PrestoPundit

Archive for September, 2005

NASA FLUSHED A QUARTER TRILLION $$$

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/30/2005

down the toilet on what NASA itself calls “failed” programs, and now it wants $104 billion more for Bush’s “moondoggle” — or as NASA calls it “Apollo on Steroids.”

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REAGAN REPUBLICANS

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/30/2005

seek to undo the Bush Revolution.

On Bush and the new Republicans see also Tony Snow and Mona Charen.

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“FREAKONOMICS” IS RACISM.

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/30/2005

That essentially is what “outraged” Democrats are claiming about Bill Bennett’s unfortunate use of the method of “Freakonomics.” But that’s not where to look for the real outrage. As usual that gets overlooked. The real outrage is Bennett’s odd notion that “economic arguments should never be employed in discussions of moral issues.”

If “ought” implies “can” (in a non-Kantian sense) and choices involve trade-offs, then few arguments are more important than economic ones in the discussion of moral issues. (For example, socialism falls on intellectual grounds — it isn’t possible — even if we stipulated it’s “morality” in advance for the purposes of argument.)

Bennett’s failures are intellectual, and folks like Ted Kennedy have nothing to teach him about morals.

UPDATE: Steven Levitt, author of Freakonomics, weighs in on the Bennett controversy. Quotable:

Race is not an important part of the abortion-crime argument that John Donohue and I have made in academic papers and that Dubner and I discuss in Freakonomics. It is true that, on average, crime involvement in the U.S. is higher among blacks than whites. Importantly, however, once you control for income, the likelihood of growing up in a female-headed household, having a teenage mother, and how urban the environment is, the importance of race disappears for all crimes except homicide. (The homicide gap is partly explained by crack markets). In other words, for most crimes a white person and a black person who grow up next door to each other with similar incomes and the same family structure would be predicted to have the same crime involvement. Empirically, what matters is the fact that abortions are disproportionately used on unwanted pregnancies, and disproportionately by teenage women and single women .. When a woman gets an abortion, for the most part it is not changing the total number of children she has; rather, it is shifting the timing so those births come later in life ..

There is one thing I would take Bennett to task for: first saying that he doesn’t believe our abortion-crime hypothesis but then revealing that he does believe it with his comments about black babies. You can’t have it both ways.

Steve Sailor has some factual criticisms of Levitt’s work here.

UPDATE II: Bill Bennett defends himself on Fox.

Meanwhile President Bush suggests that Bennett is a racist.

And Google News posts the following picture as it’s top picture of William Bennett accompanying links to news reports of the story:

Bennett as clansman

Bill Bennett doesn’t deserve this, any more than he deserves moral lectures from Ted Kennedy. Disgusting.

Posted in Economics | Leave a Comment »

HOW MUCH

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/29/2005

are we going to spend on Mississippi and Louisiana? Experts are guessing $200 billion and that

would be about twice what American taxpayers spent (adjusted for inflation) on the Marshall Plan to rebuild all of Western Europe after the devastation of World War II.

Those words are from CATO’s David Boaz, who has lots more on Katrina spending and Franklin Delano Bush. A taste:

In a recent poll, 64 percent of voters said that they prefer smaller government with fewer services and lower taxes, while only 22 percent would rather see a more active government with more services and higher taxes. Federal taxpayers never get a chance to vote on taxes and spending. If they did, we might see a resounding rejection of President Bush’s massive increase in the federal budget.

Voters know that politicians tend to spend money to get votes, not to solve problems. Consider that Congress passed a $51.8 billion Katrina relief bill on the very day the Associated Press released a study of where the $5 billion small-business relief money after 9/11 went. It found that the funds went to a South Dakota country radio station, a Virgin Islands perfume shop, a Utah drug boutique, and more than 100 Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway shops–“companies far removed from the devastation.” Fewer than 11 percent of the loans went to companies in New York and Washington.

Bush and the new Republican Party are turning their backs on Americans who want smaller government ..

