Archive for category: Economics

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.

Friday Quote- Dave Ramsey

02 Aug
August 2, 2018

A budget is not about restricting what you can spend. It gives you permission to spend without guilt or regret.

Another Blow to Federal Public Sector Unions

30 Jul
July 30, 2018

This executive order was signed before the recent Janus decision, but it just recently came to my attention. One of my issues with the public sector unit are union people doing union business while on the clock. For some employees, they may officially be filling a role, but they do union duties full time. Not anymore.

“…agencies should ensure that taxpayer-funded union time is used efficiently and authorized in amounts that are reasonable, necessary, and in the public interest. Federal employees should spend the clear majority of their duty hours working for the public. No agency should pay for Federal labor organizations’ expenses, except where required by law. Agencies should eliminate unrestricted grants of taxpayer-funded union time and instead require employees to obtain specific authorization before using such time. Agencies should also monitor use of taxpayer-funded union time, ensure it is used only for authorized purposes, and make information regarding its use readily available to the public.”

Agencies also are required to charge the unions rent for any space used for union duties.

Between this and SCOTUS, the unions are having a rough time. I can’t say I’m particularly upset about that.

Why Aren’t You Rubes Taking Risks?

12 Jul
July 12, 2018

Via Peter Grant, I stumbled across this little gem from CNBC about how those poor/foolish homeowners aren’t taking out HELOCs. Don’t they know that home equity is supposed to be used to fuel consumerism.

For those unaware, Home Equity Lines of Credit are loans made against the portion of the home the owners have already paid off. They were advertised heavily in the early aughts for doing all sorts of things such as bill consolidating (taking out new debt to pay off old debt), doing remodeling on the house, sending kids to college, etc. Pretty much any big ticket item could be financed through a HELOC. After all, the housing market just kept going up.

Until it didn’t. And people were now underwater in their homes. With a variable interest rate HELOC. Many lost their homes. Some still haven’t recovered after a decade.

Now the housing market is heating up again, and the same damn fools are telling consumers that they should tap into their equity again. All that value tied up in real estate and houses instead of being used to take out loans. People just don’t understand how they could make their new home value work for them.

Or maybe the people are being smarter than the “experts”.

Reason Article Barrage!

11 Jul
July 11, 2018

Cleaning up some open tabs. As my readers should know, Reason magazine is where I get a lot of my news and analysis.

California Supreme Court Rules Impossible Laws Are Constitutional Basically, the court says impossibility can be a defense, but does not invalidate the law. Okay, I can understand that concept in theory, but it has real world costs for people forced to defend themselves from overzealous prosecutors enforcing this bullshit law. This is the kind of legal wonky ruling that reduces confidence in legal thinkers.

Illinois Court Rules That Police Can’t Arrest A Person For Carrying a Gun Without Checking For Valid Permit. This kind of balances out the previous article. I’d say I was surprised it came out of Illinois, but their courts have been much better on RKBA than the legislature.

A federal judge has blocked Tennessee’s practice of suspending driver’s licenses for unpaid court fees without first determining if the debtors are too poor to pay. This is a good step to remedying the vicious cycle of fines, suspension, jail that plagued the lower income communities.

Reason Is Concerned That the Recent Loss by the Southern Poverty Law Center Could be a Threat to Free Speech. I understand the concern that defamation suits can have a chilling effect on speech, which is why I support strong Anti-SLAPP laws. I will also admit to my own schadenfreude against the SPLC.

DC Taxes the Hell Out of Ride Sharing to Prop Up Broken Metro System. In my trips to DC, I’ve never had to deal with the numerous issues plaguing the Metro. That being said, with the coming changes in vehicles (automation and electric), I can’t support additional taxes to rail that is on its way out, much less an agency as troubled as the Metro.