December 17, 2004

Fun with Climate Change Part 1

I found this very amusing weblog by a UK professor via TCS: EnviroSpin Watch

Here's a sample...
And how do all the gorgeous, pouting French ladies in their little black numbers stay so chic? "Most French women smoke instead of eating," says Mathilde. [An eco-slip there, shurely, Ed?]

"'Zac [Goldsmith] and I laugh sometimes because we say we'll spend all these years planting trees and so on, achieving this, then we'll die, and the children will go 'Let's chop down the forests or get some GM seeds in.' She watches the sheep making their way up to some young trees they planted..." [Baaa! Go for it kids!]
Once the shi-shi crowd and low IQ celebrity circle embraces something, you know it has jumped the shark.

My Homemade Charts on the Bush Budgets

Chart 1: Clinton Recession/Bush Tax Cuts

So Spending Rates Increased During Bush's first term, but if you dig into the details at the Gov't Website, you'll see that if was largely defense and unemployment benefits

Chart 2: Domestic vs Defense as a share of the Total Federal Budget or Why Nixon Stinks as a Conservative

To be fair, Nixon inherited the costs of Johnson's Great Society, but isn't it staggering to see the rise of entitlement/social spending in the 1970-74 period as a % of the total federal budget.

You also have to admire Reagan. His budget record tracked his rhetoric: Social spending (as a % of total budget) actually declined during his tenure, while defense spending rose.

The Clinton Legacy? It clearly is one of inheriting a peace dividend to slash defense spending (declined as a % of total throughout his tenure) and accelerating social spending nearly as fast as Nixon. He lucked out with a great economy to pay for it all.

The first Bush Term? Similar to Reagan..Defense is growing as a % of total, while social spending is leveling off and falling after the increases due to unemployment to help folks who suffered from the Clinton Recession.

Chart 3: Not Great, but we've been here before:

I worry about the Deficit as a Share of the GDP. Bigger economies can handle bigger deficits in the same way that a $50,000 credit card bill would impact Bill Gates a whole lot less than it would bother me.

The US GDP has more than doubled since 1976.

But I'd like to see it move the other direction...that's what a good economy should do for us.

December 15, 2004

Jose Padilla Meet Otto Skozeny

Went on an X-Files induced cyberbinge recently regarding Uncle Sam's radioactive testing on human subjects. Among the most interesting thing was this first clip about our early worries about a Nazi Dirty Bomb
Ideas about radiological warfare surfaced even before the U.S. began its atomic bomb program. Key atomic scientists Ernest O. Lawrence and Arthur Holly Compton proposed a top priority program to develop radioactive weapons in 1941. An atomic bomb program was actually given a lower priority at that point, in part because it was far more complex than producing fission products for use on a battlefield or an enemy city. While most attention soon shifted to the bomb program, anxieties persisted that Germany might develop radiological weapons for use against American or English cities. The Manhattan Project even sent radiation detection instruments to Washington, New York, Chicago, and other cities to prepare for such an attack.

Serious consideration was given to radiological warfare after the war. There was concern that a foreign power, frustrated in its attempt to develop an atomic bomb, might instead turn to radiological warfare. In 1947, the Armed Forces Special Weapons Project of the Department of Defense (DOD) asked the AEC to form a committee to study the subject."
Otto Skorzeny would have been Nazi Agent to pull off such a daring mission.

Do as I Legislate, Not as I Do

How can it not be a giant joke that Germany and, especially, France don't live by the rules they impose on the others through the EU?
The European Commission froze its threat of fines against France and Germany on Tuesday, granting the two biggest economies in the euro zone an extra year to bring down their bloated budget deficits.

The decision will help heal the relationship between the European Union's executive arm and the finance ministers of the member states, which has been tense since the commission first tried to punish France and Germany a year ago for failing to play by the budget rules.

The procedure ultimately ends in a fine, though how large or punitive has never been made clear.
I seem to also recall that the Alstom bail-out and the continuing protection of EDF aren't exactly rule-friendly either.

December 14, 2004


Is this weird or what
European companies may be outsourcing work to Indian firms but in one Delhi-based call centre it's Europeans who make up a fair number of the workforce.

"It's so different from Europe - the culture and the way you live - and I think it's fantastic," says Marie Blomquist from Stockholm.

"People are so friendly and the food is awesome, everything is great."
So, it must be the food...
Mr Sahni says the European employees are recruited for a minimum period of a year, but many extend their stay.

