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    Libertarians Are Losing

    How do I know libertarians are losing?  Because our local paper can write and ensuing city citations for weeds without once even questioning whether the government needs to be enforcing landscape aesthetics.  Here is one local house that is endangering the Republic enough to require government intervention:
    k彩平台登陆Grweeds03

    Is the Global Warming Hysteria Killing Environmentalism?

    Of late, I have been getting the strongest sense that the global warming hysteria is sucking all the oxygen out of the rest of the environmental movement.  Quick, what is the last environment-related article you read that didn't mention global warming?

    Here is an example:  I give a lot of my charity money to groups like The Nature Conservancy, because I personally value preservation of unique areas and habitats and I don't sit around waiting for the government to do it for me.  But it has become almost impossible of late to drum up enthusiasm from contributors for such causes, unless the land can be labeled a carbon-sink or something.  In fact, the global warming hysteria has really been a disaster for private land conservation because it has caused politicians to subsidize ethanol.  This subsidy is bringing much more wild land into cultivation in this country and has been the single biggest driver for deforestation in the Amazon over the last decade. 

    Or take Chinak彩平台登陆.  Chinak彩平台登陆's cities are an unhealthy mess.  But focus on global warming has led environmentalists to take the position with Chinak彩平台登陆 they have to stop coal combustion and growth in auto-miles entirely.  This is a non-starter.  There is no WAY they are going to do this.  But it is much more achievable to start getting Chinak彩平台登陆 focused on a Clean-Air-Act type of attack on vehicle and coal plant emissions of real pollutants like SO2.   Chinak彩平台登陆 could be made much more healthy, as the US has done over the last 30-60 years, but instead of working with Chinak彩平台登陆 to get healthier, the focus is on getting them to shut down their growth altogether.

    :

    1. drinking water
    2. pollution of rivers, lakes, and ecosystems
    3. smog
    4. forest preservation
    5. acid rain
    6. tropical rain forests
    7. national parks
    8. greenhouse emissions
    9. ozone layer
    10. nature around "my" k彩平台登陆
    11. urban sprawl
    12. extinction.

    I feel like #1 is overblown based on a lot of media scare stories, but most of the top 6 or 7 would all be things I would rank well above global warming fears as well.  There are still real issues to be dealt with in these areas which can have far more of a positive impact on health and quality of living than CO2 abatement, but they are being suffocated by global warming hype.

    Update on the "Right Not To Be Offended"

    Every decade or so, enemies of free speech adopt a new strategy for trying to curtail the First Amendment.  The current effort consists of attempting to define a "right not to be offended", and college campuses are a leading laboratory for this approach (see here and here).

    Chris Robinson was recently brought up on trial at the University court for violating this right not to be offended of some of the women at Colorado College (you may notice that this "right not to be offended" seems to be enforced suspiciously asymmetrically, like all speech restrictions).  He has fired back with a marvelous editorial, of which I include :

    Hyper-sensitivity in service to a purported greater good became the
    justification for an authoritarian lock-down on speech. It's the same
    logic every time: the state comes down hard on behalf of "community."
    Changing the rhetorical justification only masks the tyranny. The
    effect of this on citizens, in the words of John Adams, is "reducing
    their minds to a state of sordid ignorance and staring timidity."...

    The simple fact that we were brought before a Soviet-style show
    trial has already sent a message to campus, and it is a clear one,
    namely that every other potential bearer of heterodox views
    should think long and hard about expressing them for fear of ending up
    in the same situation as us. In order to avoid even the possibility of offending one group or another, nobody outside the "approved" ideological categories will say anything.

    This
    is precisely the chilling effect that the First Amendment is
    specifically designed to guard against, and to sanction it is a
    fundamental violation of the mission of this college. Transparently
    selective enforcement against ideologically disallowed speech is
    categorically the same as those abhorrent thought-control missions
    carried out by the Saudi Ministry of the Propagation of Virtue and the
    Prevention of Vice, a perfect example of what John Adams called "the
    most mischievous of all doctrines, that of passive obedience and
    non-resistance." It's Orwell and Kafka, together at last.

    Bonus judos to Mr. Robinson for recognizing that as a private institution, Colorado College can legally implement whatever speech restrictions it likes, and so frames the question as an issue of "should it" rather than "can it?"

