Posts tagged ‘Update Yes’

More Great Moments in Climate Science

We lost track of a caribou herd, so since we can't find it, we will just tell the press it was destroyed by climate change.   (Happily the herd has been found, right where it always was, so we won't have to see caribou heads on our diet coke bottles).

I joke about this but it is really a serious statement about the quality of science and science journalism that there was really a big climate-related panic over the disappearing caribou a couple of years ago.   This is climate science in a nutshell - make a measurement error, assume the faulty data is real, and then without evidence blame the changing data on climate change.

(Update:  Yes, I actually spelled caribou herd "heard" in the original.  I am a big believer there is no such thing as a single metric for intelligence, but that there are multiple intelligences of various sorts.    We can argue about the other kinds, but I clearly did not get much of the spelling and proof-reading sort.

When Conservatives Turn Against Private Property and Private Contracts

Update:  Yes, I am aware that it is ILLEGAL as many people have informed me in all caps.  Here is my response, and a thought problem for those posing that issue to me.

Apparently, our Arizona legislature is about to past a tough new anti-immigrant bill, to make sure that no one can work for us or be on our property without the government's permission.  Why is it that Conservatives who are nominally supportive of private property and private contracts disavow these rights when Mexicans are involved?

First, to the issue of property:

A bill empowering police to arrest illegal immigrants and charge them with trespassing for simply being in the state of Arizona, is likely just weeks away from becoming the toughest law of its kind anywhere in the country....

"When you come to America you must have a permission slip, period," said state Sen. Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who sponsored the bill. "You can't break into my country, just like you can't break into my house."

So aren't they essentially using a socialist view of property here?   This means that a person can be found to be trespassing on my property, even if he has my permission, if he doesn't have permission of certain members of the government.   It means that the government has more say over who can and can't be present on property than does the private owner.  This is horrendous precedent that Conservatives will someday come to lament.

As for contracts:

The measure allows police to detain people on the suspicion that they are illegal immigrants, outlaws citizens from employing day laborers, and makes it illegal for anyone to transport an illegal immigrant, even a family member, anywhere in the state.

Oops, so much for my ability to hire and fire at will.  And doesn't it make one all warm and fuzzy to think that having brown skin is officially going to be sufficient probable cause for Sheriff Joe to haul your ass into custody?  Because I am not exaggerating, Arpaio will haul in thousands on mere suspicion of being an illegal immigrant.  He already hauls in hundreds without this law.  What's next, checkpoints with state troopers telling us that "ve vant to see your papers" like we were living in occupied France?  Because the bill essentially requires that people present in Arizona be able to prove they are a citizen at all times.  Do I need to carry my passport when I am jogging?

I know a few paranoiacs here have managed to convince even relatively smart people outside this state that we are somehow in the midst of an invasion.  I live here, and no such thing is true.  We have a large Hispanic population that makes the state more interesting, and the limited number of problems immigrants cause for infrastructure here are no worse than the issues any major city faces.  I operate business all over the state, including right down at the border, and there is simply nothing awful going on here to justify this kind of paranoia.

Postscript:  Just to be clear, I believe I have the right to hire anyone I please, and to lease an apartment to anyone I please.  I don't think that people who happen to be born in another country should have to get a license from the state to be able to contract with me in these ways.  Both Democrats and Republicans are awful about this -- they rail against some modest state intrusion in their lives and then support an even bigger one.


Probably not a big deal in California, but they are unusual in Phoenix.   My office was just shaking around some.

Update: Yes, 5.9 in Northwest Mexico.   Article is a bit funny, as observers on ground floors accuse observers in tall buildings of lying about feeling the earthquake.

A Quick Thought on Health Care

It is often said that one of the "problems" with American health care is that we spend far more on health care as a percent of GDP than other nations.  But why is this necessarily a problem?

The US is the wealthiest nation on Earth, top to bottom.  At every level of society, except perhaps for a few recent immigrants, people in this country are wealthier than their peers in a similar income quintile in another country, even Europe.  So it is not surprising that basic needs, like food and housing, might represent a smaller percentage of GDP here than in other nations.  Despite all the efforts of McDonalds and the Country Buffet to change things, there is only so much food we can consume, only so much living space we need, only so many cars we can drive at one time.

As these basics fall as a percentage of our income, something must gain.  It could be savings, but it could also be other spending where incremental outlays return percieved incremental benefits.  And so, why not health care?  What could possibly be more important than extension of our lives and/or the improvement of the quality of our living?  If we as a nation choose to spend our extra wealth on such things, is this really a bug, or a feature?

Update: Yes, I know, the problem is that we aren't really always able to make this decision as individuals optimizing our own tradeoffs.  We are too often forced to accept someone else's tradeoff.  Unfortunately, this problem is only going to get worse under any plan Congress is currently considering.  Someone else who is not you and doesn't even know you will decide how much a procedure is worth for you.

From the Comments

From the comments to my iPod post:

Apple Computer announced today that it has developed a computer chip
that can store and play music in women's breasts as implants.

The IBoob will cost $499 or $599 depending on size.

This is considered to be a major breakthrough because women are
always complaining about men staring at their breasts and not listening
to them.

And who doesn't enjoy unclear pronoun reference humor?  Of course the greatest grammar joke of all time has to be this classic:

New Harvard Student:  Can you tell me where the library is at?

Other Harvard Student, with snobby accent:  At Haaahvaaard, we do not end our sentences in prepositions.

New Harvard Student:  OK.  Can you tell me where the library is at, Asshole?

Update:  Yes, I know, before the commenters come after me, I am not one to throw stones about grammatical mistakes.  But I can get it right when I try, I just make mistakes in the heat of battle.

Update on the Health Care Trojan Horse

On several occasions, I have warned that government funded health care is becoming a Trojan horse for increasing government micro-management of your life.  The logic is that by paying for your health care, the government can argue it has a financial interest in your not eating fatty foods, not smoking, wearing a bike helmet, exercising, etc, decisions that would otherwise only affect the individual themself.*

For those who often accuse me of exaggerated paranoia when it comes to government intervention, check out this from the UK:

People who are grossly overweight, who smoke heavily
or drink excessively could be denied surgery or drugs following a
decision by a Government agency yesterday.  The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) which
advises on the clinical and cost effectiveness of treatments for the
NHS, said that in some cases the "self-inflicted" nature of an illness
should be taken into account.

Sorry, but I told you so.  What's next?  Is an unwanted pregnancy "self-inflicted"?  How about an STD from unprotected sex?  The rulers of this process in England might argue that "Oh, we would never include those things" but technocrats in the US have seen parallel things happen as they have lost political control of their similar institutions in the US.

It gets me to wondering whether the Solomon Amendment may be the new template for government control of individual lives.  In both Universities and state governments, the Feds use the threat of withdrawal of federal funds to coerce actions (think 55 mile speed limit, title IX, military recruiting on campus) that the Constitution nominally does not see to give them authority over.  Now, there is the distinct possibility that federal funds to individuals (Social Security, Medicare, unemployment) could be used to increase federal authority and coercive micro-management at the individual level.

*Update: Yes, I do know that "themself" is probably not correct grammar.  I sometimes use they, them, themself as a grammatically frowned-upon but I think less awkward substitute for he/she, his/her, and his-or-herself when trying to be gender-neutral.  Sometimes I just use the traditional male pronoun, sometimes I use the female pronoun generically since women will complain about "he" used generically but men will not complain about "she", and sometimes I mix them up.  There is still some consensus building to do in coming up with gender neutral pronouns, though this person defends the singular "they".