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Archive for the ‘when government is a good thing’ Category

Best investment: government/updated

Posted by Charles II on October 8, 2012

The IMF has a new report out that says a number of interesting things. The summary by FT is as follows: It predicts a soft landing for China. If so, this is great news for the world economy. It trims growth forecasts for next year, but by a modest amount.

Most important, it says that the estimates of how much money is saved by cutting government spending have been wildly overdone. It has been estimating the multiplier for government spending at 0.5. In other words, $1 in government spending generates 50 cents in new growth. So cutting spending was thought to be relatively cheap. If government captures 20% of that growth in taxes, it would take 10 years to pay back the investment. But now the IMF says that the multiplier is 0.9-1.7. Even accepting the midpoint of that for calculations, it means that government spending pays itself off in about four years and thereafter generates a 26% annual return on investment. And, of course, the rest of us get the benefits of higher growth, especially jobs.

Now, whether things have a high or low economic multiplier depends on how the money is spent. Spend it on bombs for senseless wars, and there’s no return on investment, unless one considers Al Qaida to be a good thing. Spend it on wounded veterans, and instead of suicides you get taxpayers. So until one specifies a use for the money. there’s a huge uncertainty in what the multiplier will be. And there’s a reason why the multiplier is high now, and might be lower during more normal times: there’s so much slack in the economy that government spending of all kinds reduces the waste of human lives. When unemployment is low, government spending just causes inflation.

But consider: how many businesses generate a 26% return on investment?
Update: Naturally, Paul Krugman agrees with me.

Posted in economy, when government is a good thing | 4 Comments »

Why I read Aetiology

Posted by Charles II on June 15, 2012

Tara Smith is posting essays by her students on her blog, Aetiology. This one by Riva Ben-Ezra concerns the latest miracle fadfood:

Acai fruit comes from the Brazilian Amazon forests and is one of the main dietary staples of the native population.

Something that the FDA has not taken into consideration, however, is the presence of triatomines in Acai juice. Triatomines are blood-sucking insects that have been found in South America (mainly Brazil), Texas and Mexico. These bugs can carry a protozoan parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which is the causative agent for Chagas disease

So, given the fact that people can and do become infected with Trypanosoma cruzi through eating contaminated fruit and other foods, and given the fact that the WHO, EFSA, and the CDC all recognize that oral transmission of Chagas disease is an emerging infectious disease, how have our regulators addressed this risk?

The simple answer is: not at all.

Don’t you feel better about de-regulation already?

Posted in when government is a good thing | 1 Comment »

It’s morning in America!

Posted by Charles II on June 6, 2012

Things will be much better if government gets out of the way of business. Click to enlarge.

Posted in humor, when government is a good thing | 2 Comments »

Antitruth, Inc. How corporations corrupt science.

Posted by Charles II on May 19, 2012

Update: I want to bring the following sentence in the report linked below to attention:

The Obama administration has taken meaningful steps to address political interference in science.

I am not an Obama booster, but I think it’s important to keep some perspective. This sentence would not have been written about President McCain or, especially, Presi..gak Romney.
Francesca Grifo, Michael Halpern, and Peter Hansel, UCS:

Corrupting the Science

Corporations that stand to lose from the results of independent scientific inquiry have gone to great lengths to manipulate and control science and scientists by:

Terminating and suppressing research. Companies have controlled the dissemination of scientific information by ending or withholding results of research that they sponsor that would threaten their bottom line.

Intimidating or coercing scientists. Corporations bury scientific information by harassing scientists and their institutions into silence. Scientists have been threatened with litigation and the loss of their jobs, have had their research defunded, have been refused promotion or tenure, and have been transferred to non-research positions, leading to self-censorship and changes in research direction.

Manipulating study designs and research protocols. Corporations have employed flawed methodologies in testing and research—such as by changing the questions scientists are asking—that are biased toward predetermined results.

