When foreign gubmnts subsidize their export industries they do, indeed, make life harder for their competitors here. But they also make consumers here better off.
Through foreign subsidies on exports, some U.S. industries are harmed, but others are helped. The net effect of the subsidies is an increase in the real aggregate income of the United States (and a reduction in the real aggregate income of Japan and any other country that provides industrial subsidies). As opposed to discouraging the subsidization of foreign industries, the United States should look upon such subsidies as an opportunity to improve the welfare of Americans.
The subsidization of foreign exports enables Americans to tap into the income bases of foreign countries and impose a tax on foreigners every time a subsidized product is imported into this country. Communist China, for example, would never consider allowing the U.S. government to tax its one billion citizens directly; nevertheless, that is what China permits indirectly through the subsidies it gives its exporting industries, for example, textiles. The tax is realized in terms of higher prices and lower real incomes in China and lower prices and higher real incomes in the United States.
I will likely have some extra luggage when going to Regina next week to give my seminar on "An Options Market for Human Organs", so I went to the WestJet website to see what the charges might be.
Here is a portion of the explanation of the fees at their site:
If you are paying a fee at the airport, we will accept Canadian dollars or the equivalent amount of the local currency. Much as we'd like to, we can't accept payment in the form of songs, yardwork or feats of strength. [emphasis added]
Some interesting, digressive notes:
But, as I posted earlier on Facebook, on the plus side...
Whoever said no news is good news was wrong. Turns out drinking red wine is better for you than going to the gym! How’s that for good news? Jason Dyck and other science researchers in the University of Alberta in Canada found that red wine, nuts and grapes have a complex called resveratrol which improves heart, muscle and bone functions; the same way they’re improved when one goes to the gym. Resveratrol proved to be an effective antioxidant when tested on rodents which is why scientists are planning on testing it with diabetics. If results are positive for the benefits of the complex, patient’s heart health could be improved just as much as it does when they work out vigorously.
What kind of commission structure is Willy Loman working under in Death of a Salesman? It certainly seems strange to me.
Willy: I did five hundred gross in Providence and seven hundred gross in Boston...
Linda: ... That makes your commission .... $212!....... How much did you (really) do?
Willy: .... it came to roughly two hundred gross in the whole trip....
Linda: Well, it makes $70 and some pennies.
Apparently, when Willy doesn't sell much, he earns a commission slightly greater than 35%. But if he sells a LOT of merchandise, he earns only 212/1200 or 17.7%.
That is a really incentive-incompatible commission structure. No wonder Willy never sold much -- he had an incentive to make more, smaller sales trips. As a result, the company did less business and paid Willy more per hour (despite his growing failures as a salesman). Usually commission structures are designed to encourage salesmen to make more, bigger sales, not fewer or less.
Maybe Linda's math skills are weak?
That, or Arthur Miller (and his editors and publishers) were innumerate.
Science is advanced when people are skeptical of received doctrines and "settled science". Advancing both knowledge and our understanding requires an open mind and a willingness to question the mainstream. And yet, throughout the ages, skeptics have been persecuted by religious and political leaders.
You would think humans could learn from this history. But no, assuming these remarks were not taken out of context [via Jack].
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., says he wants a law to punish politicians who dissent from man-made climate change theory - and calls them "contemptible human beings."
Kennedy made the remarks in an interview with Climate Depot at a climate march in New York on Sunday:
Kennedy Jr. accused skeptical politicians of "selling out the public trust." "Those guys are doing the Koch Brothers bidding and are against all the evidence of the rational mind, saying global warming does not exit. They are contemptible human beings. I wish there were a law you could punish them with. I don't think there is a law that you can punish those politicians under."
Kennedy also said he thinks the successful pro-energy Koch brothers should be "in jail...with all the other war criminals":
"I think it's treason. Do I think the Koch Brothers are treasonous, yes I do," Kennedy explained.
