Posts tagged ‘brackets’

Last Chance to Enter an NCAA Bracket

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog2013 and sign up, then enter your bracket. This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

It's Free!  Must be in by 12:18 EDT today.

8th Annual NCAA Bracket Challenge

NOTE:  We had some sort of massive fail with the WordPress scheduler where this post failed to post at the scheduled time.  For some reason, if it misses the scheduled minute it is supposed to post, it fails (it does not just post a minute late).  So this is 3 days late and we likely won't have many folks join, but its free and a nice bracket site and you are welcome to join between now and tomorrow.

Back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog NCAA Bracket Challenge. Last year we had nearly 140 entries. Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don’t have an office pool to join or who just can’t get enough of turning in brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.

Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well. There is no charge to join in and I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in (name, email, password only) and no spam. The only thing I ask is that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog2013 and sign up, then enter your bracket. This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

Scoring is as follows:

Round 1 correct picks: 1 points
Round 2: 2
Round 3: 4
Round 4: 8
Round 5: 16
Round 6: 32

We have upped later round scoring to try to keep things more competitive at the end. Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie, the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team’s seeds. So don’t be afraid to go for the long-shots! The detailed rules are at the link.

Bracket entry appears to be open. Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 21st at 12:18PM EDT. Be sure to get your brackets in early. Anyone can play — the more the better. Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.

Bracket Slaughter

Wow, did I ever stink it up with my brackets over the weekend.  Worst I have ever done, and it had nothing to do with missing the two 15-2 upsets (everybody missed those).  The only good news is that I am ahead of my son Nic.  My traditional bias against all schools Ohio definitely hurt me.

Anyway, congrats to those who were far more prescient:

Leaderboard after 48 games - See full standings
Bracket Rank Points
Henry Chinaski 1 88
Mick Langan 2 80
Todd Ramsey 3 80
Todd Ramsey 4 80
Kevin Spires 5 80
Bracket Rank Points
Dan D. 6 79
Martin Linhart #2 7 74
Jimbeaux Evans #2 8 73
Scott Strattner 9 73
President Obama 10 72

I am not sure who does it, but we have a reader who faithfully enters the President's bracket into the pool each year, and I must say that Barack does seem to know his college hoops.

UPDATE:  Special congrats to Mike Langan, who due to the vagaries of the CoyoteBlog traditional scoring system is in second, but his bracket based on number of correct picks is actually in the top 50 of 88,000+ brackets at PickHoops.com.

Seventh Annual NCAA Bracket Challenge

Note: This post sticky through 3/15.  Look below for newest posts.

Back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog NCAA Bracket Challenge.  We typically have about 150 entries.  Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don’t have an office pool to join or who just can’t get enough of turning in brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.

Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well.  There is no charge to join in and I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in (name, email, password only) and no spam.  The only thing I ask is that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

Scoring is as follows (its the same scoring we have always used)

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie, the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team’s seeds.  So don’t be afraid to go for the long-shots!   The detailed rules are here.

Bracket entry appears to be open.  Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 15th at 12:18pm EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in early.  Anyone can play — the more the better.  Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.

NCAA Bracket Challenge Update

Here is the top 10 in the bracket challenge after the first week.  Sadly, both of my brackets are in the bottom half.  Apparently, it is statistically impossible for me to do better than 15th place  (thank God for technology so that hope is dashed and I can no longer fool myself about my future chances).  Even worse, my son made the top 10.  More results here.

Bracket Rank Points Correct
Games
Upset
Risk %
Possible
Games
Kevin Spires #2 1 98 31 26.6 43
strattner2 2 82 35 27.8 48
Chuck Jones #2 3 80 35 15.4 46
Ron Coker 4 75 35 20.3 48
Paul Dubuc 5 73 37 15.8 46
Mark Horn / Barack Obama 6 71 39 5.4 51
Chris Smith 7 70 32 30.9 45
Kevin Spires 8 68 34 17.6 42
Grant Smith #2 9 68 31 46.3 41
Nic Meyer 10 67 33 23.7 41

It is good to see the President take time out of his busy schedule to submit a bracket in our competition.

