Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Basic income

Dylan Matthews takes another run at the universal basic income approach. It's a worthy effort but I don't think just giving people money is a real answer to the problem. All men (and women) may be created equal but by the time they get to life's economic starting line such is clearly not the case. Warren Buffet talks about the roots of his success being in that he won the birth lottery. He had good parents, good health, and was able to get a good education. If we really want to honor the "created equal" ideal, we need to find ways to level out the birth lottery playing field. The first goal of our welfare programs should be to improve the lot of children who have to run a race just to get to the starting line. This means food assistance, housing assistance, health care assistance, educational assistance, and guidance and counseling, and other sorts of things that help surmount obstacles. Another goal should be whatever aid is appropriate to individuals who are the least worthy to receive it. Even if a person has no ambition or is completely devoid of a work ethic, would it be moral to expect them to starve on the street?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Being Wrong

Paul Krugman notes that politics determines who has power, not who as the truth. One would hope that those in power would be operating on concepts based in reality. But history is replete with examples in which such was not the case. It will be interesting to see what history says about the 114th Congress.

Republicans predicted that deficit spending would lead to rising interest rates. It hasn't.
Boehner urged a slashing of spending. Government that have done that have depressed their economies.
At the state level, Republican governors have slashed taxes on the wealthy to stimulate growth. It hasn't worked.
They predicted that too few would enroll in the ACA for it to work, more people would lose insurance than gain it, and costs would soar. Instead enrollment was strong, many more people have insurance, and costs have moderated.
They are so very wrong about climate change and generations could suffer for that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Europe's Depression Worry

Like American workers, German workers have not had much of an increase in wages recently. Therefore, they aren't spending much money and their economy is stagnant. Government bonds have been selling at a negative yield. That means the German government actually makes money when it borrows. But still  the German government refuses to invest in badly needed infrastructure. Such an investment would stimulate an economy that badly needs it.

Fortunately, things are not quite that bad in the States. But the Republicans could make it so if they get the austerity they want.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Laser Weapons

A rap against laser/directed energy weapons has always been that they needed clear weather to be effective.  The latest laser from Boeing seems to have solved that problem. The solution has been demonstrated at low power. The next step is to take it to full power and see how it works against potential targets.