"They are enjoying making themselves billionaires by impoverishing the rest of us. Do I think they should be in jail, I think they should be enjoying three hots and a cot at the Hague with all the other war criminals," Kennedy declared.
And, Kennedy's not the only climate activist who would like to see dissenters jailed.
As the Media Research Center's Business and Media Institute (BMI) chronicled in a May 2014 analysis, pro-climate change theory media and scientists have long promoted the idea of throwing anyone who disagrees with them in jail - even to the point of calling for "climate Nuremberg" trials.
So much for constitutional freedoms of speech, press, and expression. So much for competition in the marketplace of ideas.
Even if it turns out that I am incorrect to be skeptical (I'm skeptical with good reason, for now, I think. See this, this, and this.), I hope the fundamental constitutional freedoms will not be abridged in this or any other debates or discussions concerning science and public policy.
Addendum: also see this by Bjorn Lomborg
I'll be giving a seminar at the University of Regina on "An Options Market for Human Organs" on October 3rd. Here is the abstract:
There is a chronic shortage of human organs for transplant. This shortage is largely the result of the failure to use market pricing in the face of a phenomenal increase in demand resulting in part from an aging population but more from the dramatic medical technology improvements during the past 50 years.
The shortage can easily be seen as an excess quantity demand over the quantity supplied at zero price. The naïve, simplistic solution is to allow markets in human organs to emerge with positive prices for the organs (and the transplant procedure).
But the market solution is fraught with difficulties, including the problem of killing a donor or, more commonly, who bears the risk when the probability of death of a live donor is increased. Also the transaction, negotiation, and legal costs associated with identifying a legal heir and working out a deal with them after a potential donor is killed can be ghoulish and daunting.
This paper presents an alternative: an options market for organs. Potential donors sign an irrevocable contract, receiving an upfront payment in exchange for their organs (should someone want them for transplant). Essentially, the purchaser buys an option of first refusal when the person dies.
It is expected that many of the buyers of these options would be life insurance companies who would most likely play a leading role in organizing the market.
The seminar is scheduled for 2:30 - 4pm in CL435.
I'm looking forward to seeing my friends in the economics department while I'm there (and, of course, playing with the Roughrider Pepband for the game that evening).
I have a small role (Charley) in the London Community Players' production of Death of a Salesman, so I claim no credit for this. And I make no claim to being unbiased, though I do my best.
This production is one of the best you could ever see. I'll stack it up against any professional production of Death of a Salesman. And last night's performance was the best yet.
The production takes place in Procunier Hall of The Palace Theatre, a too-small standard black-box-type performance venue, but Jason Rip (director), Steven Mitchell (tech and staging consultant), and Tia Morin (stage manager) have worked tirelessly and flexibly to bring off a tour de force in the venue.
The more we work on the play, the more I fail to see it as a critique of the American/Canadian dream or an attack on greed, success, or materialism. Rather, I see it as an exploration of the early onset of dementia in a man who never faced reality, about himself or much else.
To me, the hero of the play is Biff, who finally comes to grips with who he is and who his father was, after years and years of anguish about it all.... sort of a prolonged identity crisis.
Sure, Charley is a kind, sympathetic, generous guy and in some sense is a testament to the American/Canadian dream that success comes to those who work hard and who are honest and kind. Also his son, Bernard, who grows from being a nerdy (anemic, Willy calls him) kid to become a hot-shot lawyer arguing a case before the supreme court, is something of a hero. But they aren't the real heroes of the play.
Willy, of course, is a tragic hero. You want to grab him, shake him, tell him to stop lying to himself and everyone around him.
Linda (Willy's wife) is a tragic heroine. She lives with Willy's lies, trying to put bandaids on major wounds everywhere, going along with him and not forcing or even asking him to face reality very often. She keeps Willy from going to Alaska, and I'm not sure but what I wish Willy had gone there. Yet there's a good chance that if they had gone to Alaska, Willy still would have been a failure. After all, he was rejected and abandoned by his father and his older brother and likely would not have dealt with the challenges of Alaska any better than he dealt with the challenges of being a salesman in a changing market.
