Wednesday, August 30, 2006

 

Good

This is a good article by DW MacKenzie for the Mises Daily Article series.

It was my concern in my policy analysis class and in the general application of economic planning.

 

News

Health risks and obesity can potentially cause problems. Is that a good enough reason to be denied service? Read here.

The T-shirt Police? The most interesting part of the article is the last few sentences.

 

Comical...Really

This is an interesting, yet really comical piece put out by The Raleigh News and Observer on the research report developed by Trust for America's Health.

Are we really the 14th fatest or actually the 35th least nurished State in the Union (if the counting is correct)?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

 

The Door on Wally World

NewMark's post on Wal*Mart and some comments below...

Check it out here.

 

Right

What right do we have to be free?

What does freedom mean? And how far does it extend? Can we ever truly be free?

Freedom could be defined as the absence of coercion or even as a measure of the potentiality to pursue your own life as you see fit. One might take the positive or the negative approach.

Is there a way to build a consensus or even point out some common elements in our definition of freedom?

Monday, August 28, 2006

 

Another Question

What gives me the right to be offended?

Why and for what reason, am I granted the privilege of being offended by anyone's comments or statements?

No matter how harsh or destructive the individual's action, what gives me that right?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

 

Global Warming on a Train

It's almost as cool as Snakes on a Plane. Has anyone NOT seen this ad? Maybe I've spent too much time with global warming skeptics, but I swear I laughed out loud when I saw this on TV. Is it way over the top or is it just me?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

 

Who wants a Gold Standard?

It's been over 30 years since the United States shed its last ties to the gold standard by dropping out of the Bretton Woods agreement, but nostalgic gold bugs are still alive and kicking.

Some of their enthusiasm is easy to understand. Indeed, there are some real advantages to having a gold standard; the most popular benefit being long-run price stability. But we can't forget that there some major disadvantages we should consider.

Perhaps the most important disadvantage would be the fact that removing government's discretionary monetary policy options could make the nation's economy more vulnerable to aggregate demand and supply shocks, resulting in greater short-run instability in output and prices. This prediction conforms with the experience of the United States during its gold-standard experiment (see here).

Of course, keeping the government away from business cycle management is exactly what many gold-standard supporters want. But what about other costs? Milton Friedman estimated that the resource costs of discovering, mining, and minting gold coins under such a standard could be as high as 2.5% of GDP. Aren't there cheaper ways to keep the Fed out of demand management?

The fact there is a trade-off here shouldn't suprise anyone. The real question is whether the trade-off is worth it. Comments are always open for answers or opinions.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

 

Affirmative Action

Why have it? Anyone else have a huge problem with government-mandated racial/gender outcomes? Also, if you see no problem with that, why not handicap everyone to the same "level playing field" based on other factors besides race that are out of their control (IQ, height, attractiveness, etc). Jenna's suggestion of Harrison Bergeron is relevant here.

I just had a debate this morning with two people who think it's a good policy. Any takers here?

 

The Value of Sterotypes

Explained well here...

 

News

Austrian woman free after being captive for eight years.

It does seem like a very unusual story. I am sure there will be much more to come on the subject.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

 

My Indy Horoscope

According to Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology":

"Sagittarius: There are now as many people working at Wal-Mart stores as there are high-school teachers. Can anything be done to change this depressing state of affairs? Well, it so happens that the time is ripe for you Sagittarians to cultivate your skill at sharing what you know. It's also an excellent phase to cultivate your ability to inspire and energize your fellow humans. So if just 1 percent of you use this pregnant moment as a springboard to launch careers as high-school educators, Wal-Mart employees would no longer out-number you and your heroic colleagues. And even if you decide not to go in that direction, I hope you at least think more about what you have to teach the world, and take steps to give your gifts more aggressively."

There's so much cannon-fodder here. I don't know where to begin.

 

Republicans are evil. Didn't you know?


On a shirt at cafepress:

"I voted for Bush.

Also, I hate children and rainbows. I hope the homeless all die cold and alone, starving in the gutter.

Rape is hilarious.

Puppies aren't cute.

Yay for herpes!

I voted for his dad, too."

 

Free Day

Is there something interesting that anybody out there would like to talk about or discuss?

Movies, Celebrities, California's increase on min wage, Sports, the ozone, or dark matter?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

 

Because no one reads CJ

Here's the article I wrote on Friday:

On August 3, Gov. Mike Easley signed H.B. 1024 into law, creating a pilot program for Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) in North Carolina. Starting in 2007, North Carolina will begin to use IRV for statewide elections for judicial vacancies and will allow 10 cities and 10 counties to try the new voting method. Instant Runoff Voting will give North Carolinians a unique opportunity to express their true preferences to politicians and political parties, while saving time and money on elections.

