Category Archives: Economics

The Latest Take-Down Of Piketty

It’s long, and too much there to pick out a quote, but worth the read.

As I’ve noted before, Marxism is not a discipline, or even an ideology, really. It’s an attitude founded in envy and a grasping for power. Simply put, if you believe your judgment of someone else’s need to be superior to their own, and are willing to enforce it at the point of a gun, you are a Marxist. And that attitude describes a large majority of Democrats, and far too many Republicans.

Speed Limits

A great piece on the general irrationality about them, and the history. I find most interesting (and new) the point that the main benefit of posting a speed limit was not to slow the fastest down, but to speed the slowest up. More people need to understand that it is not absolute speed that is dangerous, but relative speed. When I was young, in Michigan, before Nixon’s double-nickle stupidity, the freeway signs had both a maximum and a minimum: 70/45. That was back in the days when older cars weren’t as safe or reliable at higher speeds. Today, I’d make it more like 80/60.

I’m also glad that they (as I always do) pointed out what a problem a lack of lane discipline is. If they’d give tickets for hogging the left lane, instead of speeding, traffic would flow both more smoothly and more safely.

The List Of ObamaCare Disasters

Add fraud:

It sounds like the systems that are supposed to check identity, immigration status and income simply aren’t working at all; the system just assumes that you are who you say you are.

Gosh, it’s almost like they don’t care.

Of course, I’m not sure that “add” is the right word. The whole thing has always been pretty much fraud all the way down.

Infinity Aerospace

Announcing tools to utilize ISS. Ardulab, is an Arduino modified with features to work on the station. Developed with NASA and Nanoracks. Enabled an 8th-grade class to do a plant-growth experiment for different light conditions in space, ready to fly. Takes up only ten percent of allowed volume, leaving remainder for experiments. Completely open source, hardware and software. Will be opening web site right after talk today.

Jurvetson

Need competition in space industry, and known prices, to allow non-insiders to enter and put together business plans. #NewSpaceCon

Citing Arthur Clarke’s suggestion that vehicles need to be reusable fo make space affordable, from 45 years ago as Apollo 11 went to the moon.

Skeptics in the industry have scoffed at SpaceX goal of retroburning, entering, flying back to site and reflying. Both attempts would have been fine if they’d been on land, instead of in the ocean. Most amazing things was that it worked the first time, demonstrating the power of modern simulations.

When you start with a founding vision so far beyond the industry you have to invent a lot of new things (e.g., vertical landing on a planet, manufacturing propellant on another planet). Challenge is to see what is necessary to achieve vision, but come up with intermediate solutions that generate revenue. If you’re an incumbent not being disrupted, you’ll just incrementally improve, not go after revolutionary solution.

[Update a few minutes later]

For other info on the talk, follow @jeff_foust.

ObamaCare Is Slowly Dying

from its birth defects.

A great analogy.

Congress has no authority to grant bureaucrats such discretion either way. It cannot simply hand over its powers to another branch of the government. That is the subject of a recent book by Columbia Law School professor Philip Hamburger, Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Hamburger’s thesis is that federal agencies are under the control of the executive branch and, by definition, have no power to create regulations that legally bind anyone. That is, of course, precisely what HHS attempted when it drew up its list of “must cover” contraceptives.

During oral arguments in Burwell v Hobby Lobby, Justice Kennedy was obviously interested in this issue and its implications for the separation of powers. Among his questions to the government lawyers was the following: “Now, what kind of constitutional structure do we have if the Congress can give an agency the power to grant or not grant a religious exemption based on what the agency determined?” According to Hamburger, it gives us a structure more like that which England’s James I presided over than anything envisioned by the framers.

The latter favored a very weak executive branch. In fact, according to Hamburger, they didn’t want it “bringing matters to the courts or … physically carrying out their binding acts.” This is why the Constitution is so specific about the separation of powers. The framers must have been spinning in their graves when the government lawyers were arguing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Halbig v. Burwell. But shady deals like the cornhusker kickback and violations of the separation of powers doctrine are but two of the birth defects with which Obamacare was born.

And, as he notes, the Origination problem will be potentially fatal as well.

Halbig

The appeals court has ruled against the administration. This really guts ObamaCare.

[Update a few minuts later]

Jonathan Adler has some initial thoughts:

If this decision is upheld, it will present some three-dozen states with a choice: Establish exchanges so as to authorize tax credits for state citizens while also triggering penalties on employers and individuals who do not wish to purchase qualifying health insurance. As my co-author Michael Cannon notes, the implications of this decision go beyond its effect on tax credits. How will states respond? Time will tell. As with the Medicaid expansion, it is not entirely clear how states will react now that so much of PPACA implementation is clearly in their hands.

A lot of dominoes could fall from this.

[Update early afternoon]

Thoughts from John Hinderaker:

If the D.C. Circuit does re-hear the case en banc, it may reverse today’s panel decision. If that happens, there will no longer be a split between the circuits, but one would think the Supreme Court will take the case regardless. In that event, we may be back in familiar territory, with Justice Anthony Kennedy deciding what Congress had in mind. If you think that discerning Congress’s intent is, in this case, a fool’s errand, since no one in Congress had read the law before voting on it, you are probably right. Which is one reason why courts look to the words of a statute rather than to the subjective intentions of 535 legislators. Given that Justice Kennedy was willing to deal Obamacare what he thought was a death blow under the Commerce Clause, Democrats cannot view their ultimate prospects with much confidence.

