Category Archives: Economics

Space Development And Settlement

A new alliance. This is long overdue.

I’m not sure about the prize idea, though. I’d rather the government actually purchase bulk items (e.g., water) on orbit. The goal should be a low cost per pound, not reusability per se. I’m pretty sure that reusability would naturally fall out of that. And reusable vehicles will have to be reliable to hit the cost goal.

Risk Aversion

costs more than fast failure.

This is about defense, but it applies to space as well. NASA in particular suffers from paralysis by analysis, as demonstrated by how long and how much money it took to do that stupid Orion test flight last year (and how long and how much more money it will be until the next one). But it doesn’t matter, because Congress doesn’t really care if anything is accomplished as long as the jobs don’t go away. I may expand on this in the next edition of the book.

The Climate Warriors At The UN

They’ve revealed their end game:

…that is why the global warming scare is so hard to kill. The end game is world domination. With such a big prize – the biggest possible, facts aren’t even inconvenient. They are not part of the process. It has been a long slog but gird your loins for a battle that might last into mid-century. Lima was COP 20 and Ms Figueres is prepared to take it to COP 40.

Yup. It’s been a long time since it had anything to do with actual science.

Climate Skeptics

How and when did you become one?

A lot of interesting responses.

As some note there, to me the biggest deal with the release of the CRU data five years ago wasn’t (just) the duplicity and unscientific behavior revealed in the emails, but the utter crap that was the source code of the computer models. It was clear that it was not done by anyone familiar with computer science, numerical methods, or modeling, and the notion that we should have any confidence whatsoever in their output was societally insane. In terms of Matthews’ paper, I’d put myself somewhere between “lukewarmer” and “moderate skeptic.”

[Update a couple minutes later]

Starting to read through the comments. Here’s just one horror story:

Most of the claims being made by climate change advocates appear to run contrary to basic meteorology. As I’ve been attacked personally and professionally for offering contrary views, I decided to leave the field. I will defend my Atmospheric Science PhD thesis and walk away. It’s become clear to me that it is not possible to undertake independent research in any area that touches upon climate change if you have to make your living as a professional scientist on government grant money or have to rely on getting tenure at a university. The massive group think that I have encountered on this topic has cost me my career, many colleagues and has damaged my reputation among the few people I know in the field. I’m leaving to work in the financial industry. It’s a sad day when you feel that you have to leave a field that you are passionately interested in because you fear that you won’t be able to find a job once your views become widely known. Until free thought is allowed in the climate sciences, I will consider myself a skeptic of catastrophic human induced global warming.

Yup. Totally, totally politicized. It’s not a science any more. Unless you think that Lysenko was a scientist.

The Sunk-Cost Fallacy

in love, and automobile manufacturing.

This is a big problem for space enthusiasts. “Oh, we can’t cancel SLS/Orion! We’ve already spent so much on them, all that money would just go to waste!”

Well, since the purpose was really never anything except to maintain the work force, it wouldn’t really have gone to waste, and continuing them would waste even more, if our actual goal is to do useful things in space. We need to cut our losses as soon as politically possible.


Telling lies is essential to it.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here’s an excellent example:

In San Francisco, the people who were bemoaning the impending closure of Borderlands admitted sheepishly that they’d voted for the minimum-wage hike. “It’s not something that I thought would affect certain specific small businesses,” one customer said. “I feel sad.”

Yeah, Adam Smith feels sad, too, you dope.

Thick though they may be, you know what those economically illiterate San Francisco book-lovers aren’t? President of the United States of America. But President Obama does precisely the same thing: With Obamacare, he created powerful economic incentives for companies such as Staples to keep part-timers under 25 hours – and to hire part-timers rather than full-time employees – and now he complains when companies respond to those incentives. Naturally, he cites executive pay: “I haven’t looked at Staples stock lately or what the compensation of the CEO is,” he says, but affirms that he is confident that they can afford to run their business the way he wants them to run it.

Let’s apply some English-major math to that question. Ronald Sargent made just under $11 million a year at last report. Staples has about 83,000 employees. That means that if it cut its CEO’s pay to $0.00/annum, Staples would be able to fund about $2.61/week in additional wages or health-care benefits for each of its employees, or schedule them for an additional 22 minutes of work at the federal minimum wage. Which is to say, CEO pay represents a trivial sum — but the expenses imposed by Obamacare are not trivial.