North Carolina now conducts elections under plurality voting rules in which the candidate with the most votes wins. If three or more candidates run in the race, then the winner can have less than a majority of the vote, as the U.S. witnessed in the controversial 1992 presidential race involving Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Ross Perot. Because of this feature, the plurality method is nicknamed “First Past the Post” voting. In such cases, the same question always arises: was the winning candidate really preferred by most voters?

Instant Runoff Voting ostensibly solves that problem; it is a ranked-choice voting method that generates majority winners in a single round of voting. With IRV, instead of choosing just one candidate, voters rank them in order of preference. IRV then uses those rankings to emulate a series of runoff elections, ultimately determining a winner with a majority of the vote. According to proponents, IRV saves time and money by eliminating the need and cost of two rounds of voting. Having only one round of voting benefits both voters and candidates by allowing them to focus their energy and funds on one election rather than two, typically boosting turnout.

Moreover, since Instant Runoff Voting requires only one election, taxpayers never have to finance costly runoffs, as they did in 2004 for the Democratic nomination for Superintendent of Public Instruction. In that case, the runoff election cost counties $3.5 million for a turnout of only 2 percent to 3 percent. The IRV method would have avoided a second election, saving money and ensuring that more voters’ preferences were included in the final election outcome.

Proponents also claim IRV is fairer than plurality elections because it ensures the election of the candidate preferred by most voters and eliminates the problem of spoiler candidates knocking off major candidates. Moreover, IRV could be a boon to those candidates. Under IRV rules, voting for a “spoiler” third party need no longer be dismissed as “wasting your vote”; a ranking system will allow voters to identify the second-best option.

Under IRV rules, each voter casts one vote and ranks candidates in order of choice. The counting of ballots simulates a series of runoff elections. All first choices are counted, and if no candidate wins a majority of first choices, then the last-place candidate is eliminated. Ballots of voters who ranked the eliminated candidate first then are redistributed to their next-choice candidates, as indicated on each voter’s ballot. Last-place candidates are successively eliminated and ballots are redistributed to next choices until one candidate remains or a candidate gains more than 50 percent of the votes.

Voters have the option to rank as many or as few candidates as they wish. Using IRV, voters have a chance to express their true preferences, rather than vote for the "lesser of two evils" because their ballot can still count toward a winner if their first choice loses.

Instant Runoff Voting will give North Carolinians a unique opportunity to express their true preferences to politicians and political parties, while saving time and money on elections.

 

Purity?

Why is there this notion that amateur sports are more "pure" than the professional sports? Like they are sullied somehow for making a living and accepting money for specializing in labor.

I don't get it...

Is it the money? Is it a return to a better, more innocent time?

Monday, August 21, 2006

 

Snakes on a Plane kicks all the ass there is to kick.”


So says my friend Tricia.

But I can’t write that in my official CJ review. So, here’s my real review of Snakes on a Plane, the best movie I’ve seen since Clerks II, which (incidentally) also kicks a lot of ass.

Snakes on a Plane is more than a movie. It’s a phenomenon. Everyone must see Snakes on a Plane. Also, everyone should visit Snakes on a Blog (warning: there are spoilers) and the official Snakes on a Plane website, featuring the personalized phone call from Samuel L. Jackson telling everyone to go see Snakes on a Plane, because “it might just be the most important film ever made.”

And, in addition to the blogs and websites, there are also the T-shirts. Some state simply “SoaP.” Others prove the mathematical concept that snakes plus a plane is very bad. Not to be outdone, some just quote Sam Jackson’s most famous line from the movie, “Enough is enough! I have had it with these MFin’ snakes on this MFin’ plane!” Of course, he doesn’t use the PC abbreviations.

The actual movie experience is kind of like a cross between The Rocky Horror Picture Show and seeing a really campy Broadway musical. Every time someone says a memorable line, the whole audience applauds, despite the fact that the actors can’t appreciate it. Some people cheer for the snakes. Others shout warnings to the unfortunate passengers as they are about to be viciously attacked by pheromone-crazed pit vipers. It's definitely the most interactive movie I've ever seen that doesn't involve crossdressing. Then, to top it off, there's a music video.

Snakes on a Plane has it all: sarcasm, drama, humor, blood, Samuel L. Jackson at his badass best, and of course, snakes. Go see it. Immediately. You should take off work. Before I tell you how they finally get rid of the snakes.

 

Why?

Why do/should we even worry about drug usage and 'performance enhancement' of professional atheles? Why does it matter?

