Thursday, December 31

If Obama were really a force for change...

If Obama were really the force for change and new thinking that he purported to be, he would undertake a study of whether the terrorist threat is such as to justify the massive bureaucracy of DHS.
If the increase in post-12/25 security measures roughly reflects the popular will, and is not simply a bureaucratic reflex unmoored to popular sentiment, the chance of driving down health care spending through more rational use of precautionary testing becomes more unrealistic, it seems to me. Perhaps it’s not just a ravenous tort bar or doctors’ pecuniary self-interest that drives the aggressive ordering of medical tests, as we have been led to believe, but patient attitudes towards risk. The revised mammogram guidelines debacle would suggest that to be the case. Making patients pay for every diagnostic test may increase their tolerance of risk, but such a cost arrangement is never going to happen.

Wednesday, December 30

Terrorism is rare and largely ineffectual

The only real worry is that we'll scare ourselves into making air travel so onerous that we won't fly anymore. We won't be any safer -- more people will die in car crashes resulting from the increase in automobile travel, and terrorists will simply switch to one of the millions of other targets -- and we won't even feel any safer. It's frustrating; terrorism is rare and largely ineffectual, yet we regularly magnify the effects of both their successes and failures by terrorizing ourselves.


[There is] something fundamentally wrong with how our society deals with risk. Of course 100% security is impossible; it has always been impossible and always will be. We'll never get the murder, burglary, or terrorism rate down to zero; 42,000 people will die each year in car crashes in the U.S. for the foreseeable future; life itself will always include risk. But that's okay. Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy our country's way of life; it's only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage.

$8 billion up in smoke

Talk about unintended consequences.

Obama's education secretary

Arne Duncan ran the Chicago schools for seven years, and in that time he didn’t manage to produce a single school that the Obamas chose to send their own children to.

Monday, December 28

TSA not worth it.

FiveThirtyEight writes,
...the odds of being on given departure which is the subject of a terrorist incident have been 1 in 10,408,947 over the past decade. By contrast, the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are about 1 in 500,000. This means that you could board 20 flights per year and still be less likely to be the subject of an attempted terrorist attack than to be struck by lightning.
Offsetting behaviour then adds,
Since the value of a statistical life, backed out of these kinds of calculations, is $7 million, our best guess is that folks would be unwilling to spend more than a dollar to insure against this risk. I get the feeling that the TSA's budget is considerably more than that.

A dashed clever "oranges" lyric

I take it you know that Orange number at the Palace? It goes--
Oh, won't you something something oranges,
My something oranges,
My something oranges;
Oh, won't you something something something I forget,
Something something something tumty tumty yet:
or words to that effect. It's a dashed clever lyric....

Saturday, December 26

I don’t want any goddamn carbon-footprint lectures

Glenn Reynolds writes,
...I don’t want any goddamn carbon-footprint lectures from people who fly thousands of miles week after week.
In my case, I might add, who drive SUV's instead of smaller cars or instead of bicycling or walking in a small college town.

Most businessmen deserve to have gotten rich

[Bernie] Sanders complained that for-profit insurance companies are too bureaucratic and, in a flight of fancy that would have seemed like a fringe conceit just a year ago, asserted that they require government to provide efficiency-inducing competition. The hilarious idea that government is less bureaucratic and more efficient than private sector companies will endure even if the seemingly nine-lived public option finally stays dead.

The anti-business mindset often takes a more specific form: it is “corporations” that are the enemy, not, by implication, the corner grocer... I have always wondered whether, when unwashed NoGlobal protesters and their more presentable soul-mates in government and Hollywood rail against corporations, they are carefully singling out limited liability for criticism and would shut up if all business were organized as partnerships, or if they are simply using “corporation” as a shorthand for all for-profit activity. I tend towards the latter view.

In any case, this knee-jerk contempt for business is worthy of a pampered adolescent who is searching for a cause with which to display his unique moral sensibility. It is not worthy of an adult who should be able to use his imagination, if not actual experience, to appreciate the extraordinary human effort that has gone into creating the delightful tools that we daily take for granted....

Bernie Sanders presumably thinks that he is worth every penny of his $174,000 salary and not one cent less, for he would never do anything as contemptible as make a profit on his Herculean labors in the Senate. The same goes for the tenured faculty in the nation’s most prestigious universities who look down upon corporate profit-takers: each is a bargain at $250,000 a year. Greed is a vice that only affects other people; the beneficiary of a rent-controlled apartment is not being greedy in expecting to pay a below market rent, but merely collecting her due. It’s her landlord who’s avaricious in thinking he might make a market return on his investment...

