Category Archives: Uncategorized

Utah Trip 2014 # 1

2014-07-26T184046 0000_14747684481_o

This is at Zion National Park on July 26, 2014.

Canada pulls the plug on the U.S. Keystone Pipeline – will send oil to Asia

brucetheeconomist:

I like President Obama, but I have never been able to understand why his administration is so lukewarm on increased supplies of North American energy, including that from Canada. It is one of the bright spots in this mediocre economic climate that we all have suffered from.

Originally posted on Watts Up With That?:

Approves Asia Supply Route, Ignores US Route

H/T Eric Worrall and Breitbart – Obama’s inability to make a decision on Keystone has finally yielded a result – Canada has made the decision for him.

Breitbart reports Canada has just approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project – a major pipeline to ship Canadian oil to Asia.

The Canadian oil will still be burnt – in Asia, instead of America.

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Jesus and Ayn Rand

brucetheeconomist:

I can’t add much, other than it has always amazed me that Christian conservative like Ayn Rand, when she was such a militant atheist.

Originally posted on Prometheus Unbound:

What sort of conservatism blends Jesus with Ayn Rand? Oh, that would be contemporary Tea Party conservatism.

But why isn’t it more widely noticed that “Christian libertarian” is an oxymoron? I would argue that this has to do with the human mind’s capacity for compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance, for Jesus and Rand simply do not go together coherently. Buckley, before he died, was less illusioned: he saw that his Catholicism and Randianism are not a match. Rand herself recognized this as well. She was an atheist.

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What the State Produces

 

In anarchist literature, one often finds the contention that the State produces nothing, and is entirely parasitic on the rest of society.
This claim is false. Of course, it is true for some things that modern states do, such as the provision of welfare. But it is false applied to the state as a whole, because there is one service that is highly productive, and that only the state can provide: the service of being the final arbiter for all disputes between its members. This service must, logically, come from a monopoly provider: if there are multiple providers of arbitration at the same level, then none of them are final. (And that is why, if a network of ancap defense agencies can provide this service, they will, in fact, compose a state. And if they can’t provide it, then we will have “anarchy” in the bad sense of social chaos.)
Once one focuses on this service, one can easily understand why German barbarians would fight to get inside the Roman Empire: both productivity and security go up in the presence of such a final arbiter. And that is why we have never seen any wealthy, stateless societies.

What the State Produces
Gene Callahan
Wed, 14 May 2014 23:10:00 GMT

Unique Date

 

If our current civilization lasts another 8,000 years, it's probably fair to assume the Long Now Foundation got things right, and at some point we started listening to them and switched to five-digit years.

Unique Date
Mon, 10 Mar 2014 00:00:00 GMT

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Modesty

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Winter Olympic Sports

 

I’m sure we’ll see the usual TON of olympic graphics in the next few weeks, but I thought this one showing the growth of sports included in the Winter Games was interesting:

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Winter Olympic Sports
Dustin
Fri, 07 Feb 2014 02:50:33 GMT

U.S. Household Finances Rebound

 

One signal for whether the U.S. economy is ready for a more robust recovery is the extent to which the financial position of households has rebounded. Here are some illustrative figures, taken from the January 2014 issue of Economic Trends from the Cleveland Fed.
O.Emre Ergungor and Daniel Kolliner write about “Household Economic Conditions.” Here’s a figure showing the movements in household wealth since 2000. Household assets and net worth have now rebounded and surpassed their pre-recession highs.

Part of what’s happening here is that households have trimmed back on many of their debts. This figure show the change in outstanding debt in various categories over the previous four quarters. During the housing bubble, for example, mortgage debt was growing at more than 10% per year. But household mortgage debt has been contracting (that is, negative growth) since about 2008. The authors write: “Revolving consumer credit balances plummeted in 2008 and are currently barely higher than their level in the third quarter of 2012. Outstanding home mortgage debt is still contracting due to record write-off s and reduced demand for homes in previous years. Nonrevolving consumer credit, which consists of secured and unsecured credit for student loans, automobiles, durable goods, and other purposes, is the only credit category that shows some sign of life. It is currently 8.5 percent above year-ago levels. Note, however, that the student loan component is entirely driven by federal government loans to students and does not reflect private market activity.”

The combination of lower household debts and sustained low interest rates means that households are spending less on debt service. They write: “The financial obligation ratio, which expresses household liabilities, such as credit card payments, mortgage payments, home property taxes, and rent payments, as a percentage of disposable income, is at its lowest level since the third quarter of 1981.”

A result of these changes is that retail sales and consumption overall, if not yet back to healthy growth rates, are at least solidly back in positive growth after their nosedive during the Great Recession.

Of course, the unemployment rate remains high, as do the number of long-term unemployed and concerns over whether some workers are not being counted as unemployed because they have become too discouraged to look  for work. But noting that the economy is improving is not to make the claim that it’s already a bright sunshiny day. One final pattern caught my eye in an article on “Employee Compensation Costs during the Recovery,” by Joel Elvery. He points out that the patterns of wages and of benefits have been diverging in recent years.

This figure needs to be interpreted with care, because hourly compensation costs are affected by which workers have jobs. Thus, the rise in wages and salary around 2008 is not because lots of workers saw a big raise, but instead because lower-paid workers were more likely to become unemployed, and so the average wage and salary for those with jobs was  higher as a result. But the overall pattern here is clear enough. Over the last decade, wages and salaries have been pretty flat, but the costs to employers of benefits like retirement and savings accounts, as well as health insurance, have been rising. As I’ve written before on this blog, health care costs (along with other benefits) have been eating your pay raise.

U.S. Household Finances Rebound
Timothy Taylor
Fri, 24 Jan 2014 12:00:00 GMT

Work Force Dropouts in the Last Employment Report

The one issue I haven’t seen highlighted is that declining participation may be driven in part by fewer people saying they are looking to keep unemployment benefits.  This would be because many knew they were no longer eligible or soon would be due to the failure to extend benefits in the budget compromise.

Cats Are Just as Loving as Dogs. Maybe More So

 

This article originally appeared in the Newton blog on RealClearScience. You can read the original here. ON THE MORNING of May 21, 2010, Cherry Woods was taking a walk around her suburban Houston neighborhood, when she witnessed an ominous sight. Two, large dogs were barreling towards her from …
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Cats Are Just as Loving as Dogs. Maybe More So
Ross Pomeroy
Sun, 15 Dec 2013 17:00:00 GMT