Michael Moore's Love Story: For Taxpayer Subsidies
Professor Mark J. Perry's Blog for Economics and Finance
Israel is taking bold measures to address its severe organ shortage. With the introduction of two new laws, Israeli families that allow their deceased loved one’s organs to be donated can receive money for a funeral or other memorial, and anyone who agrees to be a posthumous donor gets priority in the event of needing an organ transplant himself. Other countries should follow Israel’s lead and implement initiatives that provide incentives for organ donation.
According to a report released yesterday by the BLS:
In other words, the standard "disparity-proves-discrimination" dogma will not be applied in this case of a huge gender imbalance in college completion by age 22, because the disparity favors women, not men. But consider what happens when the disparity favors men, and this is just one example of many:
5. Nobody will blame the gender degree gap on structural barriers from grades K-12 that discourage men from attending or graduating from college, like they do for explaining the gender gap for women in math and science.
"It is baffling to see the state of Michigan offer filmmaker Michael Moore a refundable tax credit for his documentary "Capitalism: A Love Story." This subsidy should be rejected by Moore on principle alone. Moore's acceptance of the Michigan film incentive subsidy is troubling because he has grown wealthy railing against corporations and capitalist institutions - such as Wall Street - for enriching themselves at the expense of the little guy and taxpayers.
"It should be remembered that diversity creed holds that we are all equal and would be proportionately represented by race across all activities but for the fact of discrimination and oppression."
Watching Obama and Biden on TV and hearing Obama talk proudly about their "leadership," I can't help but remember how relatively uncharitable and uncaring they have been in the past when it comes to spending their own money. If we look at some of the years before the 2008 election, when nobody was really paying attention to their charitable giving:
Adjusted for inflation (in 2009 dollars), Gone with the Wind ranks as the #1 all-time movie for box office receipts at $1.5 billion (released in 1939 when the average ticket price was 23 cents), and Avatar currently ranks a distant #26 at $562 million (so far).
The graph above displays monthly employment levels for the private sector (blue line, left scale, data here) and the government sector (red line, right scale, data here) from January 2000 through December 2009, and shows a pretty bleak job picture for America’s private sector. Since private sector employment peaked at almost 116 million jobs in December 2007 at the onset of the recession, more than seven million private sector jobs have disappeared, while during the same time period government jobs increased by almost 100,000. That is, the entire burden of job losses during the recession has fallen on the private sector, while the public sector has actually expanded and added jobs during the economic downturn.
Neil Reynolds writing in today's Toronto Globe and Mail:
"When President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address tonight, he should - but won't - report the significant U.S. decline in economic freedom during his first year in the Oval Office.
Jointly published last week by the conservative Washington-based Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom (a 480-page work) strips the United States of its traditional designation as a "free economy," listing it instead - and ranking it as No. 8 in the world - as "partially free." More embarrassing for Mr. Obama, it elevates Canada to the No. 7 spot that the United States surrendered, making Prime Minister Stephen Harper the leader of the economically freest country in the Western Hemisphere (see top ten below, click to enlarge)."
Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors -- "2009 will go down in the history books as the year that the local housing market took large healing steps towards balance. In the Twin Cities 13-county metro area, total pending sales for 2009 ended at 52,167, up a strong 18.4% from 2008. That’s the highest number of units sold since 2005 and the strongest year-over-year increase in sales since 1998."
ORLANDO, Fla. (Jan. 25, 2010) – "Florida’s existing home sales rose in December, marking 16 months that sales activity has increased in the year-to-year comparison, according to the Florida Realtors. Existing home sales rose 33% last month with a total of 14,630 homes sold statewide compared to 11,013 homes sold in December 2008. Statewide existing home sales last month increased 4.3% over statewide sales activity in November.
GMU economist Don Boudreaux made an important point in his 2002 Freeman article "I Recycle" that even though he and others might be part of the 23% who tell pollsters that they don't officially "recycle," they still do a lot of "unofficial recycling" every day, e.g. re-using many household items like towels, coffee mugs, dishes, utensils, clothes, shoes, appliances, CDs, furniture, and books.
Don concludes: "Reflecting on the impressive amount of recycling that actually takes place daily casts doubt on the prevailing misperception that people are naturally wasteful and mindlessly irresponsible. In fact, market prices compel us to recycle when recycling is appropriate—and to not recycle when recycling is inappropriate."
I've been thinking about recycling lately and Don's article, and have a few thoughts:
1. Even for the 77% of Americans who claim to regularly "recycle," they usually only recycle a very narrow and limited number of items like newspapers, bottles and cans. Don Boudreaux uses the example of paper plates, and suggests that it would be possible, but too costly, in terms of the time involved compared to the benefits, to re-use paper plates. Therefore, most people, even the most dedicated, religious "recyclers," do not bother to recycle their paper plates.
