Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
But aren't Social Security and Medicare basically pension funds, in which workers' contributions are invested to provide for their retirement? Hardly. A private pension fund that planned to pay the benefits these programs promise would be accumulating huge reserves. In fact, the so-called ''trust funds'' are making barely any provisions for the future. In another spectacular statistic, Mr. Peterson notes that if Medicare and Social Security had to obey the same rules that apply to private pensions, the reported Federal deficit this year would be not its official $150 billion, but roughly $1.5 trillion.
Paul Krugman today:
Social Security, if you go through the federal government, piece-by-piece, and see which programs are seriously underfunded and which are close to being completely funded, social security is one of the best. It's not for certain that social security has a problem. And it's something that the right has always wanted to kill, not because it doesn't work. But because it does. And Obama to go after this program, at this time, you have to wonder. All of my progressive friends are saying what on earth is going through his mind to raise this issue.
hat tip: Greg Mankiw
Friday, October 26, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
"Politicians tend to pander, especially during the primary season. Romney’s chief opponent, Rudy Giuliani, also has a history as a pro-gun-control, pro-gay-rights Republican. But while Giuliani simply downplays his record on those issues, Romney sells himself as a true convert. He not only shifts positions; he often claims to be the most passionate advocate of his new stances. It’s one of the reasons that his metamorphosis from liberal Republican to committed right-winger seems so jarring. In 1994, in his race for the Senate, he didn’t simply argue that he was a defender of gay rights; he claimed to be a stronger advocate than his opponent, Edward Kennedy. Today, he’s not just a faithful conservative but the only Republican candidate who represents “the Republican wing of the Republican Party.” He brings a salesman’s bravado and certainty to issues. At a debate in May, when asked how he would respond to a hypothetical situation involving the interrogation of a terrorist at Guantánamo Bay, he said, “Some people have said we ought to close Guantánamo. My view is that we ought to double Guantánamo.” Elected as a pro-choice governor in 2002—YouTube is flooded with his passionate advocacy of abortion rights—he now presents himself as the most resolute anti-abortion candidate in the Republican field. A Mormon, he sometimes adopts the religious language of Evangelicals when he is addressing conservative Christian groups. To economic conservatives, he pitches himself as the candidate most strongly committed to slashing spending and taxes. (He’s the only major G.O.P. candidate to have signed a formal anti-tax pledge, the sort of move that his spokesman dismissed as “government by gimmickry” in Romney’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign.) To national-security conservatives, he is the most hawkish. (He says often that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, of Iran, should be indicted under the Genocide Convention, and his campaign has named the former C.I.A. counterterrorism chief, Cofer Black, the vice-chairman of Blackwater, as an adviser.) But, while giving customers exactly what they want may be normal in the corporate world, it can be costly in politics."
hat tip: Alex Massie
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
"When we assume the ethanol production process is fully renewable, it would take all the corn in the country to displace about 3.5 percent of our gasoline consumption — only slightly more than we could displace by making sure drivers’ tires are inflated properly. There are also ethical considerations. In particular, the United States is responsible for over 40 percent of the world’s corn supply and 70 percent of total global exports. Even small diversions of corn supplies to ethanol could have dramatic implications for the world’s poor, especially considering that researchers believe that food production will need to triple by the year 2050 to accommodate expected demand. Furthermore, ethanol would not necessarily be a more reliable source of fuel. By displacing gasoline with ethanol, we are displacing geo-political risk with yield risk, and historical corn yields have been about twice as volatile as oil imports. Finally, because high temperatures can simultaneously increase fuel demand and the cost of growing corn, the supply response of ethanol producers to temperature-induced demand shocks would likely be weaker than that of gasoline producers."
"Actually, just look at what Osam, uh, Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner,"
Now it is clear here that he is intentionally trying to conflate in Osama bin Laden and Barack Obama. Sadly, this is not an isolated instance for Romney or other Republicans. Fox News has been trying to claim that Obama is actually a closet Muslim and a variety of other Republicans have taken to emphasizing Barack Obama's middle name: Hussein. I am sort of surprised Romney stopped with merely swapping Osama for Barack Obama, he could have said something like this "Barack Saddam Husseing Obama bin Laden, Democratic Senator of Al Qaeda."