Princeton Loses in Final Seconds :=(

Princeton continues its designated role in the universe of scaring the crap out of high NCAA tournament seeds, but fell just short when Kentucky took the lead with 2 seconds left.   I engaged in emotional diversification by picking against them in my brackets, so I would have both joy and pain either way.

Submit Your Bracket, Its Free!

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

The deadline is Thursday at noon, Eastern time.

Sixth Annual NCAA Bracket Challenge (Sticky, New Posts Below)

Note: This post sticky through 3/17.  Look below for newest posts.

Back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog NCAA Bracket Challenge.  Last year we had over 140 entries.  Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don't have an office pool to join or who just can't get enough of turning in brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.

Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well.  There is no charge to join in and I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in (name, email, password only) and no spam.  The only thing I ask is that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

Scoring is as follows (its the same scoring we have always used)

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie, the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team's seeds.  So don't be afraid to go for the long-shots!   The detailed rules are here.

Bracket entry appears to be open.  Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 17th at 12:00pm EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in early.  Anyone can play -- the more the better.  Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.

Why Are Democrats Promising to Raise Prices?

My new column is up at Forbes, and is on the Democratic push to raise the prices of Chinese goods (either through currency policy or tariffs).  This has to be one of the craziest campaign themes of all time -- please, let us raise your prices.

We should be thrilled that the Chinese government and its people see fit to spend their own money to subsidize lower prices for American businesses and consumers.  Last week, President Obama put substantial pressure on the Chinese prime minister to revalue Chinese currency, a revaluation that would have the effect of raising prices of all Chinese goods in the United States.  What possible sense does such a move make, particularly in a recession?

Christian Broda and John Romalis, a pair of University of Chicago economists, have been doing work on income distribution.  A couple of years ago they published a paper that showed how our measures of income inequality may be exaggerated because the metrics assume that both rich and poor experience the same rate of inflation.  In fact, the researches found, over the last decade or so the poor have seen much lower rates of inflation than the rich, in large part due to goods of the type imported by China and sold at Wal-Mart (another institution Democrats like to demagogue against).

Sadly, prices for low-income Americans could be even lower were it not for past protectionist measures.  When one looks at the goods that have the highest import tariffs, one sees the very same goods that typically make up a disproportionate share of the poor's purchases:  Tobacco, clothing, tires, auto parts, fruits and vegetables.  All of these have their prices raised 20-350 percent by import tariffs.

This means that at the same time Democrats have again raised issues of rising income inequality, they are trying to stop some of the most powerful forces at work mitigating these income differences.  There is no question that if Democrats are successful in changing China's currency policy and/or imposing new tariffs (taxes) on Chinese goods, prices will rise for all Americans, but particularly so for the lower income brackets that are supposedly the Democrats' constituency.

The most frustrating part of this whole effort is that it is aimed at a myth: the declining American manufacturing base.  In fact, American manufacturing output continues to hit new all-time highs "” despite the current recession, American manufacturing output today is still 40% higher than it was in 1990.

Fifth Annual NCAA Bracket Pool

Note: This post sticky through 3/18.  Look below for newest posts.

Back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog NCAA Bracket Challenge.  Last year we had nearly 140 entries.  Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don't have an office pool to join or who just can't get enough of turning in brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.

Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well.  There is no charge to join in and I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in (name, email, password only) and no spam.  The only thing I ask is that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

Scoring is as follows:

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie, the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team's seeds.  So don't be afraid to go for the long-shots!   The detailed rules are here.

Bracket entry appears to be open.  Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 18th at 12:20pm EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in early.  Anyone can play "” the more the better.  Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.

From The Copenhagen Climate Change Treaty

The treaty draft is really hard to read, as it has all kinds of alternate language in brackets.  However, a few folks have already started reviewing the treaty, and what they are finding is less of a climate treaty and more of a blueprint for world socialism.  One example, via Anthony Watt, from page 122 of the draft:

17. [[Developed [and developing] countries] [Developed and developing country Parties] [All Parties] [shall] [should]:]
(a) Compensate for damage to the LDCs' economy and also compensate for lost opportunities, resources, lives, land and dignity, as many will become environmental refugees;

(b) Africa, in the context of environmental justice, should be equitably compensated for environmental, social and economic losses arising from the implementation of response measures.