Likewise, there are many other items that even the most committed and devoted "recyclers" don't usually bother to re-use a second time: coffee filters, paper cups, dental floss, paper towels, paper napkins, Q-tips, toothpicks, plastic utensils, and Kleenex tissues.
2. Even when 77% of Americans say they recycle items like newspapers, bottles and cans, what they almost always mean is that they recycle using the "lazy approach," and they actually have somebody else do the actual work of recycling their discarded items (usually after a single use). The "lazy approach" means that instead of actually re-using those items themselves, they put their newspapers, bottles and cans in a special green bin instead of their regular garbage can, and send those items off for somebody else to do the actual, real work of re-using those items.
For example, there are lots of ways for "real recyclers" to actually recycle their own newspapers, instead of being "lazy recyclers" and having somebody else do their work. There are lots of websites (including here and here) that provide great ideas on how to recycle newspaper including:
"Recycle newspaper into new paper by tearing it up, soaking it in warm water until it becomes pulp, then spread the pulp on an old window screen covered in a piece of fabric. When it dries, you have great recycled card stock for projects and gifts."
And there are some great ways to be a non-lazy "active recycler" of bottles, for example go here and here to see pictures of the many items that can be made with bottles including light fixtures, Christmas trees, chandeliers, houses, entire temples, and solar water heaters (see photos above).
Bottom Line: 1) The 23% of American "non-recyclers" actually do a lot of recycling, especially when the benefits outweigh the costs (clothes, silverware, plates, towels, etc.).
2) The 77% of American "recyclers" are actually most often "lazy recyclers" and don't do their own recycling. Instead, they have somebody else do the recycling for them, and they don't for example use their bottles to make furniture or their newspaper to make paper.
3) The active "recyclers" limit their recycling very narrowly to select items like cans, bottles and newspapers, and even these religious recyclers don't recycle many potentially reusable items like toothpicks and coffee filters.
"Therapists looking to study the five stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, in that order—need look no further than Washington Democrats struggling to come to grips with the fact that the health care overhaul they spent nearly a year crafting is now dead. Every stage but the last is well represented. The only step left for Democrats is to accept that, after Republican Scott Brown's win in the Massachusetts special election, their signature reform effort is now lost."
From Econstories.tv: Economist Russ Roberts and filmmaker John Papola's new release, "Fear the Boom and Bust," a rap video about the economic crisis.
LA Times -- "Over the last decade, a quiet revolution took root in the nation's second-largest school district. Enrollment is up at charter schools, and overall, standardized test scores outshine those at traditional campuses.
Mackinac Center for Public Policy -- "For many parents, public charter schools are seen as an escape from underperforming or unsafe schools. Legislative limits on the growth of charters and subsequent waiting lists force parents to submit their children into a lottery to determine if they'll get to exercise their choice for a better educational option. For these parents, pure chance is their only ticket out of failing schools.
In this video, Cato's Dan Mitchell explains why we should be very concerned that a "Tax-and-Spend Interventionist" (Obama), following a "Borrow-and-Spend Interventionist" (Bush), could put America on the road to French-style economic stagnation.
Update: Chart below shows that gas prices were generally increasing over the last six months, so the increased traffic volume happened in spite of rising fuel costs.
GLOBE AND MAIL -- "In Canada, what some provinces consider standard treatment isn't offered to patients in other parts of the country.
From OpenSecrets.Org, here's a list of the top industries contributing to members of the 111th Congress during the 2009-2010 election cycle (see top ten below).
OpenSecrets.Org: "Who's got the most juice on Capitol Hill? Here's a list of the top industries contributing to members of the 110th Congress during the 2007-2008 election cycle. The first list shows the overall 50 biggest industries (see top 10 below, click to enlarge)."
From OpenSecrets.org: "In boxing, big punchers seek knockouts. In government, the same principle applies: The wealthiest corporations and special interest groups usually pepper politicians with overwhelming amounts of money in hope of influencing the political process. Here you'll find total contributions for the 100 biggest givers in federal-level politics since 1989 -- information that exists nowhere else."
Intrade (last trade = 93%).
Wal-Mart: Almost 75% of the Walmart store management team started as hourly associates.
NY Times: "It’s a stunningly reasonable idea. When you prepare your return, why can’t you first download whatever data the Internal Revenue Service has received about you and, if your return is simple, learn what the I.R.S.’s calculation of your taxes would be? You’d have the chance to check whether the information was accurate, correct it as needed and add any pertinent details — that you’re newly married, for example, or have a new child — before sending it. Far better to discover problems early with the I.R.S., whose say matters more than third-party software’s best guess.
"Sure, there are playoffs in football, but competition is everywhere, we just forget to notice it.