moldybluecheesecurds 2

Friday, January 28, 2011

I Love How Stats Bust (or Reinforce) Our Personal Myths

Like those myths we believe in sports

Most fascinating?  Baseball umpires shrink the strike zone with two strikes and enlarge it with 3 balls.  They are also less likely to let a famous player get called out, and more likely to favor the home team.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walter F. Mondale was the last true deficit hawk

Americans like the idea of cutting spending rather than raising taxes, but we prefer not to cut any government program we like, which accounts for most of the budget.  See this recent CNN poll:
For each of the following federal spending categories, is it more important to make progress on reducing the deficit, or is it more important to prevent significant cuts to each of the following programs:
Program Reduce it for
deficit reduction
Avoid significant
reductions in this one
Medicare 18% 81%
Medicaid 29 70
Social Security 21 78
Unemployment ben’s 31 68
Defense/military 50 49
Welfare spending 56 44
Veterans benefits 14 85
Education 25 75
Govt pensions 61 39
Roads/mass transit 39 61
Foreign aid 81 18

Foreign aid, by the way, represents less than one half of one percent of federal spending. Depending on how you group programs, the other ten categories that CNN tested are the ten costliest categories.
The pie chart to the right validates Black's assessment of budget categories.

Since we can't agree what to cut, then the honest thing to do is raise taxes to pay for what we want.  And the last politician to be straight with America about taxes was Walter F. Mondale, in a presidential debate in 1984:
Mr. Reagan will raise taxes, and so will I. He won't tell you. I just did.
And regarding Reagan, he was right.  Reagan signed several tax increases in his first term.  It was the right thing to do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Why Not Regulate Guns as Seriously as Toys?

Jared Loughner was considered too mentally unstable to attend community college. He was rejected by the Army. Yet buy a Glock handgun and a 33-round magazine? No problem.

To protect the public, we regulate cars and toys, medicines and mutual funds. So, simply as a public health matter, shouldn’t we take steps to reduce the toll from our domestic arms industry? 


Monday, January 10, 2011

Honoring the Constitution - the origin of big government

An incredibly insightful piece from political writer Eric Black this week, noting the irony in the House Republican reading of the Constitution last week:

Those who framed the Constitution and favored its ratification believed that the United States needed a strong federal government. That’s why they are referred to the “federalists.”

Oh history, thou art funny.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Gov. Pawlenty's budget legacy

A nice overview of the end to the one-time budget fixes for Minnesota, now that former Gov. Pawlenty has spent them all. 

The last Congress did a lot

  • Health care reform
  • Financial reform
  • Food safety
  • Nuclear arms treaty
  • Multiple economic stimulus packages
  • and more...
It wasn't perfect, but that's one heck of a list

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Placebo effect may make sugar pills beat "real" drugs

Science writer Steve Silberman has written a terrific background article on the “little bombshell of a study” on placebos that was published right before Christmas in the open-access medical journal PLoS One.

The study, writes Silberman, “threatens to make humble sugar pills something they’ve rarely had a chance to be in the history of medicine: a respectable, ethically sound treatment for disease that has been vetted in controlled trials.”