Compensating for "lost opportunities?" Isn't that number just whatever they want it to be? And don't get me started on lost "dignity."

Do Your Care About Brackets, or People?

A lot of the lefty sites are gearing up the "poor aren't sharing in the benefits" bandwagon again.  This is usually brought out of the garage whenever someone wants to put a really progressive soak-the-successful tax plan on the table.  So get ready.

The key to parsing their argument is to understand the following distinction:  Do you care about quintiles, or individuals?  Because if you care about quintiles, then there is no doubt that the real median income of the lowest income quintile has not advanced much over the last 15-20 years.  But quintiles are not individuals, and the evidence is that individuals are still doing well, whatever bracket they begin in.  Because you see, while the average for the bottom quintile may not be much higher than the average for that bracket a decade ago, the fact is that the people in that bracket have changed.   As Mark Perry writes:

A common misperception is that the top or bottom income quintiles, or the top or bottom X% by income, are static, closed, private clubs with very little turnover - once you get into a top or bottom quintile, or a certain income percent, you stay there for life, making it difficult for people to move to a different group. But reality is very different - people move up and down the income quintiles and percentage groups throughout their careers and lives. The top or bottom 1/5/10%, just like the top or bottom quintiles, are never the same people from year to year, there is constant turnover as we move up and down the quintiles.


He quotes some stats from Jeffrey Jones and Daniel Heil:

How much income mobility exists in America? Research consistently affirms that there is substantial upward income mobility in the United States, with the lowest income earners typically showing the strongest results. A Treasury Department study of the 1996"“2005 period used IRS income tax data to discern considerable mobility: more than 55% of taxpayers moved to a different income quintile. More than half the people in the lowest fifth of earners moved to a higher quintile over this period (29% to the second, 14% to the third, 10% to the fourth, and 5% to the highest).

Moreover, there is a great deal of movement in and out of the top income groups. The Treasury data show that 57% "of households in the top 1% in 2005 were not there nine years earlier." The rich sometimes get richer, but they get poorer as well. The study also reveals that income mobility has increased, not decreased, during the past twenty years. For example, 47.3% of those in the lowest income quintile in 1987 saw their incomes increase by at least 100% by 1996. That number jumped to 53.5% from 1996 to 2005.

The Pew Economic Mobility Project tried to track actual people, and not brackets, from tax returns.  This is an imperfect science, but the only real way to look at income mobility.  They found that 90% of white children and 73% of black children whose parents were in the lowest income quartile in the base period were later to be found in higher income quartiles.  But this chart, from the same study, is really telling:

6a00d834518ccc69e201157116e822970b-800wi(click to enlarge)

That is a pretty amazing picture, marred only by something apparently bad occurring with the kids of middle class African Americans.

So how can there be so much income gain everywhere without the averages for the lower quintile increasing.  I would offer at least two explanations:

  1. Immigration. As people gain skills and seniority, they progress to higher income brackets and out of the lower quintile.  However, there is a constant stream of low-skill immigrants moving to this country to fill in the bottom quintile.  It we were to do a quintile analysis apples to apples leaving out new immigrants in the period, I guarantee you would see the median income for the lower quintile increase.  As I wrote before:

    Frequent readers will know that I am a strong supporter of open immigration....However, I am tempted to become a close-the-border proponent if the left continue to use numbers skewed by immigration to justify expansions of taxation and the welfare state.  Whether they are illegal or not, whether they should be allowed to stay or not, the fact is that tens of millions of generally poor and unskilled immigrants have entered this country over the last several decades.  These folks dominate the lower quintile of wage earners in this country, and skew all of our traditional economic indicators downwards.  Median wages appear to be stagnating?  Of course the metric looks this way "” as wages have risen, 10 million new folks have been inserted at the bottom.  If you really want to know what the current median wage is on an apples to apples basis back to 1970, take the current reported median wage and count up about 10 million spots, and that should be the number "” and it will be much higher.

