Category Archives: Economics

The Future Of Space

As we mourn the loss of a pioneer, it’s important to note that it lies with the billionaires, not NASA or other government programs:

“One [path] is that we stay on Earth forever and then there will be an inevitable extinction event,” [Bezos] told the audience of scientists and engineers. “The alternative is to become a spacefaring civilization, and a multi-planetary species.”

Ashlee Vance, longtime tech journalist and author of Elon Musk: Tesla, Space, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, thinks these ambitions are driven by a mix of entrepreneurial curiosity, altruism and a dash of egotism. “The guys who are rulers of the universe now are the nerds,” he says. “They were all geeks raised on science fiction and the vision of space we had in the 1960s and 70s. Now they have the money to make this a reality.”

Yes.

The “Consensus” On Climate Change

Scott Adams explains why he accepts it, even though it’s probably wrong:

when it comes to pattern recognition, I see the climate science skeptics within the scientific community as being similar to Shy Trump Supporters. The fact that a majority of scientists agree with climate science either means the evidence is one-sided or the social/economic pressures are high. And as we can plainly see, the cost of disagreeing with climate science is unreasonably high if you are a scientist.

While it is true that a scientist can become famous and make a big difference by bucking conventional wisdom and proving a new theory, anything short of total certainty would make that a suicide mission. And climate science doesn’t provide the option of total certainty.

To put it another way, it would be easy for a physicist to buck the majority by showing that her math worked. Math is math. But if your science depends on human judgement to decide which measurements to include and which ones to “tune,” you don’t have that option. Being a rebel theoretical physicist is relatively easy if your numbers add up. But being a rebel climate scientist is just plain stupid. So don’t expect to see many of the latter. Scientists can often be wrong, but rarely are they stupid.

…I accept the consensus of climate science experts when they say that climate science is real and accurate. But I do that to protect my reputation and my income. I have no way to evaluate the work of scientists.

If you ask me how scared I am of climate changes ruining the planet, I have to say it is near the bottom of my worries. If science is right, and the danger is real, we’ll find ways to scrub the atmosphere as needed. We always find ways to avoid slow-moving dangers. And if the risk of climate change isn’t real, I will say I knew it all along because climate science matches all of the criteria for a mass hallucination by experts.

It does indeed.

[Late-evening update]

The Scott Adams post was via Judith Curry, who has related links from other “heretics” (i.e., they “believe” in AGW, but aren’t hysterical about it) Roger Pielke and Matt Ridley:

The truly astonishing thing about all this is how little climate heretics – such as myself, Roger Pielke, and Matt Ridley – actually diverge from the consensus science position: RP Jr. hews strictly to the IPCC consensus; Matt Ridley is on the lukewarm side of the IPCC consensus, and I have stated that the uncertainties are too large to justify high confidence in the consensus statements.

RP Jr and Matt Ridley provide appalling examples of the personal and arguably unethical attacks from other scientists, journalists, elected politicians and others with government appointments.

Scott Adams provides some genuine (and as always, humorous) insights into the psychology behind the dynamics of the climate debate.

As to the question: to be or not to be a climate heretic?

I’m planning a climate heretic blog post shortly after the first of the year. After seeing RP Jr’s title, perhaps I will title it ‘Happy Heretic’ (stay tuned). Here’s to hoping that the Age of Trump will herald the demise of climate change dogma and acceptance of a broader range of perspectives on climate science and our policy options .

I’ll personally be looking forward to it.

The Life Of Julia

Part of the overwhelming feeling of relief after the election was that it offered an opportunity to escape from it, something that I had feared was lost, and would have been under continued Democrat rule:

In a state in which central planners call the shots, we are less and less free to choose. Individual enterprise becomes desperately unrewarding, or even illegal. Freedom fades, and bureaucratic dictates supplant the information and incentives that are part of free markets. Economic growth declines, and people fight over access to the favors of the state elite and their bureaucratic retinue, the overlords who decide who gets what slice of the shrinking vegetarian meatloaf.

That’s the real life of Julia, the direction in which the country has been heading for too many years now, while Obama has scolded Americans that whatever they earn, or achieve, or invent, belongs — cradle-to-grave — to someone else: “You didn’t build that.”

To watch America in recent years spiraling down into the life of Julia has been excruciating. This is a country made great not by conquest, or constraints, or cross-subsidies, but by freedom and free enterprise. Long before the welfare state offered free amenities (courtesy of American taxpayers), it was freedom that drew people to America, and fueled the melting pot — the real form of “inclusivity” — once they arrived. Our true iconic figures — if you plumb the American spirit — are not Julia and Pajama Boy, but sharpshooter Annie Oakley and that out-sized folklore lumberjack of the Western frontier, Paul Bunyan. This is the country that led the way to victory in World War II, and during the Cold War stood — and in some places fought — as a bulwark of freedom.

And here’s what the real Life of Julia would be under government “care.”

And a reminder: if you want to know what “single payer” health care would look like, you need look no further than the VA:

Nearly 600 veterans could have been infected with HIV, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C at a Veterans Affairs facility in Tomah, Wis. because a dentist didn’t properly clean his instruments.

The Tomah VA is investigating the dentist, who has not been fired but was removed from patient care.

No accountability.

Mark Whittington

His latest nonsense:

The problem, from the perspective of commercial space supporters, is that Shank represents an institutional, NASA-centric viewpoint where it comes to space exploration. While at the space agency he supported the Bush-era Constellation program which was subsequently canceled by President Obama. In Congress, Shank helped support the Orion spacecraft and the heavy lift Space Launch System. Many commercial space advocates find these views abhorrent, believing that NASA should simply outsource its space exploration plans to the private sector, to companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin.

