Thursday, November 11, 2010

When Did WW I End?

Armistice?  Versailles?  Read this from the (UK) Telegraph:

First World War officially ends

The First World War will officially end on Sunday (2010-10-3), 92 years after the guns fell silent, when Germany pays off the last chunk of reparations imposed on it by the Allies.

The final payment of £59.5 million, writes off the crippling debt that was the price for one world war and laid the foundations for another. 
Germany was forced to pay the reparations at the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 as compensation to the war-ravaged nations of Belgium and France and to pay the Allies some of the costs of waging what was then the bloodiest conflict in history, leaving nearly ten million soldiers dead. 
The initial sum agreed upon for war damages in 1919 was 226 billion Reichsmarks, a sum later reduced to 132 billion, £22 billion at the time. 
The bill would have been settled much earlier had Adolf Hitler not reneged on reparations during his reign. 

Hatred of the settlement agreed at Versailles, which crippled Germany as it tried to shape itself into a democracy following armistice, was of significant importance in propelling the Nazis to power. 

"On Sunday the last bill is due and the First World War finally, financially at least, terminates for Germany," said Bild, the country's biggest selling newspaper. 

Most of the money goes to private individuals, pension funds and corporations holding debenture bonds as agreed under the Treaty of Versailles, where Germany was made to sign the 'war guilt' clause, accepting blame for the war. 

France, which had been ravaged by the war, pushed hardest for the steepest possible fiscal punishment for Germany.

The principal representative of the British Treasury at the Paris Peace Conference, John Maynard Keynes, resigned in June 1919 in protest at the scale of the demands. 

"Germany will not be able to formulate correct policy if it cannot finance itself,' he warned. 

When the Wall Street Crash came in 1929, the Weimar Republic spiralled into debt. Four years later, Hitler was elected Chancellor of Germany. 

War Poems

Abu Muqawama is the pseudonym of a (? former) soldier with an interest in counter-insurgency.  He has collected some war poems for Veterans' Day.  Links to others  More poems in the right sidebar.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

From Papal Indulgences to Carbon Credits Is Global Warming a Sin?

This is a golden oldie from 2007. The author is Alexander Cockburn.

Excerpt: "Then as now, a buoyant market throve on fear. The Roman Catholic Church was a bank whose capital was secured by the infinite mercy of Christ, Mary and the Saints, and so the Pope could sell indulgences, like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning. Today a world market in "carbon credits" is in formation. Those whose "carbon footprint" is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others, less virtuous than themselves."

Mark Steyn on Socialized Medicine

The article is here.

Teaser: "Aneurin Bevan, the socialist who created the National Health Service after the Second World War, was once asked to explain how he'd talked the country's doctors into agreeing to become state employees: "I stuffed their mouths with gold," he crowed. Sixty years ago, no amount of gold can persuade Britons to spend their working lives in the country's dirty decrepit hospitals "

Monday, November 8, 2010

Tax Burden "think of the children"

In the next paragraph, I'm gonna send you off to the blog of Greg Makiw, econ prof at Harvard, and the author of the std Econ 101 text that will probably replace Samuelson's.  I want you to know that I don't mean this to have political implications for the election at hand (written in Fall 2008) and Prof Mankiw says he doesn't either.  I think he's acting like a good teacher and using the current intense public focus to motivate us to learn an economic lesson.
He imagines he earns an "extra dollar" and computes the additional value he will be able to leave his children.  Economists call this marginal thinking; engineers are likely to call it AC gain;  physicists would call it sensitivity; mathematicians would call it a Taylor series expansion.  He computes the additional value that would flow to his children under three tax regimes: no taxes, current regime and increased taxes.
Tax Regime     Additional value to the kids
No taxes        $28
As now          $15
Higher           $1.85
I wrote him a note asking him if the calculation wasn't much more general and showed the deadweight burden of taxation on wealth creation.  He wrote back and agreed the calculation was quite general.

Life of a Libertarian

by Warren Mayer.  Blogpost here.

Excerpt:  "If you’d like a taste of what it feels like to be a libertarian, try telling people that the incoming Obama Administration is advocating precisely those aspects of FDR’s New Deal that prolonged the great depression for a decade;.."

Experts Knew What Went On

by Arnold Kling.  Article here.

