Category Archives: Economics

3-D Printed Guns

Should we be afraid of them?

…should we be afraid to live in a world where anyone can afford the equipment to manufacture a gun in his or her basement? I hope not—because that’s the world we live in now. Guns are comparatively simple devices. In fact, plenty of custom firearms are manufactured today using equipment that wouldn’t be out of place in a basement. Just as the sets of “plastic guns” and “3D-printed guns” are not identical, the sets of “3D-printed guns” and “homemade guns” are not identical. At the moment, virtually every homemade gun is constructed using some technology other than 3D printing.

Yes, as with most hoplophobia, this is silly.

Climate Change

What we don’t know:

We shouldn’t worry, we should just accept that this will happen and we should adapt to it and regard it as a business opportunity.

Its arrogant to assume that climate will remain static.

The whole language of climate change is designed to confuse the public and policy makers

Bob Carter says the IPCC has accomplished the inversion of the null hypothesis, where the onus is now on disproving dangerous anthropogenic climate change

We should focus on protecting people from natural hazards, and not worrying about what is causing them

It makes sense to encourage alternative energy and see what happens.

Bob Carter closed with this: no scientist can tell you whether it will be warmer or cooler in 2020, so we should prepare for both.

Yes. We don’t know much more than we do know.

And as she notes, the people speaking sensibly are independent or retired, not those receiving government funding.

The Civil War On The Left

Couldn’t happen to a nastier political movement:

the better evidence of how the Democratic Party could come to blows comes from California, which right now rivals China for one-party control. Never mind the three Democratic state senators all heading for the hoosegow for corruption: the bigger story is how Democratic ethnic factions are viciously turning on one another.

So it’s a race war! What a surprise (not really, considering what racists these people are).

Plus, for lagniappe, there’s their war against tech, even when it’s leftie tech.

I guess some people tip cows, others tip cars. When they’re not p00ping on them.

Space Tourism

Six reasons it matters.

As I often point out, people who complain about “joy rides for the wealthy” shouldn’t watch media devices like Blu-Ray players, because they were once just “toys for the wealthy.” As were the computers on which they type such complaints. I do think that, that some people, and particularly Virgin, overhype point to point. And it’s not clear what Virgin’s path is to either that or orbit with their current vehicle design. It doesn’t scale well with velocity.

Rethinking Fat

Even NPR is starting to figure it out.

But note, that, as with climate “science,” dissenters have trouble getting published when they have actual science in opposition to the “settled” science in nutrition:

“Fat was really the villain,” says Walter Willett, who is chairman of the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. And, by default, people “had to load up on carbohydrates.”

But, by the mid-1990s, Willett says, there were already signs that the high-carb, low-fat approach might not lead to fewer heart attacks and strokes. He had a long-term study underway that was aimed at evaluating the effects of diet and lifestyle on health.

“We were finding that if people seemed to replace saturated fat — the kind of fat found in cheese, eggs, meat, butter — with carbohydrate, there was no reduction in heart disease,” Willett says.

Willett submitted his data to a top medical journal, but he says the editors would not publish his findings. His paper was turned down.

“There was a lot of resistance to anything that would question the low-fat guidelines,” Willett says, especially the guidelines on saturated fat.

Willett’s paper was eventually published by a British medical journal, the BMJ, in 1996.

And that was almost twenty years ago, and the junk-science FDA guidelines that probably killed my father in the seventies remain pretty much in place.

Asteroid Strikes

New sensor data indicates that they’re from three to ten times more common than previously thought:

“The fact that none of these asteroid impacts shown in the video was detected in advance is proof that the only thing preventing a catastrophe from a ‘city-killer’-sized asteroid is blind luck.”

…The Sentinel Infrared Space Telescope Mission is currently due for launch in mid-2018, with an estimated mission cost of $400 million.

But we spend billions in trying to reduce the amount of plant food in the atmosphere.

Steve Goddard Explains

Why I do this”:

I have been an active environmentalist for almost my entire life. At age 16 I testified before a Congressional hearing in support of a proposed wilderness area in Utah. I worked to get the Clean Air Act passed, and worked for two summers as a wilderness ranger in New Mexico. I do all of my local transport and shopping by bicycle, and buy almost exclusively organic and free range food.

The reason I blog is because catastrophic global warming is junk science, used by unscrupulous people for unscrupulous political and financial purposes. It keeps environmentalists from doing anything useful, and provides progressives an excuse to push toward totalitarianism.