    Frightening Incompetence

    Every food service operation has some problems matching supply with demand, but strikes me as (via a reader):

    Hospitals are throwing away as much as half of their food, NHS figures show.

    Close
    to 13 million meals were thrown away last year, with 33 hospitals
    dumping more than a quarter of their food, including two that discarded
    more than was eaten.

    Meanwhile, almost 140,000 patients left hospital malnourished, double the figure a decade ago.

    Last year, Ivan Lewis, the health minister, admitted that many elderly
    people were in effect being starved in hospitals. He said that some
    were given a single scoop of mashed potato as a meal, while others were
    "tortured" with trays of food placed beyond their reach and no help
    with eating.

    Maybe the last bit shows that the Brits are enshrining the same "duty to die" that is being discussed in Canada.

    Long Overdue: Some Style In Manufactured k彩平台登陆s

    Now, I will confess to be a lover of quite modern k彩平台登陆 designs, but with that in mind, I really think that is a breath of fresh air in manufactured k彩平台登陆s.  A lot of people are buying these as vacation k彩平台登陆s or cottages for land they have bought, either permanently or as a temporary solution until they build their dream vacation k彩平台登陆  (Don't click the "decor" button though - it seems that furniture design for manufactured k彩平台登陆s is still stuck in the 50's).

    Can't Anyone Solve Problems Without the Government?

    Here is today's lament in the :

    Government plans to more than double the size of Petrified Forest
    National Park appear to be in jeopardy because Congress has failed to
    come up with the cash to buy surrounding properties.

    The upshot: An irreplaceable treasure of dinosaur bones and Indian
    ruins may be lost as ranchers sell off their properties for subdivision
    and development.

    And Petrified Forest is not alone. A study to be released April 8 by
    the non-profit National Parks Conservation Association, says 56 federal
    historic and recreation sites "could lose
    land inside their borders to developers this year." Others on the list
    range from Gettysburg National Military Park near Philadelphia to
    Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco.

    Here is an idea:  All you folks who are worried about these "treasures" can pool your money and buy the properties yourselves.  That way you can either take charge of the preservations or donate the land to the government to do so.  This is how many public parks came into being in the first place, from private donations.

    Of course, this was back in the days when environmental groups actually spent their money on the environment.  to Al Gore to create an advertising campaign dedicated to trying to spur government action on CO2.  Rather than donating money to help solve the problem, people now donate money to push for government coercion.

    Besides representing the modern approach to environmentalism  (ie don't work the problem, just lobby the government to force other people to work the problem), Gore's campaign also represents a new frontier in rent-seeking.  He has managed to get people to donate $300 million dollars to advocate government action that will likely have very little actual impact on the climate, but may have a huge impact on .  Congrats, Al.  Even the kings of rent-seeking at ADM would not have had the cojones to ask folks to donate to a charitable advertising fund to support their subsidy requests.

     

    Day Late, Billions of Dollars Short

    The NY Times has finally published a comprehensive take-down on the insanity of biofuel subsidies .  All well and good, but this is at least five years too late.  For years, while this and other blogs have tried to point out that the biofuel emporer's has no clothes, the NY Times has been publishing breathless articles in support of biofuel subsidies and mandates, in fact criticizing the Bush administration and Congress for not moving faster on them. 

    So is this what we must expect from the NY Times and the rest of the media?  Shameless pandering to politically correct policy goals that make no scientific sense until it is virtually too late to halt their momentum?  If so, everyone should read the Times' coverage on climate with a jaded eye, because it would not surprise me in the least to see the Times publish the definitive article on why the global warming alarmists are full of hot air only after Congress has gutted our economy with new climate taxes and mandates. 

    The Statist Trap

    for what it reveals:

    And to some degree, doctors are the property of the state. It
    is impossible to have medical education without significant state
    subsidization, and although I don't know the specifics of every single
    country in Africa, that's a safe generalization to make.

    For instance, here in the US, your medical education is
    heavily subsidized by the state. Probably on the order of 100k/student.
    Resident training programs also receive about 100k/resident from
    government entitlement programs.

