Friday, June 29, 2012

Romney at All Children's Hospital

Here is Mitt Romney at the hospital where I spent the first ten days of my life.

It's featured in an article about how Mitt Romney used to love the mandate, in his own words. Barack Obama flip-flopped on the mandate too.

Is it just me or is it a bad sign that the headline says "buy health care" meaning "buy health care insurance" and it is accepted that they are the same thing. If a headline used "buy car repairs" in place of "car insurance" or "buy a new home" in place of "fire insurance" wouldn't that be misleading?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

"That's it, I'm moving to Canada"

People are going to move to Canada in protest of Obamacare.

Canada does encourage Americans to move there but I have a feeling many of these geniuses will not "qualify under the skilled worked program."

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Scalia hates illegal immigrants?

Scalia said
"Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem . . . Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy."
I have a feeling that if you showed Scalia evidence that illegal immigrants rarely invade property, strain social services, and kill people . . . he wouldn't change his mind about the case.

I wonder why people bring up issues in the cost-benefit calculus when, if it turned out not to be true, they wouldn't change their mind. If Scalia doesn't care then why should I care?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"You CAN'T have it all"

This article in The Atlantic about work-life balance for women is getting a lot of attention.

Despite the article running 6+ pages, I think the only part you need to read is this:
I am writing for my demographic—highly educated, well-off women who are privileged enough to have choices in the first place. We may not have choices about whether to do paid work, as dual incomes have become indispensable. But we have choices about the type and tempo of the work we do. 
Her husband is "an academic" at Princeton so I'm guessing he makes six figures.

I think my wife is going to have a good life. But she won't always be a 00P and stunningly beautiful. She will get old and wrinkly. Our child who won't be born for probably a decade may not be that smart or pretty. My wife may never make >$100,000 (adjusted for inflation). We'll both probably take time off to be with our daughter when she is young. Not everyone is going to like us or be impressed with our lifestyle.

I thought all those things were part of life and if you learned to accept them and focus on the positive you'd be happy. But evidently you need more to have it all and have a "comfortable life."

And to think I spent nearly 23 years thinking I had a good life and many good years ahead.

Friday, June 22, 2012

63% of Republicans believe Saddam had WMDs

Evidently 63% of Republicans believe Saddam had WMDs in 2003.

The blogger I linked to supported the war and is a self-described conservative so I think his comments are a little over the top.

American politics has always been filled with a ton of misinformation. America has always had idiots. It probably has less misinformation and fewer idiots today than ever before.  But it might have more  misinformed people who believe strongly that they are not. And that is bad.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Regulating soft drink size

Cambridge is considering banning the sale of soft drinks bigger than 16 oz in restaurants, movie theaters, etc.

I'm not really in favor of this, but not because it "restricts liberty." Sometimes, for my own good, the government should step in and try to "facilitate" better choices. That might include not drinking so much soda.

But before the mayor help me out I'd like to see some studies showing lots of people want to quit drinking so much soda but can't help it or that drinking less soda is associated with being happier. It's a good idea to start with the prior that the mayor doesn't know best and then consider the evidence to the contrary.

Also, when I go to the AMC theater in Harvard Sq. I get the large size soda to share with my girlfriend. It's probably 32 oz so it'd be banned even though at 16 oz/person it's not the intended target. I'd probably just always go to the AMC theater in Boston so it's not a big deal.

My final objection would be that I drank a 64 oz Double Gulp at 7-Eleven in college, so did my girlfriend, and I think most people should as a coming-of-age right. But they downsized the cup to 50z so it's not the same.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Children of gay people

I found this sentence in a CNN article:
With same-sex couples, more often than with heterosexual couples, a child may be biologically related to one parent but not the other...
I'm not sure if that is a mistake or if it's actually possible to mash together two eggs and have two moms.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quote of the year

Jon Chait on bipartisanship, Washington culture, etc.

When assessing Quinn’s sense of the [decline of Washington D.C.'s wine-and-dine scene], we should also have a firmer sense of what the culture was actually like. Here is one scene from Quinn’s inculcation into the Washington elite:
Washington writer Sally Quinn told of a 1950s reception where: “My mother and I headed for the buffet table. As we were reaching for the shrimp, both of us jumped and let out a shriek. Senator Strom Thurmond, grinning from ear to ear, had one hand on my behind and the other on my mother’s. As I recall, we were both quite flattered, and thought it terribly funny and wicked of Ol’ Strom.”
Once Washington was a happy place where a girl and her mother could be groped simultaneously in good fun by a white supremacist.
It's only June but I'm comfortable certifying that as the Quote of the Year.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

More reasons to love America

The UK wants to reduce immigration dramatically so they are raising standards arbitrarily to exclude the spouses of many English people from immigrating. The whole story is here.

The U.S. has a minimum income requirement which I think is terrible, but it is far below the UK level of 25,800 pounds AFAIK. I don't know what the PPP median income is in the U.K. or much about the social safety net but I suspect that number is set far above what is necessary to ensure immigrant spouses don't become wards of the state.

The U.S. also issues probationary green cards like the U.K. proposal includes and I think lengthening the probation period to 5 or even 10 years might be reasonable because if the marriage is in good faith, what do you have to lose. But the policy isn't costless. If the couple has kids then the parent should be allowed to stay even if the marriage dissolves. I don't know if it is like that on the books but most people would agree that is how it should be. A longer probationary period increases the incentive to have kids as insurance against the marriage dissolving the foreign spouse losing his green card. It also creates the preserve incentive where a woman might cheat on her husband, he would normally get a divorce, but he'd lose his green card and this makes the choice more difficult if he is still on probation.

The "test of attachment" is retarded.

I'm pretty "hawkish" on immigration policy. I hate birth tourism, don't believe the 14th amendment covers people visiting or tourist visas or illegal immigrants, favor English as the national language, and believe the citizenship of "dual citizens" should be revoked. But these regulations strike me as pretty bad across the board with the one exception.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

It isn't common sense: David Brooks edition

David Brooks tells us that
[a] huge reason [previous generations avoided massive public debt] is that [they] were insecure. They lived without modern medicine, without modern technology and without modern welfare states. They lived one illness, one drought and one recession away from catastrophe. They developed a moral abhorrence about things like excessive debt, which would further magnify their vulnerability.
Of course, it's common sense! When people are poorer they are more risk averse.

When you look at the history of sovereign default it's clear that it is a relatively recent phenomenon, tied to, as Brooks mentions, modern medicines, technologies, and welfare programs.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

It's not common sense

(This is a follow-up to my post about Duncan Watt's book. I hope to make it recurring.)

Some doctors wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about how to solve the primary care doctor shortage. In short, they think too many doctors are becoming specialists and too few are working in primary care. They propose to fix this by taking away the (roughly) $200,000 subsidy for learning a specialty.

That sounds like common sense. If you don't want so many specialists then stop paying $200,000 to encourage people to become one. But if you read the article you'll see the authors take hundreds of words to articulate this idea. The authors are doctors so they aren't idiots. The insight took years of research and hundreds of carefully edited words because it's NOT common sense.