Thursday, December 2, 2010

The New Action Sport: Brazillian task force



40 more where this came from, hat tip to Vaughanbell.

Link here

Monday, November 16, 2009

Homeless but not pennyless

Tim Ogden asks, "how often do you or your friends take advantage of the opportunity to give directly and establish a connection by giving $20 to the guy standing at the corner with the cardboard sign saying, 'Will Work for Food'?"
Ogden bets that your answer will be "never". I don't necessarily agree.  I will say that there are a large group of individuals (myself included) who refuse to fund these free-riding individuals.  However, they must be making some sort of an income for 2 reasons: 
1)  They keep on doing it.  If it wasn't profitable they would seek "employment" elsewhere.
2) some of them have very expensive habits to fund ($100 a day for a heroin addict is not at all unusual) and manage to do so with the income received begging.
This demonstrates that these street corner care takers are in fact making some sort of an income, but exactly how high of an income might astound you.  Take a look at the some of the references below, and I must insert a caution:  if your a minimum wage worker, prepare to be angry. 

From Freakonomics author Steven Levitt

From Marginal Revolution Alex Tabarrok

From KomoNews in Oregon

From CBC News out of Edmonton Canada

From Asylum News

I am not familiar with all these news organizations but I can vouch for the information coming from Levitt and Tabarrok.  All of these stories seem to paint a pretty clear picture of the reality of face to face donations.  I think Salvation Army will second this motion, ring...ring...ring...  

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cause and Effect: Expenditure, Deficit, and Marginal Taxes

Government spending minus Net Taxes equal a budget Deficit when expenditures exceed tax revenues. At some point whatn you increase spending you must also increase income (tax revenue is government income). So higher spending will lead to higher tax rates which will lead to a reduced deficit. Right...


In a future post I hope to get all this data on the same time scale and add a graph of government revenue as a percentage of GDP.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Economist.com reports, "NEARLY one in five deaths in rich countries is caused by smoking, according to new data released this week by the World Health Organisation." What do you think about this statistic?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Reply to Gilbert

A good friend of mine sent me a short summary on the proposed changes in the California Tax Code. My thoughts below:

A brief explanation of the BNRT tax. It's just like a value added tax. One thing I am worried about is the implementation of this. How easy will it be for businesses to cheat? It looks to me like it's going to be far easier for companies to over inflate costs to offset profits using the VAT then it is for them to manipulate revenues. This tax is one that is designed to attack the profits of the businesses that fall within it's battle zone. No doubt that those costs will be transferred right back to the consumer with no net gain and possibly a net loss. However, the nature of the incentives (reduction in sales tax) seem to make it something that the public will like.
I give this commission the benefit of the doubt in assuming that this new tax will increase will preform as intended to increase the revenue stream while making it more stable. I agree with the tax on the grounds that it's not a regressive as a general sales tax. The businesses that will be taxed the most are high profit entities, and I think there is an inverse relationship between the income of an individual and their consumption of high profit goods or services.
As for some of the other recommendations: Reducing the number of tax brackets will have a negative effect only on those who make less the $7,200, and in accordance with conservative views, will greatly benefit those with high incomes. This will hopefully spur investment by the rich into California business which will have the external, although small, benefit of increasing tax incomes by the state, in turn reducing the net loss.
Overall, this newly proposed tax structure calls for the transfer of approximately $64 billion, or 49.2%, of the current tax income directly to CA businesses and indirectly to consumers. As long as the necessities remain tax free, this I see this as an overall benefit to society and a step in the direction of overall equity.



I don't have the summary but here is a link to the entire Report from the Commission on the 21st Century Economy.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Cardwell's Law and Obama's Economic Stimulus

Cardwell's Law states that each government will come to a point of stagnation because technological growth can not be sustained for eternity. What does this mean? Cardwell was talking about the tendency of countries to become content with their standard of living.  Contentment breads complacency which can lead to a narcissistic mentality like: "If we can't create it, it can't be done." When complacency and an inflated ego infect an entire society, nothingness happens. That society retreats from innovation and the world as a whole is worse off for it. How do we keep this from happening?

Incentivize people to innovate.

To curb complacency I propose we print 1 trillion US dollars and increase the inflation rate to levels that will force the citizens to actively seek higher returns on their investments. When the masses are engaged in searches for high yielding investments they will spur entrepreneurs to create new business plans revolving around existing products. They will also light a fire under the comfortable seats of innovators currently lounging in R&D departments around the country.

Second, take a few hundred billion dollars from the tax payers and their children and invest it in an emerging industry that has the potential to create high paying jobs for years to come. Focus not only on innovation, but on optimal productions methods that will yield high quality products in little time using few resources.

Finally, don't sit back and watch... Participate and create...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Thought Experiment on Healthercae by an Economic Master

The hypothetical immortality pill: Who gets to take it? Who has to pay for it? And, should we continue to develop advanced medical technology, or is it the cost of development outweighing the benefit of a healthier society? The experiment continues...

Greg Mankiw's Article Here