Especially after the election.

Complexity

Frustration with the leftist fools who don’t understand the knowledge problem:

Mr. Bouie insists that he is not simply trying to make an excuse for the president’s revealed incompetence in sundry matters, but of course that is precisely what he and other apologists for the administration are doing. If they were really interested in complexity as such, then they would bring it up on the front end of the policy debate, rather than on the back end.

I’ve seen this happen so many times that every other policy debate looks to me like an ancient rerun of Three’s Company: Do you think there’ll be a comic misunderstanding in this episode, too? It unfolds like this: Politicians on the Barack Obama model promise that they will muster their native intelligence and empirical evidence to bring order to, e.g., the health-care industry, through the judicious application of regulation. People like me tell them that the effects of such regulation are almost certainly going to be other than what was intended, because such markets are too complex to be understandable, predictable, or steerable, even in principle. Even if every bureaucrat who touches health care or the labor market has the brain of an Einstein and the soul of a St. Thomas Becket, it will not turn out the way it is intended. And then, when it doesn’t turn out as intended, Jamelle Bouie et al. protest that the toldya-so chorus “betrays an ignorance of the size and complexity of the federal bureaucracy.”

And they never even consider the question: If the federal bureaucracy is so vast and complex that its behavior cannot be adequately managed, how is it that the phenomena that the bureaucracies are tasked with managing—orders of magnitude more complex than the bureaucracies themselves—are supposed to be manageable? To consider the question with any intellectual rigor is to accept real, meaningful, epistemic limits on what government can do.

Can’t have that. It doesn’t allow them to run other peoples’ lives.

NASA Adrift

Eric Berger has Part 3 of his series up now:

Working with engineers at Johnson Space Center, as well as five other field centers, and using same tools NASA uses to estimate costs, Miller says, “We found we could put astronauts on the moon within a decade, inside the existing budget.”

The plan used the commercially available Delta IV Heavy rocket to conduct a steady stream of missions to the lunar surface, allowing humans to begin tapping into the moon’s resources.

“We briefed it to all the key NASA human spaceflight centers, giving them a chance to challenge the conclusion,” Miller said. “I thought it was a tremendous result for human spaceflight. We could have a plan that flies early and flies often.”

NASA never published the study and Miller’s contract wasn’t renewed.

Not enough opportunities for graft.

The Apollo Cargo Cult

Over at USA Today, I say that after four lost decades, it’s time to end it:

After over four decades, it is time to stop awaiting a repeat of a glorious but limited and improbable past. We must, finally, return to and embrace the true future, in which the solar system and ultimately the universe is opened up to all, with affordable, competing commercial transportation systems, in the way that only Americans can do it.

I’ll have some other stuff up later, in other venues.

Spaceplanes

DARPA has announced the winning teams for XS-1. I’m not surprised by Masten/XCOR. They’ve been collaborating for years. I have no inside info, but I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s an acquisition or merger at some point. The NG/Virgin alliance is no surprise, either, given that Northrop owns Scaled. The Boeing/Blue team is more interesting to me. I wonder if it’s away for Boeing to try to become more entrepreneurial?

The Border Tsunami

Have the Republicans forgotten how to play offense?

The first step to leading is understanding what you are up against. This border crisis isn’t incompetence. It isn’t bungling.

It is a calculated effort to crash the immigration system and fundamentally transform the nation. It is an effort to accelerate demographic trends and forever alter the nation’s culture. Until the GOP comprehends the full measure of Obama’s purpose, the GOP will be trapped in a prevent defense, never moving past complaints about Obama’s incompetence.

To the Obama administration and open borders groups, the tidal wave across the border is not an accident, and it is not a crisis. It is not even limited to unaccompanied children.

To be fair, they haven’t forgotten — they’ve never known how to go on offense.

[Update a couple minutes later]

The lie at the heart of immigration “reform” is exposed:

…does anyone think the people attending Obama’s White House meeting will accept any other new security measures that might actually succeed in blocking their co-ethnics from moving to El Norte – even as part of a “comprehensive” reform bill? They won’t. Once today’s illegals get their immediate “provisional” (i.e. permanent) legal status, security measures like E-verify (computerized checks of new hires), the border fence, and exit-entry visa controls will be subject to the same sort of counterattack as Obama’s request for more deportation “flexibility.”

Overcoming those attacks will only get more difficult as the Latino population grows — and it will grow even faster once a reform bill legalizes millions more eventual voters. It’s not hard to imagine that we’re at a tipping point: Implement border security measures now, or else they will never be implemented.

And the only way to implement them is to require they be done first, before any legalization — before the activists are free to attack them with full force (lest they jeopardize the eventual amnesty prize). The other way around, the McCain-Schumer-Obama way — ‘Legalization First, Security Later’ — is a swindle in the classic tradition. Just give us our amnesty. We’ll be there for you when it’s time to appropriate for the border fence. Really we will. You can trust us! You just have to wire the money to the Nigerian prince give us what we want first.

If we didn’t spot the fraud before, we do now.

Well, some of us do, anyway. Let’s hope it’s enough.

SLS Figures Of Merit

In response to this:

I tweeted this: