Saturday, July 31

We pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, but this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

Calderón's war [on drugs], assisted by the United States, terrorizes the Mexican people, generates thousands of documented human rights abuses by the police and Mexican Army and inspires lies told by American politicians that violence is spilling across the border (in fact, it has been declining on the US side of the border for years).

Friday, July 30

The nation's border is actually a safe place.

Think more like Jenna Bush, and less like Chelsea Clinton.

Chelsea's wedding is likely to cost $2 million to $3 million, says Ms. Roney. But first daughter Jenna Bush managed to hold a somewhat quieter affair for a lot less when she got married two years ago. She invited about 200 guests and held the wedding on her parents' ranch in Texas. It was hardly cheap, but at $100,000, the tab wasn't even in the same ballpark.

Le Trésor de la Langue Française informatisée

Finally, a great French dictionary online: Le Trésor de la Langue Française informatisée

Thursday, July 29

No economic or scientific case exists for subsidizing the electric vehicle.

So I shouldn't take Richard Gere as my spiritual model?

[I]t is striking how much the backward elements of Tibetan Buddhism are forgiven or glossed over by its hippyish, celebrity, and middle-class followers over here. So if you’re a Catholic in Hollywood it is immediately assumed you’re a grumpy old git with demented views, but if you’re a “Tibetan” Buddhist you are looked upon as a super-cool, enlightened creature of good manners and taste. (Admittedly, Mel Gibson doesn’t help in this regard.)

Thursday, July 15

The cost of reducing gasoline consumption by subsidizing substitutes

Greg Mankiw points to a new CBO report:
The costs to taxpayers of using a biofuel to reduce gasoline consumption by one gallon are $1.78 for ethanol and $3.00 for cellulosic ethanol.

Wednesday, July 14

China hopes social safety net will push its citizens to consume more, save less

So the government takes money away from one group of people and gives it to another on the assumption the second group will spend more? Good luck with that.

Sounds familiar

China’s New Source of Cheap Labor
The immigrants, almost all from countries poorer than China, are a favorite with factory bosses and farm owners because they ask for a fraction of the usual Chinese wages and are seen as hard workers, say Chinese media reports. “They normally would work eight hours a day for an entire month without a day off,” the Global Times quoted one boss as saying.

Tuesday, July 13

Economist.com comments policy

In response to the review of two books that suggests that readers should do more for themselves, I light-heartedly suggested that readers write their own book reviews:

Cancel your subscription! Blog your own book reviews!

In an email, the "Comments Moderator" informed me that the comment that I made
has been deleted from Economist.com. The comment was removed because it breaks our comments policy:
http://www.economist.com/about/terms_and_conditions.cfm#8

We ask that future comments be made in the spirit of good-natured debate. Repeated violation of our comments policy will result in your being blocked from posting comments on Economist.com.
A little touchy, aren't they? So I resubmitted this:
What about comparative advantage? As for me, I will not take the proffered do-it-yourself advice to its logical end and write my own book review or edit my own magazine.

Argumentative inflation

There's a style of argument you'll meet with often in life, which means you'll also meet with it often in the press and online. It consists of taking some straightforward and unobjectionable proposition and then exaggerating it to the point of absurdity.
Yes, this happens all the time, and so pretty soon I won't be able to listen to anyone's argument.

Crash Data Suggest Driver Error in Toyota Accidents

Walter Olson says “I told you so”, and asks,
Can we now look forward to the stream of apologetic stories from major news organizations that bought into theories about mysterious electronic defects in the cars? Or will the media add another chapter to its long record of gullibility on these matters?

Tuesday, July 6

The feeling that one’s own current preferences and ways are neutral and natural

Martha C. Nussbaum via Will Wilkinson
Why should we think of people from China as our fellows the minute they dwell in a certain place, namely the United States, but not when they dwell in a certain other place, namely China? What is it about the national boundary that magically converts people toward whom our education is both incurious and indifferent into people to whom we have duties of mutual respect?

Retirement ages should be raised beyond age 70

Gary Becker suggests:
Maintaining the ratio of working to retirement years is a reasonable first approximation to a guideline for determining the eligible age for retirement and health benefits. As the health and life expectancy of the elderly continues to improve in the future-as they surely will- retirement ages should be raised beyond age 70.
Good luck with that. I'm afraid the 60+ retirement age is culturally entrenched. (I'd certainly like to retire long before 70 if possible.)

Update
Richard Posner argues that
we probably can’t afford to defer entitlements reform for 30 or 40 years...

[I]n the short run, the only realistic measures for reining in social security and Medicare are a combination of higher payroll taxes and means testing
Means testing! As far as I can tell, the middle class only supports social spending when they can get something, too.

Monday, July 5

Obama pays to stop people from enjoying themselves the way he did

Mungowitz calls it a "classic example of rent-seeking", citing Justin Scheck's Strapped Police Run on Fumes, and Federal Pot-Fighting Cash:
The Obama administration's approach to federal anti-drug efforts is evolving...

But the administration continues to support federal aid to fight drugs, including marijuana, says a Justice Department spokesman. This is "supplemental" funding for local agencies and shouldn't skew their priorities, says Arnie Moorin, assistant deputy director of the White House Office on National Drug Control Policy. "It's not to get into the city or the county's or the state's business."

Even so, in California, budget realities mean federal money ends up supporting priorities sometimes out of sync with public sentiment. About 56% of California residents support full legalization of marijuana, polling shows.

Saturday, July 3

Pot calling the kettle black

Or the milk calling the snow white.

Because 77% of Tea Party supporters are “non-Hispanic whites”, but the environmentalist movement is apparently “overwhelmingly white.”