    I haven't a clue whether or not there is a net subsidy of medical education in this country, but assume it to be true.  This is the statist trap in a nutshell.  Statists insist that the government should subsidize (or, in more extreme cases, entirely fund) public education.  But once you have attended these government schools, which one virtually has to do because of the steps the government takes to maintain its education monopoly, you then become the property of the state because the statists claim "well, you took our money for your education..."

    How I Stopped Demagoguing and Learned To Love The Oil Companies

    I am on the road this week, and still do not have time to write the post I want to write about Obama demagoguing against oil companies.  Fortunately, I do not have to, because.

    Here is the short answer:  companies like ExxonMobil, even in the best of times (or most rapacious, as your perspective might be), makes 9-10% pre-tax profit on sales.  They make something like 5-6% when things are not so good.  This means that if gas prices are $3, when you take out the 45 cents or so of tax, Exxon is making between 13 and 25 cents a gallon profit.  Call it 20 cents on average.  So, wiping out profits completely with various ill-advised taxes or regulations would achieve the substantial goal of ... cutting about twenty cents off the price of gas, or about $2.50 off the price of a fill-up.  Of course, that is at the cost of eliminating all investment incentives in the world's most capital intensive resource extraction business.  Which in turn will mean that that price cut will last for about 2 years, and then be swamped by price increases from disappearing gas supplies  (exactly what happened in the late 1970s). 

    Part of the problem is that most people do not understand the supply chain in crude oil.  It would seem logical that if the price of oil rises form $30 to $100, then all that $70 price increase is pure profit to Exxon.  That would have been true in 1905, but is not true today.  Exxon, even when it does the exploration and drilling, gets its oil via complicated agreements with state-owned corporations which in the main are structured so that the country in question, and not Exxon, gets windfall.  This means that if Obama wants to tax windfall profits, he needs to seek out Venezuela and Chinak彩平台登陆 and Saudi Arabia.

    The article covers all this and more.

    News Stories You Really Don't Want to See

    I know there are people who take the position that all PR is good PR, but really, do you really want newspapers running a photo spread entitled ""?

    No Bias Here

    Via comes this interview with climate :

    Greenbang: What do you think is wrong with the debate on climate change?

    Dr Kate: It hasn't really got to grips with the fundamental problem,
    which is that Western, industrialised lifestyles are literally
    unsustainable. Climate change is just one symptom of this. WWF famously
    calculated that if everyone on earth were to enjoy the lifestyle of an
    average Western European, we would need three planet earths.

    Not even the most optimistic believers in technology think that we
    can technofix this problem so that 6 billion people (let alone the
    projected 9 billion) can enjoy a western lifestyle without ecological
    meltdown. It follows that we urgently need to rethink what we currently
    mean by a "˜high standard of living' and move away from materialistic
    versions of this to an understanding of quality of life that could be
    enjoyed by everyone, without causing environmental mayhem. This is
    about values, not just about technology.

    To a large extent, understanding the passion of climate alarmists is a chicken and egg problem.  Normally, scientists identify a problem and then we seek to solve it.  But, as you can see with this woman, climate science works in reverse.  The debate began with people who believed that technology and economic growth needed to be diminished, and then found global warming as a conveniently manufactured "problem" that pointed to their already preferred solution. 

    This, by the way, is her complete answer to the question about what is wrong with climate debate.  You can see her answer to this climate science question has nothing to do with climate, but everything to do with her pro-poverty position.  She actually states her position as anti-western-standard-of-living, because that plays better with the soccer moms, but this is exactly the same as pro-poverty.  And get a load of this great scientist quoting WWF advocacy press releases as if they were peer-reviewed science.

    By the way, I personally believe that the world could easily sustain 6 billion people in a western standard of living, and love humanity enough to root for this to occur, so here statement is untrue  (by the way, why are people who advocate for universal poverty like this person considered "sensitive" while folks like me who would love to see all the world wealthy considered evil and cold-hearted?)  I don't know exactly how this will happen, but if I stood in the year 1908 I would not know how (or probably believe) even a single person could  enjoy what we call a western standard of living today, but billions do.  The human mind is a wonderful thing, and can achieve a lot, at least when scientists pursue new possibilities rather than simply shrieking that we need to turn the clock back.