I was thinking about that and wondered if it was some sort of backwards distributional equity argument...

Is the only reason there is opposition, is because of the "War on Drugs"? Or is there some other reason?

Is it just that they (the athletes) are supposed to be some sort of role models. And we can't be letting them get away with that (letting the kids know the truth), i.e. seeing that you can be exteremely successful and wealthy and use drugs simultaneously?


Does anybody understand the motivation?

Friday, August 18, 2006

 

Polical Debate III

Since we are getting along in comments once again, I figured we could shift over to a new post.

Quick points:

Travis agreed with Nathan
Student is seeking some rent
Jenna is going with her gut

Okay, now that we are all on the same page, let us continue the discussion with the following comments:

I appreciate a good Cost/Benefit Analysis and empirical research. Although they are both flawed in various ways, I appreciate the attempts to explain the world around us. Empirical research can never explain causality and is too technical to reach a significant audience. CBAs are overly simplistic and really serve no other purpose than to provide direction in political decision-making. Even with that said, they are both attempts to measure and interpret events and actions in some objective fashion.

They are not perfect, and I do not expect perfection, but I do appreciate the attempt.

Have at it...

 

Tobacco and heart risk

A new study by the folks at McMaster University in Canada implicates the heart risks of tobacco in all forms.

I would like to read the study, but can't yet find it.... I wonder what risky behaviors they control for that are also attached to increased heart attacks and heart health in general (and the act of smoking). I guess I will have to wait and see (send it to me if anybody else finds it).

Read about it here and here.

 

The Six Faces...




Read it here.

 

Am I the Only One?

Am I the only one that supports a full blown allowance on financial contributions to the political process. I am aware of the support for limited and even publicly provided financial contributions to the political process, but I have yet to find anyone that agrees with me.

I say, let people spend their money as they see fit, let the politicians accept money of any kind, and let them be ultimately responsible for what and how much they accept.

Current incentives dictate to accept limited amounts and hide the rest if possible. My alternative would give these individuals the incentive to collect as much funds as possible, but be more aware of the individuals behind the gifts.

It's a thought...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

 

Continued Political Debate

Per Travis' request, I thought we would continue the political debate with a new post. We will begin with Travis' last statement:

We know by reason. The question is not the same as "Is there a God?" and it does not require a leap of faith to believe in natural laws. As you said, gravity is a natural law that we did not begin to understand well until fairly recently. Natural rights are similarly a subset of the natural law, one that we could bear to understand better.

The evidence we have, in this case, is inseparable from the human fabric itself, but that doesn't make it any less revealing. In contrast, there is nothing in the human fabric to prove or disprove the existence of God.


You are right Travis that we discovered the existence of gravity rather late in our development. However, upon its discovery and the time that has passed, there have been the creation of numerous scientific tests to determine its strength, power, and relative "pull" on spatial objects. I am not sure that the same thing could be said for Natural Rights. Natural laws can be tested in some way. Can natural rights also be tested in a similar fashion?

 

Cartoons for Capitalism

Here is a 10 minute summary of what makes capitalism great that was filmed in 1948.

It kinda reminds of the cartoon version of Hayek's road to Serfdom.

Both are worth checking out.

Thanks to the Austrian Economists for the pointer.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

 

Funny...

Not too popular or politically smart of a statement, but it is kinda funny...

Read here

 

Dems got Punk'd

Check out this bill trickery from DC.

It's funny actually. I love it when nothing gets done!

 

Inadvertently Saving the Environment



I got a new car on Monday. Not because I wanted to save the environment, but because I desperately needed a new car.

The xA, amongst all its other wonderful features, gets 32 mpg on in the city and 38 on the highway.

So now I have a great conversation starter for all the tree-huggers applauding me for getting an eco-friendly car.

"I just wanted to save some money on gas and I ended up doing something good for the earth! Isn't the free market awesome?

 

Economic Systems

Here's a list of Economic Systems.

Since it is wikipedia, each section is not a complete entry yet... It is interesting that they do not mention the household or socialist economies.

Here is one that caught my eye:

Slave labour was a key element in the development of many countries; most notably the United States of America. It can be considered an economic system because it fulfills the needs of the society, albeit in a very unjust way. The slave-owners want to produce a certain commodity, and they do it through the cheapest way they can. They buy slaves and use them to produce their commodity, giving them just enough to survive (food, clothing and shelter). In this way, they become extremely rich while the slaves live on subistence level.

Most notably the United States? This must have been writing by an America, because two hundred years does not compare to the thousands of years of other nations and states.