    By the way, even for these immigrants, their position in the lower quintile represents upward mobility for them.  Being in the middle of the lower quintile probably is a huge improvement over where they were in their home country - almost by definition, or they would not be working so hard to get here.

  2. Safety Net. Some large portion of the bottom quintile are supported by the US government's safety net.  And there are pretty good fiscal reasons why the typical real incomes generated by that safety net have not increased over the last 20 years.  And even beyond the fiscal issues, there are incentives issues as well -- at some point, increasing how lucrative the safety net is can reduce the incentive to get off the safety net and find a job.  Just ask the Swedes.  There is a delicate balance between humanity and sustaining folks vs. killing their motivation.In some ways the left's use of the lack of lower quintile progress as an indictment of American capitalism is wildly ironic.  Basically what they are saying is that the 80% of people who support themselves through capitalist endeavor are doing progressively better but the 20% of the people supported by the government are stagnating -- and therefore we need to increase the role of government.

We Have a Winner

For the first time in years, we have a winner in our bracket contest even before the Finals are played.  Publicity shy Steve Anonymous is the winner, no matter who wins tonight.  He has North Carolina to win, but no one with Michigan State is close enough to catch him.  Congratulations!  As usual, I entered the sweet-16 in the top 10, but then just got crushed on the second weekend.  After having 12 of the Sweet-16 correct, I only had 3 of the final 8 correct.

24 Hours To Get Your Brackets In

Brackets are due circa noon Eastern time on Thursday.  Right now we have 107 brackets!  This should be a blast this year.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.  The detailed rules are here.

Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 19th at 12:20pm EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in early.  Anyone can play "” the more the better.  Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.

Fourth Annual NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge

Note: This post sticky through 3/19.  Look below for newest posts.

Back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog NCAA Bracket Challenge.  Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don't have an office pool to join or who just can't get enough of turning in brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.

Last year we had well over 100 entries, and we expect more this year. Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well.  There is no charge to join in and I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in (name, email, password only) and no spam.  The only thing I ask is that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/CoyoteBlog and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

Scoring is as follows:

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie, the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team's seeds.  So don't be afraid to go for the long-shots!   The detailed rules are here.

Bracket entry appears to be open.  Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 19th at 12:20pm EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in early.  Anyone can play "” the more the better.  Each participant will be allows to submit up to two brackets.

Not The Best of Times Because, Why?

Kevin Drum posts this chart as a one-picture refutation of McCain's statement that we are living in the best of times.

Um, OK.  We all got wealthier.  And the problem is, what?  That someone else got even wealthier than I did?  So what.  Do we really have to keep refuting this zero-sum economics-of-envy argument?

I won't get into the whole zero-sum thing, because the chart itself proves that the world can't be zero-sum, since everyone got richer on average.  But here is a full refutation of zero-sum wealth arguments.  Also, a zero-sum wealth quiz here.

Looking at changes in income brackets is
always misleading. In the US, most folks are migrating up the brackets
as they age and gain experience. So most folks benefit not just from
the increase in their bracket but a migration to the next bracket.

To this last point, the bottom end of the bracket is being flooded
with new immigrants (legal or not) with poor skills and often no
English. They drag down the averages, again understating how well the
typical person is doing.  Lifetime surveys of individuals rather than percentile brackets always demonstrate that individuals gain wealth over time much fast than this type of analysis demonstrates.  And even the new immigrants at the bottom are presumably gaining vs. their previous circumstances, or else why else would they have immigrated in the first place.

Here is an alternate response to whether we are in the best of times.

By the way, here is an interesting article on why using a single inflation rate for the poor and the rich to get real income growth may be incorrect.  There is an argument to be made that the poor have a lower inflation rate than the rich, thanks to Wal-Mart.

