Monday, February 28, 2011

Yay---a bit more federalism:
Last year’s health-care reform law already allows states to propose their own frameworks for care, beginning in 2017. Obama, in a speech to the National Governors Association, said that he would support changing the law to allow that to happen three years earlier, in 2014
The devil is still in the details, of course. I want to know, will states be able to "deregulate the new health care exchanges, so that high-deductible, catastrophic coverage can be purchased as easily as comprehensive plans"? The case (A) for subsidizing the poor's health care and the case (B) for subsidizing insurance for the middle class against catastrophic medical costs are each much stronger than the case (C) for subsidizing the routine health care costs of the middle class.

Friday, February 25, 2011

WeatherSpark is awesome

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In topology...

...this is a sphere.

Some call this a "pathology."

I just call it awesome.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Iraq is more corrupt:
The Saddam regime was bad, but it had reached a basically stable equilibrium. Once we got rid of that, the corruption became was he calls "entrepreneurial", with ministries competing with each other to extract bribes. And how do you best extract bribes?

You enact regulations for people to violate...

We're fixing the infrastructure, and the violence is declining. Instead, the major problem is creating political and social institutions that support a vibrant, entrepreneurial business culture. And that's not just absent now; it actively seems to be going in the wrong direction.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Where not to find meritocracy

The hiring practices of the "very best law firm, investment bank, or consultancy." Steve Hsu has a nice discussion of the evidence.

Reading this led me to enjoy more posts from Hsu's blog, especially these two:

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

HSR: money hole edition

At best, we can say that China built its high speed passenger rail network too soon. (Decades from now, building HSR might make economic sense if aviation fuel is impractically expensive and we have electric cars, trucks, and trains, but no electric commercial airliners.)

Nudging towards Ricardian equivalence

I just got an email from the Texas A&M System Benefits Administration:
On January 1st all wage earners received a 2% raise, thanks to the recently passed tax package. The amount you usually contribute to the Social Security system, 6.2% of your first $106,800 of wages, is reduced to 4.2% for 2011. That 2% savings could be as much as $2,136 over the course of the year.

A fiscally-responsible New Year's resolution would be to take that extra money and put it to good use by:

- Increasing your TDA 403(b) or Texa$aver 457 contribution
- Increasing the amount you pay towards your credit card balances
- Depositing it directly into your savings or investment account

Remember this change is only for 2011. If you increase your spending, you will have to make a downward adjustment on Jan 1, 2012 when your Social Security withholding reverts back to 6.2%. A better solution would be to use this money towards a financial goal and keep your spending at its current level. [Emphasis added.]