Ghostwriting scientific articles. Corporations corrupt the integrity of scientific journals by planting ghostwritten articles about their products.
Rather than submitting articles directly, companies\ recruit scientists or contract with research organizations to publish articles that obscure the
sponsors’ involvement.

Publication bias. Corporations selectively publish positive results while underreporting negative results. While not directly corrupting science itself, these publishing and reporting biases skew the body of evidence.

To be fair, individual scientists do some skunky things, too. If a guy has a pet theory, he’s not likely to immediately publish results that contradict it. He’s more likely to ask for new experiments.

But of course, this is the difference between street crime and organized crime. Street criminals are a nuisance, but easily controlled at the local level. Organized crime has to be confronted with an organized response.

We need corporate science. Those guys study things that would otherwise never be studied, and they enrich science immeasurably–when the science is honest. The real problem is dishonesty, it permeates American society, it proliferates at the corporate level only because workers have limited career choices, and because there’s not much solidarity between scientists. Scientific careers flourish or wither based not on collaboration, but on destructive competition. So government oversight is not the entire answer. But it’s a very important component.

Posted in abuse of power, capitalism as cancer, corporatists, corruption, science and medicine, when government is a good thing | Comments Off on Antitruth, Inc. How corporations corrupt science.

Chopping up the oak furniture for kindling

Posted by Charles II on July 17, 2010

The kind of people who, in times of economic distress, demand cutbacks to services instead of taxes do not understand that the savings may not be there, because many costs are invisible. In some cases, it is not simply a matter of costs. We may lose things that are not replaceable, as when one chops up antique oak furniture just to heat the room.

Via Calculated Risk, this article from Lauren Etter of WSJ:

Paved roads, historical emblems of American achievement, are being torn up across rural America and replaced with gravel or other rough surfaces as counties struggle with tight budgets and dwindling state and federal revenue. State money for local roads was cut in many places amid budget shortfalls….

In Michigan, at least 38 of the 83 counties have converted some asphalt roads to gravel in recent years. Last year, South Dakota turned at least 100 miles of asphalt road surfaces to gravel. Counties in Alabama and Pennsylvania have begun downgrading asphalt roads to cheaper chip-and-seal road, also known as “poor man’s pavement.” Some counties in Ohio are simply letting roads erode to gravel….

Some experts caution that gravel roads can be costlier in the long run than consistently maintained asphalt because gravel needs to be graded and smoothed. A gravel road “is not a free road,” says Purdue University’s John Habermann…

Not to mention that unpaved roads degrade air quality and have difficult-to-quantify costs–and irreversible health damage– associated with lung disease.

Posted in 'starving the beast', financial crisis, when government is a good thing, You're On Your Own-ership Society | Comments Off on Chopping up the oak furniture for kindling

People In Minnesota Love Them Some Mass Transit

Posted by Phoenix Woman on March 15, 2010

Just as the ridership numbers for the Hiawatha light-rail line far exceeded initial expectations, the ridership numbers for the North Star commuter rail service managed to be slightly higher than projected despite two trips having to be cancelled due to mechanical glitches.

Thanks go to Jesse Ventura for pushing this through over the objections of then-House leader Tim Pawlenty (who amazingly switched to being a “supporter” of the line once it was a done deal). Thank you, Jesse!

Posted in transportation, when government is a good thing | Tagged: | Comments Off on People In Minnesota Love Them Some Mass Transit

And Now, A Word From Eli

Posted by Phoenix Woman on February 13, 2010

This whole post on Bathtub America is good, but I especially liked this part because it sums things up so well:

Starving the government because you don’t like everything it does is like starving your body because you’re pissed off about a hangnail, and then using your inevitable decline as proof that your body sucks and doesn’t deserve to be fed. And then insisting that you’re better off using the money you saved on food to pay for some nice efficient life-support machines to take care of you instead.

Thanks, Eli!

Posted in 'starving the beast', (Rich) Taxpayers League, 2010, Republicans, Republicans acting badly, Republicans as cancer, safety net, when government is a good thing | 4 Comments »

Sun Rises In East. AP Does Anti-Democratic Smear Job.

