Posts tagged ‘TJIC’

Fortunately, Pregnant Women Can Easily Get A Big Mac

I liked TJIC's response to the story of the pregnant woman who could not find any available supplies of the government-provided flu vaccine:

Man, it's a good thing that the flu vaccine isn't being left in the hands of the free market "“ we might have the same horrible production and distribution bottlenecks that we run into with Coke, pizza, books, and pajamas "“ you can't find those things anywhere.

And, hey, on the bright side, socialized medicine is coming!

Thanks to My Readers -- The Solution for White Non-Fluorescent Paper

Thanks to my readers, I have cracked the problem of finding white non-fluorescent paper, which I will post here for the benefit of future Google searchers.   At first I tried some natural bond paper, and it didn't fluoresce, but it added too much yellow to the final product.  I was just in the middle of playing with Photoshop to see if I could compensate, when Agesilaus said that this was a concern in archival and art photography and what I wanted was OBA-free paper.  OBA is the term for a class of optical brighteners that fluoresce and are used in most papers, and because they can cause fading, artists and photographers create a market for OBA-free paper.  It can be expensive, like 70 cents a sheet, but since I can put most all the signs and details I need on a sheet or two, that is no big deal.  Here is one source, not surprisingly from the comments, a photography outlet.

Thanks everyone!

PS - TJIC thought the scorpion thing was creepy.  It sort of is, but it beats shoveling snow.

On High Deductible Health Insurance

I wondered aloud last week at the fact that I when I raised my annual health care deductible to $2500, my annual premium savings were over $3000.   Which meant that from an economic standpoint, it was crazy to do anything but have a high-deductible health plan (even without considering the knock-on effects to the overall system of my now wanting to actually price shop for services).

TJIC offers one explanation that seems reasonable to me:

What kind of person is unwilling to pay the first $2,500 out of pocket? A person that intends to make lots of claims.

They know that they're going to use much of that first $2.5k.

Question: between one person who has no intention of going to the doctor for every little thing, and another person who does, let's assume that both get broken legs, which push them each to $5k in expenses "¦ which one is going to demand more follow up visits, cancel and reschedule more often, demand an extension on their course of painkillers, etc. ?

The one who was intending to use lots of service down at the low end, I'd wager my middle nut.

Three other possible explanations:

  • As alluded to above, it is in the insurance company's interest to get their customers to start actively price-shopping for some medical services, so they encourage high deductible policies.
  • Claims in the deductible range tend to be small and carry a disproportionately high overhead / processing cost as a percentage of the claim amount
  • It is an economic IQ test, with results somehow correlated to attractiveness as a customer

This latter theory results from my experience at McKinsey & Co, a management consultant.  When I joined, they offered a $5,000 one-year interest-free loan to cover relocation costs.  As I became more senior and was responsible for hiring new consultants, some of them would come to me and say "that's OK, I don't need the money."  I would look at them and respond, "we aim to hire the best young business minds in the country.  If you turn down an interest-free loan, we may have to rethink our hiring decision.  Go sock it in a 12-month CD like I did."  My personal theory was the offer was really an IQ test, not a benefit.

I Warned About This Trick Earlier

When reading the original House health care bill, it struck me that the new taxes on employers and such began immediately, but benefits were phased in between 2012 and 2017.  Apparently, this same thing is being done in the Baucus Bill, and I have learned that this is specifically aimed at gaming the CBO numbers.  Since journalism majors were such in large part because they didn't want to do any math, this ploy will likely work with the media, who will print the CBO findings but will be uninterested or incapable of deconstructing the numbers games.  From the Gormogons via TJIC:

What the CBO does not highlight, however, is that Sen. Baucus cooked the books. Under the Baucus plan, revenue enhancement (taxes) goes into effect immediately. Coverage does not kick in for two and one-half years. So, to make the numbers work, Sen. Baucus has to collect ten years of revenue to cover seven and one-half years of cost.

'Puter thought the whole thing smelled a little fishy, so he gave Sleestak and abacus, a quill and some parchment and set him on the CBO math. Using the above numbers, Sleestak calculates that projected revenues will generate $910 billion over 10 years. Outflows will be $829 billion over 7.5 years. Based on Sleestak's math, that's an average yearly inflow of $91 billion and an average yearly outflow of $110.5 billion, or a average annual deficit of $19.5 billion each year the benefits are actually paid.

