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How Economics Saved Christmas

Art Carden adapts Theodor Geisel:

Every Who down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot.

But the Grinch, who lived just north of Whoville, DID NOT.

He stood and he hated the Whos and their noise

He hated the shrieks of the Who girls and boys

For fifty-three years he’d put up with it now—

He had to stop Christmas from coming, somehow.

He asked and he questioned the whole thing’s legality

Then his eyes brightened: he screamed “externality!

To the Grinch, the Whos were polluters, spewing their joyful noise into his cave.

A tax that was equal to external cost

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Rational Expectations

Short-term, uncertain duration "tax cuts" are not tax cuts at all, but deficit-financed spending.

Quoted from: Mike Munger

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Bursting the Chinese Bubble

In strict terms, inflation is not a rise in prices, but an increase in the supply of money. More money chasing the same quantity of goods leads to rising prices. And prices rise not entirely by the laws of supply and demand, but are influenced by speculation about where newly-printed money will flow. It’s a divergence between the real economy of goods and services and the financial economy of interest rates and currency exchange rates.

When the financial economy is out of alignment with the real economy, it’s a bubble. Money flows to where the money profits are instead of where the real value is created. The dotcom bubble and the housing bubble were both products of financial manipulations built atop some lesser amount genuine value.


Stuck on Stupid

Residents of Minneapolis are looking at a property tax increase approaching 20% next year.

The proposed tax increase is the city’s response to growing pension obligations, cuts to Local Government Aid (LGA) and recertification of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts that fund neighborhoods and pay Target Center debt. The hike is based on a 7.5-percent, $20 million levy increase, which translates to an actual tax increase of roughly 10 percent to 20 percent for most Minneapolis property owners.

As much a the Mayor and the City Council want to blame the State Legislature for not providing enough aid (LGA), this problem is the product of years of poor fiscal management.


Assange and Yamamoto

A month after his historic victory at Pearl Harbor, Admiral Yamamoto said:

A military man can scarcely pride himself on having "smitten a sleeping enemy"; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten.

Betraying secrets is a weak form of heroism, if it can be considered heroic at all. It is a sneak attack. If your life was on the line, would you rather rely on a WikiLeaker or a warrior?

Perhaps much of the outrage at Mr. Assange is displacement. Instead of feeling shame in themselves (or their government), the anger is refocused on the one who exposed them.

If the secrets were important, why were they not protected better? Who was responsible for vetting whichever scoundrels betrayed the team?

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Homeland Security

The United States can be attacked, but it cannot be conquered. As the Japanese Admiral who led the attack on Pearl Harbor is often (mis)quoted, “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind every blade of grass.”

Yamamoto was correct:

Over the last two months, the eighth largest army in the world – more men under arms than Iran; more than France and Germany combined – deployed to the woods of a single American state [Wisconsin] to help keep the deer menace at bay.


Grassroots Warfare

Recent travels along the intertracks have led me outside my usual routes and on to several military-focused bloggers. I used to be a big-time wargamer (never a real soldier, though), but that interest has been dormant for quite a while. Nevertheless, I still find it fascinating.

Military procurement is as much a political issue as an economic or technological one. That hasn’t changed since I stopped paying attention. Expensive and flashy weapon systems always get priority when Congress decides on military funding. The ordinary infantryman has no lobbyist in Washington.

From my studies of war, I remember that infantry is called “the Queen of Battle”. Everything else in war is ultimately deployed to support the infantry. The goal of war is to enable your troops to occupy unmolested a given patch of ground. It’s about control of territory. And that’s what the infantry does.


Do or Dazzle

If it’s stupid but it works, it isn’t stupid.

Quoted from: Bring the Heat

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Chinese Set Rail Speed Record

A Chinese passenger train smashed World speed records after hurtling at speeds of over 300 miles per hour.

The speed record was set during a test run of the yet-to-be opened link between Beijing and Shanghai according to the Xinhua News Agency.

Reaching 302 miles an hour (486 kilometers per hour) the train clocked up the fastest recorded speed by an unmodified conventional commercial train.

The new line is due to open in 2012 and will halve the current travel time between the capital Beijing and Shanghai to five hours.

Total War at the 38th Parallel

The two Koreas have been posturing for each other for over 50 years. It seems a hopey-naïve view to think they’ve been doing it just for the theatrics.

Isegoria posts:

Marching, shoulder to shoulder, into machine-gun fire is the height of folly. No amount of élan or “heart” is going to overwhelm entrenched machine-guns. To modern Americans, even marching at a line of enemy soldiers armed with muskets seems downright insane.

But soldiers did it, right behind the officers who led them. Napoleon, who knew a thing or two about warfare, declared that the moral is to the physical as three to one — it’s not the size of the dog in fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog. Why would he say that?

Because it’s true — largely — just not for marching into modern automatic weapons or massed rifle fire. Throughout most of history, posturing — convincing yourself and your enemy that you’re bigger, meaner, and scarier — has been far more important than physical fighting ability:

It is widely known that most killing happens after the battle, in the pursuit phase (Clausewitz and Ardant du Picq both commented on this), and this is apparently due to two factors.


