Be the Budget

August 30, 2008

Here’s a flash game that lets you play with the budget. A number of policies actions are presented, and then their effects are visualized. The policies are sorted into the following categories: Defense & Diplomacy, Schools & Kids, Science & Nature, Housing & Living, Misc., Infrastructure, Health Care, Social Security, Interest (nothing you can do about that), and finally Taxes. It really drives home how much medical cost to the government is going to be a problem. I look at it and think, we need to reduce the benefits we pay out. I imagine Obama supporters look at in and think, we need to take over this industry to reduce costs.

Cool Slow Motion Dog Video

August 30, 2008

For a change of pace.

Agitator vs. Biden

August 24, 2008

Radley Balko doesn’t like Biden.

GPBP: Zero-Sum Game

August 24, 2008

In this episode of good politics, bad policies, we’ll take note of a zero-sum game fallacy. (Take everything that follows with this grain of salt: I don’t actually know what I’m talking about.) While we were evolving, things were pretty much static. If one member of our tribe gained status, it was at the expense of someone else. If one tribe gained territory or resources, it was at the expense of another tribe. Thus, we are wired to believe that if someone gains, it must be bad for someone else. See the assumption that, because free trade is good for the poorer country, it must be bad for the rich country. See also the assumption that, because free trade is good for (some) corporations, it must be bad for workers, either here or abroad. Enter the requirement that the government do something about the “problem” of China’s success.

How we dig out of this quagmire is the American story that Obama must tell. It is not a story of endless conflicts abroad but a potentially inspiring tale of serious economic, educational, energy and health-care mobilization at home.

Don Boudreaux has some sound analysis:

Finally, Chinese growth is good for the United States. The economic race is not like the Olympic race. It is not zero-sum. In the Olympics, if you win the gold medal, I can’t. In economics, both countries can grow together.

Another Look at Income Inequality

August 24, 2008

So maybe people are just optimizing for what is important to them. People who gain happiness from money are optimizing to build wealth and people who gain happiness from leisure are optimizing for more time away from work and household chores.

Summation: why isn’t income inequality in America not increasing happiness inequality

Spending our Wealth: Corporate Income Tax

August 23, 2008

The theme of this “series” is going to be ways that we have positioned ourselves well in the past. These decisions have made us the richest country in the world. This position has allowed us to make different decisions now. First we take on taxing corporations.

Taxing corporations is good politics. They don’t vote. They are inhuman. There are few of them. Many of them have impressively large profits. Good politics != good policy. First defer to Megan:

Let me posit something which isn’t very controversial among tax professors no matter what their political party: you can’t tax a corporation. That’s because corporations have no feelings, and no assets, of their own. Ultimately, the money always comes from some person: customers, employees, owners, or even suppliers.

A look at the current status via Mankiw.

The rest of Megan’s article talks about bad Obama economic policies. The Wire Season 4 episode 4 is titled, “No one wins. One side just loses more slowly.” At the time, he was referring to a football game. I’m starting to feel something similar about politics.

Good Customer Service

August 18, 2008

Apple does good customer service at HCI User Advocate:

After 7 days, I called the store to find that they still hadn’t fixed it. They were super friendly, and promised to call right back when they could tell me more. I figured it would be another week before I even got through to them. But 10 minutes later, they called me back, apologized again, and promised it would be ready later that afternoon. Again, I figured that meant I might see it in a week. But an hour later, they called me back saying it was done and I could pick it up. I was already pretty happy that they recognized the mistake in their delayed repair and bumped it to the top of the queue so easily.

It only gets better from there. Companies might be realizing that cutting costs on customer service hurts them in the long run.