Saturday, December 14, 2013

Made ME Cry

But then that's not hard.  Very sweet commercial.

It's making me cry again, just thinking about it. Nod to Susan L.

Friday, December 13, 2013

guaranteed income vs. open borders

I thought I'd muscle in on Mungo's turf and post about a guaranteed income for all Americans.

In principle, I'm in favor. Shall we say $12,000 / year  for every American 18 and over?

But as always, the devil is in the details.

(1) Is this going to add to our current mish-mash of "safety net" programs or replace it?

Obviously, I'd like to see it replace the current set of arrangements. I would think many libertarians would love this. Reduce paternalism, shrink the size of the state, what's not to like? If we used it to replace the current system, it wouldn't even be all that expensive. If we also phased out social security, we could up the annual guaranteed number to maybe $16,000 or so?

(2) Can a guaranteed income be compatible with significantly increased immigration?

In other words, if we allow more immigration must we restrict the guaranteed income program only to citizens for fear that masses of people would show up just to collect the 12 large and sit on their butts?

But I think there is a fundamental unfairness of collecting taxes from people to pay for a "universal" program that excludes them.

And, even if we did limit it to citizens, would we still fear that masses of people would show up, wait to become citizens, and then collect the 12 dimes and sit on their butts?

We could only allow increased immigration for higher skilled immigrants for whom $12,000 would not be a magnet, but that really reduces the incredible poverty-fighting power of allowing increased numbers of low-skilled immigrants.

If a guaranteed income program was an addition to existing safety net programs and required choking off immigration, I am not sure it would be worthwhile, no matter how attractive it is to me in the abstract.

Urban skiing...And Crow tubing.

All that space in Detroit is useful for urban ski bums.

Of course, in Russia, the crows do the same thing. What about scarecrows, you ask?
 A Russian reversal:  In Soviet Russia, crow scares YOU!

Nod to MK

Thursday, December 12, 2013

You can't make Chicken Salad out of Chicken Shit

The hopeless pile of hypocrisy that is the Republican party is spinning up a storm on the latest budget deal. Here's one such attempt at alchemy from the National Review.

It's full of LOLZ, but here's the craziest part of all:

"70 percent of the sequester remains in place in those two years, and after those two years the entire sequester remains in place."

This of course is 100% stupid.

They are modifying the sequester right now after it being in place ONE YEAR and this guy is assuring us that it won't get touched again in all the many budget deals that will have to be struck over the next 8 years.

Either he's a dope or he thinks all his readers are dopes.

People, the current deal isn't for 10 years. Once you establish a precedent of going back and undoing the sequester, it will just become easier and easier and easier to undo more and more and more of it.

I would love to wager the author, Yuval Levin, $1000 on whether or not this deal will be the only legislated change to the original sequester over the next 8 years, but I think he is actually smart enough to know that he's full of it.

Hat tip to LeBron.

Taking On the Ivy League

It is possible to do better on education.  Even in higher ed, where the U.S. is pretty good, it is possible to do MUCH better.  An interesting video with some ideas on how.

Also...the Minerva Project

Nod to the Ward Boss.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

BSS: Pretty Interesting Talk

Is the USA the "Microsoft of Nations"?  He is leaning toward "yes."  He does not mean it as a compliment.   (I took a shot at this kind of thing, a while ago.  But BSS is great, here).

Like An Alien Invasion

This looks like an alien invasion, of loose white spaceships.

Nod to Susan L.

Grace Hopper Explains All

Grace Hopper explains the nanosecond.  She was a rear admiral, a tough old broad.

ACA Penalty is Really a form of "Minimum Wage"? Grand Game

I'm not sure this fellow could be more confused.  For one thing, he parrots the bizarre canard that the minimum wage has fallen, withered, etc.  But that's only because he selects a purely strategic point of comparison.  He says:

The minimum wage has been allowed to erode substantially. I earned $1.25 an hour while in high school in the mid-1960s; if that amount had grown at the same rate as per capita personal income, high school kids and others would now be earning $20 instead of $7.25.

Now, check this out:

In 2005$, the minimum wage is up more than 50% since 1947 (it has doubled since it was established).  Now, that's fine, because productivity is up.  But it's just nonsense to claim that overall the minimum wage has "eroded," just because you want to pick the highest historical point as a comparison.  The minimum wage is MUCH higher than it was, in real terms, over the post-WWII era.