    Update:  Here is one faulty assumption she is making:

    Current levels of consumption in industrialised societies are too high
    - as the three planet earth analysis clearly shows. This presents a
    major problem for current economic thinking, which is premised on
    growth, and which requires us all to keep consuming more, not less.
    Clearly we can't grow infinitely, and consume infinitely, on a finite
    planet.

    Her assumption is that the Earth is somehow at capacity.  How do we know that?  If a scientist bases all of her beliefs on an assumption like this that has never been proven and the scientist is perfectly comfortable taking on faith, can we really call her a scientist?  Or do we call her a religionist? 

    AMEN

    .

    Cheap Cables? Well Mostly

    advocates always buying the cheap k彩平台登陆 theater cables.  I agree up to a point.  I have never been able to hear the difference in really, really expensive cables, say for 3 foot interconnects.

    But there is an exception to this, and it is interesting actually uses this example -- long runs of video cable, particularly HDMI.  If your TV sits on top of your video source, and the video run is 6 feet or less, then the average person with the average equipment will not notice the difference in video cables.  But should your cable run extend to, say, 25 feet or more, then you are going to have problems.  Video is both very high bandwidth and very susceptible to noise.  HDMI and other digital cables are no exception  -- the only thing that changes are the symptoms. 

    In an analog cable, you will start getting a lot of video noise with longer cable runs.  Computer VGA cables were notorious for this -- if you went more than 6 feet, your picture could be a real mess.  SVGA S-video also had such problems.  Now, with digital cable, the picture does not gain noise but at some point the signal is lost altogether and the picture drops out completely -- think of a youtube video streaming over a bad wireless connection.   I will about gaurantee this will happen with 25 feet of JC Penny HDMI cable.

    Another Government Program that Misses the Point

    Apparently, the state of Arizona, fearing the coming old-folks demographic boom, is (and by extension off the government teat longer).

    The thought of millions of boomers taking their early-retirement
    benefits is causing concern about the stability of Social Security and
    Medicare.

    "We know not everybody is going to up and retire all at once," Starns
    said, "and we will have younger workers coming in. But if you look at
    all the demographics, there just won't be enough people to fill all the
    jobs that could be vacant."

    Add that possibility to existing shortages of workers in health-care
    and other fields, she said, and "there could be some pretty significant
    problems in society."

    Arizona, which launched its Mature Workforce Initiative in 2005 to
    avert such a crisis, was one of five states lauded last month for
    efforts to engage people 50 and older in meaningful jobs and community
    service.

    The San Francisco-based Civic Ventures think tank also cited
    California, Maryland, New York and Massachusetts, saying the five
    states recognize older workers as "an experience dividend," rather than
    a drain on resources.

    Of course, since it is government, the state of Arizona is, with one hand, patting itself on the back for instituting vague and meaningless but well publicized programs nominally targeted at this issue, while with the other taking steps that have real and substantial effects in exactly the opposite direction.

    First, Arizona has some of the toughest laws in the country to penalize businesses for hiring, even accidentally, young vigorous immigrants who don't have all their government licenses in order.   Young workers are pouring into this state every day, but Arizona is turning them away and locking them up. 

    Second, Arizona has been legislating as fast as it can to make it nearly impossible to hire older workers.  I know, because the vast majority of my work force managing campgrounds is over 65.  These workers tend to work for a free camp site plus minimum wage.  They like the job despite the low pay because they get a place to park their RV and because the job is part time and very flexible in how they work (not to mention offers the opportunity to take whole chunks of the year off).  I like these workers because they are experienced and reliable and paying them minimum wage helps offset their slowing productivity and higher workers comp costs as they age. 

    Here is the math:  Older workers might work 30-50% slower than a younger worker (I have workers right now in their nineties!)  They also have higher workers comp costs, maybe equating to as much as 10% of wages.  This means that an older worker at the old minimum wage of $5.15 an hour might be financially equivalent to a younger worker making $9.50 an hour, which is about what we might have to pay for such a worker. 

    However, many states have implemented higher minimum wages with annual cost of living escalators.  States like Oregon and Washington now have minimum wages over $9.00.  At $9.00 an hour, an older worker is now financially equivalent to a younger worker making $16.50 an hour, well above what I can hire such a person for.  This means that as minimum wages rise, I have to consider substituting  younger workers for older but slower workers.