TJIC rightly asks how this kind of game is any different from the one played by Madoff.  The only difference is that folks had the right to say "no" to Madoff whereas we will not have this ability with Congress.

Best Argument Against the Death Penalty

I agree with TJIC:

If we can't trust the government to enforce the speed limit or issue liquor licenses fairly, how can we trust it to kill citizens fairly ?

It strikes me as odd that law-and-order conservatives can distrust every single department of the government except the guys who carry guns.  The post office and the police are run by the same organization.

More extensive thoughts on the death penalty here and here.

Thought for the Day

Soon, you may be on the hook for paying for a limitless supply of health care for these people.  (via TJIC)

Update: Good update on issues in the health care bill.

*Sigh* Something Else I Will Have to Subsidize

Via TJIC:

It took decades and, at times, antagonistic battles, but Harvard's gay community says it has finally cemented its academic legitimacy at the nation's oldest university. College officials will announce today that they will establish an endowed chair in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender studies, in what is believed to be the first professorship of its kind in the country.

Can the adults among us agree that a degree in LGBT studies has about zero economic value?  Even a history degree has more economic value, as history studies tend to still be accompanied by some academic rigor.  But the pathetic scholarship standards and non-existant statistical rigor with which most social sciences, and various [fill in the blank with oppressed group] studies departments in particular, are taught make the economic value of such a degree at best zero and at worst a negative.

I have no problem with anyone studying whatever they wish using their own resources.  This is one place I diverge with Ayn Rand -- she might say that pursuing non-productive activity is inherently immoral.  I would say that pursuing your own goals, whatever they be and however valuable or valueless they might be to others, is just fine as long as you don't demand that everyone else to support you.

The problem is that a degree at Harvard probably requires a $200,000 investment to complete.  Given that, beyond a few career spots in academia, a LGBT studies degree is unlikely to ever recover enough (versus having no degree)  to pay for such an investment, problems are inevitable.  Either someone (read: taxpayers) will likely foot the bill, or else some student is going to find herself with tens of thousands of dollars of student debt and no realistic way to pay it back.

In fact, this latter situation is a common leitmotif of recent media stories, the college grad unable to handle his or her shocking debt load.  Somehow, stories all seem to blame the capitalist system as a failure point.  Michelle Obama, who similarly pursued [historically oppressed group] studies at Princeton, has expressed just this point of view.

Despite their Ivy League pedigrees and good salaries, Michelle Obama often says the fact that she and her husband are out of debt is due to sheer luck, because they could not have predicted that his two books would become bestsellers. "It was like, 'Let's put all our money on red!' " she told a crowd at Ohio State University on Friday. "It wasn't a financial plan! We were lucky! And it shouldn't have been based on luck, because we worked hard."

Is this problem really so hard to diagnose, or have we gotten so politically correct we cannot state a fact out loud that everyone understands -- that is, some degrees have more economic power than others.  LGBT studies degrees likely have very little economic utility.  So it is fine to pursue such a degree, but don't be surprised when you are not offered a six-figure income at graduation, and don't come to me expecting that I pay for your choice.

The Obama Years In Two Sentences

The perfect storm: arrogant preachy leftists throwing money at useless things - and rational but amoral capitalists running around picking up the money.

The only loser is the taxpayer who is on the hook for all that money.

Via TJIC.  The Corporate State in a nutshell.

A Critical Turning Point

Via TJIC:

The steel industry, a bellwether for the state of the nation's economy, is looking to the government for a huge investment program: up to $1 trillion over two years.

Government can't create capital -- it can only force it to be reallocated and, to a small extent, move it forward from the future.   Given that there is some sort of fixed amount of investment capital in the economy, then, it strikes me that we are rapidly approaching the point where we are giving to Congress the job of allocating the vast majority of the country's available investment capital.  And if that prospect does not scare you, and it should, consider this:  Congress has made it fairly clear the three criteria it will use to select the recipients of capital:

  • They must have a business model that has been proven a failure (by poor performance, eroding market share, and/or near bankrupcy)
  • They must have strong, powerful unions with the historically proven ability to dictate terms to management
  • The company and its key stakeholders must be strong supporters of the party in power

They say the government does things that private parties can't or won't, and that is certainly true here since I cannot imagine any private investor allocating capital on these criteria.

