Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Health Care and Bankruptcy

I once heard from one of my (leftist) college professors that 50% of bankruptcies are due to medical problems. When I first heard that statistic my bull-sh*t meter went off the scale. Here's a study that suggests that the actual number is more like 17%, which makes more sense to me.

Link via Division of Labour

Monday, February 27, 2006

It's a Good Start

US proposes zero tariffs on medicines, devices

Now we just need to reduce tariffs on...well, everything else.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wall St research suffers since Spitzer deal

Wall St research suffers since Spitzer deal

Frustrated by the restrictions, there's been an exodus of veteran analysts fleeing to hedge funds and other "buy side" investment firms, which offer richer pay and greater freedom. Investors and investment banking clients, meanwhile, say the quality of coverage has suffered, with many small companies no longer getting any attention.

Update: On a separate, but someone related note:

Wall Street complains compliance costs too high

Wall Street, after investigations into one-sided research, illegal mutual fund trades and other malfeasance, is complaining about the cost of what it calls "inefficient regulation."

A survey released on Monday by the Securities Industry Association, which looks after industry interests, found the cost of compliance has nearly doubled in the past three years, to more than $25 billion in 2005, up from $13 billion in 2002.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Is Foreign Control of Ports Bad?

A number of politicians are upset, based on security concerns, about a company from the United Arab Emirates trying to acquire some US owned ports. One senator says:

"We wouldn't turn over our customs service or our border patrol to a foreign government"

I'm not sure how useful that reductio ad absurdum is given that the 9/11 Commission has given the Transportation Security Administration's airline passenger screening an "F" rating.

Update: This story has gotten big. Why is it that the one time I agree with Bush on something everyone else seems opposed to it? Oh well.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Bizarre News

Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, is caught up in a growing debate about pornography.

News that the raunchy Playboy magazine has signed a deal to produce a local edition has fuelled the controversy.

What I find funny is the following picture:

Do these women object on religious grounds or do they fear that men might look at the magazines and want someone more desirable...

Link via Stockholm Spectator

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Lists, Charts, Etc.

I don't know what it is about me, but I love to see lists and charts of things.

Here is a list of nation-states that can possibly become failed states. (Division of Labour)

Also, here is a list from the Copenhagen Consensus that examines the world's problems from a cost/benefit analysis. Interestingly, it ranks global warming dead last. (Patri Friedman)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Winter Olympics

I just saw an event of Curling for the first time. I confess that I've become even more confused by watching it than by hearing descriptions of it.

Update: My little brother explained the way the scoring works and now I understand the game a bit more.

Thursday, February 09, 2006


Ten years ago the internet went black to protest the Communications Decency Act of 1996. Thankfully, the Supreme Court struck down the law as unconstitutional.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Some Good News

Generally speaking, most people are supportive of capitalism:

The University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes has published the findings of a poll of 20 countries which shows that 61% of people in those countries agree with the statement “the free enterprise system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world.” 28% disagreed.

The following countries are the most sympathetic to the market economy:

The highest level of support was from China (74%) followed by the Philippines (73%), the US (71%), and India (70%).

So who was the least sympathetic:

Only 36% of French agree with the proposition while 50% disagree.

Typical. Also:

With the exception of Argentina (42% in favour), Russia (43%) and Turkey (47%) all other countries showed a 57% or higher degree of support for free enterprise.

I'm surprised Turkey shows so much skepticism.

Link via Munkhammar

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

State Tax Windfall

Tax revenues at the state level are sky-rocketing, yet governments still (always?) want more. Chris Edwards uses California as an example:

In California, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed a budget increase for fiscal 2007 of 8.4 percent, which follows a 9.7 percent increase in 2006. This is the same governor who, in 2003, said, "if you spend, spend, spend, then you have tax, tax, tax, but all of a sudden you say, 'Where are the jobs?' Gone, gone, gone."

In seeking reelection this year, Schwarzenegger has found a new interest in "spend, spend, spend."

Edwards continues:

The cost to California and other high-tax states of using rising revenues for added spending is that crucially needed reforms to improve tax competitiveness are not being made.

Update: More here:

California: GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a stunning increase in spending, including a record $54.3 billion for K-12 education; $170 million over two years to get health care for 300,000 uninsured children; and a big boost in funds for highway improvements. The state estimates $7 billion in higher-than-expected tax revenues over two years.

Didn't Schwarzenegger get elected on the grounds that he would help solve California's financial woes. Now it looks like he's contributing to it.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Freedom to Travel

The US can travel to 130 countries without needing a visa. The US is tied for #1 along with Denmark and Finland. Of course, that didn't stop me from needing a visa to go to Russia. Oh well.

Via Finland for Thought

Thursday, February 02, 2006

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Here's a favorable trend that I hope continues:

Money in 401(k)s Outstrips Pension Totals

Update: The previous link has died since I originally made this post. Here's the story.