    Last year, Arizona adopted just such a minimum wage system with annual escalators.  Though we have not reached the point yet, the state soon may make it impossible economically to hire older workers.  Already, we are looking at some automation projects to reduce headcount in certain places.  This is sad to me, but in a business where a 12% rise in wages wipes out my entire profit, I have to think about these steps.  I have to react to the fact that, no matter how many "policy advisers on aging" the state hires, in reality it is increasing the price to my company of older people's labor vis a vis younger workers.

    Unfortunately, the EU Is What Many US Politicians Long to Emulate

    :

    An award-winning winemaker whose wares are sold at the royal palaces is
    facing a £30,000 bill after European bureaucrats ruled that he was
    using the wrong-shaped bottles. Jerry Schooler, who sells 400,000
    bottles of fruit wines and mead a year, has been threatened with
    prosecution over his determination to use traditional measurements. The
    proprietor of the Lurgashall Winery in West Sussex, has been told to
    halt the sale of beverages such as mead, silver birch wine and bramble
    liqueur in 75cl and 37.5cl bottles. If he continues to sell them, he
    could be taken to court under a new EU directive that permits the sale
    of such products in 70cl, 50cl or 35cl measures only. "¦Mr Schooler now
    faces costs of about £30,000 to change his production line. "We are
    going to have to change all our bottling, the labels, machinery, boxes
    and maybe the corks as well and it is going to cost me thousands to do
    it," he said. "¦West Sussex County Council's trading standards
    department said that the winery was bound by EU Directive 2007/45/EC,
    which was drawn up in September to "lay down rules on nominal
    quantities for prepacked products". It said the directive meant that
    the use of 37.5cl bottles for liqueurs was illegal.

    Don't miss his other story of passengers having to hop off buses every 30 miles to satisfy EU regulations.  The latter regulation is actually one that is remarkably similar to railroad regulation in the US, where a crew day was defined as something like 100 miles.  Modern freight railroads were having to change crews every two hours - I don't know if that one is still on the books.

    Bracketology Update

    Not many people predicted to 12-13 matchups in the second round, but if they had, they would have runup some nice points given our upset-bonus in the scoring system.  Here are the standings to date, which I reproduce only because, well, I am in them:

    Bracket Rank Points Correct Games Upset Risk % Possible Games
    1
    74
    37
    16.7
    52
    2
    71
    34
    23.4
    44
    3
    70
    36
    16.7
    48
    4
    70
    33
    21.4
    46
    5
    69
    36
    10.8
    47
    6
    69
    32
    35.3
    43
    7
    69
    31
    29.2
    40
    8
    69
    30
    32.0
    43
    9
    67
    35
    25.0
    44
    10
    67
    35
    10.3
    47
    11
    66
    31
    26.3
    42
    12
    65
    34
    14.3
    47

    The good news is that both my brackets are in the top 12.  The bad news is that I do a good job every year of picking early upsets and racking up early round points, and then I fall by the wayside in later rounds.  We will see if I can hang in there.  By the way, my loud-mouthed, smack-dealing son is in 76th place.  The leader has 14 of his sweet-16 still intact, while my brackets have 11 and 9 respectively, which are pretty good leading indicators for future problems for yours truly.

    One of the reason I like pickhoops.com is that they have some cool analysis tools.  Here is my favorite, analyzing who has the best chances to win:

    15 games remaining Must wins for best finish

    (score)

    (125 total)

    (chance)

    (chance)
    Super Sixteen Exciting Eight Final Few Champion
    1 (74)
    1 (29.6%)
    47 (<1%)
     
     
    2 (71)
    1 (7.1%)
    90 (<1%)
       Wiscon   
     
    3 (70)
    1 (4%)
    85 (<1%)
        Memphs   
     
    4 (70)
    1 (7.2%)
    83 (<1%)
           Xavier
     
    5 (69)
    1 (<1%)
    67 (<1%)
     
     
    6 (69)
    1 (4.3%)
    100 (<1%)
     
     
    7 (69)
    1 (<1%)
    95 (<1%)
        Memphs   Xavier
      Memphs
    8 (69)
    1 (19.5%)
    92 (<1%)
     
