Monday, June 29, 2009

Is Cap and Trade worth it?

I will concede that reducing CO2 emissions is a laudable goal. While most scientists do agree that CO2 emissions have an impact, there is still disagreement on the extent of that impact. Remember all that panic over Y2K? You really didn't what was going to happen until it happened. On January 1, 2000, most of us either breathed a sigh of relief or said "I told you so!" And there were some that were disappointed that the world didn't come to an end. There were some minor problems associated with Y2K, but it wasn't as devastating as many had feared.

Like a millennium prophet, Al Gore will have the privilege of getting to see first hand if he is right. Because CO2 levels will go up, and it is beyond the power of Congress to stop it. If it costs too much for a company to emit CO2 in the US, they will simply move elsewhere. As China, India, and other countries start to develop, there will be a massive increase in CO2.

If the worst case predictions are correct, then it won't matter what we do since we're all doomed anyway. On the other hand, if conservative talk show hosts are right, then we have nothing to worry about. But for the sake of argument, let's assume that the truth is somewhere in between. Even without human activity, the climate still changes from year to year, century to century, and eon to eon.

So here are my predictions:
1. Congress will either repeal "Cap and Trade" or grant exemptions to "vital" industries.
2. The climate will change, and we will adapt.
I feel rather confident about the second prediction, since there won't be anyone around to tell me that I was wrong.

What should the government do then? Everyone, including the government, should look into ways to reduce consumption of resources. Maybe I should start riding a bike to work, and maybe some wasteful government programs should be cut.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What happens when another country takes an interest in your election

In 1888, the British ambassador to the US received a letter from someone claiming to be an English immigrant living in California. It was asked in the letter if it would serve British interests if Grover Cleveland were to be re-elected. He sent a reply suggesting that it would indeed be better for England if the Democratic incumbent won the election.

The letter turned out to be from a Republican operative. The ambassador's reply was made public, and it caused Irish-American voters to oppose Cleveland.

The moral of the story is that it can backfire when government officials try to influence the internal affairs of another country. President Obama is right to condemn the violence taking place in Iran, but that is all he can do about it at this point. With an embargo already in place, it would be unwise to make any threats to the Iranian government that cannot be carried out.

Monday, June 22, 2009

City ordinance violates rights of suspects

Fort Wayne City Code Section 130.06 requires landlords to evict tenants who are suspected of a drug crime. Even if one supports current drug laws, this ordinance ignores due process and the presumption of innocence. A defendant who posts bail should be allowed to remain in his current residence until the conclusion of his trial, assuming he complies with the terms of his lease.

Landlords already have strong incentives to keep drug offenders out of their rental properties. They should even have the right to evict tenants that they know are breaking the law. But they should not be forced to do so.

Currently there is a lawsuit to get the ordinance overturned. The City Council should save the city the cost of fighting the lawsuit and repeal the ordinance.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

"Cash for Clunkers" scheme

The "Cash for Clunkers" program is a bad idea for the following reasons:
1. The plan is not cost effective in terms of job creation. It would spend $4500 per new vehicle sold. A car company must sell 100 cars in order to justify employing 1 assembly worker per year, since it takes about 20 man hours to produce a vehicle. So this plan spends $450K, more than what the POTUS makes in a year, to keep one autoworker employed for another 12 months.
2. It is wasteful. The plan calls for the traded-in vehicles to be scrapped. There is still some demand for SUV's and pickup trucks. By removing these vehicles from the roads, it could increase the demand for new large vehicles and increase consumption of natural resources.
3. It isn't fair to people who already drive small cars and don't qualify for the program. Don't be surprised if people hoard SUV's when the next bubble pops in the hopes that this idiocy will be repeated.

Monday, June 08, 2009

There have been renewed calls for increased government control over health care. A new argument holds that fixing healthcare is key to fixing the economy. This is an easy argument to pick apart:
1. If the current economic situation means we need to fix healthcare, does it follow that we won't need to fix it if the economy improves?
2. Is increasing federal spending by hundreds of billions a year on top of what we already spend somehow a better idea now that we're 11 trillion in debt?
3. Aren't they putting the cart before the horse? Isn't the way to make healthcare more affordable is to grow the economy so that more people can afford it?
4. Isn't healthcare's real problems caused by previous attempts to fix it?