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Archive for July, 2003

Monday, July 28th, 2003

The Kyoto What Now?

This scientist is obviously quite mad. It’s also interesting to note that none of the global warming news is ever contextualized. What is “normal” in terms of Earth’s temperature? We’ve only got, at best, a few thousand years of data. It’s hard to measure human impact, just ask these guys, and there’s a lot of evidence to support temperature cycles that occur over millions of years. Has the planet gotten warmer over the past 120 years? Yes, it has. But, I’m not sure that’s as dire a thing as many alarmists make it out to be. I mean, it could just be the sun.

UPDATE: And now this.

Friday, July 25th, 2003

A good piece on Bush’s deficit-spending, historically speaking.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2003

This Shape We’re In

The psychological intricacies of a particular political stance can be difficult to sort out, especially when me and Bret have had a few drinks and are screaming abuse at each other in Rennie’s. Liberalism is all at sea, while a fierce battle rages for the very soul of conservatism. Many commentators eschew the uniaxial conservative/liberal scheme, resulting in political affiliations that look like screenshots from Tron. And Ann Coulter is still a fucking loon.

However, in this climate of terror and confusion, there are still a few brave people out there taking a common-sense, scientific approach to the question. I’m sure you’ll all be even more fascinated than I was by their findings.

My favorite line in the whole Nobel-worthy thing:

They also stressed that their findings are not judgmental.

Hee hee! Those jokesters!

(Spotted via the Professor, but probably all over the place by now.)

(Hi, folks. How’s the summer going?)

Monday, July 21st, 2003

A very long, but interesting, piece on the GOP’s attempts to control K-Street in DC. Of more immediate importance and relevance, former OC-er Eric Pfeiffer has a story in the Weekly Standard. Good stuff.

Saturday, July 19th, 2003

Blogoriffic

Take this hippies.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2003

In response to Tim’s interesting post on the economy and accusations that Bush has sold out conservative spending principals, consider this story based on comments from one of Bush’s main econ supporters, Grover Norquist. It seems that Bush may actually be grinding out a long-term victory instead of trying to fight all of Washington’s fiscal problems at one — that is, cut taxes to dry up money and give a reason to stop spending.

Monday, July 14th, 2003

The Good, The Bad, The Economy

Andrew Sullivan posits that Bush is doing damage to fiscal conservatism and the economy. He links to the Corner at NRO. And, most frighteningly, I say that Sullivan might be on to something. In issues of trade, Bush has gone protectionist, typically with the sorts of industries that have long enjoyed governmental protection from foreign competition. The case in that Washington Post article is steel, but the US has incredibly high duties on sugar and some chemicals as well. In this situation, the WTO was right to rule against the high US steel tariffs. Technically, the US is under no obligation to listen to a WTO ruling, because the WTO actually has no enforcement power over its members and is a completely voluntary organization. However, Bush would do well to listen, for a variety of reasons.

1) We don’t want a trade-war with Europe: It’d be nice to live in a world where there was not need of any trade protection, that ideal-but-unobtainable situation maximizes total surplus. However, there is always and incentive to run some protection if the other guy isn’t, because you can benefit your own country more that way. The other side then has an incentive to start running some sort of protection, and a game of best responses ensues. At the end, there is a Nash equilibrium. We don’t want to end up there, because it’s a terrible place to be and it’s self-sustaining. So, if we don’t listen to the WTO and remove these steel tariffs post-haste we could run the risk of a trade-war with Europe which would damage our economy greatly and for years to come.

2) Tariffs artificially inflate the price of steel above the market price: You might not buy much steel, but be sure that this gets passed on to you. Own a car? A house? Steel is a major input for all sorts of consumer durables, and if the price of an input goes up, marginal cost goes up, prices of outputs go up…higher prices mean less consumption; toss in a macroeconomic multiplier and, congratulations, you’ve just made the recession worse.

3) Protecting the steel industry impedes the structural growth and progression of the US economy: If the restrictions were lifted, a bunch of steel workers would probably lose their jobs. To that I say, “congratulations, you’re structurally unemployed, get reeducated and reenter the workforce.” The US is skilled-labor abundant, we’re a nation of great education and a highly-skilled workforce. While it is true that we also have a great many natural resources at our disposal, other nations have an advantage in the sorts of things needed to produce steel. Iceland, for instance, has energy that is practically free. And, there’s a process that some of the larger European* steel companies have perfected that uses much less energy in the production of steel and increases productivity. By protecting the steel industry, the administration is doing a disservice to the American consumer. And, in my opinion, to the steel workers themselves by delaying their incentive to adapt to the ever-changing structure of the economy.