Settled Science

I always find it fascinating to observe how the same folks who criticize the US for not taking drastic action based on the "settled science" of global warming are often the first to ignore hundreds of years of study in the science of economics.  While the full breadth of economics is far from settled science, one thing that is far better understood than the effect of CO2 on global temperatures is the effect of higher prices on demand:  (via Market Power)

This chart confirms that for teenagers, those between the ages of 16
and 19 years old, all of the jobs that disappeared in 2007 were minimum
wage jobs. In essence, a total of 94,000 hourly jobs disappeared for
this age group overall. This figure is the net change of this age group
losing some 118,000 minimum wage earning jobs and gaining some 24,000
jobs paying above this level.

This represents what we believe to be the effect of the higher
minimum wage level increasing the barriers to entry for young people
into the U.S. workforce. Since the minimum wage jobs that once were
held by individuals in each age group have disappeared, total
employment levels have declined as those who held them have been forced
to pursue other activities.

Now consider this: The minimum wage was just reset on 24 July 2008
to $6.55 per hour, a 27.2% increase from where it was in early July
2007. Our best guess is that a lot of additional teenagers will be pursuing those other activities

Meanwhile, the lack of employment opportunities for the least
educated, least skilled and least experienced segment of the U.S.
workforce will likely have costs far beyond the benefits gained by
those who earn the higher minimum wage. The government might be able to
make the minimum wage earning teenage worker disappear, but they didn't
do anything to make the teenagers themselves disappear.

Numberminwagebyagegroup20052007

The increase in minimum wage earners in some of the middle brackets is likely due to a sweeping effect -- if the minimum wage is increase from $6 to $7, people making $6.50 before are swept into the "minimum wage" characterization.   

Third Annual NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge

Note: This post sticky through 3/20.  Look below for newest posts.

We had a blast with it last year, so back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog
NCAA Bracket Challenge
.  Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed
out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don't have an
office pool to join or who just can't get enough of turning in
brackets, this pool is offered as my public service.   

Last year we had close to 100 entries, and we expect more this year.
Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well.  There is no
charge to join in and
I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in
(name, email, password only) and no spam.  The only thing I ask is
that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and
board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/Coyote and sign up, then enter your bracket.  This year, you may enter two different brackets if you wish.

Scoring is as follows:

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie,
the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus
points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team's
seeds.  So don't be afraid to go for the long-shots!   The detailed rules are here.

Bracket entry appears to be open.  Online bracket entry closes
Thursday, March 20th at 12:20pm EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in
early.  Anyone can play -- the more the better.

Last Reminder - Brackets Due by About Noon EDT

We have 99 brackets so far, lets get it over 100.  Remember, entry is free and fun.  As an added incentive, I will send
the winner a copy of either of my books  (yes, I know the inevitable
joke - 2nd place gets two copies).  Enter here:  http://www.pickhoops.com/Coyote.  More about the rules and scoring here.

Let the Madness Begin

We had 91 brackets submitted this year for our NCAA bracket challenge, which is great!  Let the fun begin.

PS:  Based on past history, my current rank (in a 91-way tie for first) is probably the last time I will be front.

Annual NCAA Bracket Challenge

Note: This post sticky through 3/16.  Look below for newest posts.

We had a blast with it last year, so back by popular demand is the annual Coyote Blog
NCAA Bracket Challenge
.  Yes, I know that many of you are bracketed
out, but for those of you who are self-employed and don't have an
office pool to join or who just can't get enough of turning in
brackets, this pool is offered as my public service. 

Last year we had over fifty entries, and we expect more this year.  Everyone is welcome, so send the link to friends as well.  There is no charge to join in and
I have chosen a service with the absolutely least intrusive log-in
(name, email, password only) and no spam.  The only thing I ask is
that, since my kids are participating, try to keep the team names and
board chat fairly clean.

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/Coyote and sign up, then enter your bracket.

Scoring is as follows:

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie,
the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus
points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team's
seeds.  So don't be afraid to go for the long-shots!

Bracket entry appears to be open.  Online bracket entry closes Thursday, March 15th at 11:30am EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in early.

