Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
I like the idea (from Reuters) that a tax on cigarettes would help to fund this system. Smokers are more expensive from a health care perspective, and this is an easy way to ensure that they contribute their share.
I also like the idea of focusing on preventative care as a way to lower costs. Of course, I wonder about preventative care as something that could be abused, i.e. people taking doctor's visits more often than they need because it's "free."
"This component seems intended to give employers an incentive to offer health insurance, and to level the playing field between employers that do not offer insurance -- and are therefore essentially paying lower wages -- and those that do." This is from the Times article. It seems to be saying that this plan artificially raises some wages compared to others. Making workers more expensive without adding to their skill set leads to lower overall employment (some workers will get fired because these small businesses cannot afford as many workers at the higher wages), and what good is universal health care if you don't have a job or source of income?
Finally, I don't like the assertion (on Health Care For All) that planning will lead to lower costs and bureaucratic cost controls will be beneficial. Bureaucracies by nature are cost-maximizing, because any money that is unspent is lost after the next reallocation of funds, while companies that operate by profit practice cost minimization and pocket the difference. To suggest that a bureaucracy can truly keep costs at a minimum just doesn't sit well with me at all.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
Thursday, January 24, 2008
A couple of interesting tidbits:
"When the capital gains tax is cut, asset holders are inspired to sell." I wonder if there's a way to truly maximize revenue by raising and cutting the capital gains tax (it would have to be done without a recognizable pattern, but I tend to think the tax being lower causes people to sell).
“Germany, Switzerland and many other countries do not tax capital gains at all.” America as the nation with the highest taxes - what kind of backwards world is this?
"Seventy-nine percent of all returns reporting capital gains were for households with incomes below $100,000 and half had incomes below $50,000." So it's not just a tax cut for the rich - those calling for the return of the tax to higher levels ought to read this.
In your Primary Dilemmas column (1/18/08), I couldn't help but notice that there were two candidates whose names were never mentioned -- and to me these candidates seem to cause the greatest dilemmas for conservatives.
You never mentioned John McCain, and his win in New Hampshire has created quite a dilemma. He has been strong on winning the war in Iraq, but is weak on almost everything else. In a Random Thoughts column, you once lamented the idea of a McCain – Clinton presidential election, saying you wouldn’t know whether to vote independent or move to Australia. Maybe the best way to keep him out of the general election is to not talk about him, in which case the omission was a good one.
What interests me more is that you did not mention Ron Paul, in fact, to my knowledge you have never mentioned Ron Paul in a column. Ron Paul is strong on all the fiscal and economic policies that classic liberals support, and to that end it seems Hayek and Von Mises would have supported him (Bastiat certainly would have) – it is also the reason he will never be president. True, he is no Reagan on foreign policy, but he does acknowledge that terrorism is a different kind of threat that Soviet Russia, and his foreign policy is at least based on reason (though possibly flawed) instead of empty rhetoric.
Have you not mentioned Ron Paul because we can only “choose from the available options” and you do not want to alienate the electorate when he doesn’t get the nomination? Or is there something else? The Republicans have no front runner because they have no strong candidates, at least Ron Paul is putting thought back into the political process. Maybe conceding ‘08 to support a true limited government candidate, gaining ground in the ideological discourse, and making a stronger run in ’12 would be the Republican’s best play…if an Barak or Hillary America could survive that long.
Thank you for your time,
George Mason ‘10
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
He agreed that capitalism is the best economic system to promote growth, but he then said that he would rather see higher taxes and more socialism because we're at the point where we don't need to grow anymore.
I immediately countered with the fact that we have no cure for cancer, and he relented that growth in medicine was still necessary, but then we both just kind of dropped it. I would add to my argument that with the constant concerns over global warming, we certainly need growth in all the processes that cause pollution.
Growth, and its potential results, are unknowable by their nature. Will there ever be a point where we no longer need growth? I'd answer with a resounding "no."
Friday, January 18, 2008
Also, I am a regular reader of Marginal Revolution. I love their Markets in Everything series, which shows up every few weeks with a random news story. Here is a link of every one they've done - I definitely recommend perusing the couple hundred entries up so far.
