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Thursday, December 08, 2011

On the nature of bribes

An interesting report on bribery in the United States suggests that it is not as common as in other countries but it still happens. This chart was interesting, although N is small:

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Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Day that Still Lives in Infamy?

Every year I feel that December 7 has lost some of its luster in the minds of U.S. citizens. This is a shame because it (along with 9/11) provide important lessons for us in the area of foreign policy and the waging of war.

Now that the new New Deal is on the table, and all the people who were let go from Starbucks are now going to be building our bridges and schools, it is looking more and more like Bush-Obama is a replay of Hoover-FDR. Let's hope that the similarities end at the Keynesian policies and do not spread too far into the geopolitical.

We all have seen the devastating picture of the U.S.S. Arizona, but not too often do you see a "before" picture of the magnificent ship.



vs.



RIP.

Franklin Roosevelt's Day of Infamy speech

Note: This is the eighth installment of my tribute to Pearl Harbor on Heavy Lifting. Wow - how fast time flies by.

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Are we this bad off?

As I am reading through my Adam Smith (once again), I come across this ditty:


The post office is properly a mercantile project. The government advances the expence of establishing the different offices, and of buying or hiring the necessary horses or carriages, and is repaid with a large profit by the duties upon what is carried. It is perhaps the only mercantile project which has been successfully managed by, I believe, every sort of government. The capital to be advanced is not very considerable. There is no mystery in the business. The returns are not only certain, but immediate.


It turns out that the Post Office is not an automatic profit maker - ours isn't in the US, I don't believe, and I think Sweden(?) privatized theirs recently. My point is that Adam Smith took the post office to be a good profit center for the state and 225 years later the unions, bureaucrats and the general inefficiency of the state monopoly seems to have proven him wrong (at least in practice).

Smith: Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chapter 2 | Library of Economics and Liberty

Friday, July 01, 2011

Remember Wisconsin

This an interesting story about how the new laws in Wisconsin are changing the stance of the unions - especially interesting is the part about how the health care premiums paid to the union-created health insurance provider were supposed to increase before the law was passed but afterwards, now that school districts can shop around for health insurance, the premiums offered by the union-created health insurance provider came down.


Union curbs rescue a Wisconsin school district | Byron York | Politics | Washington Examiner

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Slaughter ban sending horses across borders - Washington Times

I remember talking about this outcome five years ago.

Slaughter ban sending horses across borders - Washington Times

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Is a national budget necessary?

I am not going to go too long on this thought. However, this morning on Fox News Sunday's "roundtable" discussion the panelist/spokesman for the Obama administration and democrat party at large said the following (transcript here:


BURTON: Right, but the country is still running. Like, we're doing OK without a budget in the sense that nothing is shutting down.

The Congress can still pass the jobs measures that the president wants to move forward. Congress can still move forward on a lot of the different things that will help to actually create jobs and grow the economy.

We have made progress on jobs, 2.1 million in this recovery. The economy is growing as opposed to contracting.

There's a lot more that need to get done. I don't know that the budget is necessarily the be all, end all as it relates to how we're actually going to get to economy on a track that's going to have sustained growth.


In essence, the spokesman says that the Congress and the government as a whole does not need a budget because the important thing is jobs. This might be true from a political sense. I am confident that voters will respond more positively to jobs than to a budget. However, a budget is important because it is legislative language that specifies to some extent what the government can and cannot do, especially the executive branch. To the extent that the House and Senate did not pass a budget during the Obama administration, they gave a free hand to spend without authority or accountability. In some way this might match with a Keynesian philosophy, I am not sure one way or the other, but when I heard the spokesman say, in essence, that the government doesn't need a budget because jobs are what's important, I had images of every failed statist economy flash through my head.

Politics vs. philosophy? At times it is tough to disentangle the two. Is not having a budget a purely political act - simultaneously allowing the Congress and the Executive branches to continue spending on pet projects that are essentially arbitrary, avoiding putting anything down on paper that could later be used against democrats come election time in 2010 when they had a clear chance to lose, and forcing the incoming Republicans to come up with a plan to do something with spending/deficit/debt (which turns out to be the Ryan plan) after which the Democrats can accuse Republicans of wanting to kill everyone's grandmother?

Or is not having a budget a philosophical act that consciously attempted to move our country even further away from accountability on the part of the elected officials?

Maybe both?

End of pet-peeve of the day.

Happy father's day.

Dictatorship is always bad

This mini-doc on Myanmar/Burma is an eye-opener. The arbitrariness of dictators is easy to discuss in class and on paper, it is another thing to see it in action. Amazing.


Happy World - Burma, the dictatorship of the... by happy-world_tv

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Interesting Picture

An interesting graph showing a sharp decrease in net foreign assets when the central bank of Australia and Sweden increase net domestic assets. I am not an international accountant, but aren't these two values additive inverses (HT: math friend Steve C.)

KornaAUD3

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

Monday, April 25, 2011

On the Myth of Measurement

I love this graph:
Inflation, which is beneficial in moderation, has climbed closer to healthy levels since the Fed started buying bonds.