Note: Little known fact about Chuck Norris, his tears cause cancer, too bad he has never cried (I should note that this is not my joke but I can't recall the website-It's a Chuck Norris Joke Website-and can't be bothered to google it).
Monday, October 22, 2007
Go buy yourself a Ferrari Edition Segway. Yes such a thing exists. If you can't afford a Ferrari Edition Segway or even a regular Segway and are hellbent on being a Douchebag you can always buy a fanny pack.
Note: I am always amused by mall security guys riding around on Segways. I almost want to shoplift just to see if I can escape the clutches of the Segway mounted arm of the law.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Green Cowboy bust onto the scene with his Green Manifesto
Mandingo engages in intense hand-wringing about his yuppiness and introduces us to the term: Rust Stain
Archduke F.F. (glutton for punishment-he actually reads what I write) taking it to the man
Anti-Everything, being against everything (or Bush in this case)
Xtrachromosomeconservative (that's me) blogs the first part of a million part series on the Earned Income Tax Credit
and finally the blog founders:
Ilya introduces us to the blogger bliss that is Zing
Pied-Pieper blogs about the Economic World Cup (our most commented upon post)
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
The Earned Income Tax Credit is a wage subsidy, thus you have to work to get it. However, if you have accumulated savings (generally above $1000), depending on your state, you are not eligible for it. Likewise, if you accumulate savings above a certain amount while you are receiving the EITC you will no longer be eligible. This measure is in place for two reasons. 1) to discourage tax fraud, 2) to keep from subsidizing upper middle class liberal arts white kids like me. Both of these fears are real if small. The fraud issue isn't all that big because we aren't really getting much in the way of tax receipts from this subset of the population anyhow. The second issue is also a realistic fear in the sense that you would be incetivizing some college educated types to loaf around but I doubt such a phenomenon would occur in a significant manner. The asset test to me seems foolish as you undermine the basic notion of the earned income test, to help people better their circumstances through work. If someone manages to accumulate assets of $1000 on a subsidized wage of $14/hr, well, bully for them, they have shown some real thrift. This doesn't seem to suggest we should penalize them. Instead we should hope that with time, this support will no longer be necessary as they have increased their earning potential through the acquisition of skills and hopefully built up something for a rainy day.
The other improvement I would like to see is an improvement in the incentive structure of the EITC. The EITC's other basic defect is that is rebated at the end of the year in a lump sum just like a tax return. This undermines the incentive structure as there is no visible link between the work put in and the amount of assistance received. I would think if we can withhold taxes on each pay check and administer all types of public assistance plans on a recurrent basis, that we could cut somebody a EITC check on pay day. However, if this were to prove too cumbersome I would think at the very least we can show on a person's paycheck how much they will be receiving at the end of the year so they can make the linkage of their work and the amount of an EITC accrued in real time and actually plan on how they would use it.
In the end, you are trying to demonstrate that work pays, or in other words, that it is preferable to not working.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Friday, October 12, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
“Except for the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country.”
Note: Barry said this in 1991 while mayor. While no longer mayor, he remains a personal hero.
"My body is far from a wonderland. My body is more like a pawnshop. There's a lot of interesting things put together, and if you look closely you'd probably be excited, but at first glance, not so much." —Jennifer Love Hewitt
I happen to think pawnshop and wonderland.
"As a libertarian, it will at least be entertaining to watch the left squirm while defending Hillary Clinton's "right" to employ the same executive powers and engage in the same foreign policy blunders they now argue that President Bush has superceded his authority in claiming. And it'll be equally fun to watch the right cry foul when President Hillary claims the same powers they have so vigorously fought to claim for President Bush. The problem, of course, is that entertaining as all that might be, an increasingly imperial presidency isn't good for our republic.
Neither is our overly interventionist foreign policy, or the continuing erosion of our civil liberties, be it in the name of "family values," government paternalism, the war on drugs, or the war on terror.
Activists on the left need to recognize that Hillary Clinton winning the Democratic primary is the GOP's last best hope to elect a Republican to continue pursuing President Bush's pursuit of these unfortunate policies. And judging by her political career and recent voting record, they should also realize that even if they succeed in electing Hillary Clinton to the White House, it's likely that the only real resulting change in Washington will be that come 2009, we'll merely have a Democrat pursuing the same misguided policies."
