Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Political Pressure to fall in line with Cap and Trade increasing

The US Chamber of Commerce is pushing for a "scopes monkey trial" of climate change pseudo-science. This has triggered ever more conformist pressure on the group to give up its adherence to the principles of non-manipulated data, unrestricted peer review, and the truth. The Washington Monthly has gone "all in" on climate change legislation, & trumpets that anyone who has seen that climate change science is not science is a atheist vis a vis the Ecopagan religion and must be punished.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Spongebob does the Hamster Dance

You need to have an extremely silly sense of humor to enjoy this more than once.


Hickory Dickory Dock Variants

I'm always looking for rhymes to say to my daughters to amuse them. Luckily for me, and for them I suppose, they are still amused by my silly rhymes.

Hickory dickory dock
The mouse went up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse came down
Hickory dickory dock.

Hickory dickory doo
The mouse ran up the flue
Down came the rain
Washed mouse down the drain
Hickory dickory doo

Hickory dickory ding
The mouse went up something
A noise was made
The mouse was afraid
Hickory dickory ding

Hickory dickory doll
The mouse went to the mall
Bought a magazine
Couldn't read a thing
Hickory dickory doll

Hickory dickory dudes
The mouse went to the woods
Met a hungry dog
Hid deep in a log
Hickory dickory dudes

Hickory dickory doll (yes again)
The mouse went up the wall
The ceiling was there
He fell down through the air
Hickory dickory doll

Hickory dickory diddle
The mouse danced to the fiddle
Under a dancing boot
The mouse was kaput
Hickory dickory diddle

Hickory dickory day
The mousy passed away
Poor little ex mouse
In the mouse's big house
Hickory dickory day


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hank Jr. Never Sang about Country Boys like this!

Life ain't nothing but a funny funny riddle
Obama's ears are not so little
Mmm mmm mmm
Thank God I'm a country boy.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Umm, you know all that climate data that proves global warming, well, nobody's had it for 20+ years

Imagine you are a climate researcher who has been assembling the data that is used to support claims of global warming. Or imagine you are Phil Jones from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia. Or imagine you are a scientific fraud. Did I write "or"? I meant "and."

Before we get into the sleazy details let's talk about science.

The scientific method that has produced such incredible progress over the last five hundred years depends on peer review, rigorously reproducible experiments, and transparent access to the original data as well as all operations performed on it. Factor analysis, time series analysis and other techniques lead to theories about cause and effect. Empirical data from experimental results indicates numerical relationships. Results are tested and vetted by many methods, including statistical analysis of the data for measurement bias. The result is that scientific theories are never proved. Two things can happen to them.
  • Theories can be accepted as good enough for a while; until
  • They get disproved.
In science, breakthroughs are made by disproving old theories that were good enough for a long time, and replacing them with new or refined theories.

Where experiments are feasible, new experiments are performed to vet results. In order for the scientific method to work for theories in which experiments are not feasible (such as weather science), the original data must be kept. A reliable record of all mathematical transformations must also be kept. To depart from this method by inventing or manipulating data is usually enough to make a pariah of a scientist. But there are certain scientists who, because of the faddishness and political correctness of their results, get a pass when they violate every standard of scientific research.

But the fact of the matter is those so-called scientists are frauds, and so are their supporters.

Patrick J. Michaels of NRO has the story in all its deplorable, results-falsifying glory at Watts Up With That.
In the early 1980s, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, scientists at the United Kingdom’s University of East Anglia established the Climate Research Unit (CRU) to produce the world’s first comprehensive history of surface temperature. It’s known in the trade as the “Jones and Wigley” record for its authors, Phil Jones and Tom Wigley, and it served as the primary reference standard for the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) until 2007. It was this record that prompted the IPCC to claim a “discernible human influence on global climate.”

Putting together such a record isn’t at all easy. Weather stations weren’t really designed to monitor global climate. Long-standing ones were usually established at points of commerce, which tend to grow into cities that induce spurious warming trends in their records. Trees grow up around thermometers and lower the afternoon temperature. Further, as documented by the University of Colorado’s Roger Pielke Sr., many of the stations themselves are placed in locations, such as in parking lots or near heat vents, where artificially high temperatures are bound to be recorded.

