Saturday, April 24, 2010
The pursuit of the green cash flow has begun. Here are some Transit and Highway marketing efforts. For a little perspective on the Transit end, here is Thomas Rubin Writing for the Reason Foundation.
Rubin states “The purpose of this critique is not to attempt to show that buses are bad for energy use, air quality, or the economy. It is, rather, to show that any proposal to achieve improvements in any of these through transit, including bus transit, must be based on a realistic presentation of the current situation, the historical trend, and the practical potential for improvement. Any evaluation based on wholly ridiculous bus load factors and misstatements of auto load factors, using this analysis as the basis for future promises of improvements, fails this test badly.”
Jobs labeled green now have the highest market value. “Green” is even better than “free”, because policy makers can justify tax increases to help pay for their winning coalition (link...).
I saw David Pogue (NYTimes' tech guru) wonder aloud in his blog "why would these cable companies offer free wi-fi service???" It seemed like a scam, or a trojan horse to him.
He got his response quickly, in comments. It wasn't a scam, it was competition. "The free WiFi hot spots are an enticement to ward off defections to Verizon (and its Fios service) and AT&T."
I love how incredulous people can be that actual competition brings about such favorable results for us consumers ...
Well, yes, RE, the incredulity is amusing. But their refusal to update their beliefs can only be explained as religious devotion to a view that markets are bad, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary.
Friday, April 23, 2010
The Gun is Civilization
Human beings only have two ways to deal with one another: reason and force. If you want me to do something for you, you have a choice of either convincing me via argument, or force me to do your bidding under threat of force. Every human interaction falls into one of those two categories, without exception. Reason or force, that's it.In a truly moral and civilized society, people exclusively interact through persuasion. Force has no place as a valid method of social interaction, and the only thing that removes force from the menu is the personal firearm, as paradoxical as it may sound to some.When I carry a gun, you cannot deal with me by force. You have to use reason and try to persuade me, because I have a way to negate your threat or employment of force.The gun is the only personal weapon that puts a 100-pound woman on equal footing with a 220-pound mugger, a 75-year old retiree on equal footing with a 19-year old gang banger, and a single guy on equal footing with a carload of drunk guys with baseball bats. The gun removes the disparity in physical strength, size, or numbers between a potential attacker and a defender.There are plenty of people who consider the gun as the source of bad force equations. These are the people who think that we'd be more civilized if all guns were removed from society, because a firearm makes it easier for a [armed] mugger to do his job. That, of course, is only true if the mugger's potential victims are mostly disarmed either by choice or by legislative fiat--it has no validity when most of a mugger's potential marks are armed.People who argue for the banning of arms ask for automatic rule by the young, the strong, and the many, and that's the exact opposite of a civilized society.
A mugger, even an armed one, can only make a successful living in a society where the state has granted him a force monopoly.
Then there's the argument that the gun makes confrontations lethal that otherwise would only result in injury. This argument is fallacious in several ways. Without guns involved, confrontations are won by the physically superior party inflicting overwhelming injury on the loser. People who think that fists, bats, sticks, or stones don't constitute lethal force watch too much TV, where people take beatings and come out of it with a bloody lip at worst. The fact that the gun makes lethal force easier works solely in favor of the weaker defender, not the stronger attacker. If both are armed, the field is level.
The gun is the only weapon that's as lethal in the hands of an octogenarian as it is in the hands of a weight lifter. It simply wouldn't work as well as a force equalizer if it wasn't both lethal and easily employable.When I carry a gun, I don't do so because I am looking for a fight, but because I'm looking to be left alone.
The gun at my side means that I cannot be forced, only persuaded. I don't carry it because I'm afraid, but because it enables me to be unafraid. It doesn't limit the actions of those who would interact with me through reason, only the actions of those who would do so by force. It removes force from the equation... and that's why carrying a gun is a civilized act.
by Maj. L. Caudill USMC (Ret)
David Primo & James Snyder
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 354-370
"Strong" political parties within legislatures are one possible solution to the problem of inefficient universalism, a norm under which all legislators seek large projects for their districts that are paid for out of a common pool. We demonstrate that even if parties have no role in the legislature, their role in elections can be sufficient to reduce spending. If parties in the electorate are strong, then legislators will demand less distributive spending because of a decreased incentive to secure a "personal vote" via local projects. We estimate that spending in states with strong party organizations is at least 4% smaller than in states where parties are weak. We also find evidence that strong party states receive less federal aid than states with weak organizations, and we theorize that this is because members of Congress from strong party states feel less compelled to secure aid than members from weak party states.
Are Congressional Leaders Middlepersons or Extremists? Yes
Stephen Jessee & Neil Malhotra
Legislative Studies Quarterly, forthcoming
Abstract: Influential theories of legislative organization predict that congressional
leaders should be selected from the center of their parties. Yet, the extant literature has generally rejected the "middleperson hypothesis," finding that leaders are extremists. We reexamine these findings by testing more appropriate null hypotheses via Monte Carlo simulation. We find that congressional leaders (and leadership candidates as a whole) tend to be closer to the party median than would occur by chance, but also tend to be selected to the left of the median for Democrats and to the right for Republicans. Compared to the pool of announced candidates for leadership positions, winners are not ideologically distinctive, suggesting that factors affecting the ideology of leaders tend to operate more at the
candidate emergence stage.
The multidimensional nature of party competition
Jeremy Albright, Party Politics, forthcoming
Abstract: Left-right is a convenient tool for summarizing the complexities of voter- party linkages in a manner that is comparable across contexts and that avoids the pathologies of preference aggregation in higher dimensions. Yet several reasons exist to believe that left-right is increasingly incapable of summarizing political behavior: the inability of left-right to capture policy concerns beyond economics and religion; the accumulation of new issue concerns over time; pressures for policy convergence stemming from the globalization of the world economy; and the decline of social cleavages that historically structured vote choice. This paper shows that parties are indeed talking about a growing number of issues, they are converging on the left-right scale, and the ideological cues they are sending to voters are
growing increasingly ambiguous. Social democratic parties have in particular been affected by these trends.