The slave-owners want to produce a certain commodity, and they do it through the cheapest way they can.

The cheapest way they can? How does that differ from normal "free" labor? Should regular laborers feel like slaves since their time at work has been 'bought' and they are 'forced' to be productive. Seems like a poor explanation, especially since it doesn't into account the slave owner's incentive to treat their best workers extremely well in order for them to be more productive.

It appears to resemble a Marxist approach of explaining the plight of the proletariat working for slave wages, rather than understanding and explaining an economic system based on slave labour.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Equating

This interesting article talks about the folks that are equating famine and starvation with obesity as nutrition-based policy and societal problems of the same thread.

Are overeating and starving really comparable problems? Can they really be (sorry) weighted equally? Does a Des Moines factory worker who is ten pounds overweight have a like interest in correcting his health as a chronically undernourished Sudanese child?


I guess the best way to take care of obesity related diseases and health issues is to stop subsidizing them. But, hey, what do I know?

 

Me no likey this guy

State Treasurer Richard Moore is pressuring/attacking H&R Block for their tax loans.

Here we go again... Read the article.

What about his fiduciary responsibility? Why does he even have authority to act in this way? Whose best interest is he acting in anyways?

And he will probably be a strong candidate in 2008 for his stupid paternalism.

 

Reducing Risk

An interesting 'portfolio' approach to dealing with Islamic fundamenalism in London.

Mr. Farrukhh Dhondy says that other, less fundamental, more tolerant strands of Islam will help improve things all around in England. Catch the artile here.

 

Reminds me...

These Chicagoan tactics remind me of a very special South Park Episode.

The Cartmanland episode, where...

Upon the death of his grandmother, Cartman inherits $1,000,000 (bequeathed to him since he is the one member of his family who wouldn't waste it all on crack). Delighted with this money, Cartman makes an offer to buy an amusement park....Cartman initially enjoys his park, but as people try to sneak in, he is forced to hire a security guard, and, for money to pay him off with (he spent all his inheritance on the park itself), he agrees to let in two paying customers a day. More expenses begin to pile up, though, with broken rides, etc., and Cartman ends up having to let in hundreds of people per day. The park is successful, but Cartman becomes furious.

The tactic, first used by Cartman and then by other businesses, is to ban or not allow usage or participation, thereby actually creating a greater artificial demand for the good or service.

The interesting thing is that this same effect is actually being seen in Chicago under the Alderman's policies.

Monday, August 14, 2006

 

Good Quote

I just came across this quotation by NYC Mayor Bloomberg from a "New York Sun" article in an email from NYC Clash:

Mr. Bloomberg said governments should be using the law to mandate behavior when necessary. He said encouraging people to change behaviors through advertising campaigns is important, but is not enough. He quoted Mark Twain, saying, "Thunder is good. Thunder is impressive, but lightning does the work.


If you desire additional clarification, check out the article here.

 

The MLP and a thought...

I was walking around New York City's Upper East Side last night when I saw the name "Serf City" on the side of a free paper stand. I knew something was up since I rarely see the word "serf," so I checked it out and it turned out to be a publication of the Manhattan Libertarian Party. I read it on the bus ride home today and it was pretty good.

This was good news to me because I have a fairly dismal view of the future of liberty and I would love to be more hopeful. The only complaint I have is that libertarians tend to be condescending, mean, and confrontational, and this paper was all three. I think we can be thoughtful, kind, and engaging instead, and that with the latter attributes we'll get a lot more done and change a lot more minds.

For example, at work I used to be the "wacko libertarian." Now I'm the sensible, nice, but sometimes sarcastic libertarian. I'm working on limiting the sarcasm, but you know what I mean. More people are finally coming around than if I were still the "wacko libertarian." They ask me questions and we have civil debates. It's nice.

On a personal level, I think one of the best things we can do as libertarians is to wear it on our sleeves and to let everyone know that we're actually good and sane people, despite the fact that most people think libertarians are wackos. Maybe people respond just as much to the personality of the arguer as they do to the actual argument. This might be one of the reasons why libertarians are typically left behind in popularity contests. (If you don't think libertarians come off as wackos, you need to get out more.) What do you think? Is there any truth to this? If not, feel free to be as mean in your comments as you want.

 

The Enhanced Political Quiz...in 2D

Another version of the classic political quiz. I like that it allows quiz-takers to weight the issues that are most important.

 

Misuse of power

I am thinking that this case is a misuse of power by the judge.

Under a rarely used law that allows the state to charge a person with murder for providing drugs that kill someone else, the boy had been charged with second-degree murder, but both prosecutors and defense attorneys agreed that Croom could consider the lesser charge when he made his ruling...