And although the employees are paid local salaries, they receive other compensation in the form of free housing, a furnishing allowance and subsidised meals.

Sylvia Sethi, another Swede, says: "We live very well. We have a nice guest house. It's better than we thought before I came here."

She says the job also provides a great opportunity to travel around India.

"Our schedule is done in a way that we can travel around and do things in our free time.

"Also, we get picked up and dropped off for work, a privilege we don't have in Sweden. We also get snack coupons."
So Arab-Muslims go to Europe to work and the Europeans go to India. Why don't the Muslims just go to India? Oh yeah, they already tried that.

December 13, 2004

Obligatory Stupid EU Story of the Month

They just love to do this to themselves
Under the electrical and electronic waste (WEEE) law, authorities will then have a further year - until August 13, 2005 - to introduce free take back of waste goods by final owners and to ensure that equipment producers are responsible for financing the collection, treatment, recovery and disposal of all waste.

Individual firms will be financially responsible for their own goods marketed after August 13, 2005, and collectively responsible for recycling all waste generated by products put on the market before this date. Makers will be allowed to show the cost of treating this "historical" waste in the price tag of new products, but only for a transitional period of eight years, or 10 years in the case of large domestic items such as refrigerators. The next major deadline is December 31, 2006. By this date EU member states, which by then will number 25 countries, must have reached an average waste collection rate of four kilograms (8.8 pounds) per inhabitant annually.
Again, I don't get it, if there are no people there because of depopulation, who are they going to collect from?

December 12, 2004

More Pavement for the Road to Hell

From TCS:
In 2003, something called the Environmental Working Group claimed to have evidence that the farm-raised salmon eaten regularly by millions of Americans contains high levels of PCBs. PCBs were identified in the press coverage as a "toxin," "probable human carcinogen," or "a cause of cancer and nervous system damage."

These reports were grossly misleading. At levels of environmental exposure, PCBs have not been shown to cause cancer or any other disease in humans. The "study," which was based on a sample of only ten fish, was condemned by genuine experts at a variety of institutions, including the Harvard School of Public Health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the highly respected American Council on Science and Health. Unfortunately, the criticisms came only after EWG's report had generated national media coverage, and received little attention from the media.

On its website, the EWG makes no pretense about its possessing scientific credentials or expertise, and its president once admitted to a journalist that there was not a single physician or scientist on its staff.
They just don't care if they are wrong

Can Lawyers Deliver Babies?

A sad state of affairs
Not only are obstetricians closing their practices, but the specialty is no longer the draw it once was. Of the 128 students graduating from the University of Maryland Medical School in 2003, none chose obstetrics. And though the previous three generations of Kearney's family have delivered babies, his son plans to specialize in orthopedics.
And people say tort reform has nothing to do with this?

Didn't Know there were any Doubters?

I thought everyone was for it?
In the longer term, a sea area of 150,000 square kilometers ... could provide enough power to satisfy all of Europe's electricity demand,' an EWEA statement said. He gave no timeframe.

But Rowena Langston of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds -- which says global warming must be stopped -- said development was being pushed ahead with scant reference to the impact on the local environment and in particular bird life.

Until there is more robust information, we are not going to overstep our conservation brief and say a project should go ahead regardless,' she told the meeting.

But renewabale energy specialist Bryony Worthington of pressure group Friends of the Earth (news - web sites) countered that the climate crisis was now so grave that birds had to take second place to saving the planet.

The bottom line is that climate change is happening, endangering us all. It is extremely scary,' she told Reuters.

What's scary is people who are for an idea when it is fringe, cost-prohibitive science fiction and then turn against the same idea when it becomes mainstream and commerically viable.

Calling Adam Smtih

Marginal Revolution has this great Health Care Free Market story:

Laser eye surgery has the highest patient satisfaction ratings of any surgery, it has been performed more than 3 million times in the past decade, it is new, it is high-tech, it has gotten better over time and... laser eye surgery has fallen in price. In 1998 the average price of laser eye surgery was about $2200 per eye. Today the average price is $1350, that's a decline of 38 percent in nominal terms and slightly more than that after taking into account inflation.

Why the price decline in this market and not others? Could it have something to do with the fact that laser eye surgery is not covered by insurance, not covered by Medicaid or Medicare, and not heavily regulated? Laser eye surgery is one of the few health procedures sold in a free market with price advertising, competition and consumer driven purchases. I'm seeing things more clearly already.
God Forbid we should try that elsewhere...