Thursday, January 17, 2008
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Bill Clinton's "fairy tale" comment about the Obama campaign has also shocked many citizens. He recently went to Al Sharpton to apologize. This called to my memory a recent South Park, in which a character uses the n-word on a TV game show, then goes to Jesse Jackson to apologize, only to find out that he is still ostracized in the town, because "Jesse Jackson isn't the emperor of black people."
Whether or not we're ready, race is finally out in the open. Is it better for the Democrats to have race come out now? Will it cushion Barack - if he wins the nomination - from an all-out Republican attack? Why do so many people see Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson as the leaders of some non-existent black community, and will they be viewed as such for as long as they live?
Saturday, January 12, 2008
"Unlike the USA Patriot Act and other politically sensitive pieces of legislation, Real ID has not made many headlines. Last fall, it was voted down. But then it was reintroduced, and tacked onto the 2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations for Defense, the Global War on Terror and Tsunami Relief. (Real ID hence superseded conflicting portions of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.)
It would have been a serious political liability for a congressperson to vote against funding for the war on terror and tsunami relief. So it is not surprising that there were no debates, hearings or public vettings of the act."
"Significantly, those [proposed radio-transmitted] signals would allow the government to track the movement of our cards and us."
Fantastic. Allow some extra time in airports, I suppose, and keep in mind you will also need a Real ID for banking and other activities. "And, somewhat ominously, Homeland Security is permitted to add additional requirements -- which could include "biometric identifiers" such as our fingerprints or a retinal scan." Good to know that government knows what is good for us, because - silly me - I don't even know that I don't know!
Friday, January 11, 2008
Colbert is selling the portrait from his studio mantle, and he said on the show that last year's portrait sold on eBay for $50,000. The proceeds went to Save the Children. I wondered to myself: do you think the fact that the money goes to charity has any effect on memorabilia prices?
Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Monday, January 7, 2008
So as anyone who knows anything about anything knows, tonight was the NBC premiere of the new and improved American Gladiators. As a fan of the show growing up, I had high expectations. I can remember being in the first grade and contentedly eating a big bag of potato chips while I watched American Gladiators. As I settled into my seat at 9:00 tonight, I was overcome with a feeling of nostalgia. When I got out of it at then end of the show, I was left with one feeling – disappointment.
Reasons why I didn’t like American Gladiators:
1. Too much trash talk.
It seemed like part of the contestant contract was to say something edgy in the buildup to every event. How can you call out a gladiator when he weighs 80 pounds more than you? Oh yeah, I’m sure he was real intimidated. And they even miked up the gladiators so they could have trash talk solos. One solo that stands out as particularly bad was when gladiator “TOA” started talking trash in what sounded like jibberish. What’s the point of talking trash if they other guy can’t understand you? A little trash talk is part of the game, but too much is just unsportsmanlike
2. Where’s Nitro?
Nitro was the cornerstone of the old American gladiators, how come he doesn’t have a place in the remake? I would love to hear Nitro explaining the events with an insider perspective the same way Terry Bradshaw explains football at halftime. If Nitro is not in American Gladiators, then it’s not American Gladiators. And while I’m at it, the new gladiators leave a lot to be desired. Wolf? I watch Gladiators for the spectacle of pure, steroid infused American muscle, not to see some human-animal hybrid howl on a Hollywood set. And am I supposed to believe this guy refuses to cut his hair, but is perfectly okay with waxing the rest of his body? Another example of a failed gladiator is Helga. If there is going to be a Hellga gladiator, there might as well be a Nurse Ratched.
3. The Eliminator is too long.
There is a reason nobody watches marathons. The finish isn’t very dramatic when both contestants are so tired that they exhaustedly drag themselves over the finish line. And for that matter, races aren’t exciting when the winner wins by virtue of being the only one capable of completing the course.
4. Terrible camera editing.
I know it’s supposed to be an exciting show, and I know the producers anticipated a minimal viewer IQ, but a viewer would be hard pressed to find a camera shot lasting for longer than two seconds, and there were several two second intervals with four or more camera shots. For a prime time show, American Gladiators had some terrible camera work, with very bland camera angles.
