Category Archives: Economics

Revenge Of The Jedi

The browser wars return.

This particularly caught my eye:

Firefox 3.0, for example, runs more than twice as fast as the previous version while using less memory, Mozilla says.

The browser is also smarter and maintains three months of a user’s browsing history to try to predict what site he or she may want to visit. Typing the word “football” into the browser, for example, quickly generates a list of all the sites visited with “football” in the name or description.

Firefox has named this new tool the “awesome bar” and says it could replace the need for people to maintain long and messy lists of bookmarks. It will also personalize the browser for an individual user.

“Sitting at somebody else’s computer and using their browser is going to become a very awkward experience,” said Mitchell Baker, chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation.

Sounds like a market opportunity to me. I have a few ideas about how to solve it.

The Zero-Sum Candidate

Both Barack and Michelle Obama have a collectivist mentality:

Jeff Dobbs, a little while back, saw Michelle Obama’s statement that “The truth is, in order to get things like universal health care and a revamped education system, then someone is going to have to give up a piece of their pie so that someone else can have more.”

…Barack Obama today: “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” Obama said.

Would an Obama Administration really mean an end to “eating as much as we want?”

There is an implicit assumption here that, in order for one person (or country) to have more, another must thereby have less. This is the view of a person who views wealth not as something that is created, but something that simply exists, and the only important issue is how to divvy it up. But no one in Zimbabwe is starving because I took food away from them and ate it myself. They are starving in former Rhodesia, and in North Korea, and other places, because the governments there, in thrall to greed and the poisonous ideology of collectivism, have destroyed the agricultural sector.

What are the Obamas going to take away from us to give to someone else? And how will they decide from whom to take it, and to whom to give it? And what means will they choose to do so?

And which countries’ approval are we seeking? Egypt, to whom we give billions a year in aid? France? Germany? The Europeans seemed to be well fed, last time I checked.

My mother, who used to tell me to clean my plate in the sixties because there were children starving in China, had her mother tell her to clean her plate during the depression because there were children starving in Europe. Who is it that Obama is asking (telling?) us to clean our plates (or better yet, put less on them) for? Will he set up rationing? Will Michelle be in charge of the rationing board and pie distribution?

Hungry stomachs want to know, before November.

The sad thing, of course, is that our agricultural policies, which actually increase the cost of our food (though we’re wealthy enough to afford it, at least until the Obamas take over), are also complicit in destroying the agricultural sector of many third-world countries, by providing foreign aid in the form of subsidized grain and depressing the price of food there, making farming a non-viable economic activity. What will Barack do about that?

[Update a few minutes later]

This doesn’t speak so much to their collectivism, but Charlotte Hays asks:

I loved Obama telling us how how “unacceptable” and “low class” it would be for us to to mention his wife’s anti-American remarks. How’s he gonna stop us? (I certainly hope he will have a tougher approach when negotiating with dictators!) And, come to think of it, this isn’t the first time Obama has said that anti-American “snippets” by a close associate were taken out of context. We get to decide if we think this is relevant, not the candidate.

Do we really want to be bossed around by these arrogant people and their double standards for four years?

[Update in the afternoon]

Rachel Lucas and her commenters aren’t very impressed by Obama’s Calvin-ball campaign rules.

So I just want to know what happens if Republican’s aren’t “careful.” Is he gonna give them karate? Write a strongly worded letter of disapproval?

Doomsday Has Been Postponed, Part Whatever

More thoughts on “peak oil,” and what I’ll call the “peak oil constant,” which seems to be twenty or thirty years (i.e., it’s always predicted to be that far in the future).

[Update mid afternoon]

Manzi has a follow up, in response to a Georgetown professor. Bottom line:

What if we had reacted to the predictions throughout the 1970s and 80s that we would reach peak oil in about 2000? Do you think that some of these proposed changes would have slowed economic growth and prevented the world from being in the current position of paying an ever-dwindling share of total output for oil? What other difficult-to-anticipate changes might some these interventions have had? Could the idea of purposely restructuring the transportation, housing, and agricultural sectors of the U.S. economy based on a prediction for an event that we have proven to be very bad at predicting – and for which the world’s leading experts refuse to provide anything other than very broad guidance – induce a sense of humility? It does in me.

Some Questions For John McCain

From George Will:

You say that even if global warming turns out to be no crisis (the World Meteorological Organization says global temperatures have not risen in a decade), even unnecessary measures taken to combat it will be beneficial because “then all we’ve done is give our kids a cleaner world.” But what of the trillions of dollars those measures will cost in direct expenditures and diminished economic growth–hence diminished medical research, cultural investment, etc.? Given that Earth is always warming or cooling, what is its proper temperature, and how do you know?

You propose a “cap and trade” system to limit the carbon dioxide that many companies can emit. Is not your idea an energy- rationing proposal akin to Bill Clinton’s BTU tax?

He has more, not related to climate change.

Also, a long paper on the futility of trading hot air.