Add GM, Ford, and Chrysler to this List

Via TJIC, who had a much better title, "poor credit risks remain poor credit risks, even after you give them a free pony"

Recent data suggests that many borrowers who received help with mortgage modifications earlier this year tended to re-default on their payments, a top U.S. banking regulator said on Monday.

"The results, I confess, were somewhat surprising, and not in a good way," said John Dugan, head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in prepared remarks for a U.S. housing forum.

"Put simply, it shows that over half of mortgage modifications seemed not to be working after six months," he said.

You can absolutely, without a doubt, add the Big 3 to the list of folks who will be facing default once again just months after getting their first dollop of federal money.

Get Bob Cratchitt to Do It

The Town of South Attleboro, MA sent out wildly threatening past due letters for folks with balances as low as 1-cent  (thereby investing at least 42 cents to get one back).  In response to charges that this was stupid, City Collector Debora Marcoccio responded:

A computer automatically printed the letters for any account with a balance remaining, and they were not reviewed by staff before being sent out, Marcoccio said.

"It would be fiscally irresponsible for me to have staff weed through the bills and pull out any below a certain amount," Marcoccio said. " And what would that amount be?"

What, are we living in the 19th century with clerks in a musty room preparing bills by hand?  This fix probably requires one whole entire line of program code in the billing system to fix.  I could probably teach myself to code whatever language the payroll system is written in (my guess is COBOL, which, god help me, I already know) in less time than this woman has spent fielding complaints and media inquiries.  Compare this to what TJIC has to do just to get the mail out.

And don't you love people who don't even have enough spine to make a simple decision about the cutoff for minimum bill size.  I have found this is one of those things the government is really, really bad at -- making decisions under uncertainty  (which covers about all decisions, except routine ones embodied in SOP).  Government has no incentives, in general, for productivity, or production, or customer satisfaction.  The only time government employees get feedback at all is when they get negative feedback from having someone yell at them for making a decision that some higher-up didn't like..  So if a decision is not justifiable either by past precedent/SOP or explicitly by the rules, it is not made.

By the way, I had a personal programming milestone last night.  I finally built a website without using a WYSIWIG editor that formatted the way I wanted it to all in CSS without a single table.  I predict that now that I have finally gotten a decent handle on CSS, which mainly consists of learning all the workarounds for when it doesn't work as you would expect, that someone is about to introduce a whole new system for formatting web pages.

The Silver Lining

TJIC has the silver lining nailed for libertarians:

Let us not forget the good news from the election: one statist, speech limiting, freedom-agnostic candidate lost.

I'm kind of ambivalent this morning -  I knew in advance that freedom was going to lose again in this election, no matter what the outcome.

If I am depressed this morning, it is more about propositions and side issues than about the President and Congress.  Had this been a leftward shift in the county, I could have been satisfied that at least losses in freedom in one area might be substituted by gains in others  (though for me personally, changes in economic freedom tend to have far more direct and immediate impact than changes in social freedoms).

But the only pattern I could see yesterday was not leftward but government-ward.  In the same states where Democratic candidates won with economic interventionist messages, Constitutional bans on gay marriage also won by sizable majorities.   In Arizona, gay marriage was banned, an initiative to limit future tax increases was defeated, an initiative to protect health care choice was defeated, an initiative to soften last year's anti-immigrant legislation was defeated, and a payday loan ban was confirmed.  The voting in some way defies a traditional left-right explanation and is only consistent in that it was almost all the reverse of the libertarian position.  And to make the results even more irrational, nearly the biggest defeat of any ballot initiative in Arizona was for a pay increase for state legislators -- the voters seem to like government but don't trust or respect the individuals employed there.

After the last Bush election, a number of leftish folks claimed they were moving to Canada or France or wherever.  But that's the problem for libertarians in this country -- there is not place to run.  Those who want to run away to a country with a more controlling government have 180 or so choices.  Those of us who seek more freedom have approximately none.

