Archive for category: Economics

Single Payer Is Not A Good Thing

12 Dec
December 12, 2018

John Stossel has an article over at Reason on some of the reasons why single-payer healthcare is a bad thing. One of the fun quotes:

…Canada, England, Norway, Cuba, and a few other countries do have genuine single-payer. I’m constantly told that it works well—people get good care and never have to worry about a bill. They spend less on health care and live longer.

[Chris] Pope says that claim is naive.

They do live longer in many of those countries, but it’s not because they get superior health care; it’s because fewer of them are fat; fewer crash cars; and they shoot each other less often. “Take out (obesity), car accidents and gun violence, the difference in life expectancy disappears entirely,” Pope says.

The article doesn’t even touch one of my fundamental critiques – namely, don’t give government control of stuff you don’t want to see denied to people who think like you. Both sides have weaponized different parts of the government for their own ends. Now imagine what they can do with total control over healthcare.

Who’s Your State’s Largest Employer?

26 Nov
November 26, 2018

I saw this article in the Book of Face. It was being shared by a couple of my more progressive friends who were crowing that Wal-Mart was the largest employer for large swaths of the country. This was evidence that the low unemployment rate was all low-paying jobs. Now, I try not to step into folks’ digital living rooms and start a fight. That’s what I have the blog for.

First, it is the height of arrogance to assume that: 1. All Walmart employees are low-paid wage slaves earning at or just above the minimum wage. I don’t doubt that a large section of the employees are lower paid because A) that’s true for all retail, and B) they’re unskilled labor. I don’t pay a cashier the same as I do a carpenter.

  1. Walmart employees are somehow locked into horrible jobs because they are too stupid to find better work or Walmart somehow destroys all other opportunities. I don’t doubt that for some employees, they feel locked into the job because it’s the best they can do for their circumstances. Hell, I felt that way working for McDonald’s. Circumstances change though.

Another thing I noticed on the map was the prevalence of healthcare systems and university systems as large employers. Two industries heavily subsidized by government funding. Hell, Colorado’s largest is an airport, which is another government-run entity. This could be bad when interest rates go back up to historic norms and governments have to make hard choices.

Lastly, the one thing that’s missing from this map is what percentage of the total workforce is represented by the largest employer. Let’s take Florida for example. Florida has approximately twenty million residents. For the sake of the argument, let’s say just half of them are gainfully employed. Even if all of Walmart’s 1.5 million employees were in Florida, that would represent just fifteen percent of workers. Which means that eighty-five percent are doing other work. Some will be low pay, but not all. Probably not even most.

These maps can be interesting, but not the basis for in-depth economic analyses.

Friday Quote – F.A. Hayek

23 Nov
November 23, 2018

The curious task of economics is to to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.

Friday Quote – Jared Howe

26 Oct
October 26, 2018

Anything which requires the labor or property of other people is not a basic human right. That includes education, healthcare, food, internet access, housing, or anything else that involves an investment of capital and labor. To demand free goods and services from people who sacrifice time and capital to produce them is to demand that those people become your slaves. You don’t have the right to enslave people for food or education or healthcare anymore than plantation owners had a right to enslave people to pick cotton.

Do You Understand Insurance?

18 Oct
October 18, 2018

An article in the local fish wrapper decries the fact that insurance companies use ZIP codes as part of determining the premium for auto insurance.

The analysis, released Monday, found that good drivers in lower-income areas are charged $410 more on average than good drivers in higher-income areas — and Tampa is no exception.

According to the analysis, there is an 18 percent difference on average in auto premiums for Tampa drivers depending on the average income of an area.

The issuer of the report, the Consumer Federation Of America, is worried that lower income folks are being penalized for where they live.

Of course, there’s very good reason why those ZIP codes may cause higher premiums – crime. Auto theft and vandalism are more prevalent in those areas than in others. That would put those areas in a higher risk of having to pay out a claim. Higher risks require higher premiums. Does it suck that a good driver has to pay more when (s)he did nothing more than live in a bad area? Yes. It would suck even more if they couldn’t obtain car insurance because some politician listed to the Consumer Federation Of America and forced the insurance companies to charge premiums below the risk.

Friday Quote – Thomas Sowell

05 Oct
October 5, 2018

There are three questions that will destroy most of the arguments on the left: 1. Compared to what? 2. At what cost? 3. What hard evidence do you have?

Do You Own What You Buy?

20 Sep
September 20, 2018

“You know all those movies you bought from Apple? Um, well, think different: You didn’t” The headline from the Register is outragey, and it’s only deep in the article the real story starts coming out.

And it’s not fair to single out just Apple either: pretty much every provider of digital content has the same rules. Amazon got in hot water a few years ago when its deal with Disney expired and customers discovered that their expensive movie purchases vanished over night. In 2009 thee was a similar ruckus when it pulled George Orwell’s classic 1984 from Kindles without notice.

In reality of course, these huge companies go to great lengths to ensure that their licensing deals with the main content companies are retained so the situation happens only occasionally. And such deals are usually worth so much to both sides that they are continually renewed.

With digital media, there’s been a long-running skirmish surrounding who truly owns their media. I don’t think it’s going to be solved anytime soon. What I do know is that if you own any digital media, it needs to be free of Digital Rights Management (DRM) code and it should be on your hard drives. Or you need physical copies.

Or just take the risk.

Is It Better to be Hot or Cold?

13 Sep
September 13, 2018

Let’s get this out of the way. I believe that human activity is changing the climate in terms of rising average temperatures and probably increasing the frequency and intensity of storms. I’m less convinced by the apocalyptic scenarios laid out by the environmentalists. I’m damn sure skeptical of most of the environmental politicos demanding billions of dollars to either subsidize “green” infrastructure or just whole-scale transfers to poorer nations. That being said, there’s a recent study stating that anthropogenic climate change may have prevented another ice age.

So, the question is which catastrophe would be easier for human technology to overcome? A warming planet with rising oceans or a cooling planet with expanding glaciers? Personally, I lean more to warming.

First Question

20 Aug
August 20, 2018

If I’m going to debate someone, one of the first questions that need to be addressed is this:

Do you believe, or are you willing to concede that I believe, that I want you to have the best life you can according to your needs, wants, and desires?

If the answer is “yes,” then we can have a civilized conversation about the best means of bringing this about. If the answer is “no,” there is real doubt we can even have a conversation. Because there are very few people that I want them to have less than the best life possible. Those generally fall into those who willfully and maliciously harm others.

Tech Giants and Public Accomodations

08 Aug
August 8, 2018

So, I have a question. In light of Apple, Facebook, and just about all the other tech giants scourging InfoWars from their sites, I’m seeing two things: shameless celebrating by the left who are triumphing in private businesses choosing who they should deal with and the right pointing out that businesses should be allowed to do business with whomever they want whether in cyberspace or meatspace (e.g., businesses who don’t want to serve “teh gayz”.) To which, the left responds with “public accommodations.”

There’s strong arguments for public accommodations, particularly when the supply of services is limited. It’s easy to claim that businesses should have the right to choose what customers they’ll serve when there are twelve other bakers in the city. It’s a bit harder when there’s only one baker in town.

So, considering that currently the tech giants are acting more like, say the only baker in a town, should they be forced to provide platforms under public accommodations laws?

Personally, considering how each side has been flip-flopping on their normal core issues with each new twist of the culture/chattering war, I’d kind of like to see the debate.