Thursday, October 26, 2017

Freedom of speech v. freedom to listen?

Does free speech mean not having to lie? Or does free speech allow lies in the name of belief? Does freedom of speech entail the freedom to lie? Does anyone expect honesty from speech once it becomes politicized? Everyone may be entitled to their beliefs, but are they entitled to lie? Are they entitled to force others to listen to them? Is there anything free about forcing others to listen? Shouldn't listening be as free as speech?

Monday, October 23, 2017

At what rate should business be taxed?

A great many say not at all, that is, 0%. But what are we as individuals and households but businesses without license or incorporation? Should none of us pay taxes? How will we raise the taxes necessary to operate? It may be preferable to tax consumption more and production less, but even that requires distinguishing consumption from production, not that easily done. Much consumption is necessary for production and much production throws off consumptive benefits, and consumption can occur at a basic level of necessity to an extraordinary level of opulence, just as production can maximize profits or growth or minimize them in favor of non pecuniary benefits. Consumption also varies much less than production and so requires much higher rates to generate the same in taxes. Higher rates mean more is spent in avoidance and evasion. While taxing production sounds bad as it can lead to less of it, production being highly unequal, leads to further inequality, which leads to corruption and distortion of the political system in its favor, not just output but rents as well. Ability to pay is more important than willingness to consume for taxation.

Monday, October 2, 2017

What does it mean to compromise?

People generally prefer compromise as long as it is someone else doing it. Less so when it is themselves. In this country, super majorities are necessary to accomplish anything and super majorities can only be assembled through compromise. When assembled at the ballot box, compromise may only be needed within one party though it is always wise to attempt compromise beyond it if at all possible to increase the possibility of compromise beyond it when needed, but super majorities rule. While compromise beyond it is desirable, it is not necessary, and if no compromise is possible, that cannot stop their duty of proceeding. Minorities must know what they want, what they can do without, what they can accept, and what they can't. They need to know what the majority wants, what they can do without, what they can accept, and what they can't. The latter is usually better known as it is embodied in legislation. Facing a super majority, minorities must realize they have already lost, the super majority will have its way, and the only possibility is to salvage what they can. They may be able to make some minor improvements or forestall some of the worst, but they can only do this through compromise, and their position is one of weakness. They must accept not everything will go their way and they will not win every battle. They cannot dictate terms beyond those the majority can accept. Complaints about lack of compromise of the majority by the minority is that of sore losers. Complaints about lack of compromise of the minority by the majority may be accurate but is irrelevant. Majorities unable to assemble the necessary super majority will fail to accomplish what they want without compromising more. They must realize they are losing, the minority will have its way, and the only possibility is to compromise more if they are to succeed. They may be able to provide some inducements or offer some concessions, but they can only do this through compromise, and their position, though a majority, is one of weakness. They must accept they will not get everything they want and may have give up more than they would like, or accept losing. They can dictate terms but the minority can reject them. Complaints about lack of compromise of the minority by the majority is that of sore losers. Complaints about lack of compromise of the majority by the minority are justified unless a super majority. To compromise is to not expect you will get all you want and to expect to give up more than you would like to accomplish something. No compromise is necessary if you don't want to accomplish anything. To compromise is to win some, lose some, and move on.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Disagreement and Responsibility

Persuasion is much more effective when focusing on similarities than differences, and while similarities are more common than differences, differences at the margin of agreement are often most salient at the margin of change, discussion, and policy. It is possible to both assume more similarity than exists and think most reasonable people think how you think, and that differences are greater than they are and engagement useless. It is possible to both ignore similarities and adopt opposing views simply to forestall agreement and paper over differences that are real and significant and believe similarity exists where it does not. Reasonable disagreement requires reasonable discussion, a desire to seek common ground, identify disagreement, an openness to new facts and information, a willingness to reveal our true objections, and to not letting our objectives blind us to our operation or vice versa. Most of all, it takes two. If one side isn't knowledgeable or interested in learning, isn't interested in common ground or seeking agreement, is not open to new information or self examination, that only repeats discredited assertions or makes false arguments, the most that can be done is to imagine the best case an opponent could make. Naturally, this is very difficult and will always seem unconvincing since if they thought as we do they would believe as we do. The more important task is to make our case the best we can and expose the falsehoods and weaknesses of our opponents. Opponents interested in reasonable discussion will welcome the chance to correct misconceptions and improve their arguments. Those who aren't will avoid substantive discussion and declaim on their opponents character and how they are being treated unfairly.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Can anyone believe..