Apparently the boy, who allegedly only provided Ecstasy to this mélange of drugs, was too slow to provide assistance to his teenage friend. The arguments breakdown something like this:

Defense attorneys argued during the trial that Hicks' was a habitual drug user, that there were several drugs in Hicks' body when she died and that there was no way to determine which one actually killed her. Witnesses also testified that Hicks' mother, at one point, had allegedly shared marijuana and the prescription drug Xanax with her daughter and friends, including the defendant.

But prosecutors said the case is simply about the law.

"People need to know this law is out there," said prosecutor Melanie Shekita after the verdict was read. "People who distribute drugs need to know they can be prosecuted for that. It shouldn't be about the victim's drug use. Every person in North Carolina is entitled to equal protection of the law."


Do individuals actually assume any risk in their actions? It seems like far too convenient of a verdict for little more reasoning than the fact that it is a rarely used, rather unknown law.

What is the appropriate approach to any other potentially harmful and risky good or service? What about guns, knives, cars, coat-hangers, alcohol, and aerosol cans?

 

Happy Birthday Castro Baby

Over the weekend we all celebrated the birth and life of one of contemporary history's most interesting world leaders, Cuba's President and the world's longest serving leader, Fidel Castro.

So let's all pause and remember this man on his 80th birthday.

Other news surrounding Castro are his brother, his health, the growing left-leaning alliance in the Americas, and the successful trial against cuban "spies".

Friday, August 11, 2006

 

Double Standard

Here is Becker and Posner on the Double Standard provided by the States and Nation as a whole: Internet Gambling.

Here's Becker, Here's Posner.

They do a good job, but it is important to realize that the odds of winning are significantly better in a casino or at the race track than they are at the State-Run lottery. I am thinking competition has something to do with that...

An associated area of interest is the alleged social externalities of gambling "addiction". They are a bit of a stretch for the most part, but they are interesting nonetheless.

 

New Economist Shirts

The folks over the Mises Institute have come out with a new batch of economist/philosopher t-shirts. On the one hand, I don't like them because I think they reduce complex economic ideas to simple slogans that show-case ideological leanings. On the other hand, these are just so damn cool!! I have already ordered the Say shirt and I am considering the Bastiat.

Of course, there's a few shirts I'd also like to see.
Here's a few suggestions with captions:
Ronald Coase: "Transactions Costs" or "Markets Ain't Perfect"
Herbert Simon: "Bounded Rationality" or "People are complicated"
Joseph Stiglitz: "Assymetrical Information"
Marx: "Che Ain't All That!"

Anyone else have any suggestions?

 

Youth Leagues

I was watching the Colts vs. the Rams last evening and there was a commercial about youth football leagues and how there were grants available (up to 25k). Then I wondered where these grants were coming from. After just checking out a few sites, it looks like the NFL provides the funds in partnership with the National Football League’s Youth Football Fund and some localities. Is this a form of wealth redistribution, distributional equity, or an alternative to education (sports as the way out)?

 

The Business of Sports

I know that subsidizing sports in the last few decades has become an extremely popular economic development approach. Although there is some debate as to how valuable an asset a sports complex is to a local economy, it does seem difficult to legitimize the expenditures of tax-payer dollars to support athletes and the wealthy team owners. Given that all of these complexes are located in areas of significant poor and poverty levels, it is questionable as to their distributional effect.

Are they neglecting the poor in favor of the Sport?

Thursday, August 10, 2006

 

For the baseball fan

This is a fun read for anybody out there who is a baseball fan like myself.

Oh yeah, don't forget. There is some football on tonight and tomorrow evening. Yes, insignificant pre-season, but football nonetheless.

Indianapolis at St. Louis, 8:00 p.m. (FOX)
New England at Atlanta 8:00 p.m. (CBS) (tomorrow)

*This is a heads-up for those of us without cable*

 

Textbook Sale

Amazon is having a sale on their textbooks: 20% off new textbooks, 90% off used textbooks, and get $15 off purchases of $150 in textbooks. Since I know one textbook is nearly $150 dollars, most folks wouldn't have any trouble reaching this.



I do ask one thing. If you are gonna buy your books through Amazon, please use the links on this page. It helps keep us going. Now go do that voodoo that you do so well. Thanks.


 

Term Limit

Do you think there should be term limits on judges? What about legislators? It seems that we have term limits on the most public officials, like mayors, governors, and presidents, but negelect those behind the scenes? Why, do you think that is? Do you think a term limit should apply to all publicly held offices?

