This story seems to make a good point. Governments seem distressed that new electric cars won’t be paying the gas taxes that fund most of our road building and maintenence. So they’re trying to come up with ways to tax people who drive electric vehicles.
Yet we pour thousands of dollars in direct tax incentives into each electric car purchase, and probably even more money into subsidizing the research and production of these cars. Perhaps that’s good policy, perhaps its not (I think it probably is, but is probably overdone). But whatever mileage tax we would be assessing on these cars would bring in a pittance compared to the amount of money we’re paying people to buy them. If budget shortfalls are actually the issue, we should start by not paying out as much money, rather than coming up with an expensive means of monitoring the movements of citizens’ cars.
The paranoid among us might look at this situation and think that the government has, for a decade now, been engaged in a long-term policy to move us to a system where they get to track our every move in the name of taxation. I, on the other hand, look at this situation and see nothing but good faith bureaucratic idiocy.
Apollo posted this at 9:27 AM CDT on Monday, May 2nd, 2011 as It's Economics - Stupid!, Who's Your Nanny?
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Since moving to Texas I’ve been baffled by the virtual absence of brewpubs. The environment seems perfect for them – a state of do-it-yourselfers, a regulatory environment that encourages small businesses, and a culture that prizes authentic Texasness almost above all else. Yet in my city of a million people, I’m aware of just a small handful. Austin should be absolutely teaming with small breweries.
Intuitively, I guessed the reason was government, and it turns out I’m right. The quote in the title of this post is from a brewpub owner, who points out that if he owned a brewpub in another state he could sell his beer in Texas grocery stores and restaurants, but because of the inanity of Texas’s alcohol regulation, a brewpub in Texas cannot sell beer at any other site. Another brewpub owner in the story points out that he owns other restaurants and cannot sell the beer from his brewpubs at other restaurants he owns.
The story quotes a beer distributors’ lobbyist presenting the “argument” in favor of maintaining the current regulations:
Both sides cite the Texas wine market, which allows wineries to sell both to consumers at the vineyards and to wholesalers for distribution in stores, in their arguments about HB 660.
McKinney says the wine market is “chaotic.”
Oh, the chaos!
Apollo posted this at 10:06 AM CDT on Monday, April 4th, 2011 as Deep in the Heart of Texas, Who's Your Nanny?
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Because the less money government has, the less it can snoop on you. Scott Henson has a list of some of the horrid “Big Brotherish” dreck currently pending in the Texas legislature. Whatever the substantive arguments of allowing law enforcement to closely monitor citizens, our $23 billion shortfall almost surely means these new programs won’t pass.
Apollo posted this at 9:03 AM CDT on Wednesday, March 30th, 2011 as Budgets, Deep in the Heart of Texas, Who's Your Nanny?
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I’m a wishy-washy supporter of concealed-carry on college campuses. I’m open to arguments against it, but where I don’t find either side of an argument persuasive, my default question is: “Which option increases freedom and individual responsibility?” Because I think the burden of proof, everywhere and always, should be on those who wish to restrict liberty.
With that being said, I’m really quite amazed at how weak the arguments against allow guns on campus are. I’m going to go through that story and look at what they’re saying. First, it starts off talking about how Utah’s policy of forcing all public universities to allow concealed carry is draining the U of U’s resources:
However, Utah’s website warns people on the campus that it is “very possible” that they will see someone with a weapon, and they are “encouraged” to call University Police and report the person, whom an officer would then locate to ensure that the gun was being carried legally.
That’s only one example of how concealed carry can drain colleges’ manpower and resources . .
Why would you encourage people to report such a thing? Driving a car requires a license, oodles of paperwork, and involves a deadly weapon, but we presume that people seen driving cars are doing so legally (a frighteningly large percentage are not – nationally 20% of people have no insurance). No one in their right mind would call the 5-0 to investigate whether a random guy seen driving a car was doing so legally. Utah could stop the drain on their resources by not responding to calls to investigate presumptively legal behavior. Guns aren’t draining their resources, their reflexive fear of guns is.
Among those problems: accounting for the presence of loaded weapons in an environment rife with alcohol, drugs and young people;
Yet we allow cars on campus. And as Instapundit points out, this argument “proves too much” about college campuses. Read the rest of this entry »
Apollo posted this at 11:38 AM CDT on Friday, March 4th, 2011 as Liberty and/or Security, Running with the antelope, Who's Your Nanny?
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This story is supposedly about Medicare losing money, but I thought this was the key graph:
The same hypothetical couple retiring in 2011 will have paid $614,000 in Social Security taxes, and can expect to collect $555,000 in benefits. They will have paid about 10 percent more into the system than they are likely to get back.
That’s for a hypothetical “average” couple. So understand this: For our entire lives we are taxed a specific amount supposedly to pay for our own retirements, and then when retirement comes, we get less out than we paid in!