In theory (and perhaps in recent practice) a little bit of inflation is fine. However, I dislike the general definition of inflation - that is
a general increase in prices - because prices don't adjust simultaneously or uniformly. I like to think of inflation as a policy-driven reduction in purchasing power. If that is a working definition, no matter what the non-core CPI says, it would seem that there is a lot higher inflation than the Fed is recognizing.

Stimulus by Fed Is Disappointing, Economists Say - NYTimes.com

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Mission creep? What mission creep?

These guys are every bit as good as the previous administration at the newspeak. Oh yeah, this guy was part of the previous administration:


"At the same time, however, Gates said the administration's decision to provide $25 million in nonlethal military assistance to the rebels did not signal a deeper U.S. commitment to anti-Gadhafi forces whose makeup, objectives and motives still are not fully understood in Washington."


Obama OKs Use of Armed Drones in Libya

Friday, April 15, 2011

Voting for raising the debt ceiling

This story provides an interesting graph depicting US debt vs. debt ceilings. It seems that a vote to raise the debt ceiling is really just a vote to raise the level of debt. If that is true, then I suppose those politicians who are against raising the level of US debt are right to vote against raising the debt ceiling. There will be interesting, and disgusting, political machinations in the coming weeks.

NationalJournal.com - GRAPHIC: 10 Years, 10 Broken U.S. Debt Ceilings - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

150 years ago - insanity reigned

I am a life-long Southerner who grew up on a major Civil War War Between the States battlefield (Lookout Mountain) and while I didn't have any family who fought on either side of the war, growing up in the middle of the history of the War was informative. However, as we have moved toward today - the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter - I have definitely had weird feelings. What were the day-to-day conversations about during that time - here in NC, in my childhood hometown? How strange it would be to travel back into time, given today's sensibilities and culture, and witness them.

They are firing on Fort Sumter as we speak - in commemoration of the event - but it is also a reminder that insanity once reigned in this country.

To the 620k that perished - RIP

Monday, April 11, 2011

Roth IRA: Time to retire Roth IRAs - latimes.com

Gerald Scorse comes out and says what some of us figure the politicians will have to do sooner or later. I don't agree with his arguments that putting money in a Roth IRA is somehow cheating on the game, and I am definitely against the government changing the rules in the middle is not good, but I fully anticipate an Argentina-type takeover at some point in my lifetime.

Roth IRA: Time to retire Roth IRAs - latimes.com

Thursday, March 31, 2011

My sports economics presentation

Here is a link to a presentation I gave concerning my recent and ongoing sports economics research to the UNCC Chapter of ODE. It was fun and thanks to those who attended.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Stanford drops list of 'easy' classes for athletes

I'm shocked!! Shocked, I say.

There were classes like this at UGA for regular students when I was in undergraduate. I took three one-hour courses including Introduction to Forestry, Introduction to Textile Management, and one other which I cannot remember the name of. The classes were filled and I don't think there were too many athletes in the classes.

Perhaps at Stanford the quality of the average student is that much higher that the regular student body doesn't focus on these classes?


A drama class in Beginning Improvising and another in Social Dances of North America III were among dozens of classes on a closely guarded quarterly list distributed only to Stanford athletes to help them choose classes.

Stanford drops list of 'easy' classes for athletes

Friday, March 04, 2011

Fresno? Nobody goes to Fresno anymore




Okay, this is about Michigan from Comerica Bank.

Title quote from "Airplane!"

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Study: University of Minnesota has $8.6 billion impact on state's economy | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota

Are we buying this? The University of Minnesota system returns more than $13 for every dollar the state puts into the system? That sounds awfully high.

Study: University of Minnesota has $8.6 billion impact on state's economy | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Technium: Free Kindle This November

The Technium: Free Kindle This November

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lloyd M. Krieger: ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care - WSJ.com

From the story:


There is little mystery how the government will exercise its power. Choices will be limited. Pathways to expensive specialist care such as advanced radiology and surgery will decline. Cutting-edge devices and medicines will come into the system much more slowly and be used much less frequently.


Lloyd M. Krieger: ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care - WSJ.com




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Recent Posts

- On the nature of bribes

- A Day that Still Lives in Infamy?

- Are we this bad off?

- Remember Wisconsin

- Slaughter ban sending horses across borders - Washington Times

- Is a national budget necessary?

- Dictatorship is always bad

- Interesting Picture

- Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

- On the Myth of Measurement

- Mission creep? What mission creep?

- Voting for raising the debt ceiling

- 150 years ago - insanity reigned

- Roth IRA: Time to retire Roth IRAs - latimes.com

- My sports economics presentation

- Stanford drops list of 'easy' classes for athletes

- Fresno? Nobody goes to Fresno anymore

- Study: University of Minnesota has $8.6 billion impact on state's economy | Grand Forks Herald | Grand Forks, North Dakota

- The Technium: Free Kindle This November

- Lloyd M. Krieger: ObamaCare Is Already Damaging Health Care - WSJ.com




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