No matter whether you agree with my take on the play, you will be in awe of the performances. The audiences clearly are moved by the performances, and people have used phrases like "stunningly good" or "brilliant" or "mesmerizing" or "deep and moving" when talking about the show.
Rob Faust (Willy) and Deb Mitchell (Linda) are simply amazing, having captured the essence of their characters [not to mention having learned such taxing roles and the physical strain of actually performing them]. And the support from James Roberts (Biff) and Marshall Lemon (Happy), Willy and Linda's two sons, is terrific. Beyond those four main characters, the rest of us have supporting roles. And, to tell the truth, everyone in every role does a tremendous job.
See this play. It is one of the best productions you will ever see of Death of a Salesman.
The old CBC business model is broken. Television viewers and radio listeners have zillions of options via cable and the internet. Viewership is down and hence so are advertising revenues. The result? The CBC essentially wants to move toward the BBC model: charge everyone a fee (i.e. another tax) to support them, regardless of whether we watch, like, or listen to what they produce.
It is time for a massive shakeup at the CBC, not a massive shakedown of consumers and taxpayers. As Terrence Corcoran says,
The business model is broken, advertisers won’t support content, government subsidies are shrinking, so let’s ding consumers directly with a no-choice option. Never mind “pick and pay” TV. The CBC wants “we pick, you pay” TV.
The CBC does little to provide national news that is not otherwise available through Global, CTV, Sun, etc. And it is expensive. We are no longer getting our money's worth.
Most supporters of the CBC are people who want other taxpayers to support a medium that the supporters won't pay for themselves. My solution: If the CBC "can't afford to be free", put it on pay channels and see what happens.
Corcoran has much more. Read the whole thing.
I have recently looked at the proposed "Justification Report" the county has prepared to justify their putting a 30-story building where the current Middlesex County Health building is at Ridout and King Street in London, Ontario.
Not only will the building take up and block a LOT of park space and add seriously to traffic congestion problems, but I have to wonder how purposely duplicitous they were being with their shadow/sunlight study.
Their diagrams show that a 30-story building would cast NO shadow over the heritage Middlesex Courthouse which is only about 60 feet to the north of the proposed building. They must have estimated that result for June 21 or something, when the sun is highest in the sky. Clearly other times of the year the proposed building would frequently cover the old Middlesex Courthouse and its surrounding land in shadows, detracting seriously from the light which helps make the old courthouse such an intriguing and beautiful sight.
Here is the diagram:
Now look at this aerial photo which appears in that same report. The shadow cast by the north Renaissance tower (shown in the lower right of each of the above drawings), which is only about 20 stories, would clearly reach and cover the old Middlesex Courthouse if it were located on the orange rectangle of the proposed tower. It reaches all the way to "The Bud", not halfway, as is shown in those above diagrams.
I don't want to go overboard, but it looks as if the planners who did that shadow diagram were either seriously mistaken or intentionally misleading. Whatever the explanation, their credibility here (and likely throughout the report) must be questioned.
If nothing else, this portion of that report must be challenged.
Here is a photo of me as Charley in Death of a Salesman. The photo is by Ross Davidson taken during Monday's dress rehearsal.
The preview is tonight. We have our official opening tomorrow. Friends who saw the rehearsal last night were VERY moved by the performances.
Procunier Hall, The Palace Theatre.
Via Jason Clemens on Facebook:
Some folks have asked for references regarding my comments earlier today about the fact that hiking the minimum wage will not by and large benefit low-income households. This is the first of several FB posts with references. This first post is to an academic article that appeared in the journal Canadian Public Policy. The researchers used Stat Can data to profile households with members earning the minimum wage. The results were in line with previous reports that show the majority of minimum wage earners are young people living at home. Here's a key finding from the abstract:
"First, over 80 percent of low wage earners are not members of poor households and, second, over 75 percent of poor households do not have a member who is a low wage earner. We also present simulation results which suggest that, even without any negative employment effects, planned increases in Ontario's minimum wage will lead to virtually no reduction in the level of poverty."
