Monday, June 26, 2006

Governator Meets Friedman

I just found Free to Choose on Google video! You can see a younger Schwarzenegger giving an intro to the series here. I like how he describes freedom as being able to "chase your own rainbow". LOL, I've never though of it like that, but I guess it makes sense.

Via the comments to this post for another Friedman video.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

FEMA and Corruption

A new study argues that FEMA relief leads to more corruption. Here's the abstract:

Could bad weather be responsible for U.S. corruption? Natural disasters create resource windfalls in the states they strike by triggering federally-provided natural disaster relief. Like windfalls created by the natural resource curse and foreign aid, disaster relief windfalls may also increase corruption. We investigate this hypothesis by exploring the effect of FEMA-provided disaster relief on public corruption. The results support our hypothesis. Each additional $1 per capita in average annual FEMA relief increases corruption nearly 2.5 percent in the average state. Eliminating FEMA disaster relief would reduce corruption more than 20 percent in the average state. Our findings suggest that notoriously corrupt regions of the United States, such as the Gulf Coast, are notoriously corrupt because natural disasters frequently strike them. They attract more disaster relief making them more corrupt.

Via Division of Labour

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Rising Drug Prices

According to this article:

Prices of medicines used by older Americans for chronic conditions such as arthritis and high cholesterol are rising even as new federal drug coverage has been rolled out to help make prescriptions more affordable

Do you think it's a coincidence that the two events are occurring at the same time. I don't and neither does Stefan Karlsson:

This correlation in time is hardly coincidential, as this is just what you could expect from any increase in subsidies. Subsidies of anything will increase demand, something which in turn will of course raise prices.

I think I only partially agree with his analysis, though. Subsidies can also be used at times to increase supply (by subsidising the production of a good) thereby lowering prices. Of course, that's not what's happening here. In this case, the federal government is subsidising consumption thereby raising demand and prices along with it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Someone actually did a side by side comparison between the United States Constitution and the Confederate States Constitution. See here.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

CA Cable Reform

Adam Summers is mildly supportive of California's cable franchise reform:

The legislation, A.B. 2987, sponsored by Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) and Assemblyman Lloyd Levine (D-Van Nuys), would reform the anachronistic cable franchise system by eliminating the costly practice for providers of obtaining cable franchises city by city. The change is intended to open up cable competition to telephone companies and others and offer consumers greater choice and lower cable bills.

He also has some doubts:

Perhaps the greatest concern, however, is that the concentration of franchise power in the state could actually lead to higher franchise costs and more burdensome regulation in the long run.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Scrooge Reads My Blog

Someone arrived on my blog by doing the following Yahoo! search:

negative effects santa clause has on kids

I'm sorry, but I don't think I have any knowledge on the topic. ;)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Bi-Partisan Fiscal Irresponsibility

We all know Bush spends like a drunken sailor, but when the Democrats take charge in November we'll have a divided government and fiscal responsibility, correct? Oh, maybe not:

“When I become chairman [of a House appropriations subcommittee], I'm going to earmark the shit out of it,” Moran buoyantly told a crowd of 450 attending the event.

Via Donald Luskin

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Organ Shortages

Virginia Postrel on organ shortages:

The most obvious way to increase the supply of any scarce commodity — paying more for it — is illegal. Federal law blocks transplant centers, patients and insurers from compensating donors in an above-board process, with full legal and medical protections. The growing and inevitable "transplant tourism" industry, and even shadier organ brokers, are the kidney equivalents of back-alley abortionists.

LEGALIZED FINANCIAL incentives would encourage more people to volunteer their organs. Donors would probably still be relatively rare, just as surrogate mothers are. Many, like me, would still help out without payment, just as some people get paid for giving blood or fighting fires while others do it for free.

Paying donors need not hurt the poor, any more than paying dialysis centers does. Compensation could, in fact, help low-income Americans, who are disproportionately likely to suffer from kidney disease.

Via Greg Mankiw

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Vicious Circle of College Tuition

Neal at the Cato blog makes what I consider to be an important observation:

The political cycle that drives tuition is actually easy to understand: Some people complain that tuition is too high and demand that politicians make college “affordable.” Politicians, to get votes, provide student aid. Then schools, suddenly able to get more money, raise tuition. But wait, that makes college “unaffordable” again! And so it goes…

He has an update to the previous post here.

Good News

Support for agricultural subsidies is starting to diminish:

Fat days may be over for farm subsidies

From the article:

Opponents cite several reasons why existing farm subsidies need to change:

• Some call them unaffordable. Pat Toomey, a former Republican congressman who heads the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, calls them "Moscow on the Mississippi."

• Some call them protectionist. Groups such as Oxfam and Bread for the World, as well as Irish rock star Bono, say American and European subsidies help flood the world market with inexpensive crops, holding back farmers in Third World countries.

• Some call them discriminatory. Hoagland says 93% of the payments go to farmers who account for just 21% of farm income.

Of course, some call them "all of the above".

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

California Primary Elections

First, an observation: is it a coincidence that there's an election going on at 6/6/06...that's 666! I know politics is evil, but this is ridiculous. Okay, lame jokes aside, it looks like Angelides is ahead in the polls right now with 47% (as of 10:05 PM PST). Also, it looks like both ballot propositions might be going down (hooray!). Although, with only 13% of the precincts reporting, it's probably too soon to say anything definitive.

Update (10:19): It looks like Measure A will pass! Measure A prevents local governments in Orange County to give takings from eminent domain to the private sector.

Update (11:45): Well, it's getting close to midnight and, with 45% of the precincts reporting, the numbers look almost exactly the same as they did from my last update. I'll post more on the results tomorrow.

Update 6/7/06: Angelides is the winner.

Update: Happy Birthday Prop 13!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Sorry for the Delay

The good news is that I passed all of my classes last semester. The bad news is that I'm taking a summer course so there will be little to no blogging this month. I'll try to blog about the California primary election this Tuesday if I can.