Sunday, August 28, 2005

FDA Reform

Via Catallarchy, Alex Tabarrok argues that the FDA should be reformed into an organization that provides consumers with information about the costs and benefits of medical decisions instead of the current model that makes choices for consumers, he calls this the Consumer Reports model.

H-1B Visas

Here's an article from the WSJ that discusses some of the problems with the H-1B Visa program. Here's a snippet:

What this effectively means is that any number of fields dependent on high-skilled labor could be facing worker shortages: science, medicine, engineering, computer programming. It also means that tens of thousands of foreigners--who've graduated from U.S. universities and applied for the visas to stay here and work for American firms--will be shipped home to start companies or work for our global competitors.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

California Ballot Propositions

From the Bloginators:

Speaking of the ballot, Secretary of State Bruce McPherson assigned numbers to all of the measures that have qualified for the ballot so far. They are:

Proposition 73: Parental notification for abortion
Proposition 74: Teacher tenure
Proposition 75: Union dues checkoff
Proposition 76: Live Within Our Means budget reform
Proposition 77: Reapportionment
Proposition 78: Prescription drugs (industry-sponsored)
Proposition 79: Prescription drugs (consumer/labor-sponsored)
Proposition 80: Electricity regulation


The fall semester at my University starts on Monday so blogging might be light.

Warning Labels

Apparently consumers are too stupid to know that French Fries and other junk food are bad for them:

Calif. AG Wants Warning Label on Fries

The Attorney General wants warning labels because the food could be carcinogenic, but what doesn't cause cancer. It seems like just about everything can give you cancer these days.

What color are Greens?

Is the Green Party of California really green or is it red? After reading this I'm not sure. Why should the Greens care if the Governor is "anti-worker". To the best of my knowledge none of their Ten Key Values were violated so why do they care? I'm just curious.

Link via Third Party Watch

Debt and Savings

Here's an excellent article that discusses the problems we face in the US regarding savings and debt.

Update: After further reading there's one part that bothers me:

...Bernanke touches on another area that scares economists — America's inexhaustible desire for foreign goods.

I doubt that economists are that afraid of trade and the parts after that passage tend to be a bit alarmist.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Say What?

Rule would encourage automatic 401(k) enrollment

I found this article to be a bit bizarre. It starts off with a member of the Labor Department saying the following:

"We want to remove barriers for people to save for retirement..."

Sounds promising does it not? When you read this sentence you might think they are proposing abolishing the capital gains tax or lifting the cap on IRA contributions. She goes on to say:

"...and automatic enrollment really addresses one of the problems that people face: They may be overwhelmed with the responsibility of saving for retirement,"

How misleading. They are not "removing barriers", but proposing more regulations. Does anyone else detect a bias towards interventionism by the Labor Department? Oh, and are people really "overwhelmed with...saving"? That sounds like something Barry Schwartz would say. He argues that people are overwhelmed by choice. If you want a good debunking of that nonsense click here.

Too Funny

I've discovered the website of the Extraneous Services Administration (ESA). What is it you ask? Here's their mission:

The Extraneous Services Administration provides the framework for a comprehensive interagency approach to identifying, managing, classifying, sorting, stacking, pushing, probing, fluffing, waxing, and solving heretofore unidentified, unmanaged, unclassified, unsorted, unstacked, unpushed, unprobed, unfluffed, unwaxed, and unsolved issues of governmental administration. The ESA is principally concerned with developing long-term, high-risk, low-torque, medium-rare solutions to problems of governmental abstraction and forgetfulness. It is also the agency that maintains the Congressional Salad Bar.

Who said excess bureacracy was a bad thing?

Thursday, August 18, 2005


Here's an excellent article from the Independent Institute that advocates state governments take care of their own roads as opposed to the pork barrel-filled federal system. Being from California, I'm especially supportive of this because California happens to be what the article calls a donor state (meaning California pays more than it receives). Why should I have to subsidize some road to nowhere in Alaska?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Energy Deregulation

From Marginal Revolution, nobel prize winning economist Vernon L. Smith has some recommendations regarding energy deregulation. Here's a sample:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission got it right at wholesale level: They moved to require generation companies to be separated from the transmission grid. They understood that you cannot have a competitive wholesale market if generators also own transmission. This would allow energy production to be combined with the more limited contestability of the transmission grid and unnecessarily restrain energy competition in the wholesale market.