Excerpt: "...we must recognize that trying to make banks and other financial institutions too regulated to fail is a self-defeating approach. The more that institutions are viewed as failure-proof, the more they will attempt to profit from taking risk"

Chesterton's Quip:

It is the business of progressives to go on making mistakes, while it is the business of conservatives to prevent the mistakes from being corrected.

Comparison of US and Canadian Health Care

by a doctor who has practiced in both systems:


Call for Confessional Papers

At his blog, Greg Mankiw steers us here.

This web page asks economists for "confessional" papers about "preference falsification" they have "engaged in":

  • Building models one does not really believe to be useful or relevant.
  • Making simplifications that obscure or omit important things.
  • Using data one does not really believe in.
  • Focusing on the statistical significance of one’s findings while quietly doubting economic significance.
  • Engaging in data mining.
  • Drawing “policy implications” that one knows are inappropriate or misleading.
  • Keeping the discourse “between the 40 yard lines” so as to avoid being outspoken; knowingly eliding fundamental issues.
  • Tilting the flavor of policy judgments to make a paper more acceptable to referees, editors, publishers, or funders.
  • Disguising one’s methodological or ideological views, such as by omitting revealing activities or publications from one’s vitae.
  • For government, institute, or corporate economists: Having to significantly play along with things one does not believe in.

It seems to me that some of these apply to "climate" "science". Recently, it seems to me that some dendrologists are playing “between the 40 yard lines” rather than take on a powerful, vindictive clique of gov't-supported warmers. How many global circulation models are affected by items in the list? (especially the first five.)

Where's He Gonna Get $4.3 Trillion?

Back before the 2008 election, Vernon Smith (Econ Nobel Prize, 2002) wrote in the WSJ.

Teaser: "He excels as a rhetorician -- common to both the great and the least of past presidents -- but performance cannot run on that fuel. Inevitably, I think his luster will fade even with his most ardent supporters as that reality sets in."

A Memory of Bill Haas

I visited Bill in the hospital about two weeks before he died. Somehow, I didn't get around to thanking him for an important idea he left with me many years ago. Perhaps I can repair that omission by sharing the idea with those who read this.

About every other year, Bill would give a speech describing a difficult time in his life and how he prevailed. Within the space of a few months, his marriage dissolved, his mother died and he became a District Governor of Toastmasters International - all the while working full-time in a demanding job.

He described how he rigidly compartmented his life ... while performing in one compartment, he resolutely refused to even entertain thoughts about other aspects of his life.

Since then I have applied this principle especially when driving. When I'm in my driving compartment, I'm never rushed, never worried about what I'll do on arrival. When I arrive, I'm out of the driving compartment, ready for new environment.

I'm sure this has made me a safer, calmer driver.

I've been blessed to know Bill and my life will be poorer without him.

Review of a Book Chapter

Bryan Cowen reviews a chapter of Murray Rothbard's For a New Liberty.

Quote from the review: "Rothbard unapologetically affirms that the poor are typically poor because of their own short-sighted, impulsive values. "

Why Not Abolish the Welfare State?

That's the title of a study from NCPA.

Teaser: "...most of the money we spend doesn't go to poor people. It goes to nonpoor people who work in the welfare-poverty industry. Medicaid dollars go to doctors and hospitals; food stamp dollars go to the agricultural industry; housing subsidies go to landlords; and legal service dollars go to lawyers."

Six Months Before the Crash

In March 2008, the Economist published an interesting article.

Teaser: "But, as often in finance, an instrument designed for insurance became a tool for speculators. "

Economics at George Mason University

About three years ago, Arnold Kling wrote a blogpost about economics at George Mason University in Virginia. Its about blogs and books and the future.

Read it here.

Teaser: "Most economists favor the free market, with reservations. Masonomics rejects the reservations."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Peggy Noonan after the election

Peggy Noonan has a brilliant editorial in the WSJ at: here

Teaser: "Now voters take for granted that politicians are no good, ... If all pols are sleazoid crooks, then why would people want to give them more governmental power to order our lives? The implicit message of two generations of negative ads: Vote conservative, limit the reach of the thieves."

Also some commentary on President Obama and former President Reagan.


The First Post

I'm starting a blog to post comments and links. Email to lists has become cumbersome. So instead, I'm gonna send notice of posts to this blog. I hope this will prove more productive.