Tue, 26 Apr 2011

Health Care Consumers

People are bringing up the point that people simply don't shop for health care. That we're not consumers. Usually that people are non-economists, like some ER doc who thinks that he had to study for 8 years to become a doc, but that economists are just people with opinions. Or like Paul Krugman, who gave up any claim to be an economist years ago.

To these people, I say: just *try* to be a consumer. Presume that somebody actually could act as a consumer, and go buy their health care. An honest seeker after the truth will quickly realize that so few people pay for their own health care that prices aren't available. Go into a doctor's office and say "I'd like a 20 minute visit with the doc -- how much will that cost?" and the staff will be flabbergasted. Chances are very good that they won't know what to tell you. This could make the point that people who consume health care aren't consumers (although it's hard to state that relationship without using the "C" word). I think, instead, that it makes the point that people are consumers, but they're not purchasers.

Posted [10:57] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Thu, 24 Mar 2011

Libya??

War?? Again?? By a Nobel Prize Winner?? I'm simply aghast. Yes, there are problems in the world, but they're not our responsibility to fix. Not when we're broke, going broker, and have a slim chance of not being broke for the next twenty years. What ARE these idiots thinking???

Posted [08:23] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , ] [digg this]

Sat, 05 Mar 2011

Immigrants!

Damn immigrants! They should go back to Bakersfield, where they came from!

Posted [16:03] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Thu, 09 Dec 2010

Legal vs illegal prostitution

Okay, this kinda of crap makes me angry, just angry. Go read the article. Do you see what's wrong with it? I see no distinction between legal prostitution and illegal prostitution. Now let's look at the difference between legal and illegal drugs. The first you can buy in any store (everybody sells aspirin), in controlled doses with brand names and labels. The police aren't involved, violence isn't involved, it's all up front and everybody knows what they're getting into when they start selling legal drugs.

So by the principles expressed in this article, because illegal drugs are risky, then, too, are legal drugs. Defending legal drugs clearly says nothing about illegal drugs, and yet the article does not distinguish between legal and illegal prostitution. The two situations are very similar in that the illegality is the CAUSE of the problems that make people want it to be illegal! Circular cause and effect! The solution causes the problem. You see this kind of reasoning everywhere. "Oh, oh, poor people don't earn enough money, so we will help them by forcing a minimum wage." and yet that destroys the employment of anyone whose productivity does not justify paying them the minimum wage.

This is NOT to justify any of the horrible activities described in the article. They ARE horrible, and they ARE horrors. But I suggest that all of them are caused by the illegality of prositution, and I encourage anyone worried by the article to examine the operation of legal prostitution.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Sun, 05 Dec 2010

About Terrorism

The best thing we can do about terrorism is: nothing. It's not that terrorists don't create harm. It's that terrorism is not about the harm; it's about the fear. We kill, each month, more people in automobiles than were killed by terrorists on 9/11. But that's not the correct comparison to make, because the tactics employed by the terrorists cannot be reproduced. Nobody will sit still for a hijacking ever again. Thus, the real comparison is against the number of airplane passengers killed. We kill, each month, TEN TIMES more people in automobiles than the number of airplane passengers killed by terrorists on 9/11.

The terrorists are hacking our brains. Being a hacker myself, this is intolerable to me. Being a security professional, this is intolerable to me. They are trying to set up a situation where there is a very very very low risk of very bad harm. They do not have the ability to create actual harm. They can only create a harm that is terrifying (and I cheerfully admit that I cannot sleep when I imagine myself on Flight 93, knowing that I have to defeat the terrorists on the airplane or die).

The terrible aspect, when multiplied by the tiny risk, cannot be comprehended by the human brain. Such a small number, when multiplied by a large number, becomes unity. Thus, people overreact, even though the risk of death by being killed by a violent airplane passenger is equal to the risk of dying on the road in the next 9 days. As I write this, between now and Christmas, three weeks away, fully twiceas many people will be killed by automobiles as have everbeen killed by violent airplane passengers.