Nod to Kevin L.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
"every Ecobici user interviewed said they are gravely concerned about drivers who don't follow rules that allow cyclists to have their own lane. They told of near misses with buses, aggressive drivers leaning on their horns, cars on sidewalks, cars going the wrong way on one-way streets, virtual mayhem at traffic circles.
"Nobody respects the bicyclist," said Gustavo Gonzalez, slipping an Ecobici from a downtown rack. "But I like it. It's a very good program. I wish they'd extend it further.""
If you sell a condo, you have to buy a year's worth of Metro passes, and leave them in the condo. Which raises the price of the condo by approximately....the cost of a year's passes for the Metro. Which, since that is not the thing most people would buy with that amount of cash, means that buyers will substitute away to other forms of housing.
This is how central cities become ghost towns. They try to use location rents to extract all sorts of social rents, and then when people move out to the suburbs, planners blame greed and racism.
When the actual blame should go to the idiots on the city council.
(Nod to RL, who is looking around)
The cool thing is that Michael Moore reams Dodd a new one in Capitalism: A Love Story. Makes it worth watching the movie. (Barney Frank, the rankest Dem on House Finance, also gets pounded by Mr. Moore).
Ideological Segregation Online and Offline
Matthew Gentzkow & Jesse Shapiro
NBER Working Paper, April 2010
Abstract: We use individual and aggregate data to ask how the Internet is changing the ideological segregation of the American electorate. Focusing on online news consumption, offline news consumption, and face-to-face social interactions, we define ideological segregation in each domain using standard indices from the literature on racial segregation. We find that ideological segregation of online news consumption is low in absolute terms, higher than the segregation of most offline news consumption, and significantly lower than the segregation of face-to-face interactions with neighbors, co-workers, or family members. We find no evidence that the Internet is becoming more segregated over time.
The World Wide Web and the U.S. Political News Market
Norman Nie, Darwin Miller, Saar Golde, Daniel Butler & Kenneth Winneg
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 428-439
Abstract: We propose a framework for understanding how the Internet has affected the
U.S. political news market. The framework is driven by the lower cost of production for online news and consumers' tendency to seek out media that conform to their own beliefs. The framework predicts that consumers of Internet news sources should hold more extreme political views and be interested in more diverse political issues than those who solely consume mainstream television news. We test these predictions using two large datasets with questions about news exposure and political views. Generally speaking, we find that consumers of generally left-of-center (right-of-center) cable news sources who combine their cable news viewing with online sources are more liberal (conservative) than those who do not. We also find that those who use online news content are more likely than those who consume only television news content to be interested in niche political issues.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
School lunches called a national security threat
Retired military officers say kids are growing up too pudgy for service
WASHINGTON - School lunches have been called many things, but a group of retired military officers is giving them a new label: national security threat.
That's not a reference to the mystery meat served up in the cafeteria line either. The retired officers are saying that school lunches have helped make the nation's young people so fat that fewer of them can meet the military's physical fitness standards, and recruitment is in jeopardy.....
The military group acknowledges that other things keep young adults out of the armed services, such as a criminal record or the lack of a high school diploma. But weight problems that have worsened over the past 15 years are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected.
Although all branches of the military now meet or exceed recruitment goals, retired Navy Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr., a member of the officers group, says the obesity trend could affect that.
"When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice," Barnett said. He noted that national security in the year 2030 is "absolutely dependent" on reversing child obesity rates.
Hey Kid: Every time you eat a tator tot, you're letting the terrorists win!
The allegations against Monsignor Luiz Marques Barbosa — and two other Brazilian priests — have made headlines throughout the world's most populous Catholic nation and come amid accusations of sexual abuse by priests around the world.
A priest in Chile was charged recently with eight cases of sexually abusing minors, including a girl he had fathered.
Chile's bishops' conference issued a statement Tuesday apologizing for priestly sexual abuse and vowing a "total commitment" to prevent it in the future.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Many economic geographers proper were furious at the rise of the new geographical economics. That was predictable: near the end of that 1990 monograph I foretold the reaction, and also explained why I was doing what I was doing:
“The geographers themselves probably won’t like this: the economics profession’s simultaneous love for rigor and contempt for realism will surely prove infuriating. I do not come here, however, to fight against the sociology of my profession, but to exploit it: by demonstrating that models of economic geography can be cute and fun, I hope to attract other people into tilling this nearly virgin soil.”
Actually, the reaction was even worse than I expected. As it happens, starting in the 1980s many geographers were moving even further from mainstream economics -- there was a widespread rejection not just of the assumptions of rational behavior and equilibrium, but of the whole notion of mathematical modeling and even the use of quantitative methods
(Nod to Neanderbill)
Anyway, the Bishop sends this little tidbit.
Here's the bigger version, for bulls.
Fear the elastrator. For the elastrator will set you free.
Of course, the LMM and I will be in the car, headed to Charlotte to get ready for the Bon Jovi concert. (Did you hear that? I think it was one gun shot, the sound of Angus killing himself in anguish...) Yes, Bon Jovi. The LMM likes to pretend that I am John BJ, and I like to encourage this. WHOA! WE'RE HALF WAY THERE! WHOA-OH! LIVIN' ON A PRAY-ER!
She loves it.
"Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes," Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran.
"Calamities are the result of people's deeds," he was quoted as saying by reformist Aftab-e Yazd newspaper. "We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers.""