Government regulation of business is inevitable; externalities like pollution and noise cannot easily be reduced to optimal levels through market exchange. But let regulation be done with trepidation and humility, in recognition of our ignorance of the myriad factors that go into vibrant economic life. Is it too much to hope that even if most elected bodies are immaculately free of anyone who has owned a business, that some small portion of the political class try hard to imagine the difficulty of charting future growth and hiring with no idea what tax levels or regulatory mandates will be in coming years, much less the difficulty of operating under a burdensome regime of existing taxes and regulations?

It is the ingratitude that kills me the most among anti-business types. The materials that furnish a single room in an American home required daring, perseverance, and organizational skill from millions of individuals over generations. I hope they all got filthy rich.

Was the auto bailout necessary? Did it work?

In hindsight it is readily apparent that the answers are: No, and No.

President Bush argued that the bailout was needed to keep GM and Chrysler out of bankruptcy, because nobody would want to buy cars from the companies if they went bankrupt. There would be questions about whether warranties would be honored, whether dealers would be available for service, and other issues that would come up with a durable good purchase.

We can see that the bailout didn’t work, because after receiving bailout money from the Bush administration, and then another dose from the Obama administration, both companies declared bankruptcy in June anyway. And, because the bailout didn’t work, it’s easy to see that it wasn’t necessary.

Friday, December 25

A call for democracy = subversion

刘晓波 Liú Xiǎobō,
the founder of the Charter 08 campaign for constitutional reform, was given the unusually harsh jail term on Christmas Day in an apparent attempt to minimise international attention.

The case has raised fears that other drafters of Charter 08 could also face retribution from the authorities.

Following a year in detention and a two-hour trial, it took the No 1 intermediate people's court in Beijing just 10 minutes to read out the 11-page sentence.

Liu was found guilty on Wednesday of subversion, the vaguely defined charge that Communist party leaders often use to imprison political opponents.
He told friends that he knew the risk of imprisonment when he drafted Charter 08, which demands the open election of public officials, freedom of religion and expression, and the abolition of subversion laws.

Sunday, December 20

Prices of physician services have risen no faster than prices of non-medical services

It turns out that health care spending has not been driven up by runaway inflation but by runaway federal spending. Government is paying for a larger quantity of medical bills, not merely a rising price per procedure or product.

The Consumer Price Index for medical care slowed its growth dramatically in the 1990s, when federal health care spending was relatively contained. Medical care inflation slowed from nearly 10% at the end of 1990 to less than 3% in 1997, and it was only 2.8% over the past three months. Prices of medical services tend to rise faster than the CPI for the entire economy, but that is typical among all labor-intensive service industries. From 1996 to 2008 the CPI for physicians' services rose by 3.1% a year, for example, but prices of nonmedical services also rose by 3.1% a year.

You can see the bloating influence of government by looking at medical goods and services that are almost never financed by "free" government money: dental care, over-the-counter drugs, hearing aids and eyeglasses. In such cases nobody frets about inadequate competition, poor service or "runaway inflation."

Nat Hentoff: Obama worse than George W. Bush

I think Obama is possibly the most dangerous and destructive president we have ever had. An example is ObamaCare, which is now embattled in the Senate. If that goes through the way Obama wants, we will have something very much like the British system. If the American people have their health care paid for by the government, depending on their age and their condition, they will be subject to a health commission just like in England which will decide if their lives are worth living much longer.

In terms of the Patriot Act, and all the other things he has pledged he would do, such as transparency in government, Obama has reneged on his promises. He pledged to end torture, but he has continued the CIA renditions where you kidnap people and send them to another country to be interrogated. Why is Obama doing that if he doesn't want torture anymore? Throughout Obama's career, he promised to limit the state secrets doctrine which the Bush-Cheney administration had abused enormously. The Bush administration would go into court on any kind of a case that they thought might embarrass them and would argue that it was a state secret and the case should not be continued. Obama is doing the same thing, even though he promised not to.


Obama has little, if any, principles except to aggrandize and make himself more and more important. You see that in his foreign policy. Obama lacks a backbone—both a constitutional backbone and a personal backbone. This is a man who is causing us and will cause us a great deal of harm constitutionally and personally.

Saturday, December 19

CCP insecurity

nothing makes the CCP look more like a bunch of insecure moonbats than their fixation on “guiding public opinion” (read: censorship and propaganda)

Friday, December 18

Obama's trifecta

...combining three of his favorite rhetorical tropes. There was the vague reference to “those who” question his agenda, the “false choice” they use to deceive the public, and the determination to “be clear” and forthright, in contrast with those dishonest naysayers. These devices are useful as signals that the president is about to mislead us.

Wednesday, December 2

A little like Pinter, no?

Pinter's American Football is an example of the
"infinite monkey theory", which states that if a monkey hits keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.
This theory was recently tested, and they learned,
The theory is flawed. After one month - admittedly not an "infinite" amount of time - the monkeys had partially destroyed the machine, used it as a lavatory, and mostly typed the letter "s".