Update: This slight paraphrase from the movie Zoolander encapsulates my thought on this election:

They're the same! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

I am actually less frightened by the candidates than by people who seem to get so excited by one or the other of them.

Critique of the Bailout, From A Banker

From John Allison, CEO of BB&T  (via TJIC).  Here is a taste:

Allison

Download bailout_critique.pdf

 

A Senior Moment

Via TJIC:

http://www.boston.com/news/nation/articl"¦

If you're a senior citizen and make less than $50,000 a year,
Barack Obama has a deal for you: the rest of your life free of federal
income tax.

Sounds appealing, right?

If we look at two people, each making $49,999, which one should get a sizeable government subsidy?

Why, the one who's already living off of welfare, and has
taxpayer supplied healthcare, subsidized transportation, "senior
centers", discounted meals at restaurants, etc., of course!

Statists in Libertarian Clothing

Everyone is a libertarian when it comes to his or her own choices:

  • My speech should be legal (though those other guys are over the line)
  • My choices, diet, lifestyle should be legal (though those other guys need to be protected from themselves)
  • My personal interactions are fine (but those other guys are all racists, threats to children, indecent, etc)
  • My business is great (but those other guys are all evil exploiters)

The hard part about defending freedom is not defending it for oneself.  The hard part is defending other people's right to be free.  TJIC makes this point quite well in response to a Boston Globe editorial.

When Energy Cutbacks are Frightening

Via TJIC:

Harvard plans to sharply reduce its greenhouse gas emissions in the
next eight years, Drew Faust, the university president, said.

The initial, short-term goal for the university will be to
reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from a 2006 baseline by
2016, Faust said yesterday in a statement.

In the winter of 1990, my Harvard-owned apartment had its heating fail.  I called the administration for weeks before anyone would show up to look at it.  By this time, I actually had ice on the inside of my window panes.  Walking into my freezing apartment, a maintenance guy placed a thermometer in the center of my room, and then just stood there staring at it for 5 minutes.  At this point he had not asked me about my problem, nor looked at anything remotely connected with the heating system.

He suddenly sprung into action, looked at the thermometer, and started to walk out of the room.  "Wait," I said.  "What is wrong?  Do you know how to fix it?"  The Harvard maintenance guy says "Your room is only 53 degrees -- by state law we don't have to do anything unless it is below 50.*"  And then he walked out, with me screaming at his back.  Only when I sent a letter to the University, copied to the fire marshal, explaining that all was well because I found the room stayed pretty warm if I kept the oven on "broil" 24 hours a day and left the oven door open all the time, did I get any action to fix my heating.

It is scary to think that a university so reluctant to spend any money on heating rooms even 20 years go now wants to reduce its energy use by 30%. 

Of course, we all know how these things work:  creative accounting.  The Enron guys were saints compared to the accounting games played in the carbon accounting and offset world.  Harvard will probably say that "Well, we were planning to build a massive coal-powered electricity plant right in the middle of Harvard Yard, and by cancelling the project, we have reduced our emissions 30% over what they would have been and therefore made our goal.  Don't laugh - the UN and EU are doing EXACTLY this every day.

* Note that I cannot remember the exact legal standard quoted to me, but I think it was 50.

$100 Million a Mile

I don't really understand the various issues in this article on the next phase of Phoenix light rail expansion, but this certainly caught my eye:

It will add another $9 million to the $297 million project. But by
acting quickly to make these changes, there aren't expected to be
delays in rail construction. Work is scheduled to start in early 2009
and be completed by 2012.

Opposition to the rail plan arose last fall in the last half mile of
the 3.2-mile light rail line that extends from just south of Bethany
Home Road to Dunlap Ave.

Let's see -- $306 million divided by 3.2 miles is very close to $100 million a mile, and that is even before the inevitable cost overruns cut in (as a rule of thumb, I tend to double estimates of light rail construction costs to estimate the actual final total, and even then I am often low).   It also does not include inevitable operating losses.

