Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Now That's News

Pulled from the comments section at TPM:

CNN: "Let's see what people on Twitter are saying, '2bIggyBallzer says: liberal elitests and their education will bring socialzed welfare to undermine republic of united sttts.'"

And UgizmeLuvz says, 'Obama just wants wuts bestz for cuntry plz be resptible.'"

We will be right back after 7 more minutes of commercials and bring you more thoughts from around the globe on Twitter.

...And were back, it appears Sarah Palin has a new comment on her twitter account.

CNN senior Twitter Correspondent: "Sarah Palin has sent this tweet to us: 'like Pandora, and Zeus, who traveled through the woods, in the war against British, Obama is no Maverick, GodblessUSA, and save Constitution.'"

CNN senior Twitter Correspondent: Back to you...

We now go to our panel to discuss for 11 minutes the Sarah Palin tweet, and the possibility of Tiger Woods winning the Masters, will you watch the masters on your new iPad?

CNN Senior Panel Discussion Person: "Sarah Palin has apparently thrown down a challenge to President Obama's foreign policy, think she has a chance to win in 2012?"

CNN Viewer: Walks to cabinet pulls out bottle of scotch, and a hand gun, places gun up to temple, and contemplates...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Individual Mandate Penalties

This post by economist Austin Frakt seems to refute the claim that the individual mandate penalties of the new healthcare bill are too low and will encourage many to game the system.

It's a question I had been wondering about, and this answered it. So there you have it.


I have to break my silence to share my delight in this apriori argument from John Holbo:

Suppose you have a two-party system.

One of these parties enjoys/enforces total party discipline, the other, not: members of the latter party side with their own, or cross the aisle, on individual issues/votes, as conscience or self-interest dictate. Let’s call the completely disciplined party the Partisan Party. The completely undisciplined, the Bipartisan Party (to reflect its principled commitment to always keeping the door open to the higher value of bipartisanship!)

Over time, both parties will push positive proposals/ legislation. Quite obviously, the Bipartisan Party will be at a tactical disadvantage, due to its lax discipline. Less obviously, it will have an ongoing optics problem. All the proposals of the Partisan Party will be bipartisan. That is, a few members of the other party will, predictably, peel off and cross the aisle to stands with the Partisans. None of the proposals of the Bipartisan Party, on the other hand, will ever be bipartisan. No Partisan will ever support a Bipartisan measure. In fact, all proposals of the Bipartisan party will face bipartisan opposition – as a few Bipartisans trudge across the aisle (there are always a few!) to stand with the Partisans. Result: the Partisan party, thanks to its unremitting opposition to bipartisanship, will be able to present itself as the party of bipartisanship, and be able to critique the Bipartisan Party, with considerable force and conviction, as the hypocritically hyperpartisan party of pure partisanship.

Brilliant! I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out whether and how this applies to the world we live in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When Did I Last Post Something?

Now where did that last year go?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Sex, Lies, and Videotape (Without the Sex)

I don't know if videos like this will really reach the people who need to see them, but I'll do what I can to pass them along. This one shows a number of clips of John McCain, exposing his missteps and contradictions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oh, Millsaps, Woe Unto You


I think the lesson here is to keep throwing laterals on such last-second plays. Why let yourself get tackled? The worst that can happen is a fumble that the defense recovers, which amounts to the same as getting tackled. In fact, since laterals are allowed to hit the ground, it looks like throwing the "bounce-pass" actually took the defense off-guard just long enough to scamper past them.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Flat Tax II

This post is the promised (and long-awaited) follow-up to the post called "Flat Tax" that I made a while ago (July 5, 2007, to be exact). This one could be entitled, "We Already Have a Flat Tax (More or Less)." (For this post, I'm indebted to Kevin Drum who collected the data here that I've been meaning to find to make the argument. Actually a lot of it came from this NY Times source page and this article, too.)

Here is exhibit A:


This graph (more information here) shows that our income taxes combined with payroll taxes produce rates that are moderately progressive until you reach the top two tiers, which comprise the highest 5000 earners or so. Then the rate becomes regressive.

Here is exhibit B:


This one combines all of the taxes we pay into one composite rate: income and payroll taxes, plus sales taxes, property taxes, and excise taxes. Notice that the final rates are pretty flat--18%, 14%, 16%, 18%, and 19% per quintile. The wealthiest pay one percent more of their income in taxes compared to the poorest.

Those who argue for a "flat tax" really mean that they want a flat rate for income tax (and no estate taxes). The effect of such a policy would be to make the full picture of all the taxes a regressive rate. The wealthy would end up paying a much smaller percentage in taxes as compared those of low or middle incomes.

Furthermore, it would bankrupt our government so that we would have to make major cuts in either (a) defense, (b) Medicare and Medicaid, or (c) Social Security. Finally, the evidence suggests that such cuts will not be made, and so such attempts in the past have only led to skyrocketing national debt, i.e., increases in the national debt as a share of the GDP (see graph below for evidence of this).

National Debt

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Does the Death Penalty Deter?

I am thinking about this question because the death penalty is a topic of discussion on the campus where I teach. Generally, the programs designed to facilitate the discussion have been thoughtful and measured. However, a colleague of mine has posted some statistics on his door that purport to show the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrence. As is often the case with this colleague, he adopts a stance dogmatically, misuses or misinterprets the evidence, and arrogantly refuses to debate the issue openly preferring instead to make snarky remarks. I may respond by posting some data of my own on my door as a sort of snarky equipollence argument (i.e., equally weighted counterargument). However, the real work has already been done by people who know how to analyze the data. See this article in the Stanford Law Review for a detailed analysis, showing that the data is at best inconclusive and may even show the opposite.

In the meantime, check out these graphs.

Death Penalty

This one shows that the homicide rates in states without a death penalty tracked those with a death penalty. Thus, the trends in homicide do not correlate to death penalty laws. Furthermore, it is interesting to note that the rates are lower in the states without the death penalty.

Death Penalty 2

This one shows a decrease in homicides after the moratorium on capital punishment began. In fact, the bar graph shows even fewer homicides than one would expect given the national trend at that point.

None of this is conclusive by itself. However, the full study does conclusively show that the other major studies are flawed when they claim that the data supports the thesis that the death penalty is a deterrence. So stick that in your pipe, colleague!