I am from the government and I am here to lower/simplify/make more fair your taxes?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Nothing like ignoring the facts of healthcare

Another post mostly wrong. Some want unlimited care. Most just want to not end up bankrupt. Some don't want to pay, just trivializes the discussion. Most would be unable to pay for a catastrophe, and insurance is expensive not because it covers everything but because catastrophes are insanely expensive. Ending up unconscious at the emergency room is not a small portion. Vegetative care is insanely expensive even though uncommon. Belief untested is just doctrine.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

On Economists Views

Economists do favor math, mostly for screening, but I think most economists recognize how politics can skew policy to both more regulation favoring powerful interests and to less regulation when it runs against them, but their job is to attempt to let the cards fall where they will unless their paycheck depends on their acting otherwise.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Non explanation explanations

So I hear the stock market moves because risk premiums move. How do we know risk premiums move? Because the stock market moves? If there is no measurement of risk premium other than stock prices, this is circular reasoning or merely a redefinition of stock prices. Is it worth introducing an amorphous concept in place of a measurable one? Only if you have some reason to do so, or only if it differs in some measurable way. It shouldn't be done simply because it sounds nice or lead us to believe we are explaining something we are not.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

When supply and demand fail

When supply and demand are not independent. When supply affects demand and demand affects supply treating them as independent in partial equilibrium is circular reasoning. It may be true under some conditions and false under others, and only empirics can say. This can be the case for employment and lead to virtuous and vicious cycles.

Friday, July 21, 2017

(Not so) new brilliant ideas

Periodically, I read of some new brilliant idea for solving some large outstanding problem by some illustrious internet intellectual who has given this as much thought as went into breakfast. They couldn't be bothered to look into the details to it is how it currently works or was tried and failed in the past. No, that is for the less talented to concern themselves with. After all, they are so bursting with endless new brilliant ideas, that getting them down is all they have time for. As long as some sycophants are there to echo them and laud them on their perspicuity rather than critically examine them and the details they don't rest on.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Torturing english

The abose of political euphemisms really needs to end. Instead of coded meaning, it leads to confusion and misapprehension on both sides. Politicians will select something that polls well and use it to mean something entirely different. They will then poll its support, thinking this justifies their action. The public will answer according to the clear sense of it, unless they are knowledgeable as to their intended meaning, and then won't know what to answer. If the meaning isn't clear, only confusion results, as much or more to the insider as the outsider. This has led to a reality gap among those who believe their own press.

Other people's problems

So often I read of problems defined so narrowly the proposed solution becomes making it someone else's. Not my problem. Federal spending too high? Make it a states problem. Costs out of control? Freeze spending and leave it to others to cover the costs. Problems identified are one dimensional and usually not even about what they purport to be. They are always the obsession of the author. Government? A spending problem. Healthcare? A spending problem. Earned benefits? A spending problem. Deficits? A spending problem. Cutting spending solves everything. The spending that is cut, that's someone else's problem. Problems aren't to be solved; they are to be made someone else's. Who ever said life was complicated? So simple, it's stupid. There is only one acceptable objective and it is theirs. It isn't like they even realize there might be others, or even more important ones. Those are Other People's Problems, OPP. The problem is everyone else following his lead is making theirs his.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What is believable?

It is believable that the young and healthy, less so the old and healthy, the invincibles, think they are too busy to be bothered or health insurance is unneeded, especially when they can sign up when they need it, even if it may not be right away. It is believable that they find the cost very expensive for something they don't expect to use. It is believable they would ignore it until they need it. On the basis of these, a penalty can be motivating, at least if the penalty is significant enough relative to the cost as it would be for the highly subsidized. Even if the penalty isn't significant, it can still promote rational decision making.

Health insurance is a transfer from the healthy to unhealthy. It is never a good buy for the healthy who can only thank not needing it, while it is beyond value for the unhealthy who can only thank the healthy for making their treatment possible. Not only are subsidies subsidies, and insurances are subsidies, but prices themselves are subsidies, priced to collect enough from those who can pay to cover those who cannot as well as fund research and return profits. Those in serious need will never be able to pay for it themselves but always must rely on others, whether through pricing, insurance, subsidies, or direct provision by government. Direct provision can be the most efficient as long as prices are negotiated between monopolies but suppliers don't want negotiation while government doesn't want to pay. This leads to the variety of indirect schemes.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Does anyone really believe this?

That if anyone doesn't have something, it is because they don't want it. That people would rather not pay for health insurance because they can get it for free or don't want it. Yet I read if they really wanted insurance they would buy it, like that is an option everyone has. Don't live in a mansion? Must not want one. Don't drive a Ferrari? Must not like to. Don't dine out? Must not want to. Don't buy something you can't afford to use? Must not have really wanted it in the first place. Money? Who concerns themselves about that. That people will spend much more on health insurance to avoid a much smaller penalty. Yes, that must be why so many more are now insured. Who would want to save money when they can spend it on something they don't want. Not sure who is dimmer, someone that would do this or someone that would believe this.

More musings

Decided to give this another shot and see where it goes.