     
    9 (67)
    1 (<1%)
    95 (<1%)
        Memphs   Xavier
      Memphs
    10 (67)
    1 (1.5%)
    68 (<1%)
     
     
    11 (66)
    1 (3.1%)
    101 (<1%)
     
     
    12 (65)
    1 (2.9%)
    89 (<1%)
     
     
    13 (64)
    1 (<1%)
    64 (<1%)
    UNC      
    UNC   
    UNC
    14 (63)
    1 (<1%)
    66 (<1%)
     
     
    15 (63)
    1 (<1%)
    62 (<1%)
      Kansas  Memphs   
    Kansas 
    16 (62)
    1 (<1%)
    74 (<1%)
        Memphs   
      Memphs
    17 (62)
    1 (1.6%)
    85 (<1%)
     
     
    18 (62)
    1 (1.6%)
    104 (<1%)
    Tenn      
    Tenn   
    19 (61)
    1 (<1%)
    93 (<1%)
       Davdsn  Stanfd UCLA Xavier
       UCLA
    UCLA
    UCLA
    20 (60)
    1 (1.2%)
    112 (<1%)
         Texas 
      Texas
    Texas
    Texas

    See the whole analysis  

    Flaws with the Constitution

    :

    Three day laborers filed a lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to overturn a
    suburb's law prohibiting people standing on public streets from
    soliciting employment from occupants of cars.

    The federal lawsuit alleges Cave Creek's law passed is unconstitutional
    because it restricts the free speech rights of people trying to find
    work as day laborers.

    "Cave Creek does not have the right to pick and choose who has free
    speech rights," said Monica Ramirez, an attorney for the American Civil
    Liberties Union, one of the group's representing the day laborers. "The
    town cannot bar people from peaceably standing in public areas and
    expressing their availability to work."

    The stated reason for the law is this, but don't believe it:

    Mayor Vincent Francia said the law was a response to concerns raised by
    residents over traffic being impeded by people congregating on street
    corners.

    If you followed the genesis of this law, it has less than zero to do with traffic.  It was crafted as a way to prevent people of Mexican birth, with or without the proper papers from the US government, from seeking work in Cave Creek.  Which explains why sheriff Joe Arpaio is so eager to help enforce the law, and why, by some statistical fluke, everyone arrested under the law seems to be of Mexican Latin descent  (the three laborers filing the suit are Mexican and Guatemalan and are in this country legally).

    I am happy to see this suit get filed under whatever auspices that it can, and have in the past supported using the first amendment to protect free commerce.  Further, I am thrilled to see the ACLU, given its Stalinist origins, for once actively support the right to publicly advertise and conduct commerce.  However, it is sad to me that Thomas Jefferson and company did not think it necesary to enshrine the right to free commerce as an protected right up there with speech and association.

    One might argue that the enumerated power concept and the 9th amendment should be protection enough, but obviously Jefferson did not think so or he would not have pushed for the Bill of Rights.   And saying the following may just prove that I am not a Constitutional expert, but it strikes me that another problem with the original Constitution that probably wasn't fixable at the time was the fact that the Bill of Rights did not originally restrain the states, only the Federal government.  Only with the beat-down of states rights concepts in the Civil War and the passage and later interpretation of the 14th amendment did the Supreme Court begin to apply the Bill of Rights to states and municipalities as well.  It is good that they have done so, but these protections enforced on states only tend to be the enumerated protections of the Bill of Rights.  In fact, in this context, the 9th is meaningless because it reserves unenumerated powers to the people or the states, so it contributes nothing to reigning in municipalities, only the Feds. 

    All that being said, it should would have been nice to have three extra words such as "or conduct commerce" inserted after assembly:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of
    religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the
    freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people
    peaceably to assemble [or conduct commerce], and to petition the Government for a redress of
    grievances.

     

    Our Technology Is Not Economic -- Do We Invest in R&D, or Lobbying?

      Silly rabbit. 

    The wind industry's trade group spent nearly $816,000 to lobby last
    year as wind companies tried to persuade Congress to extend a key tax
    credit and make power companies use more renewable sources.   

    Despite the efforts of the American Wind Energy Association, neither desire found its way into legislation this past year.   