More importantly, he actually claims that the ACA penalty on employers who do not pay for insurance is a "minimum wage."  Seriously?  That would only be true if you think that the worker should not receive the pay, and it should go to the state instead.  Oh....wait...I guess he does believe that.  What matters is that those evil corporations have to PAY more.  He doesn't actually care if the workers RECEIVE the money.  Calling that a "minimum wage" seems...confused.

Nod to Kevin Lewis.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Interesting, and Revealing

So, this is an interesting case.  In Wisconsin.  In Madison, WI, in fact.

An excerpt:

Snugglers contend touching helps relieve stress. But Madison officials suspect the business is a front for prostitution and, if it's not, fear snuggling could lead to sexual assault. Not buying the message that the business is all warm and fuzzy, police have talked openly about conducting a sting operation at the business, and city attorneys are drafting a new ordinance to regulate snuggling.

"There's no way that (sexual assault) will not happen," assistant city attorney Jennifer Zilavy said. "No offense to men, but I don't know any man who wants to just snuggle." 

The asst. D.A. doesn't say that there are no men who like to snuggle, she just says she hasn't met any.  Gosh, Jenn.  How's that dating going for you?  Not so well?

UPDATE:  Snuggle house is closed by prudery.

UPDATE II:  Japan is much less uptight about this.

Monday, December 09, 2013

People Want Compromise, But Not on Actual Issues

As always, what people mean by "compromise" is "do what I want."

Because, after all, each of us thinks s/he is reasonable, and is the "center" of the universe, and hence of the electorate.

"is" not "was"

The generally reliable LeBron messes up this morning by proclaiming that "The Sequester Was A Really Good Idea"

But the truth is that the Sequester still IS a really good idea.

People, I love the sequester. We are actually getting a slowdown in the rate of military spending (and perhaps an actual cut this coming year). We are actually getting a slowdown in the growth of overall Federal Spending. The deficit is coming down, and the economy is finally showing some signs of life.

Alas, it appears that it lasted exactly one year. Yikes. Even Gram-Rudman lasted longer than that!

Next year, according to the budget control act, discretionary spending was supposed to be $967 billion. But now Paul Ryan appears to be signing off on $1.05 trillion. After all, what's $38 billion among friends? They may even put 2015 up to $1.05 trillion as well which would be another $19 billion or so.

Remember that while in some years some numbers did go down temporarily, overall spending rose a fair amount under the terms of the Budget Control Act (sequester). But we could only take one year out of the 10 before the charade of discipline disintegrated.

At least maybe this will shut the yaps of all the "stimulus now, discipline later" advocates. It is nigh unto impossible for any kind of long term budget discipline to last.

Heck, this is not even a future congress undoing the actions of a previous congress. It's the same stupid bunch of hacks that enacted the thing!

So please pay no attention to the "offsetting cuts down the road", that's just smoke for the marks. Spending discipline is again over, the Republicans stand for absolutely nothing, and even Tyler has gone over to the dark side.

Monday's Child

1.  This is so cool.  It may be real, or it may not actually work.  But it is SO COOL.

2.  The biggest advantage on-line shopping has is the absence of parking and then waiting in line to buy stuff.  That's a pretty big advantage.  Blaming it on taxes is a little silly.

3.  Once the stuff is there, the Pope wants to pretend it got there by magic.  You can't redistribute a surplus that doesn't exist, there, Papa.  Why not praise the surplus and now advocate good Christian charity, instead?

4.  Delta is ready when THEY are.  You, not so much.  (In case you forgot the old jingle)

5.  Millenial narcissism.  Not universal, but it happens a lot. STFU and get a job, folks.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

These Kids Are Pretty Cool

I have 124 students in my "Economics for Non-Majors" class.  (Syllabus, if you are interested).

15 of them are athletes, including three from the most excellent woman's soccer team, which made the NCAA tournament and went pretty deep, which is pretty cool.  Lots of the others have done some amazing things.

But I thought I'd share this performance by one of the students in the class, Antje Lang, a sophomore.  This was at the Duke Coffee House this fall.  It's an informal setting, and the recording is just ambient, not remixed or fixed in any way.  It is, nonetheless, quite lovely.  (Here is a different set, with some of her own songs, btw).