moldybluecheesecurds 2

Friday, December 26, 2008

The sin of doing well by being charitable

“Want to make a million selling violent video games to kids? Go for it. Want to make a million helping cure kids of cancer? You’re labeled a parasite.”

Check out more here

Monday, December 22, 2008

Liberals seem to prefer giving through government

Because when it comes to charity, conservatives give a lot more.

Republicans and the auto bailout: a collective bargain

The Votemaster is providing post-election news and analysis, and this one's a doozy.   Ever wonder why there were quite a few Republicans behind the bank bailouts but almost none willing to back the automakers?
It is increasingly clear that what southern Republicans really want is to break the back of the UAW (which habitually supports the Democratic Party). Thus while demanding lower wages and benefits as part of the $17 billion loan to the auto industry (where labor costs are 10% of total expenditures) is crucial to them, they didn't make a peep about lowering salaries as part of the $700 billion bailout of the banking industry (where labor costs are 70% of the total). In other words, the $1.7 billion worth of labor costs in the (unionized) auto industry are a big deal but the $490 billion worth of labor costs in the (nonunionized) financial industry is a nonissue. [emphasis mine]

Friday, December 19, 2008

When lotion is free and plastic is 2-for-1

It seemed a near-trivial Christmas shopping endeavor. I had wanted to get one of those plastic covers you use to cover your plate in the microwave, to save on all the waxed paper I'd been discarding over the years. I mentioned it to my family, and a few others were interested so I went online in search of three.

Found them. Ordered three.

Several days later the Sears box arrived at work. Opened package. Found three of these:
I've never had a lotion/soap dispenser built in to my sink, but now I own three. I do have three sinks, but no holes for dispensers.

I called Sears. They apologized. Issued refund. Said UPS would come by to get them. They ordered three microwave platter covers (really this time). No shipping cost this time. Saved 50%

Earlier this week, they came.

Three of them, just as ordered. Nice!

Today, I was expecting a package - more internet shopping. Hmm, there are two packages here. One expected. The other...from

Opened box...three microwave platter covers. So, it was a 2-for-1? Or was that first box meant for someone else.

Would not be surprised to see this on Craigslist:
Wanted: three lotion dispensers shipped to me from Sears. Hands chapped, sinks have holes. Help.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Perspective: Big 3 bailout = Grand Theft Auto

I can't abide the anti-government lickspittles who take everything government does, from Social Security to proposed bailouts of the auto industry, as some sort of personal affront. So it's a relief to see someone who believes in good government and good capitalism providing some perspective:

Pan Am, which had been a leading U.S. international airline since the 1930s, collapsed in 1991. Like other great U.S. companies, it died in the marketplace because it blundered. Churn — of people and businesses — has always defined America. Nobody subsidized U.S. Steel or the automaker Packard in the belief that the world without them was unthinkable.

Coming to the United States from Europe, I found this constant reinvention bracing. Look at the top 40 companies by market capitalization in Europe and most have been there for decades. Not in the United States, land of Google and eBay. Churn requires death as well as birth. The artificial preservation of the inert dampens the quest for the new.

For Cohen, the issue is more than jobs or businesses too big to fail. It's a question of the American ethic.

The whole financial crisis is about the death of responsibility: the buck stopped nowhere. Everyone profited from toxic paper. Bernard Madoff, he of the alleged multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, is only the latest example.

Irresponsibility has also characterized Detroit. I don’t see how you restore responsibility with a bailout. Obama has a deeper task than changing the economy; he has to change the culture.

Rather than adopting European subsidies, put billions toward more inspiring European examples: a high-speed railroad network or universal health care.

Hear hear.

Diet pop will save you calories and dollars

A nice piece by Nicholas Kristof on the brilliance of New York Governor Patterson's plan to make ends meet by taxing sugared soda
An 18 percent sales tax on soft drinks and other nondiet sugary beverages 
Why is this so great?  Because taxing unhealthy behavior is one way that we can make money by improving health.
Let’s break for a quiz: What was the biggest health care breakthrough in the last 40 years in the United States? Heart bypasses? CAT scans and M.R.I.’s? New cancer treatments?

No, it was the cigarette tax. Every 10 percent price increase on cigarettes reduced sales by about 3 percent over all, and 7 percent among teenagers, according to the 2005 book “Prescription for a Healthy Nation.” Just the 1983 increase in the federal tax on cigarettes saved 40,000 lives per year.

And why are sugared drinks in particular so bad?
Evidence is accumulating that sugary drinks are a major contributor to obesity because of the evolutionary heritage I mentioned at the outset: Except for soups, liquid calories don’t register with the body, according to Professor Popkin and other specialists. [emphasis mine]
Tax the hell out of them.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

There are no libertarians in a financial crisis

A thoughtful post from Jeff Frankel on the rush to government intervention in the markets during this economic crisis, often led by former prosletyzers of libertarian ideals.  There are no athiests in foxholes, nor libertarians in financial crises.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Capitalism's quote of the day

A financial writer was trying to track down the source of the financial crisis, from greedy loan marketers to failures at rating agencies overseeing complex "collateralized debt obligations" (CDOs), and heard this from a hedge fund manager that had seen the problems early:
[Eisman, hedge fund manager]: ‘Where are the rating agencies in all of this? And I’d always get the same reaction. It was a smirk.’ He called Standard & Poor’s and asked what would happen to default rates if real estate prices fell. The man at S.& P. couldn’t say; its model for home prices had no ability to accept a negative number. ‘They were just assuming home prices would keep going up,’ Eisman says.” [emphasis mine]
These are the guardians of our markets.  

A "seventh generation" look at bailouts

Tom Friedman has very cogent thoughts on bailouts and the economic stimulus these days.  On the proposed car company bailout:
You want my tax dollars? Then I want to see the precise production plans and timetables for the hybridization of all your cars and trucks within 36 months...because nothing would both improve mileage and emissions more — and also stimulate a whole new 21st-century, job-creating industry: batteries.
For energy policy, hit the supply and demand sides:
It makes no sense to spend money on green infrastructure — or a bailout of Detroit aimed at stimulating production of more fuel-efficient cars — if it is not combined with a tax on carbon that would actually change consumer buying behavior.

Many people will tell Mr. Obama that taxing carbon or gasoline now is a “nonstarter.” Wrong. It is the only starter. It is the game-changer. If you want to know where postponing it has gotten us, visit Detroit. No carbon tax or increased gasoline tax meant that every time the price of gasoline went down to $1 or $2 a gallon, consumers went back to buying gas guzzlers.  [emphasis mine]
Exactly.  If we're intending to shift to renewble energy and reduced carbon emissions permanently, there's no time to do so like the present.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Give the gift of IQ

Want to know one of the most un-sexy, yet effective types of foreign aid?  Providing iodized salt to the world's poor
Almost one-third of the world’s people don’t get enough iodine from food and water. The result in extreme cases is large goiters that swell their necks, or other obvious impairments such as dwarfism or cretinism. But far more common is mental slowness.

When a pregnant woman doesn’t have enough iodine in her body, her child may suffer irreversible brain damage and could have an I.Q. that is 10 to 15 points lower than it would otherwise be. An educated guess is that iodine deficiency results in a needless loss of more than 1 billion I.Q. points around the world.
For more information, this 2006 story examines the challenge and progress of delivering this crucial nutrient.