On this issue, President Obama brings all of the honesty and integrity he applied to the question of gay marriage: He’s lying, and he knows he’s lying, and his apologists in the media know he’s lying, and Democratic time-servers and yes-men across the fruited plains know he’s lying. This isn’t about CEO pay – it’s about the economic incentives created by the health-insurance program that in the vernacular bears the president’s name. The president, with the support of congressional Democrats, effectively put a tax on full-time jobs, and on part-time jobs offering 30 hours per week or more. So we’re going to have fewer full-time jobs, and fewer part-time jobs offering 30 hours per week or more. This wasn’t cooked up in the boardroom at Staples – it was cooked up on Capitol Hill, with the eager blessing of Barack Obama. It’s not like they don’t know that there are economic tradeoffs necessitated by Obamacare — they know it, and they also know that, politically speaking, their supporters are cheap dates. Obama ran to the right of Dick Cheney on gay marriage, and it didn’t hurt him with gay voters, who were happy to be reduced to mere instruments of his ambition. The Democrats are betting that part-time workers are similarly easy – or that they’re too dumb to understand the economics at work here, and that they’ll be hypnotized by ritual chants about CEO pay.

I’m hoping that this time, they lose their vile bet.

[Update a few minutes later]

Second link was missing, but fixed.

The Auto Bail Out

It’s official, the taxpayers took a $17B bath on it:

It did not have to be this way. Obama violated numerous bankruptcy laws when he strong-armed GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy, all to the benefit of United Auto Workers members. Non-union employees of the firms got screwed. And so did taxpayers.

That “every penny was paid back” was just another lie from the guy who said you can keep your doctor and your plan.

The Climate-Modeling Paradigm

How robust is it?

Not very. Certainly nowhere near enough to base policy on it.

I was very impressed by Bakker’s intellectual integrity and courage in tackling this topic in the 11th hour of completing his Ph.D. thesis. I am further impressed by his thesis advisors and committee members for allowing/supporting this. Bakker notes many critical comments from his committee members. I checked the list of committee members, one name jumped out at me – Arthur Petersen – who is a philosopher of science that has written about climate models. I suspect that the criticisms were more focused on strengthening the arguments, rather than ‘alarm’ over an essay that criticizes climate models. Kudos to the KNMI.

I seriously doubt that such a thesis would be possible in an atmospheric/oceanic/climate science department in the U.S. – whether the student would dare to tackle this, whether a faculty member would agree to supervise this, and whether a committee would ‘pass’ the thesis.

Epistemic closure.

[Update a few minutes later]

The alarming thing about climate alarmism:

In short, climate change is not worse than we thought. Some indicators are worse, but some are better. That doesn’t mean global warming is not a reality or not a problem. It definitely is. But the narrative that the world’s climate is changing from bad to worse is unhelpful alarmism, which prevents us from focusing on smart solutions.

A well-meaning environmentalist might argue that, because climate change is a reality, why not ramp up the rhetoric and focus on the bad news to make sure the public understands its importance. But isn’t that what has been done for the past 20 years? The public has been bombarded with dramatic headlines and apocalyptic photos of climate change and its consequences. Yet despite endless successions of climate summits, carbon emissions continue to rise, especially in rapidly developing countries like India, China and many African nations.

Because all of the hysteria, name calling and outright lies have appropriately destroyed their credibility.

Grubby Jobs

Every teenager should work one.

Yup. I was a service-station attendant/mechanic (among other things). Between all the work rules and minimum wage, a lot of teens aren’t getting started on the first rung of the employment ladder. They’re not being properly taught in school, and they’re not being allowed to learn in the school of hard knocks. This won’t end well.

[Update a while later]

As noted in comments, working jobs like that teaches you the value of an education. I wasn’t that motivated about college after high school until I had a job as a VW mechanic at the local dealership, then got laid off in the recession of 1973 (it was a recession for the country, it was a depression for Flint and Detroit). I went to community college, took pre-engineering courses, then transferred them to Ann Arbor a couple years later.