Bristol’s Shine Reflects on Sarah

A few posts back, I wrote about Sarah Palin improving her brand by letting people get to know her better:

Even better if the whole family shared some camera time to help take away the “otherness” in her negatives.

Maybe even have one of the kids solo in the spotlight for while. Say, in a competition to show how values and character and spirit were transmitted from mother to child.

That same day, this appeared on Bristol Palin’s Facebook page:


Neo Nails the Knowledge Problem

Neo-neocon unintentionally describes the Economic Calculation Problem:

Lots of blah, blah, blah in Washington about whether or not to extend those Bush tax cuts, and to whom, and for how long.

The problem with arguing about such things, of course, is that no one really knows what the effect of each course would be. At least, I haven’t seen anything that convinces me that anyone knows. I’m already on record as saying that economics is not my strong suit, but I’m beginning to wonder whether it’s anyone’s.


Funhouse Morality

This article accuses the anti-WikiLeakers of hypocrisy and/or double standards. It strikes me as a hall of two-way mirrors. What you see depends on where the light is shining. When we accuse an opponent of using situational ethics, we implicate our own use of “flexible standards”:

If "a single foreign national is rounded up and put in jail" because of the WikiLeaks disclosure -- even a "single one" -- then the entire WikiLeaks enterprise is proven to be a "disaster" and "Assange is a criminal" who "should be in jail."  That's quite a rigorous moral standard.  So let's apply it elsewhere:



Here’s how Google Maps instructs you to get from Japan to China:

Google map showing direction from Japan to China

Of particular note is Direction #43.

Similarly, getting from Seattle to Honolulu will require unconventional means.

Pack a lunch, for sure.

H/T: My Bar Night pallys and Theo Spark.


Personifying Palin

Neo-neocon concisely summarized the essential challenge Sarah Palin would face in a run for President:

Yes, she’s got name recognition, all right. But people have made up their minds about her, and her negatives are both high and seemingly set in stone.

Pretty but stupid is the perception. She’s not a person, she’s a punchline.

The particular kinds of stupid Palin suffers from seem correlated with one’s location in political space. The Progs think she’s a creationist simpleton reading from a cartoon Bible. The establishment righties think she’s not sufficiently sophisticated for the nuances of national and international politics. Somebody could probably accurately map the political space using opinions of Palin as coordinates.


Politics is a Three-Dimensional Space

Andrew Napolitano strikes a chord I am tuned to:

Government cannot be trusted to expose itself.

Since he has a show on Fox News and writes about the importance of following the literal Constitution, he must be a righty, no? But here he is using his show to support Wikileaking.


Hypocrisy and Situational Ethics

So often in the leftosphere, intentions matter more than outcomes. Wikileaks, for instance, is focused on truth-telling without regard to the lives which might will be lost when secrets are exposed.

I’m not of firm opinion about spilling secrets like this. My anarchist nature likes any check on government shenanigans. And few things are permanently secret anyway. It’s more a matter of timing the reveal; today is inconvenient, while tomorrow will help explain history.

But also I recognize evil in the world and accept that compromises must be made. Governments and their secrets are the best of many bad choices.

Neo-neocon makes an excellent point about the kinds of nations and governments that can be harmed when state secrets become public:


Delusion and Denial in Powderhorn

A south Minneapolis neighborhood’s namesake park was the scene of two rapes last Wednesday:

The four boys in custody — two are 14, while the others are 15 and 16 — could face felony charges of robbery and criminal sexual conduct, though charges are still pending, [police spokesman] Garcia said.

The first assault occurred about 6:30 p.m. Wednesday in Powderhorn Park in South Minneapolis. It began as a robbery and escalated to rape, according to police.

A mother was cross country skiing through the snowy park with her 13-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son when a group of juvenile males accosted them.

One had a handgun, police said.


Minneapolis Biking Sharing a Success

Much to my surprise, the first season of taxpayer-subsidized bike rental in Minneapolis did not result in massive theft and vandalism:

In Minneapolis, again, theft and vandalism simply haven’t materialized as problems. The operators expected to lose around ten percent of their bikes to crime in the first year, but so far, that figure has only turned out to be 0.3 percent.

With 700 bikes on the streets since June, said Dossett, only two bikes have disappeared. Vandalism has been minimal: There have been a few bikes that were graffitied, a few tires slashed, and one incident in which a motorist hit a bike-sharing station and shattered some glass.

Carthago Delenda Est

TJIC likes to describe those who realize the Progressive vision is not what it promises to be as, “standing on their front porch, looking around.” It is a more strident picture than Neo-neocon’s cerebral accounts of political changers. The people on the porches are more than newly-enlightened. They are angry.

They’re looking around the neighborhood looking for allies and tracking enemies. Because the world they were indoctrinated into was a lie. On their porches, they’re seeing the world with fresh eyes. And they’re contemplating action.

Stop Shouting is on her porch. She did not buy into the indoctrination, but she is no longer willing to politely suffer Progressives and their delusions:

I am tired of being told to sit down and shut up.

I am tired of being told what I can and can not say.



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