Which president has done the most to fight global warming?

A 5th grader here in Massachusetts relayed some information learned from a (unionized government-paid) teacher: Donald Trump is the worst president when it comes to accelerating global warming.

If we do want to worship presidents as modern-day gods on Earth, which president can be considered to have done the most to fight CO2 emissions and global warming?

How about Jimmy Carter? By presiding over a period of recession, he slowed down economic activity in the U.S. and therefore emissions.

Or Richard Nixon, whose “guns and butter” policies generated the inflation that led to the inflation and recession for which Jimmy Carter got blamed. Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency, whose regulations have led to reduced emissions compared to the 1960s.

Barack Obama? He raised taxes and thereby slowed the economy.

(Separately, is it fair to say that Donald Trump has accelerated global warming? He has been trying to cut back on immigration from poor countries with low per-capita CO2 emissions. Every time someone from a poor country arrives in the U.S., worldwide CO2 emissions should go up. Wikipedia shows that U.S. emissions are roughly 17 tons per person. In Honduras, on the other hand, emissions are only 1 ton per person. Thus, if Donald Trump were to be successful in reducing migration from Honduras to the U.S., CO2 emissions would also be reduced.)

Full post, including comments

Why do Democrats want to impeach Kavanaugh?

“Calls for Kavanaugh’s Impeachment Come Amid New Misconduct Allegations” (nytimes):

Several Democratic presidential candidates called for the impeachment of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh on Sunday after The New York Times published new information about allegations of sexual misconduct against him, while Republican leaders condemned the reporting as irresponsible and defended him.

“These newest revelations are disturbing,” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts wrote on Twitter about The Times essay. “Like the man who appointed him, Kavanaugh should be impeached.”

Kamala Harris, a Democratic senator from California and a member of the Senate committee that presided over his confirmation hearings, on Twitter echoed the call for impeachment.

I don’t understand what Democrats would gain if the two proposed impeachments were successful. Trump gets replaced by Pence, right? Wouldn’t that just set Pence up for a 9-year presidency? Similarly, if Kavanaugh were to be impeached, wouldn’t Trump (or Pence, in the Democrats’ ideal world!) simply appoint an equally conservative replacement? If the replacement happens to identify as a woman, e.g., Amy Coney Barrett, then the current standard playbook couldn’t be used.

(I personally would be happy if Kavanaugh were gone, since he has admitted to being “proud” of having practiced sex discrimination in hiring (nytimes: “I am proud that a majority of my law clerks have been women.”). I don’t understand how the U.S. can have a gender-neutral legal environment when judges brag about not treating all 52 (54?) genders equally.)

Full post, including comments

A tale of two T-shirts

What price virtue? An Obama t-shirt available at the Smithsonian American Art Museum for $45:

Across the street in a gift shop run by a Chinese woman with an accent… a $7 Trump T-shirt. Made in Honduras:

Separately, an attorney with whom I work (as a software expert witness, fortunately, not on legal questions!) silently protests the political groupthink at his big firm with a Donald J. Trump Signature Collection tie:

Full post, including comments

Spam from Joe Biden

I am an advocate for progressive causes on Facebook, e.g.., posting “Every month is Pride Month for Nantucket canines” over these photos from a dog boutique:

Perhaps for this reason, I am on Joe Biden’s email lists. Yet I hadn’t seen messages from Team Joe, Joe Biden HQ, Joe Biden, or Biden for President until recently.

Why not?

Gmail pushed them into the Spam bin!

What did I miss?

  • Four years of Donald Trump will be a dark, divisive time for our country. But to give him four more years — that would fundamentally change the fabric of our nation for decades to come.
  • Women’s rights and women’s health care are under assault in a way that seeks to roll back every step of progress we’ve made over the last 50 years. Providers like Planned Parenthood are under attack. … As President, Joe Biden will continue to fight to protect a woman’s right to make her own personal decisions about her health care.
  • Now that Donald Trump is back on the campaign trail, he’s going to spend even more time launching dishonest attacks against us.
  • I’m proud to be representing you, and millions of other Americans [but not all 330 million?], and our shared vision for the country. I hope I make you proud, too.
  • Right now we are seeing incredible abuses of power from this White House. I know it makes some of you feel like America’s best days are behind us. [With Obama gone, aren’t our best days, in fact, behind us?]
  • Two hundred and forty-three years ago, our founding fathers lit a torch. [no mention of the fact that some may have identified as “founding mothers”] In this country, we’re all bound together in this great experiment of equality and opportunity and decency. [The great experiment of equality entailed slavery for millions of people for multiple generations? What would an experiment in inequality have looked like?] Everyone, and I mean everyone, is in on the deal. … Happy Fourth of July. God Bless America, and may God protect our troops.
  • [promise to] unite the country to move beyond our current divisive, broken politics.

I.e., Biden accuses a popular-with-millions politician from the opposing party of “incredible abuses of power” and then says he will unite the country and not be “divisive”!

How could these righteous messages of Trump hatred, advocacy for victim groups, and promises of healing be blocked as spam?

Full post, including comments

Socialism begins at home: Bernie Sanders staff demands $15/hour

Article from Newsweek:

Campaign workers for Bernie Sanders have taken aim at one of the senator’s key policies in his 2020 presidential run — raising the federal minimum wage. According to The Washington Post, some members of Sanders’ campaign team have been lobbying to raise their wages so that they make the $15 hourly rate that the Vermont senator has frequently called for both on the campaign trail and in Washington D.C.


