Day: April 18, 2016

Fossil Fuel Power Generation – The Moral Case – Video From Senate Hearings

PA Pundits - International

I saw this video the other day and decided to Post it here at our site. It’s worth watching for a number of reasons.

Alex Epstein is the main speaker here, and he makes the moral case for our reliance on fossil fuel electrical power generation.

Note here how every time he mentions it, Alex Epstein correctly refers to the supposed problem, he calls it correctly by its correct and full name, Carbon Dioxide. (CO2)

Note also, at around the 7.20 mark, the California Democrat Senator, Barbara Boxer comes in to speak, and instead of actually asking a question, just proceeds to denigrate the Alex Epstein. Senator Boxer again comes in close to the end of the clip at around the 15.15 mark, and (referring back to what Alex Epstein correctly calls it, CO2, Senator Boxer again denigrates the speaker and refers to it as Carbon Pollution.

Alex Epstein speaks…

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The cost of starting a business in Europe and North America

These measures including the full cost of starting a business. Not only are official fees included, the opportunity cost of the waiting times for various permits are issued are added as well.

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Source: Markus Poschke, Entry regulation: Still costly | VOX, CEPR’s Policy Portal (2011).

Note: The value of time is set to a business day’s output per day of waiting time at 22 business days per month.

 

Everyone has their own ‘monetarism’

longandvariable

This follows reading Paul Krugman’s recent post.  I wasn’t there.  Too young, and never in America.  But, nevertheless, I’ll sketch my own version of what ‘monetarism’ means to me.

  1.  The belief that monetary policy mistakes were behind the business cycle – illustrated by Friedman and Schwartz’ chartism concluding that the Great Depression was caused by too-tight monetary policy.  They were probably right about this, and this is one bit of ‘monetarism’ that has proved enduring and useful.
  2. A focus on the bookkeeping identity of monetary policy PT=MV.  This was helpful during the years when policymakers thought that inflation was a ‘cost’ phenomenon to be tackled with prices and incomes policy.  This idea also endures.
  3.  The unfortunate idea that it follows from PT=MV that central banks could use money targets to deliver desired changes in P.  These targets were ditched as it was realised, through difficult experience, that money demand…

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Did the rise of welfare state cause more inequality in wealth?

 Markus Poschke and Barış Kaymak have just put out a paper arguing that increased social spending is a major driver of wealth inequality:

Another important and often overlooked third factor is the rise in the generosity of government transfers since 1960, mostly due to the expansion of public pensions (social security) and the introduction of public health insurance for the elderly (Medicare).

Combined spending on these two programs accounted for almost 9% of US GDP in 2010, up from less than 3% in 1960…

These government programmes tend to curb the need to rely on personal savings for retirement, especially among low and middle-income households, and might thus explain why their share in total wealth has declined.

This makes a good to good degree of sense. I have previously argued that using the arguments of Edward Prescott that it is not wise for people on ordinary income to save for their retirement when they can go down to the local Social Security office and claim an old age pension.

It is even less wise to save that for retirement if those savings reduce your eligibility for an old age pension. Far better just to invest in a nicer house and pass it on to your children. Poschke and Kaymak note that measures of private wealth inequality miss these claims to old age pensions:

… statistics on wealth inequality that do not capture households’ claims on the public sector are incomplete and overstate top wealth shares.

This is not a new argument. Back when the Ricardian theories of budget deficits came to prominence and before that in debates on theories of the public debt, the more Keynesian sides of those arguments did argue that people were irrational for not including their old age pension entitlements under social security schemes in their calculations of their wealth.

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Some of their taxes were paying for their future old age pension and were another form of wealth rather than a tax. As such, taxpayers should regard this part of their taxes as investments and not cutting back their labour supply in response as they do to other taxes.

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Source: Barış Kaymak and Markus Poschke The evolution of wealth inequality over half a century: The role of taxes, transfers and technology, Journal of Monetary Economics (2016).

How much of the rise in wealth inequality is due to this failure to measure Social Security wealth as represented by old age pension entitlements? Their estimate is about 25%:

…technological factors play a dominant role not only for changes in income inequality, as is well known, but also for wealth inequality. As high-earning households save part of their additional income, their share of wealth also rises.

This channel accounts for about half of the total increase in wealth inequality. Tax cuts and the expansion of transfers each account for about half of the remainder…

While tax cuts encourage saving, larger transfers reduce saving incentives for retirement, in particular for low and middle income groups. This implies that these groups’ share of private wealth declines.

Note though that this is partly due to the fact that measures of private wealth inequality, like those compiled by Saez and Zucman, do not include claims to future government transfers, like social security, which constitute wealth for their owners.