It may be a case of economic inefficiency to mandate a term limit. Then again, it might encourage more political competition, awareness, and slowed growth in largess.

Read the WSJ article.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

 

School Days

Wake county has just "tapped" 23 schools to go year-round. As the News and Observer article puts it:

Parents have a month to press for changes... Nearly 18,000 Wake County elementary students should expect soon to lose their long summer breaks from classes.

So what's the big deal? I suppose the big deal is that both parents and students will soon be losing something that they have all become accustomed to, with little choice in the matter. Although many parents love the idea, it is likely that a good number hate it. What about summer camps? What about extended family trips during the summer time?

The big thing is the loss of choice (with any public school decision) and the loss of freedom to put one's child where ever they feel they will flourish. The best for most is not good enough.

Here's a map of the Wake County Schools. Check out yesterday's Mises Daily article.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

 

Hate-orade

Check out this WSJ opinion piece. Apparently, "the far right does not have a monopoly on bigotry and hatred and sanctimony."

It is interesting from the Left perspective.

 

Actors

Name your top ten favorite Actors. Then name your top ten best actors. I put the "best" with acting ability, others might not.

I will follow up later with actresses.

Monday, August 07, 2006

 

Munger4NCGov.com

Mike Munger has unveiled his official campaign website at Munger4NCGov.com, along with new bumper stickers.

Check out the site and sign the petition to get a libertarian on the ballot!

 

UNCG

There was a new study put out just last week about the economic impact of UNCG on the Piedmont Triad area of North Carolina. When I read the little blurb found in the Winston-Salem journal on the study I found at least one problem. Would anybody like to point them out.

Here's the story on the Triad Business Journal and UNCG's press release.

A recent study shows that the University generates economic activity totaling $588 million for the eight-county Piedmont Triad region, and $541 million in Guilford County. These figures include additional generated household income of $171 million in the Triad and $124 million in Guilford County.

The campus also generates 6,439 additional jobs in Guilford County and 7,792 jobs in the Triad, which includes Alamance, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Guilford, Randolph, Stokes and Yadkin counties in the Triad Metropolitan Statistical Area...

The four areas have a combined total of approximately $333.6 million. A breakdown of each category shows the following:

* Expenditures – All purchasing and spending, totaling $103.8 million, such as supplies, materials, services, fixed charges, construction and capital outlay. UNCG does business with more than 11,000 vendors. The $103.8 million in expenditures had a total economic impact of $175.3 million in the Triad and $163.2 million in Guilford County. It generated an additional $58.3 million in household income in the Triad ($43.8 million in Guilford County), along with including 2,272 jobs in the Triad and 1,708 in Guilford County.

* Wages – Salaries totaling $99.9 million, paid directly to UNCG’s 671 full-time faculty, 208 part-time faculty and 1,370 staff members. Of the employees, 91 percent live in Guilford County and another 6 percent live in the Triad’s eight counties. The $99.9 million generated $199 million in economic activity in the Triad ($163 million in Guilford County), $61.5 million in additional earnings in the Triad ($42 million in additional earnings in Guilford County), and 2,981 jobs in the Triad (2,784 in Guilford County).

* Student spending – All expenses incurred by UNCG’s more than 13,000 students, estimated at $126.6 million, such as books and supplies, rent, food, transportation and miscellaneous expenses, not including tuition and fees paid directly to UNCG. The $126.6 million generates economic activity of $208.1 million in the Triad ($198.1 million in Guilford County), an earnings impact of $50 million in the Triad ($37 million in Guilford County), and 2,433 jobs in the Triad (1,861 jobs in Guilford County).

* Visitor spending – Visitor spending, estimated at $3.5 million, including hotels, restaurants, recreation, retail and transportation. The $3.5 million accounts for total economic activity of $6.5 million in the Triad ($6.1 million in Guilford County), additional earnings of $1.6 million in the Triad ($1.5 million in Guilford County), and 106 jobs in the Triad (86 jobs in Guilford County).


A little more background on Dr. Brod and the methodology.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

 

Discrimination on Craigslist

Travis brought this to my attention.

An Apt for Rent in Washington, D.C. They appear to be a little picky about their target audience. Check it out here.

Pay special attention to the section that reads:

I'd like to rent the lower level suite to a mellow, clean, mature, relatively quiet, liberal, reasonable and kind person, male or female.


As Travis pointed out to me, he thought they had a non-discrimination policy.

I guess some discrimination is allowed, or rather some types of discrimination are more 'discriminatory' than others.

Check out Craigslist's info on the Fair Housing Act.

Friday, August 04, 2006

 

If you remember...

I wrote this in May and never got back to it. Submitted for your approval....

