Monday, September 25, 2006

The Problem With State DB Plans

I think this is one reason why government defined-benefit plans are a terrible idea. Schwarzenegger signed a bill that bars state investment plans from investing in Sudan because of the Darfur crisis. No doubt it's well intentioned, but what does the Darfur crisis have to do with getting an adequate ROI? The problem is that decisions are being made on a political basis rather than an economic one. Since CalPERS has hundreds of billions in assets, it has a lot of clout. CalPERS desparately needs to be reformed into a defined-contribution plan so individuals can control where the money goes.

Update: After rereading the last sentence opf my post I think that I should elaborate more. If individuals controlled where their contributions went they could base their decisions on politics, but my guess is their main concern would be achieving a satisfactory ROI.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Terrible Trade Policy Proposal

I'm going to second Dingel's comment; he believe's that this is one of the worst trade policy proposals in recent memory. The proposal is to force importers to obtain a government certificate to import goods as a remedy to the trade deficit. Oddly, the senators that are proposing the new law argue that it's a "market based system". Huh?

WHO wants more DDT

The World Health Organization wants to use more DDT to help fight malaria. According to the article, "DDT, longed banned in the United States because of environmental damage, is no longer sprayed outdoors". This is due to extensive lobbying from wealthy western environmentalists. Other measures seem to have questionable results, "Bednets soaked in different insecticides already are used to protect sleeping families. But if the nets are torn or aren't used every night, a mosquito can infect someone. Plus, mosquitoes can develop resistance to those nets' chemicals, Shiff added, pointing to a 2002 malaria outbreak in part of South Africa using bednets. DDT in those houses quelled the outbreak".

Update: More from the BBC
Update 2: More from the WSJ

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Little Liberty Goes A Long Way

Those economists at GMU are worth their weight in gold. Here's a list of areas where GMU economists think could benefit from liberalization and privatization. I do have one question though. How do you privatize "All job training and workforce assistance programs"? Is that the same thing same as privatizing a loan program (like a student loan) or does it refer to something else?

Via Arnold Kling