Update: I have managed a lot of bracket pools over the years, with a lot of tools.  I would not hesitate to recommend Pickhoops.com.  Least intrusive, cheap, good tools, easy to use.

One Day Left to Enter NCAA Bracket Challenge

It's fun.  It's free.  It's really easy (and the registration is unintrusive).

To join, go to http://www.pickhoops.com/Coyote and sign up, then enter your bracket.

Scoring is as follows:

Round 1 correct picks:  1 points
Round 2:  2
Round 3:  4
Round 4:  6
Round 5:  8
Round 6:  10

Special March Madness scoring bonus: If you correctly pick the underdog in any round (ie,
the team with the higher number seed) to win, then you receive bonus
points for that correct pick equal to the difference in the two team's
seeds.  So don't be afraid to go for the long-shots!

Online bracket entry closes
Thursday, March 15th at 11:30am EDT.  Be sure to get your brackets in
early.

Uh, Oops

Via the Consumerist:

When Greenpeace mobilized to protest nuclear energy at a recent appearance by
President Bush to promote his nuclear energy policy, they forgot to fill in all
the boiler-plate.

From the Greenpeace anti-nuclear-armageddon flier. Capitals and brackets are
theirs:

    In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear
    accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID
    HERE]."

LOL.  By the way, I am not sure why those paranoid about global warming would refuse to reconsider nuclear power.   In that article, i pointed out that a different regulatory regimed would greatly reduce costs and actually enhance safety:

If aircraft construction was regulated like nuclear power plants,
there would be no aviation industry.  In the aircraft industry,
aircraft makers go through an extensive approval and testing process to
get a basic design (e.g. the 737-300) approved by the government as
safe.  Then, as long as they keep producing to this design, they can
keep making copies with minimal additional design scrutiny.  Instead,
the manufacturing process is carefully checked to make sure that it is
reliably producing aircraft to the design already deemed safe.  If
aircraft makers want to make a change to the aircraft, that change must
be approved with a fairly in-depth process.

Beyond the reduction in design cost for the 2nd airplane of a series
(and 3rd, etc.), this approach also yields strong regulatory benefits.
For example, if the actuation screw for the horizontal stabilizer is deemed to be of poor or unsafe design
in a particular aircraft, then the government can issue a bulletin to
require a new approved design be retrofitted in all other aircraft of
this series.  This happens all the time in commercial aviation.

One can see how this might make nuclear power plant construction
viable again.  Urging major construction companies to come up with a
design that could be reused would greatly reduce the cost of design and
construction of plants.  There might still be several designs, since
competing companies would likely have their own designs, but this same
is true in aerospace with Boeing, Airbus and smaller jet manufacturers
Embraer and Bombardier.

And a while back I linked to a story on how the ultimate fallout from Chernobyl was not nearly as bad as was feared.  That article said in part:

Over the next four years, a massive cleanup operation
involving 240,000 workers ensued, and there were fears that many of
these workers, called "liquidators," would suffer in subsequent years.
But most emergency workers and people living in contaminated areas
"received relatively low whole radiation doses, comparable to natural
background levels," a report summary noted. "No evidence or likelihood
of decreased fertility among the affected population has been found,
nor has there been any evidence of congenital malformations."

In
fact, the report said, apart from radiation-induced deaths, the
"largest public health problem created by the accident" was its effect
on the mental health of residents who were traumatized by their rapid
relocation and the fear, still lingering, that they would almost
certainly contract terminal cancer. The report said that lifestyle
diseases, such as alcoholism, among affected residents posed a much
greater threat than radiation exposure.

Congratulations to Gene Wright!

Congratulations to Gene Wright, who won the first annual Coyote Blog NCAA bracket contest.  Gene only had one of the final four picked (UCLA) but did so well in the opening rounds he had the contest locked up even before last weekend.  Second place was Michael Gunter and third was Bob Houk.  Interestingly, no one out of 34 contestants had Florida in the finals or winning it all.  By the way, yours truly limped in at 24th, though my son helped uphold the family honor at 10th.  If you were not in the pool, you can still click here and enter email "coyote -at- coyoteblog -dot- com" and password "coyote" to see all the results.