Nearly a third of a billion dollars to run a rail line a distance most people could walk in 45 minutes.  For three freaking miles.  As a comparison, three buses could provide service on this same route running at 5 minute intervals for perhaps 1% of this capital cost and a substantially lower operating cost.  And better service, since the frequency would be 3 times higher.  Absolutely absurd. 

More on Phoenix light rail here, and more on light rail in general here.

Postscript: Some of you may be familiar with my light rail bet.  I often bet that a light rail line will cost more to build than it would have cost to buy every  regular daily rider a Prius, and more to operate in a year than it would require to gas up all of these Prius's for a year.  For reference, with a $22,500 cost for a Prius and $306 million (and counting) capital cost, that is enough to buy 13,600 Prius's.  Anyone want to bet that the number of incremental users attracted to the line by this 3 mile extension don't exceed 13,600?

Update:  TJIC does the math -- $1500 per inch!  Fixed link, thanks to commenters.

News You Can Use

I have noticed that my readership is skewing a little old, so to capture that critical males 18-24 demographic, I will, as a public service, provide this critical information that colleges seldom provide in trying to choose a major.  HT TJIC

In Search of the Good Life

Tim Harford Via TJIC:

Superficially, it seems that many people seek sunny climes,
especially now that air conditioning is available. For example,
long-run population growth in the "Sunbelt" "” the US South - is often
attributed to a demand for, well, sun.

Harvard economists Ed Glaeser and Kristina Tobio think
otherwise. They argue that before 1980, the boom in the South was
thanks to the region's growing productivity. After 1980, population
continued to grow, but house prices lagged behind those elsewhere in
the US, suggesting that the driving force was not high demand but
permissive planning rules. Certainly balmy California, with its tighter
restrictions on building, did not enjoy the same population growth.

All of this tends to suggest that people don't value sunshine quite as much as is supposed.

I have pretty convincing anecdotal evidence that the first part, at least, is true.  I worked for a large manufacturing corporation called Emerson Electric (no relation to the electronics company).  They are one of the few Fortune 50 companies not at all coy to admit that they move factories around the world chasing lower wages.  They had an epiphany decades ago, when in their planning, they assumed the move overseas was always a trade-off of wages for productivity... until they visited at motor plant in Brazil that had first world automation and productivity combined with third world wages.  That got their attention.  To their credit, they have pushed this further and further, such that not only are their factory workers in Mexico, but their plant superintendents and skilled workers and even their engineers are now Mexican too.

Anyway, if you listen to the company tell this story, phase 1 of the story was not a move to Mexico or Asia but to the south.  They must have moved probably 50 manufacturing plants over a decade from the northeast to the south during the sixties and seventies. 

This constant movement seems to be a natural life-cycle of locations as they grow wealthy.  Poorer regions eagerly welcome newcomers who may bring jobs and prosperity.  But, once the prosperity is there, the prosperous in town begin using government and other institutions to try to lock in their gains.  Corporations use government to fight new competitors.  Wealthy homeowners pass zoning to keep home prices high and rising.  Unions tend to increase and lock in gains for current workers at the expense of new workers.  A kind of culture of hostility emerges to any new job that makes less than $54,000 a year, any house that costs less than $400,000, and any immigrant who doesn't have a pale face.

The Profit Motive Rocks

This post from TJIC, which is really about something entirely different, mentions that the price of cocaine has been dropping sharply over the last 10 years.  This is something I have heard police officials lament as well.

Does the profit motive rock or what?  The largest and most powerful government in the world stations armed men and ships around the country.  It has a legal system in place with huge penalties that has of late been nearly entirely dedicated to drug enforcement.  The US has even subverted 200 year old Constitutional restrictions on searches and property seizures (the Patriot Act is mostly used for drug, not terrorism, actions).  All to stop the importation of certain valuable substances.  And even so, the human mind is powerful enough to subvert all of these restrictions and bring in so much supply that the price continues to drop.

Al Gore believes that alternative energy efforts in the US are being subverted by the oil companies:

Apparently, according to Gore, the oil companies drive up prices
reducing supply and then depress them in a telling pattern. As soon as
the political will swells to a light boil, the companies reduce
prices/increase supply.