    The
    group, whose members include General Electric Co., BP PLC, AES Corp.
    and FPL Group Inc., is still pushing for the tax-credit extension after
    lawmakers failed to tuck into the economic stimulus plan. The industry
    argues that 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in investments are at risk if
    the 1.9 cents per kilowatt-hour tax credit doesn't get a second wind.
    It expires in 2008.

    Here is the really, seriously amazing part:  In 2004, there were just over in the US power generation, transmission, and distribution business.  This means that, incredibly, this advocacy group is claiming nearly 30% of the electric utility industry owes their job to wind power, despite wind generating a bit less than 1% of all the power in the US.  If this is true, then here is a solution - forget the 1.9 cent subsidy, and cut some staff. 

    Oh, you mean that job number probably isn't real, kind of like those municipal stadium and sports team subsidy studies.  Really?  Boy are you cynical.   

    (HT )

    Maybe Its Not So Lucky

    I don't mean to draw too much from a cutsie human interest story, but the Freakonomics Blog links an article in the about a guy who claims to have found 160,000 four-leafed clovers.  My only real take was that maybe they really aren't very lucky, since the previous record-holder recently died in prison.

    Just What We Need

    It has already been reprinted around most of the freedom-loving portions of the blogosphere, but in case you have missed this quote from :

    We need a president who is ready on Day 1 to be commander in chief of our economy.

    Also revealed by Hillary:  John Galt has been captured and has been offered Wesley Mouch's job.

    The Division of Labor

    The joy of free exchange, and the law of comparative advantage, are explained quite well by .

    Many seem to think of economics and capitalism as sterile or even ugly.  This article helps get at the real beauty of free exchange and capitalism, which I would boil down to the following:

    1. Every exchange between free and uncoerced people increases the well-being of both parties (by each individual's definition of their own well-being).  It has to or there would be no transaction. 
    2. Point #1 can and does occur even when one party to the transaction has no absolute advantage in any type of labor or production over the other party

    Arizona Politicians Pursue Protectionism -- Against New Mexico

    Taking the economically illiterate but apparently politically powerful notion that it is important that commerce across arbitrarily selected geographic boundaries be minimized, some Arizona politicians are taking the argument to the next, ridiculous level:  Not content to blame perceived problems in the state economy (which has outperformed most other states) on NAFTA, Mexico, or Mexican immigrants, .

    An Arizona energy regulator is frustrated that Arizona Public Service
    Co. is passing up in-state wind-energy for power from New Mexico and
    Utah....

    The state's largest utility buys 90 megawatts of energy from the
    Aragonne Mesa Wind Project near Santa Rosa, N.M., and officials have
    informed Corporation Commissioner Kris Mayes of plans to buy more
    renewable energy from out of state, including from a Utah
    geothermal-power plant.

    "I am concerned that such out-of-state purchases hinder the development
    of renewable energy here in Arizona, and potentially deprive our state
    of much needed economic development," Mayes said in a letter to APS,
    echoing concerns she raised at a regulatory meeting last week.

    Of course, everyone knows that silly government energy mandates have much more growth potential than, say, low electrical rates.  So obviously the power company is just being treasonous in buying power from the cheapest sources:

    When APS [one of our electric utilities] chose to buy power from the Aragonne project in New Mexico, it
    rejected a similar proposal from a company that wanted to build a wind
    farm in northern Arizona, which wasn't built because of the decision
    from APS, Mayes said.

    Brandt said the New Mexico project was better for customers.

    "We put all these projects out with a competitive bid," Brandt said.
    "Then we select the resource that comes out the best. It's not always
    the cheapest. It's a combination of price, reliability and do-ability,
    all the things a common businessperson would look at."

    He said APS would rather support Arizona power projects, but so far those that have bid on power have not been competitive.

    Of course, all of this, even taking the cheapest source, is more expensive than electricity would be without these mandates:

    When the Corporation Commission approved the renewable-energy standard
    in 2006, officials estimated it would raise an existing monthly tariff
    on customer bills from less than 50 cents to $1.05 to help APS meet the
    goal, but those projections have gone up. Regulators are expected to
    set a new limit on the tariff in the next month, according to Mayes and
    APS officials, with some proposals nearing $2.

    The protectionist argument is summed up:

    "This is Arizona ratepayer money that is currently going to other
    states that ought to stay in Arizona," she said. "We are in an economic
    downturn. It's a terrible time to be out of state."