I don’t know any commercial space advocates who believe that. What we believe is that there is no need for NASA to be in the launch business.

Shank’s association with Mike Griffin has also raised some hackles. Griffin has been blamed, unfairly for the most part, for the troubles that beset Constellation before it was cancelled. In fact many of these problems, including the fact that the project was underfunded, occurred above his paygrade.

There is nothing unfair about blaming Mike Griffin for choosing a terrible rocket design that was certain to cost more than was allocated for it in the budget sandpile, in the belief that he could somehow talk Congress into increasing his budget.

ObamaCare RIP

The Republicans have a plan:

While a full repeal would have to originate in Congress, Price’s nomination promises quick action to roll back regulatory changes that come from the blank-check authority given to HHS by the ACA. The controversial contraception mandate will almost certainly be at the top of that list. Price has opposed that from the moment Kathleen Sebelius issued the regulation, specifically citing its infringement “with our fundamental right to religious freedom.”

Twila Brase, president of the Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom, reminded the Examiner’s Robert King that Price can easily undo most of what Sebelius implemented while waiting for Congress to act. “There are tens of thousands of pages of Obamacare regulations that can be rescinded, amended or left unenforced on the way to repeal, and we encourage him to make every effort to begin shutting down Obamacare by shutting down its regulations.” Such are the vulnerabilities of regulatory legacies.

Democrats have been quick to counter with accusations that Trump and his new administration will leave low-income Americans without health coverage. Obamacare also expanded Medicaid, which most states have adopted, and which accounts for nearly half of the claimed 20 million consumers who gained insurance after its adoption. Repealing Obamacare, its advocates claim, will leave those Americans in the lurch.

Trump’s second appointment this week provides a clear answer to those accusations. Seema Verma will take over the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services after having worked with vice-president elect Mike Pence to craft Indiana’s Medicaid expansion, as well as with Kentucky’s Matt Bevin and a handful of other Republican governors. Verma helped create Healthy Indiana 2.0 plan (HIP), a program that mixes the base coverage of Medicaid with tax credits and HSAs to produce incentives making utilization more efficient and effective.

Live by the pen and the phone, die by the pen and the phone.

Millennials’ Political Views

don’t make any sense:

Young people support big government, unless it costs any more money. They’re for smaller government, unless budget cuts scratch a program they’ve heard of. They’d like Washington to fix everything, just so long as it doesn’t run anything.

Hardly surprising, considering that they were “educated” in a government-school system, and then went to colleges infested with mindless leftist professors. And I hate that the pollsters say they’re more “liberal” than older people. No, they’re more leftist.

Orbital ATK

This is interesting. The company is getting into the orbital assembly business:

Phase one of CIRAS began in September 2016 and will last a total of two years. During this period, Orbital ATK will lead the team in maturing technologies necessary for robotic assembly of large space structures, such as next-generation telescopes or solar-powered structures for transport or communications. These capabilities include methods to connect or disconnect joints on a structure and address precision measuring and alignment through a 15-meter robotic arm and a precision robot. The team will also develop the technology needed to conduct in-orbit modular assembly of structures, allowing parts to be brought to space as needed via multiple launches, which simplifies the design of spacecraft and reduces cost. [Emphasis mine]

They must realize that this increases the risk to SLS, and their SRB production. Have they decided that this new business focus is a better bet?

Trump Chooses A Physician

…to heal the health-care disaster the Democrats gave us:

While some Republicans have attacked the Affordable Care Act without proposing an alternative, Mr. Price has introduced bills offering a detailed, comprehensive replacement plan in every Congress since 2009, when Democrats started work on the legislation. Many of his ideas are included in the “Better Way” agenda issued several months ago by House Republicans.

In debate on the Affordable Care Act in 2009, Mr. Price railed against “a stifling and oppressive federal government,” a theme that pervades his politics. His most frequent objection to the law is that it interferes with the ability of patients and doctors to make medical decisions — a concern he will surely take with him if he wins Senate confirmation.

“The practicing physician and the patient could not have a better friend in that office than Tom Price,” said Representative Michael C. Burgess, Republican of Texas, who is also a physician.

That’s “Dr. Price,” to you, New York Times.

I’m sure that the Dems will fight tooth and nail to prevent his confirmation, but Harry Reid screwed them with his nuclear option. Sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s how Trump’s HHS pick wants to replace Obamacare:

I wrote about the most recent version of Price’s plan in detail when it came out last year, but here’s how it would basically work.

It would repeal the text of Obamacare, and replace it with a system that would provide tax credits to individuals based on age. Though previous versions had varied the credits based on income, doing so by age is easier to administer (HHS won’t get into the problems it’s had with Obamacare in terms of verifying income for the purposes of the subsidies) and it also provides more money to those who have to pay more for insurance. In addition, there would be a one-time tax credit to put in a health savings account for routine medical expenses.

Unlike previous incarnations of GOP reform proposals, the plan only modestly meddles with the tax bias in favor of employer insurance, and also encourages small businesses to band together to purchase insurance through trade associations and allows for the sale of insurance across state lines. He also calls for providing grants to states to cover those with pre-existing conditions (one way Trump may square his promises to repeal Obamacare while offering something to those with such illnesses).

It’s got some problems, but it would be a huge improvement over the current Charlie Foxtrot. But then, almost anything would.