Monthly Archives: December 2012

Tyler Cowen Votes

“What I would like to vote for is a candidate that is socially liberal, a fiscal conservative, broadly libertarian with a small ‘l’ but sensible and pragmatic and with a chance of winning. That’s more or less the empty set.” financial times




But Sam and I were chatting about how the US can get away from the “fiscal cliff” and that turned our conversation to revenues and expenditures.

The GOP – until it caves – will fight any rise in “taxes” including tax breaks. The Democrats will not let a hair on an entitlement program’s head be touched. Impasse.

Thus the cliff and thus the entirely unsustainable US deficit. But writing in the New York Times (and pointed to by Instapundit) N. Gregory Mankiw slips in a suggestion “This could involve higher tax rates or an elimination of popular deductions. Or it could mean an entirely new tax, such as a value-added tax or a carbon tax.” nyt

Now, for reasons which my readers are well aware of, I think a carbon tax is bad policy. However, a VAT/GST/HST could make a lot of sense. Particularly if our American friends took a leaf from Hamilton’s book and dedicated such a tax to the repayment of the national debt.

US GDP is around 15.2 trillion. Federal Debt is 17.5 trillion. A modest VAT of, say, 6% would, in very round numbers, capture around 600 billion a year and, were that to be applied in full to the Federal Debt in addition to the various payments currently being made, the debt itself could be reduced very rapidly indeed. (The happy by-product of such a reduction would be a rapid decrease in the amount of the US Federal Budget which has to be applied to debt service.)

It would be interesting to see the effect of such a measure on the confidence with which the rest of the world views America…It certainly did wonders for the post Revolutionary United States.

The Days Between

From about December 22 to January 3 we have Christmas and Boxing Day and then New Years which, when you add them all up mean that there are two weeks where not a lot gets done in business. It is a good time to clear off old hard drives, walk the dog and the kids, read and count blessings.

Coming back to blogging after a year’s hiatus has been fun and quite interesting. How I use the internet has changed a lot and, I suspect, my usage is pretty common. A few years ago there was a lively blogging community in Canada and there was a fair bit of cross the aisle chatter. That has pretty much ended. People have moved on. Twitter is perfect for snark, Facebook seems to have captured the imagination of people with time on their hands, the Left’s readiness to go to law for the most trivial reasons, the overall reluctance of people to allow people they disagree with to comment on their blogs have all had the effect of shrinking audience.

Combine that with the sheer bulk of information coming at us and even the most dedicated web user is reluctant to travel too far afield. People develop favorite sites and they go there day after day. I know I do.

The internet itself has shifted in the sense that the sheer mass of information is mediated by assorted aggregators, feeds, spinners and a few commentators. Really fast connections mean that it is painless to move on to “the next thing”. And one of the obvious effects of this is that the walls of the various bubbles are becoming thicker.

And there are vast bubbles which exist out on the net but which almost never impinge on any sort of mainstream discourse. The 9/11 truthers and the really out there economic doomsters (and, no, I am not talking about which appears moderate by comparison to people who have big traffic but are too crazy to link) have all found each other. Hell, there is even a bubble for the Liberal Party of Canada…though not so very vast.

Fragmentation and the gathering of like with like was a predictable outcome of better search and the link rolling common in groups. But it has not particularly improved the conversation.

What I am going to be interested in seeing is if, after the radical splintering of the web there is any re-integration. Or even initial moves towards such re-integration. I am not optimistic.

It’s a Merry Christmas…eh?

My friend Blazing is being sued, again.

Justin is happy to speak to radically motivated Muslims.

QE4 is now in full swing in the US with one part of the US government buying the debt of the other parts of the US government. A little understood fiscal cliff looms.

Chinese (aka Asian (and that is complicated)) students are under-represented in US Ivy League schools.

Canadian housing prices are falling off a cliff of their own.

And so on.

Europe, loners with guns, provinces with unsustainable deficits, climate alarmists unable to accept evidence that warming has ceased and CO2 is overhyped, Islamists extinguishing any hope of liberality in Egypt…there is not a great deal to be Merry about.

Or is there?

My youngest son is having his last “innocent” Christmas at the ripe old age of nine. He is suspicious that Santa may not be entirely real. But, at the moment, he is willing to suspend disbelief one more year. The enthusiasm for decorating (he did 90% of our outside lights and almost our entire tree) combined with the raw excitment of it only being two more sleeps is infectious.

Our little suburban village is decorated, filled with shoppers wishing each other Merry Christmas who are serenaded by carollers. Ours will be a “small” Christmas, but it will be celebrated as best we can. Possibly because we home school the boy’s expectations are not all about dozens of expensive presents. (And it is handy that our 12 year old has taken to model railroading and that there is a brilliant second hand model railroad store just up the street.)

In many ways, as the world at large seems intent on hitting various walls very hard, a few days devoted to good food, good company and family offer a respite which is sorely needed.

Merry Christmas.


Still here.

Mayans may be wrong.

Shit happens.

Meanwhile, lots of Russians are having a great time:

Stand Down the Panic

Along with the tiny problems of no warming in 16 years and no acceleration of sea level rise and no increase in the number of hurricanes or tornados and the expansion of Antarctic ice and the fact it is f**king freezing in Russia, there is now a fair bit of evidence that even the IPCC knows that temperature sensitivity to increased CO2 is more than a little bit lower than it was in their more hysterical reports.

Of course there is a bit of warming. Which people wisely expected as we emerge from the Little Ice Age. But it is not catastrophic and it is certainly not nearly enough to justify loony ideas like 50% reductions in CO2 emission or “carbon” taxes.

The wheels on the global warming/climate change bus are falling off because actual scientists are making observations of actual nature and, on examination, nature is making mincemeat of the doom laden computer models relied upon by the IPCC.

It will take a while but a lot of the speculation which was passed off as science will be refuted. Data will be collected and better models created.

Which is how an infant science should proceed – a fact lost on the global warming hysterics.

Dear Lord

Why is the New York Times writing this:

An 8-year-old boy named Nolan Krieger, dressed in khaki pants and a plaid dress shirt, captured the intensifying sense of loss as he left the service for his friend Jack. “I used to do everything with him,” Nolan said, rubbing his eyes. “We liked to wrestle. We played Wii. We just played all the time. I can’t believe I’m never going to see him again.”

Can you imagine interviewing the kid?


I can’t.

Stocking Stuffer from Hell

This is both very cool and very scary.

With the paintball gun – cool. But rather more lethal weapons are pretty much a given at some point.

Free Kitty!

As many of you know our friend Arnie of Blazing Catfur is being sued by the odious Richard Warman. For alleged libel. Now, I would think that the direction of the law indicated in


will pretty much put paid to Warman’s capacity to win his bevy of libel suits; but to defend against lawfare is expensive.

Arnie is asking for help.

We should give it to him.

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