So why don't we just extend the FERC principle to the local wires and energy purchased by retail customers? The political and regulatory structure stands in the way. It would infringe states rights: FERC has jurisdiction over the interstate energy transmission system, but no authority over the local wires or retail energy competition on those wires. Each state long ago granted a franchised local monopoly to your utility company. This legally restricted service to one set of wires, but implicitly was interpreted to mean that each utility could tie customer purchases of energy to the rental of the wires--a right they are loath to give up.


The Supreme Court of California ruled that Proposition 77 is back on the ballot. Prop 77 would give the authority of drawing districts to a non-partisan committee of retired judges. As for what I think, I'm not sure about this specific proposal, but I am broadly supportive of some sort of redistricting reform. As in many other states, the California legislature had made it so that elections aren't competitive.

Link via Dissecting Leftism

Friday, August 12, 2005

Quote of the Day

"'s been conclusively established that 43.58871563% of all statistics are made up on the spot."

Link via Fallacy Files

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Broken Window Fallacy

Bush: Highway Bill Will Spur the Economy

From the article:

"Highways just don't happen," Bush said. "People have got to show up and do the work to refit a highway or build a bridge, and they need new equipment to do so. So the bill I'm signing is going to help give hundreds of thousands of Americans good-paying jobs."

The president doesn't mention any of the opportunity costs involved with such wasteful spending. For more info see the Citizens Against Government Waste's opinion on the bill.

Everyone Needs A Scapegoat

I'm convinced that California is run by loons. Our state's insurance commissioner has had to resort to populist rhetoric to push his agenda. He actually blames Health Savings Accounts for California's medical woes.

For more info see here.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

No Surprise

There's no link between video games and violence.

Can you believe that this is an actual political issue?

Monday, August 08, 2005


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Money and Politics

I agree with what the Angry Economist says regarding money and politics:

Some people think that big money has too much influence in the US political system. I disagree. As long as the government does things, and as long as it's democratic, the public will rightly seek to influence what the government does. This public includes non-profit and for-profit corporations.

The problem is that people expect government to do too much for them. People need to understand that they can and should do things for themselves. They do a better job for themselves because they care more about themselves than anyone else can. Providing for themselves is better for their character. Good character leads to good morality.

A strong government has the effect of infantizing adults. This cannot be a good thing.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Zero Dues

The Libertarian Party no longer requires dues to become a member.

Friday, August 05, 2005

This is an outrage!

The EU is seriously considering fining employers in Bavaria whose employees where the traditional dress for serving beer.


Japan's postal privatization bill is slowly progressing. Whether it will succeed or not is still unclear. For the latest details see here.

Update: The bill has been defeated in the upper house and the PM has called for elections on September 11.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


If you follow international politics you quickly learn that there are some topics which are essentially non-issues in the US. Take this for example...

Send in the Llama Cavalry!

I don't know about you, but I found this hypothetical situation hilarious:

If the Eurasians domesticated the horse, it must have been inevitable, right? But if the Incas had shown up in Europe in 1492 with deadly llama cavalry, and mowed down backward European infantry, I suspect modern Incan historians would have declared the horse a hopeless candidate for domestication too.

Deadly llama cavalry! I wish I was a professional economist so I could ponder these things all day.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Tyranny of Good Intentions

From an interview with a Kenyan economist:

SPIEGEL: Mr. Shikwati, the G8 summit at Gleneagles is about to beef up the development aid for Africa...

Shikwati: ... for God's sake, please just stop.

SPIEGEL: Stop? The industrialized nations of the West want to eliminate hunger and poverty.

Shikwati: Such intentions have been damaging our continent for the past 40 years. If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.