Thursday, May 24, 2007

I hate taxes...

But I do like the idea of a gas-tax. I think it would be a good way to discourage driving, and encourage efficient cars without silly CAFE standards.

Trust the intelligent readers of the Economist Blog, Free Exchange to give me another reason to be ok with a gas tax -
"The costs of driving should show up in gas prices. These costs include road maintenance, medical costs from accidents, traffic law enforcement, and a number of other things. One study I read in the 1990's suggested that it would take a $9/gallon gas tax to cover these costs. If you phased that in over 10 years, you would see a big change.

I would have no problem transferring some or all of the costs of driving to the gas pump and removing that portion from income or property taxes. This would allow market forces to discourage driving. It would also create a more honest debate about the cost/benefits of mass transit relative to personal cars."

Good points, all. I like having my own car, but it's also nice to have the metro in a big city. I don't think I would have complained so much about how much it cost when I was in DC if I was comparing the cost of a metro trip to the real cost of driving.

It also just makes sense to have the people who use the roads more (and thus buy more gas) to pay a larger part of the cost of upkeep for the roads. It makes sense to allow market forces to work. (That last sentence was a trueism)

This point "I realize the logistics of such tax systems {editor's note: such as a pay per pound of waste collected by a garbage truck} are not simple, but a move in that direction would encourage environmentally responsible behavior and make research into greener technologies more profitable." is also granted, but I think it's worth it. We have the technology to do stuff like this, and I think we should.

Anyway, I hate taxes, but I think people should pay for the goods they use...and public goods need to be paid for, and negative environmental externalities need to be accounted for, so a tax should be paid. That tax should be as related as possible to the good purchased, however - not the income of the consumer or the value of their house.

The "War on Terror" isn't only happening abroad

(Crazy) People willing to commit violent acts for the purpose of a political show (Otherwise known as terrorists) live in America, too. And they aren't all religious, and they don't all look so different from "us."

I'm glad we come down hard on them too, even if some of their stuff doesn't seem as violent as a car bomb, both because we need to keep ourselves safe here, and because we need to keep our own yard clean. Every time a "homegrown" terrorist does something (even a small thing) in America, it helps create an propaganda atmosphere that promotes terrorism as a legitimate political tool.

In my opinion, using the political tatic of terrorism (causing fear in a target population for a political/ideological purpose, read this for more of my thoughts on the nature of terrorism) is almost (though not quite) as the violence that usually results. The violence isn't really the point of the terrorism; it's a tool used to cause people to feel fear and then give in to whatever political cause the terrorist believes. Anyone willing to use this tactic has completely discredited themselves, and having one of them on your side actaully weakens your position (in my opinion). So, the good cause of environmentalism is degraded by these idiots who think it's ok to start fires for the good of Mother Nature!

In America, we need to find and stop these fools so that we can have a legitimate political sphere (which we do, for the most part) and also so that we can be an example to other democracies and countries where violence is an acceptable part of the political process (Russia). It may seem like a small thing, but I think it's important.

Oh, and yeah, I'm back.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Very True

Check this out from Tiger Hawk. Key Phrase (comes at the end):

Is there anything more fun than buried treasure?"

Answer: no.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Yay, the Economist!

Even Sweden allows for school choice. Why are we left in the dark ages? Why don't we care about the wellbeing and education of Our Children! Give in to the market! It makes better decisions in your best interest than any and all politicians! All the time!

The strongest evidence against this criticism comes from Sweden, where parents are freer than those in almost any other country to spend as they wish the money the government allocates to educating their children. Sweeping education reforms in 1992 not only relaxed enrolment rules in the state sector, allowing students to attend schools outside their own municipality, but also let them take their state funding to private schools, including religious ones and those operating for profit. The only real restrictions imposed on private schools were that they must run their admissions on a first-come-first-served basis and promise not to charge top-up fees (most American voucher schemes impose similar conditions).

The result has been burgeoning variety and a breakneck expansion of the private sector. At the time of the reforms only around 1% of Swedish students were educated privately; now 10% are, and growth in private schooling continues unabated.

Anders Hultin of Kunskapsskolan, a chain of 26 Swedish schools founded by a venture capitalist in 1999 and now running at a profit, says its schools only rarely have to invoke the first-come-first-served rule—the chain has responded to demand by expanding so fast that parents keen to send their children to its schools usually get a place. So the private sector, by increasing the total number of places available, can ease the mad scramble for the best schools in the state sector (bureaucrats, by contrast, dislike paying for extra places in popular schools if there are vacancies in bad ones).


It's been a while, and it's going to be a bit longer before I return full time. I'm dealing with a pretty tough semester, both academically and extracurricularly, but there are only a couple weeks left. And, this summer, I intend to be blogging everyday.

However, I couldn't pass this up. One of my old Professor's blogs (good for him) and brought my attention to this. There are so many good things about this that I'm not sure where to start. Well, of course, we start with the fact that a 1/4 billion less people are living lives of abject poverty since the 1990's. After that, I gotta go with, "the Economist sure is an awesome magazine - I wish I could get it before it was out of date!"

And with that, I return you to the static page - but only 'cause I have too much work to get done. By the way, if you want to see some of what I've been doing, I'm moonlighting over at this blog/website - except I'm not blogging for them, I'm considered a "journalist!" Heh! - I sure fooled them!