For some reason I didn't bother to pronounce the name of this wine to myself until I got it home and put it in the fridge. I'm glad I bought it now, even though I haven't opened it yet and have no idea what it tastes like.
I'm sure my Facebook friend, Michael Snell (aka The Wine Commonsewer) will want this for his wine cellar, even though he seems to have a VERY strong preference for reds.
Other wines I like because of the names:
From Coyote Blog, a spectacularly accurate and funny Venn diagram:
The first lesson of economics is (or ought to be), "People respond to incentives." And I would add, ".... whether we like it or not."
A few weeks ago I did a post pointing out that pundits on both the left and the right have moved further to the extremes, and away from sensible policy views. I just noticed another example today, an article claiming that if you pay people not to work, it won't significantly increase the number of people not working.Extending benefits to unemployed workers beyond the 26 weeks provided by most states has little effect on the unemployment rate and essentially no impact on labor force participation, a recent working paper released by the Federal Reserve Board found.
I guess they didn't notice that the natural rate of unemployment in Europe is at least 8%. [EE: and typically the natural unemployment rate in Canada has been higher than that in the US, in part because of our more liberal/generous unemployment compensation programmes]
Question: When was the last time you saw a liberal pundit point out that extended unemployment benefits increased the unemployment rate? Maybe when Bush was implementing the policy? Here's Brad DeLong in 2008:The rule of thumb, IIRC, is that the average duration of an unemployment spell increases by 1/4 of the increase in the duration of unemployment benefits. Thus a 13-week increase in unemployment insurance duration should increase the average unemployment spell by 3 weeks. With current mean unemployment spell duration at 17 weeks, and with roughly 2/3 of the unemployed eligible for UI, this would produce a 3/17 * 2/3 * 5.5% = 0.6% increase in the measured unemployment rate. ...
That was only a 13-week increase, not a 73-week increase, as Obama implemented. And BTW, DeLong's prediction was precisely correct.
As I said, "People respond to incentives, whether we like it or not."
One of my very favourite lines from Catch-22 is Yossarian's statement (paraphrased),
They have the right to do whatever they cannot be prevented from doing.
I was reminded of that line by this story from the CBC [via Ms Eclectic] which outlines how law-enforcement officials in the US take cash from people's cars.
Across America, law enforcement officers — from federal agents to state troopers right down to sheriffs in one-street backwaters — are operating a vast, co-ordinated scheme to grab as much of the public’s cash as they can; “hand over fist,” to use the words of one police trainer.
It usually starts on the road somewhere. An officer pulls you over for some minor infraction — changing lanes without proper signalling, following the car ahead too closely, straddling lanes. The offence is irrelevant.
Then the police officer wants to chat, asking questions about where you’re going, or where you came from, and why. He’ll peer into your car, then perhaps ask permission to search it, citing the need for vigilance against terrorist weaponry or drugs.
What he’s really looking for, though, is money.
And if you were foolish (or intimidated) enough to have consented to the search, and you’re carrying any significant amount of cash, you are now likely to lose it.
One bit of advice in the article is not to carry much cash with you, which makes sense to me.
- * - * -
Digression: about ten years ago when I was taking a minibus from London, Ontario, to the Detroit airport, a US immigration official asked "How much money are you bringing with you?"
I replied "Fourteen dollars."
He reacted with faked shock that I thought I could get by on so little cash, insinuating I might become a homeless vagrant.
I somewhat sarcastically replied that I was going to the airport, but I knew they had ATMs all over the US, and I had no wish to carry much cash with me, especially through Detroit.
I have no idea why they didn't pull me aside for being sarcastic. Whew.