Really?  Independent drug traders are able to subvert a million government officials with guns to keep cocaine prices low, but Exxon, with a 5% market share (at most) in oil, is able to hold the line on oil supply?

Sure.  In 1972 and 1978 there were a series of oil price shocks (to real levels about where they are today) that convinced everyone that oil prices would keep going up and up and that oil would run out within a few decades.  Of course, in about 1984 oil prices crashed, and stayed down for almost 20 years.  Depending on how you date it, it took oil supply development between 6 and 12 years after the price signal to flood the world with oil, and that was in an environment with price controls and windfall profit taxes that reduced development incentives. 

Right now, we are about 5 years in to the current oil price spike.  Go long at your own risk.

More on supply and demand vs. price manipulation in oil here.  More on Al Gore, including a fisking of his solar plan, here.

Update: Of course, the Democrats in Congress are doing everything possible to keep oil prices up.  If I wanted to ensure high oil prices, I would 1.  Kill incentives to increase supply, perhaps with a "windfall" profits tax and 2.  Put the most promising potential new exploration areas off-limits to new development.  Congressional scorecard:  #2 is in place, and both Obama and Hillary and Pelosi are proposing #1.

Update #2:   Another thought on Gore's statement:  The boom-bust
patterns in oil are characteristic of nearly every other commodity out
there, which therefore presupposes that if oil prices are the result of
manipulation, then every other commodity must be as well since their
prices demonstrate the same patterns.  We see these patterns in
commodities that politicians have never even heard of and in which they
have never thought to exercise their "political will."  (political will
in this context defined as use of government force against a segment of
the populace).

A reasonable person might
suppose that the surge in prices followed by a drop a number of years
later is better explained by the time delay in increasing oil
production after oil prices spike. In many ways, Al's theory is simply
delusional.  If your friend started trying to tell you, in all
seriousness, that every action Microsoft takes is actually aimed at
thwarting him personally, you would think him insane.  But this is
effectively Gore's argument, showing the immensity of the politician's
ego.  Oil prices move not because of supply and demand, but because of
us politicians.  Every tick up and down is carefully managed to thwart
us brave Congressmen!

When a politician describes price signals as mainly influencing political actions, rather than the actions of free producers and consumers, they are probably a socialist.

The Newest Threat to the Republic

There are two America's:  The one that is trying to steal my freedom from the top down (wiretaps, proscutorial abuse, expanding executive power) and the one that is trying to steel freedom from the bottom up.  Reason, as quote by TJIC, has a nice piece on one of the bottom-up fascists:

Amid the hustle and bustle of downtown Los Angeles, there exists
another world, an underground world of illicit trade in - not drugs or
sex - but bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Street vendors may sell you an
illegal bacon dog, but hardly anyone will talk about it, for fear of
being hassled, shut down or worse. Our camera caught it on tape. One
minute bacon dogs are sold in plain view, the next minute cops have
confiscated carts, and ordered the dogs dumped into the trash.

Elizabeth Palacios is one of the few vendors willing to speak
publicly. "Doing bacon is illegal," she explains. Problem is customers
love bacon, and Palacios says she loses business if she doesn't give
them the bacon they demand. "Bacon is a potentially hazardous food,"
says Terrence Powell of the LA County Health Department. Continue
selling bacon dogs without county-approved equipment and you risk fines
and jail time.

Palacios knows all about that. She spent 45 days in the slammer for selling bacon dogs,
and with the lost time from work, fines, and attorney's fees, she fears
she might lose the house that bacon dogs helped buy. She must provide
for her family, but remains trapped between government regulations and
consumer demand. Customers don't care about safety codes, says
Palacios. "They just want the bacon."

TJIC, as he often does, captures a number of the best comments.  The full reason video is below:

On Honest Engineering Discourse

TJIC links to this great story about the engineer for the Citicorp building who realized, after the building was erected and occupied, that he had made a mistake that could make the building unsafe in high wind loads.  He raised his hand, called a penalty stroke on himself, and got the thing fixed when many others might have rationalized away taking action.  Fortunately, he was respected for doing so:

Before the city officials left,
they commended LeMessurier for his courage and candor, and expressed a
desire to be kept informed as the repair work progressed. Given the urgency
of the situation, that was all they could reasonably do. "It wasn't a case
of 'We caught you, you skunk,'" Nusbaum says. "It started with a guy who
stood up and said, 'I got a problem, I made the problem, let's fix the
problem.' If you're gonna kill a guy like LeMessurier, why should anybody
ever talk?"