4) Tariffs only exist due to the collective action of a relatively small number of people: Let’s take an example, in the United States sugar costs about twice as much as it does in the rest of the world. Why? Because the US has incredibly high tariffs on sugar. Why on Earth would we do that? Five Hawaiian families own most of the sugar production in the states. The ASA has a brief (very biased) look at sugar policy. And here’s a breakdown of the quota structure. In any case, a few people control most of the sugar production and it’s worth their time to make sure that the prices stay the way they are. This, on average, costs a family in the US $8 per year. However, mass consumers of sugar such as candy manufactuers are hurt in a fairly substantial way by this policy. Remember when Hershey was thinking of moving to Canada? A similar thing happens in the steel industry, the collective action of a relatively small group of people keeps a policy which benefits them, but harms the rest of the economy, in place.

So, in short, the steel tariffs (and the sugar tariffs) need to go. They hurt the American consumer, they artifically inflate prices, and benefit only a small minority of people. Why should some industries recieve special treatment? They shouldn’t.

*I cannot remember exactly where, it might be Scandanavia or Eastern Europe…someobody out there knows, I’m sure.

Saturday, July 12th, 2003

A Problem

NRO hits the nail on the head with the difference between Republicans and Conservatives. Of course, I disagree with them on the gay-sex ruling, but agree on affirmative action. Spending, spending, spending…the damnable prescription drug benefit, all of these things point to a lack of conservatism, particularly of the fiscal variety, among the Republican party.

Wednesday, July 9th, 2003

Fundraising Ideas for Next Year

All right, it’s not foolproof, but if Spike Lee can sue Viacom over the name Spike TV, why shouldn’t we be able to sue News Corp? The terms Viacom settled for are confidential, but whatever it was, it would surely be enough to keep the OC printing on full-color glossy (without ASUO incidental fees) through its 50th anniversary…

Tuesday, July 8th, 2003

TREASON!

Horrowitz On Coulter: “By failing to draw a clear line between satirical exaggeration and historical analysis, by refusing to credit the laudable role played by patriotic, anti-Communist liberals like Truman, Kennedy and Humphrey, Coulter has compromised her case and undermined her attempt to correct a record that desperately needs correction.” Ouch.

Sunday, July 6th, 2003

Who’s An Angry Liberal?

Apparently, Orson Scott Card. Sure, he may not be a particularly gifted sci-fi writer, but it’s nice to see a dem, any dem, angry about his party’s policy and behavior.

Friday, July 4th, 2003

If You Wish Me To Eat This Donut, Oh Lord, Give Me No Sign

That might have been a better thing for this guy to try.

Europe is trying to kill itself, again.

And today’s PA is funny, because it defends Star Trek and pokes fun at Viacom. That last bit may not be wise, they own all of us.

Thursday, July 3rd, 2003

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, AMERICA!

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

How are these people still in power?

It is a remarkable thing when the people of the state refuse to accept new taxes (even with threats on education and health care), and yet the governing body can do nothing better than make attempts at pasing more taxes rather than perform the will of their electors. Sales tax talk is gearing up again in Salem and it looks like there may be bi-partisan support for a tax at around 5%.

Advocates of a sales tax or other type of business transaction tax argue that a new tax is needed to stabilize Oregon’s system. The state has the second-highest income tax in the nation - a poor choice because the tax is highly volatile and sensitive to economic slumps, sales tax advocates say.

When government can’t be paid for even with the second highest income tax in the nation, there is a problem with the spenders and not with the providers. I think that Winston Churchill put it best when he said: “We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2003

Rome is not burning… you morons

Remember measure 28, how since it didn’t pass everything in this state is going to hell? Well looks like the propaganda patrol lost another one, with this announcement. It looks like the courts will be running again with 5 day weeks, full protection for defendants, and all those other items that courts need. A little closer to the bottom of the story, one can find this little nugget:

“[Court Administrator Kingsley Click] said courts statewide will begin gearing up to resume full operations, with orders to reduce discretionary spending for items such as travel and staffing.”

Looks like the failure of measure 28 did exactly what those of us who opposed it said it would do — cut the fat. I’m sorry, but we told you so Oregon.