academically and greatly improved the academic integrity of the school; a great judge of character (I cannot emphasize that one enough); and a strong family man from whom I only observed upstanding moral character. I find it offensive that this story is getting any traction at all given that his obvious intent was to slam the politicians who were attempting to insult him and Hillsdale College.
UPDATE: Jenner Roback Morse wrote a great piece a few years back titled, "Racism As Rent-Seeking." In it, Roback Morse explains the increasing ubiquity of using racism as a means of transferring wealth from one party to another. I believe that the increasing allegations of racism in this context is a similar rent-seeking ploy, but instead of attempting to transfer wealth, it's a means of transferring power by discrediting political opponents.
Remember, in politics there's the stupid party and there's the evil party. Sometimes they join together and do something that is both stupid and evil—we call it bipartisanship.
It's the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.
Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there's a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.
"If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.
Of course, the jobs argument has to come into play here:
Pete Keating, a General Dynamics spokesman, said the money from Congress is allowing for a stable base of production for the Army, which receives about four tanks a month. With the line open, Lima also can fill international orders, bringing more work to Lima and preserving American jobs, he said.
Hmmm?!? Let's ignore opportunity cost, which is the true cost of government. That $436 million could indeed be spent elsewhere, possibly improving social welfare far more than it is by spending it on tanks. Yes, politics gets in the way, which is all the more reason to limit what we do through the political process. If this type of waste prevails in what most people would truly characterize as legitimate functions of government, there's no telling how much waste is encountered in those areas in which government is hardly likely to create any true social value.
Apparently the drivel espoused in the picture below is once again making the rounds. For some reason it never dies.
This is why such nonsense should never get the play it's receiving.
Suppose that you have a job where you are paid on commission on a daily basis. For every item you sell you earn, say, 10% of the sale price. Your customers buy from you on a consistent basis and you sell $2,000 worth of the good each day. Your total annual sales are $500,000 and your income is $200 per day, or $50,000 per year. (Assume no inflation for now and that you work 250 days each year.)
Your customers, who again, buy your good on a consistent basis every day and can't seem to get enough of it, think that you earn too much money, notwithstanding the fact that the benefits they receive from the good you sell far exceed your salary. Even still, they desire to punish you for your income and have all agreed to not purchase anything from you on April 15th. None of them have ceased consuming your good at all, only that they will not purchase anything from you on April 15th.
Let's say that in order to fulfill their demand for what they would normally have purchased on April 15th, half increase their daily purchase on April 14th, for total sales of $3,000 that day, and half on April 16th, for total sales of $3,000 that day. Your daily income looks like the following:
Without the boycott: April 14th = $200; April 15th = $200; and April 16th = $200. Total income over those three days is $600.
With the boycott: April 14th = $300; April 15th = $0; and April 16th = $300. Total income over those three days is $600.
Are you made worse off by your customers' decision to boycott you for one day? What if they did it for a week?
As long as they continue to consume the exact same amount, on which day or days they purchase your goods is largely irrelevant. Yes, it may be inconvenient that you don't have the income consistently, or that you might have to borrow on some days to tide you over until they come back to buy more of your good on the next day, but your average daily income has not changed.
In fact, I would argue that such ideas actually make the gas companies better off. If they knew for certain that nobody would be coming in to purchase gasoline that day, they could simply shut down, saving themselves labor costs and other costs or operation. Competition is what makes gasoline companies and retailers produce and sell every day. If they could collude in order to shut down one day with no cheating on the collusive agreement, gas companies and retailers are made better off at the expense of customers who want to purchase gasoline on that day. What a sham that the customers who appear angriest at the gas companies are the ones promoting the financial interests of the gas companies.
If you want to punish the gas companies, walk, ride a bike, don't go anywhere on that day and vow to not do what you would have done that day on a different day. In other words, as long as you continue to consume the same amount it doesn't matter on what day you buy it.
Actually, I agree with this. Everyone, buy all the gas you need for the next week today. DO NOT BUY ANY GASOLINE FOR THE NEXT WEEK. If you are successful and the price of gasoline plummets, thank you very much. I'll be filling up my cars one day during your boycott.
Having a child currently looking at colleges, the following two articles have a lot of relevancy. Both articles expose the inanity of the college admissions process, especially at the elite colleges, as well as ridicule the faux diversity rhetoric such colleges profess to uphold.
In today's New York Times, Claire Vaye Watkins discusses the inequities for high school students in rural areas looking to attend college, especially the elite colleges.
I never saw a college rep at Pahrump Valley High, but the military made sure that a stream of alumni flooded back to our school in their uniforms and fresh flattops, urging their old chums to enlist. Those students who did even reasonably well on the Asvab (theArmed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, for readers who went to schools where this test was not so exhaustively administered) were thoroughly hounded by recruiters.
My school did its part, too: it devoted half a day’s class time to making sure every junior took the Asvab. The test was also free, unlike the ACT and SAT, which I had to choose between because I could afford only one registration fee. I chose the ACT and crossed off those colleges that asked for the SAT.