So the weather data that go into the historical climate records that are required to verify models of global warming aren’t the original records at all. Jones and Wigley, however, weren’t specific about what was done to which station in order to produce their record, which, according to the IPCC, showed a warming of 0.6° +/– 0.2°C in the 20th century.

Guess what comes next? Every time a scientist wants to examine the data and make sure it is good, Phil Jones refuses. A few scientists who are properly deferential get bits of data. But the scientific method cannot operate without peer review from scientists who look for problems. How can the science be improved if it cannot be examined? After deflecting requests for data with all sorts of weak excuses (read the article for a number of good laughs), Jones eventually admitted that he and his partner never kept the original data. From the beginning of their work in 1979, they only kept data after they had adjusted it by unknown and inexplicable methods. They adjusted new data before including it in their existing, adjusted data. And then they threw the new original data away. Read what Jones wrote:

Since the 1980s, we have merged the data we have received into existing series or begun new ones, so it is impossible to say if all stations within a particular country or if all of an individual record should be freely available. Data storage availability in the 1980s meant that we were not able to keep the multiple sources for some sites, only the station series after adjustment for homogeneity issues. We, therefore, do not hold the original raw data but only the value-added (i.e., quality controlled and homogenized) data.

In other words, they threw away the original data and falsified the data they kept.

Though the story of the falsified global warming data does not prove that human activity has changed global climate, it is clear that the IPCC's climate data shows signs of human activity. Unfortunately for the climate change hypothesis, it shows signs of human activity in falsifying the data.

Combine this with the 2007 discovery that NASA climate activist James Hansen's computer models that showed increasing temperatures from 1998 to 2006 suffered from a Y2K bug and were completely wrong (see the graph at the right showing a sudden leap in measurements on midnight 12/31/1999) and things don't look too peachy for claims that human activity, let alone cow farts and backyard barbequeues, are changing the world's climate.

Tangentially, we have the fact that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is one of the two most critical components of the cycle of life, along with its partner atmospheric Oxygen (O2). Plants breathe in CO2 and breathe out O2. Animals breathe in O2 and breathe out CO2. Water is also part of the cycle. But the respiration of the two great kingdoms of life, the animal and vegetable kingdoms, depends on CO2. Increasing amounts of CO2 are causing the greening of the Sahara desert. Is this one of the bad effects of CO2 that we should be worried about? Increased quantities of atmospheric CO2 make plants healthier and increase their numbers. Increasing numbers of healthier plants create more O2 for animals to breathe and more animal fodder for animals to eat. If increased quantities of CO2 will strengthen the cycle of life, decreased quantities will weaken the cycle. The cycle of life goes round and round, either growing or dying away, and the greenies who advocate CO2 restrictions claim to be on the side of animals and plants. Yet green goals will reduce the numbers of plants and animals and make them less healthy.

So here we have a climate scientist who admits that he does not follow the scientific method, and advocates of plant and animal life whose goals are to have less of both. I do not claim to know everything that is going on, but I know enough to ask one more question.

What is the real game?


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Tort Reform in Mississippi

Real good article by David Freddoso here.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Who Pays Corporate Taxes?

At bottom a corporation is simply a legal fiction that allows a business or other concern to be treated as if it were a person. Since it is a fictional person, the taxman treats it like a real person when it comes time to pay taxes, and charges it a tax rate similar to the rate charged real people.

Is this a good idea?

Corporations are employers, buyers of raw goods, producers of finished goods, convenient holding companies for capital goods, and when times are good also sources of returns for investors. If the cost of raw goods plus the cost of production and sales is less than the sales price then the corporation makes a gross profit. Out of this gross profit come the wages of the workers and managers, further capital investments to improve the productivity of workers, and returns for investors. What happens when government reaches into a corporation and takes out a tax? Specifically, who actually pays corporate taxes with his or her reduced take-home pay?