Saudi Arabia Threatens To Sell Off $750 Billion In U.S. Assets If Congress Allows 9-11 Families To Sue

JONATHAN TURLEY

Abdullah_of_Saudi_ArabiaPresident_Barack_ObamaWhile the level of protection afforded Saudi Arabia in Washington is hardly a secret, the level of that support was on display this month when officials pushed the Obama Administration to release long-withheld pages from the 9-11 report, as we previously discussed. Those pages reportedly implicate Saudi Arabia in the 9-11 attacks. Saudi Arabia response with an express threat to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars of assets if Congress were to pass a bill allowing the Kingdom to be held liable for the attacks. One would think that the response would be outrage at the threat. After all, the bill would only allow citizens to sue and a bipartisan group of Senators have joined to support the 9-11 families. Saudi Arabia could still defend itself (and according to its government, vindicate itself) in a court of law. Of course, the United States has a real court system as…

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Sex, Drugs, & Rock and Roll: 10 Rock Stars Who Lived the Dream

Dogs and Avocados

24-Hour-Tees.Sex-Drugs-Rock-n-Roll_Preview-600x600

Rock stars are different than us.  We all know that.  They don’t sit around the coffee table in their PJs on a Saturday night eating stuffed-crust pizza, watching Wheel of Fortune.  No, they are wearing leather, hanging in a penthouse suite with hot and cold running chicks, ingesting God-knows-what into their bodies while downing $200 bottles of Champagne.  They are rock stars and they are living the dream.  But, are they really?  At one time or another, most of us have dreamt of being worshipped, making a fortune, and doing whatever the hell we felt like doing with no consequences.  Whoa, back up the car; there ARE consequences all right.  Some rock stars don’t make it past their 30th birthday, some wind up doing significant jail time, and many of them end up with faces so lined and weathered that, if you place a penny into one of the…

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Why @NZLabour @Maori_Party should be tough on crime

Utopia, you are standing in it!

A good mate at University was a democratic socialist. After graduating in law, he joined the Director of Public Prosecutions. He is still there as a senior counsel. That is the new name for a Queens Counsel in Tasmania.

The reason he gave for his career choice, he was a top-notch graduate with a great career ahead of him, was the poor were mostly the victims of crime. The best he could do for them was to put those that victimised them in prison by being a public prosecutor. As William Julius Wilson explains:

As Leon Neyfakh points out, some people are reluctant to talk about the high murder rate in cities like Milwaukee because

(1) it might distract attention from the vital discussions about…

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Misinterpreted Songs: What Did They Really Mean??

Dogs and Avocados

free-clipart-1freedownloads-com1

Not misheard.  Not misunderstood.  I’m talking Misinterpreted.  It’s when the listener sees the words correctly, but totally does not get the song’s meaning, which could have been the artist’s intent anyway.  Songwriters love to be vague and disguise the true meaning of a song and, I admit, I love the challenge of trying to figure out what the hell they meant.

Steely Dan is the all-time master at this lyrical sleight-of-hand and it tends to drive us crazy…in a fun way.  Artists will sometimes put doom and gloom lyrics into a bouncy, happy melody.  They will make you think they are supporting something when, really, they are protesting it.  They use every literary device in the book to confuse us: metaphor, allegory, double-entendre…you name it.  Being able to draw more than one meaning out of a song gives it greater depth and heightens the listening experience.

Politicians in…

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My Twenty Favorite Album Covers of the 1970s!

Dogs and Avocados

I think album cover art is one of the great casualties of the digital era.  Something really cool was lost forever; but then I think, hey, the horse and buggy was also pretty cool and we survived its passing.  You often find pieces rhapsodizing over that moment when you would get home, tear off the album wrap, gently set the needle in the vinyl grooves and spend the next 40 minutes intently analyzing the cover art and singing along with the accompanying lyrics.  It was a rather magical moment.  And if it also came with a poster…well, it was goodnight Vienna.

My vow to you is that I will not write about that moment.  Instead, I will talk about my favorite album covers of the 1970s.  Out of thousands of possibilities, I have condensed my list down to just twenty; a near-impossible task.  The only rule I made is that…

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actually, the black vote is very stable and predictable

orgtheory.net

Over at the New Yorker, Collier Myerson has an article arguing that the black vote is not monolithic:

Many believe that Bernie Sanders will lose the Democratic primary to Hillary Clinton in part because he cannot galvanize “the black vote.” Writing for The Nation on February 28th, Joan Walsh declared, “When the history of the 2016 presidential primary is written, if Hillary Clinton is the party’s nominee, it will show that Senator Bernie Sanders’s campaign effectively ended in South Carolina.” Why? Because Clinton learned, from 2008, to treat the state “as a proxy for the black Democratic primary vote.” That year, after she lost the state badly to Barack Obama, “her campaign hemorrhaged African-American support” and never recovered. This year, Walsh posits, that is more or less Sanders’s problem.

Collier then argues with this view. He makes some sensible points. For example, race is not the only variable that…

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An underperforming taxpayer subsidised industry

croaking cassandra

Getting diverted again on Saturday, because of yet another road closure to assist the film industry, reminded me that I had been intending to write briefly about the screen industry data Statistics New Zealand released last week.

Perhaps I missed the coverage in the local papers, but the only media story I’ve seen on these data was in the Wall Street Journal, in a story headed “With no hobbits, New Zealand movie industry is hobbled”. The author quotes a US industry figure observing that “New Zealand is a global hub for filmmaking with an exceptional reputation”. Perhaps, but the numbers don’t seem to be moving in the right direction.

Gross revenue of screen industry businesses was $3221 million last year, slightly up for the year, but still 2 per cent lower (in nominal terms) than in 2012.

Gross revenue from production and post-production of feature films was (down a lot…

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