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Granted, there’s a good reason top colleges aren’t sending recruiters around the country to woo kids like me and Ryan (who, incidentally, got his B.S. at U.N.R. before going on to earn his Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Purdue and now holds a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship with the National Research Council). The Army needs every qualified candidate it can get, while competitive colleges have far more applicants than they can handle. But if these colleges are truly committed to diversity, they have to start paying attention to the rural poor.
And in today's Wall Street Journal, high school senior Suzy Lee Weiss, who was rejected admission by many elite colleges, explains (very humorously) the inequity and insanity of the admissions process. I just wish she had left out that last paragraph.
Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.
I'm puzzled why nobody has stepped forward to discuss the so-called silver lining from the recent explosion in Indianapolis, Indiana that killed two people (that's 108 fewer deaths than Hurricane Sandy caused) and displaced dozens of families (far fewer than were displaced by Sandy). Think of all the jobs that will be created rebuilding the homes. Why is that not deemed a silver lining? Maybe because there isn't one.
With all the pandering about "creating jobs," maybe this is what President Obama and Governor Romney have in mind.
Monday through Saturday, uninvited messengers show up at households all across America and drop off unsolicited catalogues, credit card come-ons and other paper equivalents of spam e-mail. Americans get 84 billion pieces of this stuff every year — the vast majority of which they dump, unread, in the nearest trash can or recycling bin.
If homeowners are merely annoyed, local governments are furious; it costs them $1 billion per year to collect and dispose of the waste, according to a recent New York Times report.
Furious? This is a perfect Keyneian jobs program. We hire workers to deliver stuff we don't want and consequently throw away, which is hauled away by a new set of workers. What's not to love? Of course, no one would argue that any real value is created by this process.
Politicians do not create jobs; jobs are a byproduct of creating value for others. When entrepreneurs and other investors take risks and innovate in order to create value for others, they often employ unused and underutilized labor to bring about their objectives, therefore improving the well-being of both its customers and its workers. Even the government can do this when it provide services valued by taxpayers more than any other use of their time and money. Anything other than that is wasting resources.
If Romney and/or Obama really want to do something that results in the hiring of unemployed and underemployed workers, there are plenty of legitimate things they can do - such as deregulation and revamping patent and copyright protections that impede competition and risk-taking - it's just that voters are not likely to respond affirmatively to most measures they should take.
UPDATE: Edited for clarity.
In a market capitalist system properly conceived, in order to make me better off I have to make you better off relative to what anyone else is offering you with similar resources. Competition forces me to continually improve on quality at any given price, which also means discovering ways of producing the same quality at reduced cost, and therefore reduced price. Failing to do so, I go out of business and people quit dealing with me.
Why does this seem so foreign to government school bureaucrats and those with egalitarian mindsets?
Annica Eriksson, the head cook at the Falun school, received an order from the municipality to decrease the quality of her cooking after it discovered she served a variety of 15 vegetables and freshly baked bread to students each day. The municipality claims that these offerings are “unfair” to students at other local schools, who consume meals of a lesser quality, The Local reported.
School choice (and I mean total school choice - free schools from any state mandates, including curriculum requirements) forces schools to compete for students by continually innovating and discovering ways to serve students' needs rather than the interests of teachers and public school bureaucrats.
This egalitarian ideology has had tragic consequences, leading to mass murdering of millions of people around the world throughout the Twentieth Century. This is not to say that forcing the lunch lady to reduce the quality of her meals is going to lead to mass genocide in Sweden. But egalitarianism is a slippery slope, and if it's important that something as trivial as school lunches be equal, and you're willing to force one school to degrade the quality of its lunches so students at other schools don't feel slighted, you're probably pretty far down that slope.
Here is an old post on the travesty of choice in North Carolina schools.
This idea was more hilarious than the one Munger ridicules.
Euthanize Your Old Pet
Pets have become a common feature in most homes and are an attribute of the modern, Western lifestyle. We all love our dogs and cats, but really, when you think about it, pets are a major producer of excess carbon. One of the best ways to reasonably enjoy your pet and reduce your overall Carbon Footprint is to determine in advance how long your pet should live. As a family, set a date when your pet will be euthanized. One great way to teach children the value of pet euthanasia is to turn the occasion into a family celebration. Let's say you've set March 10, five years from now, as your pet's euthanasia date. For the next five years, celebrate March 10 as your pet's special day, with a family party and perhaps a visit to your pet's future burial spot. Teach your children to think of the occasion as a birthday in reverse. A predetermined euthanasia date will encourage your family to love and care for your furry friend while it's still young and playful. What's more, pre-planing for pet termination not only works towards reducing your family's Carbon Footprint, but guarantees long term reduction in veterinary expenses.
What a wonderful idea. "Kids, one more month with old Sparky and then the dog gets it. Be happy!"
Actually, we have two cats and I've contemplated this idea on a regular basis. But not for reducing my carbon footprint.
UPDATE: The fine print at the bottom of the GreenTremayne.com page notes that it is totally satirical.