Full post, including comments

Why isn’t Pete Buttigieg the front-runner among Democrats?

Readers: Please take a look at this video of Pete Buttigieg speaking in April 2017 and tell me why this guy isn’t the front runner among Democrats.

Like Barack Obama (whose victory I predicted in December 2007), he makes the challenges that face Americans seem trivial and inexpensive to address.

He’s obviously intelligent. He didn’t sue his spouse and split up his children’s family the way that former divorce plaintiff Elizabeth Warren did. He didn’t have sex with a married 30-years-older politician in order to get ahead (Kamala Harris). Since he currently claims to identify as a gay man, he isn’t likely to be accused of touching women (Joe Biden).

He doesn’t express as much contempt for Republican voters as the rest of the hopefuls, does he? (Atlantic says that he attacks Christians, but actual Christian believers are now rare in the U.S.)

He does claim credit for the success of South Bend, something much more likely attributable to (a) the trend toward urbanization, (b) population growth in the U.S. (all of the immigrants and their kids don’t tend to settle in rural areas), and (c) South Bend being home to a university. But success has many fathers!

Simply based on the above-cited video, I would be happy to vote for this guy from a purely emotional point of view. For how many other Democratic candidates can one say that?

[Separately, what is the risk that people will start referring to this candidate as “Pete Butthead”?]

Full post, including comments

Elizabeth Warren’s student loan forgiveness idea is flawed…

… because it doesn’t go far enough!

Economists have found that most of the benefits of subsidized federal student loans went to colleges, which used the money to overpay administrators (how do we know they’re overpaid? look at the quit rate!).

Colleges seem to charge students however much they think a family can cough up. When the Feds added guaranteed and/or subsidized loans, colleges just raised their prices. Students did not receive a better education because they paid more. The extra money was used for more administrative bloat and higher salaries for existing administrators.

Instead of merely forgiving student loans that haven’t yet been paid off, what would be fair is if the government admitted this was a welfare scheme for universities and, in addition to forgiving unpaid loans, refunded all payments made under these ill-advised programs.

Readers: Is it time to admit that the government helped universities fleece American families and give back the stolen money?


Full post, including comments

Americans with elite educations advocate for socialism because they are shocked at not being rich?

“If you’re so smart, why aren’t you rich?” was a common expression in New York City during my father’s youth (Great Depression and World War II).

I’m wondering if this way of thinking explains why so many Americans who’ve obtained degrees from elite institutions and earn above-median wages are advocates of socialism. On the face of it, it doesn’t seem rational for people who earn 4-5X the median wage to say that income inequality is a national emergency and to be more enthusiastic about socialism than are people who earn below-median wages.

Pre-2016, my neighbors here in Eastern Massachusetts were upset when politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. would make decisions without consulting them. Since they knew themselves to be the smartest folks on the planet, why wouldn’t President Obama, the Wise One, call them up to ask for advice? Upset turned to rage following the country’s choice of Donald Trump.

What’s even more upsetting than not having one’s desired level of political influence? Not having one’s fair level of financial reward.

In a fair market, someone with a Ph.D. in humanities would get paid more than someone with a high school degree, at least if the Ph.D. in humanities is allowed to define “fair.” Yet an American bond trader with a high school degree can easily earn 10X what a liberal arts professor may earn (100X if we compare to an adjunct!). Thus we come to slightly newer adage: “When the market gives you an answer you don’t like, declare market failure.”

Readers: What do you think? What accounts for people with incomes that are well above the median advocating for “socialism”, which would tend to narrow the income distribution? Could it be rational? As the U.S. population expands and there is a brutal competition for scraps of desirable real estate, for example, will it help the Ph.D. academic to afford a beach house if central planners won’t give the bond trader enough to buy 10 beach houses?

Full post, including comments

Private versus Government infrastructure costs

I was chatting with the owner of a small public-use (but privately-owned) airport. He’d gotten $3 million in state funding to repave the sub-3000′ runway and a parallel taxiway.

I said “That’s nuts. How do the airparks afford to maintain their runways when they might have only 30 houses?” (It would make a lot more sense to build the hangar homes next to a quiet publicly owned airport that is eligible for federal and state funds, but the regulations around “through-the-fence” access are complex.)

He said, “Oh, if you did it with private money it would be $1 million. When the state runs a project, the costs are a lot higher.”

He went on to explain that he had recently installed a Siemens-manufactured VASI next to the runway (these are the red/white lights that tell pilots whether they are above or below the standard glide slope for landing). With a bit of pitching in by based aircraft owners, the cost was $8,000. A nearby publicly owned airport installed the same Siemens-built equipment with federal money. The cost was $120,000 (15X).


Full post, including comments

Elderly Democrats Discuss Joe Biden’s Candidacy

I tend to visit the gym at hours when the only other patrons are less than 5 or over 65. The other day, two Medicare-eligible gentlemen were discussing (in moderately strong Boston accents) the 2020 Presidential campaign.

  • Democrat 1: “Joe Biden has to keep his hands off the young women if he wants to stay in the race.”
  • Democrat 2: “I thought that was the whole point of being a politician.”
  • Democrat 1: “What is he? 77? He’ll never be able to keep up with the young ones.” [Biden is actually only 76]
  • Democrat 2: “You’ve got to hand it to Donald Trump [72]. The guy has a lot of energy.”

Readers: Why would voters want to elect Biden? He was born in November 1942 so he’d turn 79 during his first year in office, right? And be 82 when running for reelection?

Full post, including comments