Posted in Katrina, Porkbusters | Leave a Comment »

TEMPLE U. MATH PROFESSOR

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/29/2005

John Allen Paulos points out that the invisible hand explanation of economic order solves a problem very like the biological problem of undesigned order. From his Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed:

How it is that modern free-market economies are as complex as they are, boasting amazingly elaborate production, distribution and communication systems? Go into almost any drug store, and you can find your favorite candy bar. And what’s true at the personal level is true at the industrial level. Somehow there are enough ball bearings and computer chips in just the right places in factories all over the country. The physical infrastructure and communication networks are also marvels of integrated complexity. Fuel supplies are, by and large, where they’re needed. E-mail reaches you in Miami as well as in Milwaukee, not to mention Barcelona and Bangkok.

The natural question, discussed first by Adam Smith and later by Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper among others, is: Who designed this marvel of complexity? Which commissar decreed the number of packets of dental floss for each retail outlet? The answer, of course, is that no economic god designed this system. It emerged and grew by itself. No one argues that all the components of the candy bar distribution system must have been put into place at once, or else there would be no Snickers at the corner store.

So far, so good. What is more than a bit odd, however, is that some of the most ardent opponents of Darwinian evolution – for example, many fundamentalist Christians – are among the most ardent supporters of the free market. They accept the market’s complexity without qualm, yet insist the complexity of biological phenomena requires a designer ..

These analogies [between undesigned economic order and undesigned biological order] prompt two final questions. What would you think of someone who studied economic entities and their interactions in a modern free-market economy and insisted that they were, despite a perfectly reasonable and empirically supported Smithian account of their development, the consequence of some all-powerful, detail-obsessed economic lawgiver? You might deem such a person a conspiracy theorist.

And what would you think of someone who studied biological processes and organisms and insisted that they were, despite a perfectly reasonable and empirically supported Darwinian account of their development, the consequence of some all-powerful, detail-obsessed biological lawgiver?

Posted in Economics, Science | Leave a Comment »

LET’S NOT CALL IT PORK.

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/28/2005

Let’s call it by it’s rightful name — corruption.

In the 19th century the country instituted civil service reform, eliminating most patronage positions in the U.S. government. That was a long time ago, and the reform did nothing to end porkbarrel spending by the Congress. Can’t we in this day and age come up with a reform which will do away with massive corruption of Congressional district-by-district spending? Let’s be creative. Perhaps it’s time to completely do away with the House of Representives, and replace it with a small nation wide body, elected only by those between the ages of 35 and 40. Or perhaps every year we could publicly hang the Congressman with the largest pork pile. Again, the key thing here is creativity. Something needs to be done, and something that has very serious consequences for the current status quo. The comments section is open.

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THE SPACE SHUTTLE

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/28/2005

was a mistake says the head of NASA — and so was the International Space Station, he says. And these weren’t cheap mistakes:

Roger Pielke Jr., a space policy expert at the U. of Colorado, estimates that NASA has spent about $150 billion on the [shuttle] program since its inception in 1971. The total cost of the space station by the time it’s finished — in 2010 or later — may exceed $100 billion, though other nations will bear some of that.

When will NASA admit that Bush’s moondoggle scheme is another $100 billion mistake?

Posted in Porkbusters, Technology | Leave a Comment »

RATHERGATE

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/27/2005

Dan Rather and Mary Mapes are turning it “all the way up to eleven on stupid” — read this on Mapes and here on Deranged Dan.

UPDATE: Dan Rather is “stuck on crazy ” — comment at GayPatriot on a piece titled “Mary Mapes: MSM’s Poster Child.”

Posted in The Left | Leave a Comment »

I WAS WRONG.

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/27/2005

George Bush isn’t the new Nixon, he’s the new Lyndon Baines Johnson. (via Malkin).

Posted in Politics | Leave a Comment »

MILTON FRIEDMAN

Posted by PrestoPundit on 09/27/2005

continues to lead the Reagan Revolution, which may be dead nationally but is alive and well here in California. Friedman helped write and signed his name to Argument in Favor of Proposition 75 the measure which will give workers the choice of whether or not to fund the leftist political activities of their unions.

Posted in California, Economics | Leave a Comment »