    Yes, yet another blow is struck against economic literacy and the concept of division of labor.  Just how arbitrarily small does a geographic area have to be before protectionists will accept that this area does not need to be self-sufficient of all products and services?

     

    I Told You Arizona Was Conflicted

    :

    The state Senate voted 17-11, with two senators not voting, to allow a
    rock-and-roll theme park proposed between Phoenix and Tucson to issue
    $750 million in revenue bonds to help build the project....

    Revenue bonds are repaid with income from the funded projects. The park would tax visitors to repay the bonds.

    To issue the bonds, the developers must come up with $100 million of their own financing.

    Oh my god, three quarters of a billion dollars of public financing for a theme park?  And we give the theme park operator taxation authority?  And the developer has to come up with less than 1/8 the total cost from private sources?  Yuk.  Just for scale  (I know the spending sources are apples and oranges), $750 million is more than 2.5 times the total of the federal earmarks that go to Alaska, the #1 porkbarrel state.  So here we are patting ourselves on the back for being Congressional pork-free, and then our state Senate does something like this.  Sigh.

    Trying to Market Poverty

    :

    Best-selling author Bill McKibben, who wrote one of the first books on
    global warming, will be the featured speaker at a roundtable discussion
    on sustainability Tuesday afternoon at the Burton Barr Central Library...

    In his latest book, McKibben argues that accelerated cycles of economic
    expansion have brought the world to the brink of environmental
    disaster.

    Instead, he suggests that we should be creating smaller, more sustainable local economies. 

    I have never fully understood the word "sustainability," but in this context, doesn't it mean "poorer"?  It strikes me that McKibben is trying to sell poverty, or at least advocating that everyone voluntarily become poorer.  He is successful with middle-class soccer moms at the library only to the extent that he hides this fact and calls poverty something else  -- in this case "smaller, more sustainable local economies."

    By the way, does jetting from city to city across the country to sell his book make him a sustainability expert?  If he believes what he says, why doesn't he just sell his book within a 50-mile radius of his k彩平台登陆?

    Sustainability is always for thee and not for me.

    This Is What You Like To See: AZ Last in Pork-Barrel Cash

    Arizona can be a weird place, politically.  Sometimes it can be among the most libertarian, part of the Goldwater legacy, and sometimes it can be absurdly statist, for example in the huge popular support our individual-rights-abusing Sheriff Arpaio enjoys.  :

    Arizona has some powerful lawmakers in Washington, including Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

    But when it comes to pork-barrel spending, otherwise known as earmarks, the state isn't very powerful. In fact, it ranks last.

    That's mostly because three of the state's 10 lawmakers in Washington,
    McCain and House Republicans Jeff Flake and John Shadegg, refuse to ask
    for any federal
    for local projects. Another Arizona Republican, Sen. Jon Kyl, strictly
    limits his earmark requests. They all say the earmark process wastes
    taxpayer money and desperately needs reform. But other Arizona
    lawmakers counter that their colleagues' stance hurts the state.

    rizona, one of the fastest growing states in the nation, will receive
    $18.70 per capita in federal earmarks this fiscal year. By comparison,
    Alaska, with roughly a 10th of Arizona's population, is set to receive
    $506.34 per capita, the highest in the nation, according to for Common Sense, a watchdog group that tracks earmarks.

    Alaska receives about three times as much as Arizona in actual dollars,
    $346 million to $119 million. That means Arizona gets less money for
    water projects, bridge repairs, road construction and rural clinics.

    Good for us.  While I have my problems with McCain, Shadegg and Flake are two of my favorite people in Congress. 

    The article, since it comes from the Republic, of course fails to really explain the issues well.  It tries to get the reader confused into thinking that zero earmarks means zero government spending in the state:

    "When you have reformers and purists, you end up not getting a
    reasonable share of money coming out, which hurts the state," said
    James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and
    Presidential Studies at American University. "When you're holier than
    thou, you don't get much of the money."

    This is, of course, silly.  Having no earmarks merely means that the huge amounts of money the Feds spend are doled out by existing statute and by the bureaucracy, rather than the whim of individual Congress persons trying to pay back favors to large donors.

    update:  see the bad half of AZ here.

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