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"Clinton Foundation Reports $16.8 Million Loss in 2018"

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With this nice zinger at the end:

The foundation's financial prospects will presumably look much brighter after Hillary inevitably declares her candidacy for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2020.

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ahofer
1 day ago
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This could be a total yawn. They don't exist to make a profit. The question is what are the expenses? How much goes to Clinton comfort and how much to mission?
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Essay backup: Why we need the profit system

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This is also the Paradox of Profits, part 2

In the first essay in this series, I discussed the problematic nature of individual profits from the standpoint of justice. In this essay, I explain why a profit system is the most effective, humane way to organize economic activity. Or, as Winston Churchill once said about democracy, it is the second worst way to organize an economy, and all the others are tied for the worst.
Humane but Primitive
You might think that the most humane way to run an economy would be to use deliberation and consensus. And this might work if we had a small, self-contained economic unit, a village of 150 people or less.
But with 150 people in a self-contained village, you are restricted to a primitive economy. By self-contained, I mean that everything that we are able to consume has to be produced in the village, from start to finish. We could not use modern farm implements, because our village does not have enough people to produce them. Forget about modern medicine, electronics, plumbing, and all the rest.
What we have come to expect from economic life cannot be procured without extensive specialization and trade. Ultimately, the work of millions of people goes into creating the goods and services that we enjoy in a modern economy.
Bosses and Profits
In a modern, large-scale economy, coordination takes place through a combination of bosses and profits. Bosses order people to undertake particular tasks. Profits and losses provide incentives to engage in certain economic activities and to curtail others.
Within any one organization, you take orders from a boss. Your only alternative is to leave that organization and find another boss or start your own organization.
Profits determine the success or failure of different organizations. Organizations that earn profits can continue to operate. Organizations that fail to earn profits have to go out of business, unless they can survive on donations or subsidies.
The profit system helps to discipline bosses. Really bad bosses, who use resources inefficiently (including mis-use of workers), tend to perform poorly in terms of profits. This poor performance eventually gets weeded out, either by the boss’s boss or by the inability of a poorly-performing firm to stay in business.
Profits and Sustainability
Profits are a measure of economic sustainability. A business earns a profit if it offers to consumers something that is more valuable than the costs of the resources used by the business to provide its goods and services. For the most part, a business that earns a profit is using resources efficiently. For the most part, a business that operates at a loss is wasting resources.
When people accuse the market system of using resources unsustainably and they propose alternatives, they are almost always wrong. For example, the ethanol mandate for gasoline almost surely wastes resources. Overall, it probably increases carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, because it encourages more land to be covered with corn fields instead of forest.
Mandatory recycling wastes resources. We know that, because if recycling really saved resources, then it would be profitable. If recycling were sustainable, then private firms would pay you for recycled trash; instead, the local government has to mandate recycling and subsidize recycling services. That is a drain on resources.
Government as Boss
Government works by bossing people. This could be directly controlling activity, as when a government runs a school system. Or it could be indirectly controlling people, as when a government issues regulations.
There are good reasons for having at least some government bossing. I have a hard time imagining urban sanitation working well without regulation. There are many other cases where the absence of a central boss would lead to bad outcomes. Economists refer to these cases as “market failures.”
But just because there might be market failure does not mean that we necessarily should take economic decisions away from the profit system and turn those decisions over to a government boss. We might be better off leaving decisions to the market, even though the market is not perfect.
Reasons to Prefer the Profit System
One reason to leave decisions to the profit-and-loss system is that this gives more people more autonomy. Government works by bossing, and that reduces individual autonomy. Yes, in a democracy each of us can vote, but our voting has very little effect on how the government bosses operate. If I disagree with the government’s decision to allocate valuable spectrum to local television stations, I have close to zero chance of having any impact on that decision. As a consumer and as a worker, I do not have to sit back and accept something I do not like. I can “vote with my feet” to go to a different employer or find a different seller.
Another reason to be wary of government bosses is that they are not so smart. When a government boss decides that women under 40 do not need mammograms for breast cancer screening, that boss does not know the circumstances of every woman. The government boss does not know how the state of screening technology is progressing. The government boss does not know how much some women may value the peace of mind that comes from cancer screening.
It is easy for a person to say, “I do not like the market outcome of X. I want to see the government change it.” But when you say that, you are saying that you want to be the boss. And no matter how much you think you know, the chances are that you are not as wise a boss as you think you are. That goes for trained economists, too.
And even if you happen to be the one who is wise about a particular issue, there is no guarantee that the government boss will make the choice that you would make. There is also the phenomenon of “government failure,” and often it is worse than market failure.
Conclusion
A modern economy is going to be coordinated by a combination of the profit/loss system and bosses. Even in Denmark and Sweden, profits and losses play a major rule. Indeed government bosses are in some ways more intrusive in the United States than they are in those “socialist utopias.”
So we are stuck with the paradox of profits. Individual profits are not always just. yet the profit system is necessary for coordinating a modern economy. How should we be trying to deal with this paradox? That will be the subject of the third and final essay in this series.