The global warming scam needs to be stopped. It has spiraled completely out of control, and no longer has any pretense of science behind the lies.

Pretty much, yeah.

Venezuela

It wants to spread the suffering:

As with the old lady and the fly, Venezuela’s government may be running out of encores. It can crack down on black-market activity, but that won’t make the shortages go away. It might redistribute the suffering a bit, but that’s not all it will do. The black market is often a sort of release valve for bad policy; shut it down, and you turn the formerly annoying into the totally intolerable.

There is, as Adam Smith once observed, “a lot of ruin in a nation.” President Nicolas Maduro seems determined to find out exactly how much Venezuela has left.

This is always how socialism ends. They’ve run out of other peoples’ money down there.

Those 7M “Sign Ups”

Why yesterday’s champagne-cork popping in the Rose Garden was meaningless propaganda.

[Update a few minutes later]

Want medical insurance? Get in line:

The first thing we thought of when we saw the pictures was the photos we’ve recently seen on Twitter of Venezuelans waiting in bread lines. Waiting in line to purchase necessities is a characteristic not of a prosperous free society but of command economies under repressive regimes. Closer to home, one doubts even the Transportation Security Administration would be so tone-deaf as to advertise long airport lines as an indication it’s doing a great job.

So what in the world could the White House have been thinking? Here’s a guess: They look at the ObamaCare lines and think not of communist subjects queuing up for bread or toilet paper, or Americans for driver’s licenses, but something more like the lines of consumers eager to be the first to get the new iPhone or the latest Harry Potter book. Affluent people often wait in line for things about which they have a particular enthusiasm–or for special experiences, like an amusement park ride, concert or meal at a favorite restaurant.

One obvious difference is that whereas the iPhone and Harry Potter queuers are eager to get the new thing first, the ObamaCare ones are presumably anxious not to miss the deadline (even if it’s not rigorously enforced). ObamaCare lines might have been impressive if they’d begun to form in the last days of September. At the end of open enrollment, the White House boast is akin to the IRS’s citing a “surge” in filing of tax returns two weeks from now as evidence that the income tax system is popular and well designed.

Command economies under repressive regimes seems to be the goal.

Crowdfunding Is Not A Scam

It’s market research. She makes a good point, that it’s a quick, inexpensive way to identify products with no market, relative to actually putting them in the market. On the other hand, sometimes products that don’t do well in the market as their primary function find some other killer app that no one anticipated. If it dies in crowdfunding, no one would get the chance to discover that sort of thing.

The Democrats’ Scandals

They’re all rooted in the evil of unlimited government:

Adam Smith’s formula for prosperity — “peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice” — is the very modest ambition that conservatives aim for. Limited government is the tool by which government can be made to do good without necessarily being good, or being composed of good men.

The progressive state, on the other hand, is a state infused with moral purpose. If politics is to be a jihad, then the state must be invested with extraordinary power to achieve its moral mission. There is no way to invest the state with extraordinary power without also investing those powers in the men who hold its offices and staff its bureaucracies, which hold ever more nearly absolute power over our property and our lives. (And given that the Obama administration has made a policy of assassinating U.S. citizens without legal process, we might as well call that power “absolute.”) But if those elective offices and regulatory fortresses are to be staffed with men who are corrupt and corruptible, then the progressive vision of the morality-infused state must falter.

And they — we — are all corruptible.

Lord Acton was right, once again, about the power of power to corrupt.

A Chinese-Russian Alliance?

Sanctions may make it happen:

…we may undo the work of the Cold War era and stand godfather to a new Sino-Russian alliance. This without doubt would be the stupidest move in the history of American foreign policy. Russia’s economy is weak, but Russia has considerable latent resources in military technology. Russia has a limitless market for natural resources in China and a prospective partner in military technology. If we continue to dismantle our defense capacity while Russia and China nourish theirs, we will be in deep trouble.

The best response to Putin’s challenge would be a massive increase in defense R&D, with a view to neutralizing Russia’s perceived areas of strength in missile and air defense technology (remember how SDI cowed Gorbachev in the 1980s?). That would command China’s respect and reduce Russia’s attractiveness as a prospective partner. The Crimea was, is, and will be Russian, and it’s pointless to cry over milk that was spilled in 1783. We need to think several moves ahead on the chessboard. Otherwise, Chancellor Merkel is quite right: sanctions are pointless.

That would include innovations in Milspace, something that apparently only DARPA is capable of.