Posted by Phoenix Woman on October 29, 2009

As you all probably know by now, the Associated Press — whose Washington, DC bureau chief is none other than Ron Fournier, good friend of Bush’s brain Karl Rove and John McCain’s de facto (and very nearly official) press secretary — did a smear job on President Obama’s stimulus spending, claiming it produced far fewer jobs than the White House says it has.

What the AP won’t tell us is that the reports they attacked didn’t come from the Feds, but from governors, mayors, county executives, private businesses and community organizations across the country. The reports that have been posted to date are not complete, but being posted as they are reviewed by an independent oversight body, a process that takes three weeks.

Here’s the scoop on the biggest ‘error’ the AP found:

“A Colorado company said it created 4,231 jobs with the help of President Barack Obama’s economic recovery plan. The real number: fewer than 1,000.”

FACT: The very first example AP cites was already corrected more than a week ago as part of the twenty-day review process and the change is in the final data posting being prepared for Friday. This item represents over 3,000 – or 60 percent – of the “nearly 5,000 jobs” AP uses to try to make its argument.

FACT: The company in question actually did hire more than 4,000 workers – but because the work was not full time, full year work, the rigorous standards at don’t count it as 4,000 workers. AP is wrong in saying that 4,000 workers is not a “real” number: 4,000 people got paychecks and got work thanks to the Recovery Act. The posting was erroneous because our higher standards only count the equivalent of full-time, full-year jobs as jobs “created or saved.”

FACT: All recipients were given through October 30th to clarify and confirm their data – including those linked to federal contracts. Any conclusions drawn about the quality of that small portion of data as it was posted two weeks ago are simply premature.

Similar boo-boos can be found all through the AP’s attempted takedown. Go check it out.

Posted in economy, GOP/Media Complex, government, President Obama, The smear industry, when government is a good thing | Comments Off on Sun Rises In East. AP Does Anti-Democratic Smear Job.

Wednesday Morning Good News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on August 12, 2009


— See what a couple of billion can bring? Cash for Clunkers, in addition to jump-starting the US auto industry and the industries that depend on it, is directly responsible for a big jump in the average fuel efficiency of cars on the road:

The average mileage for new vehicles rose from 21.4 miles per gallon in June to 22.1 mpg in July….

Study co-author Michael Sivak noted the improvement came even as gas prices fell and unemployment levels shrank somewhat. Normally, those factors lead to the purchase of more gas guzzlers. The higher mileage shows the effect of Cash for Clunkers, Sivak said, and he expects the jump to be even bigger when August figures come out. That’s because the trade-in rebate program only got going late in July.

Small manufacturers are starting to recover from the crash, and even to start hiring again. This is borne out by the renewed demand for taconite iron ore from the MinnTac mine in northern Minnesota, which will soon be running at pre-crash levels of activity.

Even during the economic meltdown, wind turbine installations are proceeding apace:

The U.S. wind energy industry installed 1,210 megawatts (MW) of new power generating capacity in the second quarter, bringing the total added this year to just over 4,000 MW – an amount larger than the 2,900 MW added in the first six months of 2008, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) found in its second quarter (Q2) market report.

During the second quarter, the U.S. wind energy industry completed a total of 1,210 MW in 10 states. These new installations nudge total U.S. wind power generating capacity to 29,440 MW, according to the report.

— Wind farms as tourist sites? You betcha. People come from hundreds of miles to see them.

Posted in automobiles, economy, energy, environment, when government is a good thing, wind power | Comments Off on Wednesday Morning Good News Roundup

Piggybacking On MEC’s Post

Posted by Phoenix Woman on June 16, 2009

Guess what, Senator McConnell? Government-run health care systems are more efficient and get better ratings overall, as the examples of the Veterans Administration (as reformed by Bill Clinton) and various overseas systems show.

Of course, you already know that, don’t you?

Posted in health care, health issues, when government is a good thing | Comments Off on Piggybacking On MEC’s Post

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