When taxes increase to a business several things happen.
  • First, it cuts wages by reducing worker hours, giving pay cuts, or denying pay raises. This is almost always the first recourse, because variable costs like labor are the easiest expenses for any business concern to cut. The Washington Post reports that 70-92% of corporate taxes are paid by reducing employees' pay.
  • Second, the corporation hires tax accountants, lawyers, consultants, and even lobbyists to cut its tax load.
  • Third, the corporation reduces maintenance and capital investment, which will slow down the corporation's future growth and may cause it to fail at some future time if its competitors do business from places where their taxes are lower and they can increase their productivity faster.
  • Fourth, it tries to charge customers more.
  • Fifth, it tries to replace its raw materials with cheaper alternatives.
  • Sixth, it may engage in cost cutting measures on peripheral activities to do things like save energy, replace computers over a longer cycle, or reduce paperwork costs. These typically only produce minor savings as competent businesses are already cheap about peripheral activities.
  • Seventh, it may lower returns to investors, making its stock less valuable
Are any of these results of corporate taxes good things, or do they all damage workers, investors, and other businesses? Since corporate taxes mostly work by taking money out of the pockets of employees, with less impact on highly valued employees and greater impact on employees as their value to the company decreases, aren't corporate taxes simply an extremely regressive tax that has disparate impact on entry level, unskilled, and disabled workers?

Let's talk about this in a way that everyone can understand. The average employed married American worker makes about $50K and pays taxes at the 15% marginal rate. If he or she works for a for-profit corporation, then the impact of the corporate tax is to reduce his or her gross salary by 70% of 34%, or 23.8% (assuming a fairly successful small business). I’m choosing the lowest impacts I can find in the tax tables and I’m playing a little loose with adding and subtracting percentages, but the result is that I’m understating what happens, not overstating it. The average might be higher. That means the average worker would make 23.8% more money if there weren't any corporate tax. It also at least doubles the federal tax that the average worker pays. For a worker making $50,000 that is a $12,000 raise that won't happen because the government stole it away in the dark of night! Does the average worker making $50K receive more value from the government than he or she would get from that $12,000 that was cunningly taken out of his pocket? Or is it simply a sneaky way for the government to siphon money out of the economy with a "corporate tax" without workers realizing they are the ones who are being robbed?

Who pays corporate taxes? The answer is: if you work for a corporation, you do.
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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Snarky Economist

You have to read Thomas E. Woods' deliciously snarky response to an economic illiteratista who dubs himself "Che." Che's commentary is in bold, and his fisking by Woods follows.

If free market principles were allowed to rule, like Schiff wants, what that means is everything is based on maximizing profit.

At this point we are all supposed to gasp at what a terrible prospect this would be. After all, the track coach and Michael Moore have told us about the wickedness of "profits," so what more is there to say, really?

But as we've seen above, profit is simply society's way of ratifying a firm's past production decisions. It indicates what consumers want, and (by the process of imputation) the best process for producing it. Profits attract further investment in a given line of production, until the increased supply of goods in that industry brings the rate of return there back down to the level that exists elsewhere in the economy. This is how we ensure that our limited resources are not wasted, and that the most urgently desired goods are produced.

In the absence of profit as a driving force, how exactly would Che like to see resources allocated? We can either allow consumer preferences to guide production, or let the personal preferences of a monopolist (i.e., government) dictate what should be produced and how. When the question is posed this way, the choice is pretty clear, which is why the question is never posed this way.

Incidentally, would Che prefer to base economic decision making on maximizing losses instead? Would that be better?

There is so much more you have to read. Che was dumb, in his own way, but it was a completely different way than Che the Bloggista.


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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Fact Check: Whose Economic Mess?

It's the mess of the Democrats in the Senate and House. Randal Hoven explains:
Who controls Congress might just make a difference in economic affairs - more than who is President.  (The President still wields primary power in foreign affairs, as both head of state and commander-in-chief.)  Examine the graph below, for example.  It shows the unemployment rate over the last 25 years.  (Data source is the Bureau of Labor Statistics.)  I color-coded the line to be red when the Senate was Republican, and blue when Democrat.

Senate control and unemployment

And yet Democrats, both those in power and those who voted for the hopechange express, continually claim that Obama is not and never will be responsible for the bad economy. They will always blame it on Bush, no matter how long it lasts or how bad Obama and the Reid-Pelosi Axis make it.


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