If you remember, a couple of weeks ago I talked about a Walter Williams article on the minimum wage and how good it was. I finally got around to reading some more of the data on the subject presented by the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

So I was wondering if there was any relationship to individual state's minimum wage laws and the percentage of workers earning the minimum wage or less (1). From a first glance, it does not appear that there is any relationship. Nearly 24 states and the District of Columbia have an percentage share (of minimum wage and lower earners) above the national average of 2.7%, whereas 22 states are below. FYI, the South and especially the South-Central United States appears to represent a great deal of those workers. Overall there doesn't seem to be any explicit connection between the two, however recognizing that, it seems that an increase in the minimum wage would likely not have substantial positive influences either. I will need to do a bit more work on this.

The most interesting state of all is Kansas which has a minimum wage rate below the national level at $2.65/per hour. The state also provides for a higher level of weekly hours available, before overtime rates apply at 46 weekly hours. So, let's take a look at their performance compared to the national averages: Kansas is slightly above the national average at 2.9%, meaning that approximately 2.9% of its hourly workforce earns $5.15 or less per hour. Most of the other states appear to hover around 2.6-3.1%. The high is New Mexico at 5.5% and the low is Alaska at 0.5%.

If you want to know a bit more, check out the map.


Note: There are problems with the data used to estimate minimum wage workers. The data comes from the CPS household survey, where individuals tend to understate their weekly earnings. So we can expect this to be the upper bound in general. There is also evidence towards overstatement and some misrepresentation since non-hourly workers (commission and salary based) are left out of the survey. So actual hourly income might be overstated. Recognizing both of these, we can use the average provided by BLS to estimate minimum-wage workers.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

 

Is Spontaneous Order always best?

Upon returning home from work yesterday, I noticed that the DOT was painting arrows denoting the turn and straight lanes where my street meets St. Mary's Street (a rather busy street at certain times). My first reaction was to be thrilled! I often wait in traffic at that very light.

Upon reflection, I realized that most people (local residents, for eaxmple) already knew the pattern - the arrows would be completely useless to them. The new arrows will only help the few who rarely travel my street.

I started wondering - can we really improve on the Spontaneous Order? At what cost? Are there instances where Spontaneous Order is insufficient?

 

Getting the Ball Rolling

If you have not been following the little discussion under Travis' Change WalMart post, you might be missing out on the news that we are starting up another website to further "educate and indocrinate" the masses.

Our course is that of the contrarian.

We will begin by defending WalMart as a savior of the poor, instead of the popular nonsense spouted off by so many. We will then also touch on the fallacies and mythology of the minimum wage and 'living' wage debate.

Who knows where we will head from there, but as popular ignorance of basic economics increases, this may very well become a full time job.

Here to start us off is an older paper by the Cato Institute titled "Keeping the Poor Poor: The Dark Side of the Living Wage".

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

 

New Kid on the Block

As pointed out to me by Cato, Richard Vedder has a new baby up and running. It will still be a few weeks till everything is up and running, but this should be good news for anybody interested in reform of higher education.

Also, check out his new blog.

 

Something new to add

Here is some new research from NBER on the private certification market. This should add a little more to Travis' state licensing debate.


Also, be sure to check out the Worst Article Ever??!!

 

Asia

Since I watched the South Park Episode, Kenny Dies, the Asia song "Heat of the Moment" that was performed by Cartman has been stuck in my head. It has been stuck in my head for a couple of days now, so I figured I would share the joy.

Check out Cartman performing it.

For fun, here's some SouthPark sounds... enjoy!!

Check out Asia's video along with some other fun 80's music videos.

 

The Legend of Kilroy


I was interesting in where this came from and what it is supposed to mean.

Wikipedia provides some nice background history of the
"Kilroy was here"
graffiti. Make sure to check out the additional links near the bottom of the entry.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

 

Change Wal-Mart, Change America?

I may never understand the Anti-WalMartarians, but this is kind of interesting. They're going to drive a tour bus across these here United States and try to attract some support for their cause. They have also officially branded themselves a left-wing movement by calling Wal-Mart's agenda, which they obviously hate, "right-wing." Plus they are getting help from the ditsy (yet curiously charming) former NC Senator John Edwards. I'm glad his job at UNC is not in jeopardy over this campaign (they love fallen Democrats at UNC). I bet he would never concede that Wal-Mart does more to help poor people than all the government programs he lobbies for.

Check out the link and note that the bus isn't going anywhere near the South, which has a very dense Wal-Mart population. I personally think they would get booed out of the South unless they stuck to college campuses.