Whenever there’s talk of privatizing Social Security, free marketeers are shouted down with the same line: “What if the stock market goes down and people lose money?” Well we’ve already got a system that guarantees that we lose money. Lose money. That’s not a low rate of growth, it’s not even breaking even, it’s losing money. If we used low-risk investments with low returns that just kept up with inflation, we’d be fabulously better off. If we made reasonable long-term investments, we’d all be millionaires.
Without touching the worst evil of Social Security (the complete lack of intergenerational wealth accumulation), this a travesty.
Apollo posted this at 2:39 PM CDT on Monday, January 3rd, 2011 as It's Economics - Stupid!, Who's Your Nanny?
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Reading this news story, I thought, “Surely they’re blowing things out of proportion.” But then I glanced at the preposterously long text of the initiative (seriously, can no one write laws anymore with less than 10,000 words?) and the Chamber of Commerce’s accessible legal summary (caution: PDF). I’m not a lawyer yet, but some of the Chamber’s points seem to be valid.
If that’s the case, though, it says a lot less about Prop. 19 than it does about the overregulated status of the California workplace.*If California employers are already so restricted that they can’t discriminate among applicants based on legal, recreational drug use, is it really Prop. 19′s fault that its passage would result in employers not being able to refuse to hire applicants because they’re potheads? If current regulation requires that employers make “accommodations” for employees who consume mind-altering prescription drugs, is it really Prop. 19′s fault that its passage would result in employers having to make “accommodations” for employees who smoke prescribed marijuana?
From a heighten-the-contradictions approach, the Chamber should welcome Prop. 19 to help show Californians how overregulated employers already are. If, after Prop. 19, employers start getting sued for firing employees who smoked pot on the job, even a state as regulation-happy as California might realize it’s gone too far.
*A little anecdotal information. During my six years in the Golden State, I worked for five paying employers. Since I left several years ago, I have received settlement checks from 2 of them as a result of class action lawsuits. At both of those workplaces, I was subjected to the supposedly illegal activity that resulted in the settlements, but I’m not at all convinced that either employer did anything wrong. In fact, both were, in my opinion, engaged in perfectly reasonable business practices that did not oppress me one whit. But California is the sort of place where reasonable business practices will cause you to pay the college bills of plaintiff lawyers’ children.
Apollo posted this at 12:43 PM CDT on Saturday, August 14th, 2010 as Dirty Hippies, The Law Is An Ass--An Idiot, Who's Your Nanny?
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Despite the fact that there’s no conclusive evidence that salt is unhealthy, and despite (because of?) the fact that salt makes food taste good, Big Nanny wants to regulate salt. How can we be confident that this is hogwash? It’s a movement headed up by the “Center for Science in the Public Interest,” perhaps the single most inaccurately named institution in all the land.
So what’s the best evidence they can muster in favor of regulating salt? I hope it’s not this, which is the only evidence cited in the story:
A recent study by researchers at Columbia and Stanford universities and the University of California at San Francisco found that cutting salt intake by 3 grams a day could prevent tens of thousands of heart attacks, strokes and cases of heart disease.
Well, 3 grams, that doesn’t sound like much, right? Unhelpfully, the journalist doesn’t mention how much salt people normally consume in a day. Helpfully, though, there’s this neat chart included with the story:
Wow, we consume 3500 grams and only need to reduce intake by 3 in order to save tens of thousands of lives. Regulate away, Big Nanny!
Oh, wait, I remember learning about the metric system in grade school. That chart says we consume 3500 mg. A few minutes of clicking on my calculator tell me that that’s . . . 3.5 grams. If we reduce that by 3 grams, we get .5 grams. For breakfast this morning, I had an English muffin (200 mg) with unsalted butter (1 mg), two eggs (156 mg), and half and half in my coffee (30 mg). In my rather unsalty breakfast, I’ve consumed 72% of that .5 grams.
So in a story about the government regulating salt to save lives, the only evidence cited is a study showing that if we reduce salt consumption by 6/7 (86%), there’ll be less heart disease. But check out the pie graph, showing that 12% (425 mg) is naturally occuring, like in the completely unprocessed eggs I ate this morning. To reduce consumption by 3 grams a day, then, you’d basically have to get rid of all non-naturally occuring salt. No salt for flavor. No salt for preservation. No salt for texture. And please, please, don’t think of eating a bag of chips.
I’m not sure I will ever understand the Big Nanny urge to control the health of my fellow citizens. But regulating salt goes beyond that; this isn’t about health, it’s about controlling people’s lives, and regulating the American diet to correspond to the tastes of a few hairshirt liberals.
Apollo posted this at 11:24 AM CDT on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010 as Who's Your Nanny?
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