Update: Raffi drew this article to my attention:
A Nebraska judge ordered cops to return $1 million to a California stripper after the cash was confiscated during a traffic stop.
Update #2: The actual quote from Catch-22 is from Chapter 39:
“Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”
The Elder of Ziyon links to a report from MEMRI [the Middle East Media Reports Institute] that as soon as the cease-fire was announced in Gaza, work on deeper tunnels was begun to prepare for renewed attacks on Israel.
A recent Al-Jazeera TV report took the viewers down into new tunnels dug by the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, after the Gaza cease-fire. "We are getting these tunnels ready for the next battle, in order to launch attacks and fire mortars and artillery. These tunnels will also have other uses, which we will not disclose," said a masked militant. The report aired on September 4.
The Elder of Ziyon concludes,
Of course, any weapons Israel creates to destroy the deep tunnels will also cause severe damage to the surrounding areas, and the world will blame Israel....
Everything I have read about the Apple Watch looks nice. But there's a killer drawback:
I like to wear my watch all the time, including at night and while swimming.
Stephen Hawking wrote that discovering and messing with the Higgs-Boson particle might lead to the end of the universe as we know it. [via Jack]
He wrote: "The Higgs potential has the worrisome feature that it might become metastable at energies above 100bn gigaelectronvolts (GeV)."
What might this lead to? Hawkins explained: "This could mean that the universe could undergo catastrophic vacuum decay, with a bubble of the true vacuum expanding at the speed of light. This could happen at any time and we wouldn't see it coming."
Before you prepare your loved ones for an evacuation to some distant star, Hawking did offer some hope with, it seems, a wry smile: "A particle accelerator that reaches 100bn GeV would be larger than Earth, and is unlikely to be funded in the present economic climate."
But wait! What if the present economic climate changes?
These are absolutely amazing drawings, utilizing the extreme convexity of a cyclindrical mirror.
Here's a "standard" piece... a picture of a tree:
Here's a more complex one, in that without the cylinder it looks like a seascape, but in the cylinder it looks like a portrait:
And I love this one. A weird, intriguing sculpture that shows a hand to match the foot and hand in the background.
Fifty years ago I was content with the concept of an infinite universe --- infinite in time and space. Then I started learning about expansion, deflation, the big bang, string theory, parallel universes, 11 dimensions, criticisms of string theory, etc.
I was shaken from my contentedness by the turmoil and uncertainty of it all. Ms Eclectic and I began reading more and watching more PBS-type television programmes about cosmology. I cannot even pretend to understand the mathematics and all the physics of cosmology [mired, as I am, in my basic Newtonian world outlook which struggles for even/especially/only an intuitive grasp of relativity and quantum physics], but I love trying to understand cosmology.
And so it is with pleasure and delight that I read this article [via RalphK]. It doesn't really help me understand cosmology any better, but it is a fascinating expansion of human knowledge about the earth, the Milky Way, and the universe.
[O]ur galaxy is a mere speck in a larger structure, which was just revealed for the first time by a group of scientists who created a map of more than 8,000 galaxies in an effort to understand where they fit in the universe.
The team placed the Milky Way on the outskirts of a massive, previously unknown galaxy super-cluster scientists have named Laniakea, from the Hawaiian words for "immeasurable heaven."
The finding, reported in this week's issue of the journal Nature, stems from a new mapping technique that combines not only the distances between more than 8,000 nearby galaxies, but also their motion as the universe expands and galaxies are pulled through space by gravity.
It sort of looks as if we're in suburbs of Laniakea:
Note that this is a two-dimensional map of what is surely 3 or 4 (or more?) dimensions. Where were these galaxies and other clusters 5 billion years ago? and is this a map of where astronomers think they are now or where they were when they emitted the light we see now?
"Immeasurable Heaven", Laniakea, is a good term. I like it. And I'm thrilled with the increased understanding of the universe even if this understanding means little or nothing to our lives and struggles on earth.