"Starting August 1st, for 35 straight days, WakeUpWalMart.com is taking its national movement, and headquarters, on the road in a non-stop, cross-country tour hitting 19 states and 35 cities in 35 days. From the East Coast, to America's heartland, to the West Coast, the "2006 Change Wal-Mart, Change America Tour" is taking to the streets to fight for a better America.

"In town halls, public squares, and at state fairs, America's most exciting grassroots movement is standing up to rich, powerful corporations like Wal-Mart and spreading the word that it is time for Wal-Mart to do what is right instead of taking America in the wrong direction."

http://www.wakeupwalmart.com/tour/rsvp/


 

More Sports and Some Other News

What's so wrong about a little defacement of 'public' property? I think this guy needs to take care of that sand in his you know what.

NCAA likely to continue ban because of the flag. I guess this is what happens when sports gets too PC. Or perhaps it is because of the governmental favors... Either way its a mess.

The future of private toll roads may very well depend on Colorado.

 

Update: Atlas Shrugged

From The Liberator:

Atlas Shrugged movie: A Trilogy -- Starring Angelina Jolie?

by James W. Harris

After decades of false starts and disappointments, plans are quickly coming
together for a major Hollywood film version of Ayn Rand's seminal individualist
novel Atlas Shrugged.

A deal has been signed. A major studio is producing it. Funding has been
secured. A script has been drafted. Major stars are eagerly seeking the roles --
including Academy Award-winning actress Angelina Jolie, who very much wants
the lead role of Dagny Taggart.

Further: plans are for it to be shot as a *trilogy*!

Some background: The novel Atlas Shrugged played a major role in the formation
of the modern libertarian movement (although Rand never called herself a
libertarian and was critical of what she perceived as libertarianism).

Rand's complex, epic and controversial novel is, among other things, a
thriller, a romance, and an uncompromising philosophical defense of personal
and economic liberty and individualism.

The book has been a publishing phenomenon since its publication in 1957. It has
never been out of print in hardback and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

A 1999 Modern Library reader survey ranked it as the number one book published
in the 20th century. In 1991, the Library of Congress commissioned a nationwide
survey seeking books that changed the lives of their readers. First was the
Bible; second was Atlas Shrugged.

So what's the latest on this eagerly anticipated movie?

According to Robert Bidinotto, editor of the New Individualist magazine,
published by The Objectivist Center:

* Lions Gate studio -- the largest and most successful independent film
distributor-studio in North America -- will invest $40 million or more for the
initial production effort.

* Because of the complexity and length of the story, plans are for the film to
be shot and shown as a trilogy (like "Lord of the Rings").

* Those involved with the film -- from executive producers on down -- are
strongly committed to keeping Rand's philosophical vision intact and to making
a truly landmark, extraordinary film.

* A draft for the first part of the trilogy has been finished. The writer is
James V. Hart, whose major film credits include "Contact," "Hook," and "Tuck
Everlasting."

Hart, like others involved with the film, seems deeply committed to the
project: "Ayn Rand created extraordinary events and powerful characters over
fifty years ago in her visionary novel, that are suddenly coming frighteningly
true all around us every single day. This is a big, important challenge as a
screenwriter and a great privilege."

* Hollywood megastar Angelina Jolie is extremely interested in the lead role of
Dagny Taggart, and she has told the executive producers that she very much
wants to keep the character true to the novel and use as much of Rand's actual
dialogue as possible.

* The producers say they've been contacted by many other major stars eager to
be in the movie.

So when can we hope to see it? Says Bidinotto:

"The next step in the production is hiring the right director. [Executive
producers] mentioned several candidates, but expect that search to be over by
the fall. Once a director is announced ... production will accelerate at a very
rapid pace. Expectations are that the rest of the casting and the filming would
take place in 2007, the fiftieth anniversary of the novel. While they would
love to release the film next year to coincide with the anniversary, they
believe it is more likely it will be released in 2008."

Summarizes Bidinotto: "It looks like this grand tale will be made, at long
last; and more important, it looks as if everyone connected with the production
is dedicated to doing it right."

 

Some News

Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux will be heading to Los Angeles in the near future. Maybe a winning team will help his record a little. Here's the story.

Shift of power in Cuba and the extent to Castro's illness is unknown.... With Cuba's well-known expertise in medical services, it is amazing that this happened at all!!

 

Roy's Q

Travis and I were talking to Roy yesterday and we broke down one of the issues to this point. Have a go at it, if you would like. It was worded something like this:

Where does the moral superiority of reason come from?


Good question indeed, why do we put so much value in the logic over feelings or tradition? How did we get to this point and what is its significance?

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