I continue to worry, though, that we are actively aligning incentives against having a quality, open engineering dialog.  In any engineering discussion, I don't think there has been a good safety dialog unless someone takes the position that the design (or drug, or whatever) is still unsafe.  Someone needs to advocate the position that the plan is unsafe even if that position is a straw man.  An open process encourages everyone to raise potential issues, even if these issues turn out not to be problems.

Unfortunately, in court, the very existance of such a discussion is used as evidence of liability.  Plaintiff's lawyers wave internal memos at juries showing them that concern existed about safety.  The very healthy definition of a good safety engineering process - a concern and discussion about safety - is turned into evidence of its lack.  More here.

Eww, Yuck, I missed this

Via TJIC, from that California homeschooling court decision, as reported in the San Francisco Chronicle:

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

Whew

I just got a 15,000 page bid package (yes your read that right) to the shipper, and so my hell period of the last week is pretty much behind me.  In my business, I bid to be a private operator of public and private recreation facilities, usually on a concession basis ().  In this case, the government body we were bidding with required 16 copies of the bid, so really the bid was only about 900 pages long copied 16 times, but even generating 900 pages of business strategy and operations plans is tiring.  Not to mention the logistics of making 14,000 copies.

While this may seem to be surprising, it is exactly this type of sales process that attracted me, in part, to this business.  Yes, I know, most of you want to barf just thinking about preparing such a document.  However, I knew myself well enough at the age of forty when I got into this to know that I am really, really good at this type of complicated written presentation and that I am really, really bad at face-to-face cold-call selling. 

Postscript:
So far, the business has been fun to run and we have had some real victories in privatizing public recreation, and new opportunities open up every day, as California threatens to close its parks.  We do a fair amount of private work now, as well.  I can't say that dealing with the government, particularly as a libertarian, is always fun, but so far the business has continued to be a pretty fair straight-up bid process with the best bid winning.  However, the moment I start seeing evidence that the bid process is shifting to lobbying and rent-seeking, I'm out of here.  I can't even muster up even the smallest desire to play that game.

Update: TJIC writes:

It's fascinating how modern technologies let introverts (or, at least,
people who aren't skilled or interested in traditional glad-handing)
thrive in fields that are thought to require exactly that sort of thing.

He was right the first time.  I am an introvert.   And this very blog is another great example of his point.

Experience is in the Eye of the Beholder

Via TJIC, on Hillary:

In 1973 she worked for a non profit.

In 1974 she was a government employee.

In 1975 she failed the D.C bar exam, and married Bubba.

In 1976 she joined the Rose Law Firm, and somehow made partner
three years later in 1979, despite rarely appearing in court "¦a
stunningly quick rise!

Oh, and Bubba became the Governor of Alabama in 1976, but that's unrelated.

In 1976 she was made, through political appointment by Jimmy
Carter, head of a government funded non-profit corporation which did
nothing but launch lawsuits.

In 1978 she laundered $100,000 of bribes through cattle
trading contracts. Despite having never engaged in cattle trading
before, she somehow managed to pick the two best times to trade each
day: she bought cattle contracts at the absolute lowest price each day,
and sell them at the absolute highest price. After laundering the
bribes, she quite cattle trading forever.

From 1993 to 2001, Hillary attempted, from her unelected
position, to socialize American health care, and routinely violated
open meetings laws.

In 2000 Hillary carpet-bagged her way into a senatorship.

Women's groups seem to be supporting Hillary's contention that being married to the President counts as presidential experience.  Wow!  If that is the case, the glass ceiling is exploded!  Melinda Gates has 20 years of experience as Microsoft CEO!

I'd like to say that I would love to see someone who has actually tried to run his/her own business running for the White House, but most of the candidates who claim to have business experience seem to have the politically-connected rent-seeking business experience (e.g. GWB) rather than the real try to make a business work against the general headwind of government bureaucratic opposition type of experience.