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tyler Cowen on Paul Krugman's new book "The Conscience of a Liberal." Though Cowen also has positive things to say about the book. Recently I have seen the race canard advanced as the explanation for republican dominance starting in the 80s. This ignores the fact that the 70s were a miserable period from any number of vantage points, mostly associated with liberal policies (though in the case of price controls liberal policies executed by a Republican, Dick Nixon). We had record high inflation and unemployment. Wage and price controls created shortages and a full fledged energy crisis. Public order was lacking and as a result crime was rising. In essence, there was a failure of governance. High tax burdens stifled growth. Maybe these things affected a shift in public views on governance?
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
He was in a men's stall where he was engaged in the infamous "wide stance" and he exchanged foot taps with the man in the next stall (who happened to be an undercover cop) and I gather reached under the stall (this transpired at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport). He was subsuquently arrested. Larry Craig plead guilty to disorderly conduct (a misdemeanor). There was no sex involved, apparently no self-gratification, but rather some coded solicitation of sex (though not necessarily solicitation in the sense of prostitution). There was a tap of the foot, and the reaching of the hand. Now that a cop was in the men's bathroom and tapped his foot (and knew that this was some sort of a come-on for men cruising for gay sex) does seem like an entrapment situation.
Why are we talking about Craig's resignation? Well, I suppose cruising for sex in public bathrooms is not necessarily becoming of public officials. But the principal reason here is that Larry Craig is a republican and was cruising not just for sex, but sex with another male. That is the primary sin. The republican caucus is homophobic and he simply gooed out the rest of the caucus. There have been no similar calls from Republicans for the resignation of Sen. Vitter for soliciting prostitutes or from Sen. Stevens for being an outright crook (that goes for the entire Alaska delegation). One can certainly claim that Craig's conduct, homosexual or not, is cause for his ouster. But then they must also agree that Sen. Vitter's resignation should be promptly tendered as well.
Friday, October 05, 2007
George P. Shultz
Henry A. Kissinger
Alexander M. Haig Jr.
Lawrence S. Eagleburger
James R. Schlesinger
John F. Lehman Jr.
R. James Woolsey Jr.
Robert C. McFarlane
With Dobson raining on Giuliani's parade, Romney's reputation of being completely disingenuous, and Thompson established as a lightweight, I think McCain stands a chance of a campaign turnaround.
Note: Kissinger is actually a McCain adviser. I don't know why McCain would want to have that connection.
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The Jewish activist website MuzzleWatch has a pretty good synopsis of why St. Thomas’ decision was so stupid. They also have an online form set up so that all you have to do is enter your contact information and they will email your letter to the president of St. Thomas expressing your disgust at his decision.
If you are interested in reading the remarks that Desmund Tutu made back in 2002 that supposedly caused the University of St. Thomas to ban him follow this link.
Coverage of this stupid decision:
The Guardian of London
International Herald Tribune
Independent Online - South Africa
Cape Argus - Cape Town, South Africa
Pretoria News - Pretoria, South Africa
Inside Higher Ed
The Chronicle of Higher Education
The American Muslim
KXMC - Fargo, ND
WKBT - La Crosse
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Common Weal Magazine
International Solidarity Movement
The University of St. Thomas...Really Good At Making Stupid Decisions
The University of St. Thomas...Really Good At Making Stupid Decisions, Round Two
Friedman then goes on to complain that the industry has sought to water down CAFE regulations (fuel mileage standards). Well of course they have. And why shouldn't they? Why should GM or Ford or Toyota bear all of the costs related to curbing emissions? It is the consumers who need to emit less carbon. I understand why politicians would like to scapegoat auto manufacturers, after all, outside of Michigan there isn't much danger in doing so. However, opinion makers don't face the same pressure, which maybe vests with them the responsibility to grow a pair and not act like simpleminded wankers. While on the subject of politicians from Michigan, Friedman also singles out Rep. John Dingell (D-MI) for trying to undermine CAFE standards. That is true but Rep. Dingell has proposed a sensible carbon tax, which is an eminently preferable and more just policy. Maybe Friedman could have written a column about Dingell's legislation instead of this wet bag of shit.