By the way, I highly recommend the www.pickhoops.com site for your brackets.  It costs $9 to set up, but it has no ads, the registration is MUCH less intrusive for your players than free sites like Yahoo, they have great analysis options, and they are much faster at posting results.

On Class Warfare and Income Taxes, Part 1

This has actually become part 1 of a two-part post. In part one, we will look at the unbelievable proportion of income taxes paid by a small percentage of people in this country, and reflect on how crazy it is to talk about the rich getting a free ride. In post 2, we will look at a couple of truly regressive taxes where the rich really do get a free ride, and wonder why these issues get mostly ignored.

Something interesting has happened in this country over the last decade, and it is shown below in one of my favorite statistics. There is much talk in the media about this or that group paying their "fair share" of taxes, but as is usually true in the media, there are depressingly few facts in these articles. This is strange, since there are several government reports that pretty clearly outline the share of taxes paid by various income brackets. The numbers below are from a Congresional Budget Office Report, but the same numbers are buried in the IRS web site as well.

For 2003, the estimated share of total individual income taxes paid by:

Wealthiest 1%: 33.6%
Wealthiest 5%: 55.1%
Wealthiest 10%: 67.9%
Wealthiest 20%: 83.0%
Wealthiest 40%: 97.8%
Wealthiest 60%: 103.0%

The way to read this is that the wealthiest 10% of taxpayers pay 67.9% of the country's individual income taxes. And yes, that 103% is not a typo - the bottom 40% in income as a group pay negative personal income taxes (because of the EITC).

This leads to the following fascinating conclusion: Half of the people in this country pay more than 100% of the personal income taxes. The other half get, as a group, a free ride (though there are individuals in this group that pay paxes, net, as a group, they do not). We are basically at the point in this country where 51% of voters could vote themselves all kinds of new programs and benefits knowing that the other 49% have to pay for them.

Extra Credit Exercise: Given the numbers above, and all the talk about "tax cuts for the rich", craft an income tax cut that does not disproportionately benefit the top half of the income spectrum.

Hard, huh? The same CBO report had an interesting comparison. They estimated what these same numbers would have been without the recent tax cuts. Without the "George Bush tax cuts that unjustly benefit the rich" these same numbers in 2003 would have been:

Wealthiest 1%: 31.9%
Wealthiest 5%: 51.8%
Wealthiest 10%: 63.9%

OOPS - Coyote, that can't be right? That means that the wealthiest people pay a higher share of income taxes after the Bush tax cuts. That must mean that the tax cuts disproportionately helped the lower income brackets? Can that be right?

Yes, thats right. Without the Bush tax cut, the top 60% would have paid 99.9% of all individual income taxes. Now, after the tax cut, they pay 103%, meaning the bottom 40% have gone from paying about 0% to actually getting a bunch of money in net EITC.

Which just goes to prove a related point I make a lot - agree with him or disagree with him, G.W. Bush has got to be one of the worst presidential communicators in recent memory. For further proof, see debate #1.

Interestingly, John Kerry used this same report to say that these tax cuts shifted the burden of taxation to the middle class. And, in one way, he is right, though not in the way that his statement is generally interpreted. For more, see part 2, coming soon. (hint - think total taxes, not just income taxes)

UPDATE

Reason, my favorite libertarian rag, has a related analysis from Nick Gillespie and Mike Snell here. I don't think I trust either Bush or Kerry on fiscal discipline. Neither, apparently, do Gillespie and Snell:

But the fact remains that Bush's cuts have reduced the amount of income tax we all pay. Though Kerry will certainly suggest otherwise in Friday's debate, the trouble with Bush's budget policy isn't that he cut income taxes. It's that he hasn't cut spending. Indeed, perhaps the strongest case for electing Kerry may be that he will usher in an age of divided government that will restrain federal spending and the various problems that accompany it.

UPDATE #2

Fixed an unbelievably bad triple negative - Even I could not figure out what I was trying to say.