The solution to this problem is to not be scared. Not all of us arescared. We need those of us who are not scared to struggle against those who are. We need our political leaders to be strong enough to ignore terrorism. There is nothing they can do to stop it, so what they should do is nothing.

Terrorism is an evil hack, nothing more. It's a trick. We need to ignore it.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Fri, 03 Dec 2010

Forgiving the TSA

I could forgive them groping me if they would just acknowledge that nobody will ever succeed in hijacking an airplane, and allow anything which cannot harm the whole airplane itself. Enough with keeping bladed weapons off airplanes, including those hellish nail clippers. You couldn't even commit suicide with one, much less harm anyone else.

I could forgive them worrying about bombs on airplane if they would just acknowledge that the threat to sports stadiums, subway stations, or heck, busy security lines, are just as bad if not worse than airplanes.

I could forgive them worrying about terrorism if the terrorists could actually cause us more harm than we are harming ourselves. We kill 10X as many people EVERY MONTH on the highways as they killed airplane passengers on 9/11.

No, I can't forgive them.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , , , ] [digg this]

Mon, 29 Nov 2010

Poverty

There are two kinds of poverty: relative poverty and absolute poverty. One could define the latter as lacking certain qualities of life; for example access to a minimum of 1600 calories per day, shelter to keep you warm and dry, and clean clothing appropriate for your climate and culture. There are many people who are absolutely poor. It's possible to abolish that kind of poverty. It is not possible to abolish relative poverty. Some people will always have much much more than other people; we call these latter "poor", often without distinguishing them from the absolutely poor.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]

Tue, 14 Sep 2010

The Unanswerable Question

Sigh. From time to time, leftists get up on their high horse, and think that they can come up with a single objection to freedom which completely smashes all arguments. Today's version of that objection may be found on elementropy, where it goes:

another question unanswerable by neoliberal economists: Who is our economy for?

I'm thinking that the author is not open to new light, but let me venture to answer today's unanswerable question: An economy is for people who trade goods and services with other people. Consequently, any interference with trade goes against the best interests of the economy. Government regulation of trade counts as interference.

Now, readers of that blog may think I'm INSANE. That's okay. 240 years ago, nobody thought a country could exist if it didn't choose a religion for its countrymen. A country without an established religion?? INSANE! Of course, we now know better (although there are some fundamentalist religionists who still disagree). In time, we will be able to convince people that freedom of trade is a civil right along with freedom of association, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and yes, freedom of religion.

Not that I expect this one posting to change anybody's mind. It takes many drops to turn a wheel, singly none, singly none.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]

Unions vs. Globalization

Unions are against globalization. To listen to them, unions are a force for good for all workers (rather than just the workers who pay the union its dues). But to watch them, you can see that they're in favor of cartelization. They don't mind other people competing against them, as long as those people are hobbled by the same pay rate, protections, and benefits as the union members have. In other words, they're not allowed to use a lower cost of living, or a lower regard for their own safety, or a longer work week as a competitive advantage.

Sigh. Unions! Still selfish, after all these years.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [digg this]

Stupid Conservatives

Yo! Stupid conservatives! Y'all keep whinging about how wonderful it is that Arizona is FINALLY doing something about immigration. It sounds like you wish that the Federal Government would do its job and keep those dratted foreigners out.

Well, I have exactly zero words for you:

[nelson@desk ~]$ grep -i immigration ~/Constitution 
[nelson@desk ~]$ 
Yes, that's right, immigration is not one of the enumerated powers. Maybe you'd like it to be? Maybe you wish that it was? Maybe you're willing to give this one power, just this one, to the Feds?

Well, I have exactly one word for you: emigration.
If the Feds can control immigration even though the Constitution doesn't give them that power, then they can also control emigration. So when the USA turns into the communist USSA and Der Presidente for life decides that you can't leave, where are you going to be THEN??

The Feds don't have the ability to stop people from entering or leaving the United States, and that's a good thing.

Posted [00:00] [Filed in: economics] [permalink] [Google for the title] [Tags , ] [digg this]