Of course, I know it’s just a TV show. What’s more, there are many worse shows on TV. And there are even worse concerns that could be raised about the show itself (Is it appropriate in the wake of the Mitchell Report?) But what really matters is despite my concerns, will I watch the next episode when it airs tomorrow? No, I’ll be watching the National Championship Bowl like everyone else so that on the next day I can complain about what team really deserved the title of national champions.
Sunday, January 6, 2008
Unfortunately, I don't see any of the candidates as returns to normalcy. Barack or Hilary would bring about radical change to our perception of the Oval Office, Huckabee wants to overthrow the tax system, Ron Paul wants to overthrow everything, and Guiliani would be a return to 9/11. Could Edwards or Romney be returns to normalcy? Am I wrong in thinking that we even need a return to normalcy - e.g., do the actions of recent Presidents merit the election of someone who isn't a middle aged white guy?
1. The officiating was awful. Giving that the catch by Wilford (Jax receiver) being called a trap offsets the Santonio Holmes (Pgh receiver) catch being called a trap - which it doesn't - the officiating was still very slanted toward the Jaguars. The holding call on Sean Mahan (Pgh center) on the two-point conversion was atrocious. The announcers looked at it once and then dropped it. This is always a sign of a terrible call. I can remember seeing James Harrison (Pgh LB) being held by a fist full of jersey and not called for holding, which makes it unbelievable that they could call Mahan for holding on that two-point conversion. Also, on Pittsburgh's last punt, Carey Davis was pushed over from behind by two men. Again, this when uncalled. I didn't review the game video or anything, but I feel strongly that the officiating was embarrassingly bad.
Also, shouldn't the NFL be using teams of officials that have worked together all year? They mix up the officiating crews for the playoffs. I don't like this decision at all.
2. Pittsburgh's special teams are awful. They have been the entire time I've been watching the team. It is a huge mystery to me that the team can't find 10 players who can even pretend to execute punt or kickoff coverage. When you allow the other team to start at the 40 and you're lucky to not fumble punts and kickoffs, you make it impossible to win.
3. Mike Tomlin has his work cut out for him. I don't see anyone on the offensive line who has a job this year. Tyrone Carter played his worst game as a Steeler, and with Anthony Smith already having proven that he's terrible, that means they have definite problems in the secondary. A healthy Troy and a healthy Ryan Clark *should* fix a lot of those problems, but if they don't, the Steelers are in big trouble. Pittsburgh's schedule next year is absolutely brutal. 9-7 will require a lot of good luck in my opinion. The good news - he has a franchise quarterback, one of the league's best running backs, a good defensive line (assuming Aaron Smith returns with no problems), and a pretty good set of linebackers. The bad news - the special teams, the offensive line, the secondary, the receiving corps, and the lack of depth at EVERY position.
Thank you for entertaining my rant. Luckily for me, there's always next year!
ESPN's John Saunders suggested, as most writers have, that the Winter Classic should be played regularly. I think he has had the best suggestion for how to do it, though, considering that it should be played in many markets but also probably needs the greatest star power the NHL has to offer to attract the most viewers. Make the All-Star game an outdoor event!
It works well for the hockey purists, who say that it's too much of a gimmick to do in the regular season. It ensures that Crosby and other superstars will always be involved, but doesn't keep all the attention in Pittsburgh. Playing exhibition hockey outdoors is one way hockey could really improve its standing in America. Anyone have any other ideas of how to bring hockey to the masses?
Beano Cook, longtime sports journalist from Pittsburgh, did a radio interview yesterday and discussed the current state of college football. The ongoing controversy, of course, is that college football uses the bowl system instead of a playoff system, and thus does a terrible job of crowning a national champion. Also, many detractors contend that there are vastly too many bowls.
Beano said that the number of bowls is actually good, because when you think about it, the bowl games are for the students. If college football is truly about the students, then you want as many bowls as possible, because all students will remember that experience for the rest of their lives. Nobody forces you to watch all the bowl games, so pick and choose what games you like to watch, and ignore the rest.
The bowl system still isn't the right way to crown a national champion. But maybe it is a better system for the students than anyone ever credits it to be.
Compared with the totality of knowledge which is continually utilized in the evolution of a dynamic civilization, the difference between the knowledge that the wisest and that which the most ignorant individual can deliberately employ is comparatively insignificant. ~Fredrich Hayek in The Constitution of Liberty