Note: Wet Bag of Shit is a term coined by ManGina, er, Mandingo. A contributor emeritus to this blog.
As a follow up to the City Pages article that was released yesterday there were front page stories in both the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press as well as articles on WCCO and Kare 11's website today concerning St. Thomas’ stupid decision concerning Archbishop Desmund Tutu not being allowed to speak at UST.
Also MNspeak has a rather large amount of comments on their blog concering this topic.
The University of St. Thomas...Really Good At Making Stupid Decisions
"We ought to be opening up our borders to skilled labour from all parts of the world because if we were to do that we would increase the supply of skilled workers that our schools have been unable to create and as a consequence of that we would lower the average wage of skills and reduce the degree of income inequality in this country."
Such a policy would have the effect of reducing inequality but not growth.
Anyhow, a little bit on Top Chef, as we all know now Hung won. Dale put up a good fight and Casey blew it. I was rooting for Casey. She seemed to be peeking at the right time and she is a stone cold fox to boot. I think if Dale hadn't butchered his lobster dish so badly, if he had made something edible, he would have won.
"But he seems to be the sort of person -- amiable, empirical and reasonable -- you would want at the elbow of a Democratic president, if such there must be."
One of Obama's other advisors is Jeffrey Liebman who is co-author of the LMS plan for Social Security. Though, as it includes personal accounts, as any good plan that requires more revenue should, I don't see it being adopted.
Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Well for this year it was looking pretty good so far, but of course it couldn’t last. Basically St. Thomas is to stupid decisions that make them look like idiots publicly like Robert Downey Jr. is to heroin…they try to keep away but they keep coming back.
Case in point this City Pages article explaining how St. Thomas has banned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights advocate Archbishop Desmond Tutu from speaking on campus this coming spring.
You can read the article for your self, but basically St. Thomas administration officials are making the argument that any criticism of Israeli government policy automatically makes the person providing the criticism an Anti-Semitic Jew Hater.
Kudos to you UST, thank you for making it that much harder to show any pride in my alma mater.
"March 31, 1962. The White House. The issue of raising children came up. The President, probably in order to provoke Marian and [society hostess] Martha Bartlett, said that he did not see why children should not be brought up in community nurseries. This led to a discussion of the role of the family. I asked why the Kennedys had turned out so well and the Churchills and Roosevelt[s] so badly. JFK said, "Well, no one can say it was due to my mother. It was due to my father. He wasn't around as much as some fathers; but, when he was around, he made his children feel that they were the most important things in the world to him. He seemed terribly interested in everything we were doing. He held up standards for us, and he was very tough when we failed to meet his standards. This toughness was important. If it hadn't been for that, Teddy might be just a playboy today."
Tuesday, October 02, 2007
"What do I think about all this? Well, first I think that the directors of the Tate Gallery, which receives funding from general taxation, should be locked up in prison and made to do hard labor scraping the rust off bolts for twenty years or so with nothing to eat but cold oatmeal porridge. Then I think Mr Creed should be stripped naked, sprayed all over with bright blue paint, and made to run round and round Piccadilly Circus until he drops from exhaustion, after which he should be killed by some not-very-humane method. Then the Tate Gallery should be reduced to rubble by aerial bombardment, the rubble carted away to be used as landfill, and the ground sown with salt. Then the fools who pay good money to look at this “art” should be packed into boxcars and tipped off the white cliffs of Dover, and their mangled corpses left to be feasted on by dogs, crows and crabs."
I had similar sentiments as I was reviewing various pieces as an undergrad but my desire for an A usually prevented me from letting loose like this.
Monday, October 01, 2007
"And though the long term projections have gotten somewhat better as a result of improving fertility, the short-term projections have gotten slightly worse. Ten years ago we thought that program income would fall below program outlays in 2019; now the projected date is 2017. Meanwhile, the estimated year in which the social security surplus will peak has also moved steadily backwards, to 2010. In 2011, a small hole will appear in the general fund budget as OASDI revenues start to decline, a hole that will become a gaping wound by 2020. From the Social Security Administration's perspective this is fine, but from the taxpayers perspective, this is a huge problem that needs to be, well, fixed--and from which economic growth is unlikely to rescue us."