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ahofer
1 day ago
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"It is easy for a person to say, “I do not like the market outcome of X. I want to see the government change it.” But when you say that, you are saying that you want to be the boss. And no matter how much you think you know, the chances are that you are not as wise a boss as you think you are. "
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Illustrating the Corruption in Climate Science

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Long-time readers know that while I believe the evidence for warming over the last 100 years is strong, the evidence of negative knock-on effects from this warming (hurricanes, tornadoes, sea level, etc) is really weak, often the weakest part of an climate report.  Here is one example.

In the most recent National Climate Assessment written by our betters in the US Government, this chart was used to illustrate increasing hurricane intensity.

I will begin with the positive:  The use of a metric for total hurricane energy rather than something like hurricane counts or landfalls is a huge improvement over past reports and a much better metric to test changes over time in hurricane frequency and intensity.  Now here is the bad news -- the North Atlantic hurricane date is based on a cherry-picked time interval that creates a trend where none exists, and the authors HAD to know it.   The odds that this is just sloppiness or incompetence rather than outright obfuscation are low.

Pat Michaels had Ryan Maue (the scientist who creates most of the hurricane intensity databases) calculate this same metric back to 1920.  This is what the chart looks like, with the cherry-picked dates in the Assessment chart shown in red

That red trend line is just as dishonest as can be.  It is super hard to see any sort of long term trend here, just a multi-decadal cycality that hurricane scientists used to acknowledge before they started extrapolating individual sine waves into long-term upward trends.  This is particularly true since the advent of many new hurricane observation tools, such as aircraft and space photography, mean that numbers before 1960 may well be underestimated.

In fact, when you look beyond just the North Atlantic and look at all the world's oceans, there is not even a trend in hurricane intensity over the period since 1970  (accumulated cyclonic energy is a slightly different but related way to measure the time integral of hurricane intensity).

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ahofer
3 days ago
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This sort of thing is troubling.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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Opioid deaths are not mainly about prescription opioids

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A recent study of opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts underlines this crucial point, finding that prescription analgesics were detected without heroin or fentanyl in less than 17 percent of the cases. Furthermore, decedents had prescriptions for the opioids that showed up in toxicology tests just 1.3 percent of the time.

Alexander Walley, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University, and five other researchers looked at nearly 3,000 opioid-related deaths with complete toxicology reports from 2013 through 2015. “In Massachusetts, prescribed opioids do not appear to be the major proximal cause of opioid-related overdose deaths,” Walley et al. write in the journal Public Health Reports. “Prescription opioids were detected in postmortem toxicology reports of fewer than half of the decedents; when opioids were prescribed at the time of death, they were commonly not detected in postmortem toxicology reports….The major proximal contributors to opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts during the study period were illicitly made fentanyl and heroin.”

The study confirms that the link between opioid prescriptions and opioid-related deaths is far less straightforward than it is usually portrayed. “Commonly the medication that people are prescribed is not the one that’s present when they die,” Walley told Pain News Network. “And vice versa: The people who died with a prescription opioid like oxycodone in their toxicology screen often don’t have a prescription for it.”

That is by Jacob Sullum at Reason, via Arnold Kling.

The post Opioid deaths are not mainly about prescription opioids appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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ahofer
3 days ago
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And the Sacklers nod ruefully.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
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I am no long a Republican

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I just came back from city hall, where I switched my voter registration from Republican to unenrolled (aka independent). Two reasons:

The Republican Party has largely become the Party of Trump. Too many Republicans in Congress are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump's misdeeds (just as too many Democrats did for Clinton during his impeachment). I have no interest in associating myself with that behavior. Maybe someday, the party will return to having honorable leaders like Bush, McCain, and Romney. Until then, count me out.

Second, in Massachusetts, unenrolled voters can vote in either primary. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, where it has to choose either a center-left candidate (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang) or a far-left populist (Warren, Sanders) as their nominee for president. I intend to help them choose the former. The latter propose to move the country too far in the direction of heavy-handed state control. And in doing so, they tempt those in the center and center-right to hold their nose and vote for Trump's reelection.


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ahofer
6 days ago
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I did the same over a year ago, but registered as a democrat since they typically run unopposed for local office where I am, and you can't vote the primary without party registration.
Princeton, NJ or NYC
freeAgent
24 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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Which Harvard students are uncomfortable expressing their opinions?

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Harvard recently released the results of a survey on "Inclusion and Belonging." One question asked students whether they agreed with the statement "I feel comfortable expressing my opinions to others at Harvard."

Overall, 68 percent of students agreed. Moreover, the statement received majority agreement for most subgroups--men and women; white, black, Hispanic, and Asian; straight and gay; U.S. citizen and foreign; Christian, Jewish, and Muslim; and so on.

The only subgroup for which the statement did not generate majority agreement was those students who self-identified as conservative. Only 44 of conservative students agreed, compared with 61 percent of moderates and 73 percent of liberals.
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ahofer
6 days ago
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shocker
Princeton, NJ or NYC
freeAgent
21 days ago
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Los Angeles, CA
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1 public comment
cjheinz
21 days ago
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Snowflakes ...
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