Thursday, December 31, 2009

Jobless Recoveries

There's been much talk lately about the "jobless recovery" we're experiencing. The recession is technically over, in the sense that GDP has returned to growth. But unemployment continues to rise and most indicators of job creation are still negative (with a few contrarian bright spots: temp employment is up and hours worked are up).

The problem with all the talk is that this is the normal course of things. In their early stages, most recoveries are "jobless". Companies are loathe to hire when they are unsure about the future. The way economies normally recover is that consumer spending picks up, inventories fall, then manufacturing picks up, and finally employment rises. In the normal "virtuous circle", the rise in employment then leads to more consumer spending (since employed people have more money to spend than unemployed people), and so on. We've seen some signs in the first three stages of this cycle, but they're weak. So it's no big surprise that the last stage remains to be seen.

Government intervention can prolong the process. The "stickier" employment is, the less risk companies want to take in hiring someone new. It already takes months for most new employees to learn a new job; it's often that long before the new hire is earning money for the employer. When additional costs are piled on - guaranteed health care, unemployment insurance, Social Security and Medicare - that just increases the risk. And when it's hard to lay someone off, that increases it further.

That doesn't mean that these measures are necessarily wrong, but we should recognize the costs of having them. One of those costs is that employment recovery following a recession will be slower than it might otherwise be.

Rudolph the Handicapped Reindeer

Now that I have a child of my own, I finally noticed that "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" is really not such a great model for kids to learn about relationships. Poor Rudolph has a handicap, and as a result he's snubbed and shunned. Until that fateful foggy Christmas, when his handicap happens to be useful, and then suddenly he becomes Mr. Popular. One wonders what happens the day after Christmas: do the other reindeer still respect him in the morning?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

OK, enough health care chatter for now. It's Christmas Eve!

I thought I'd post here the original editorial from the New York Sun entitled "Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus", written in 1897 by Francis Pharcellus Church.

We take pleasure in answering at once and thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:

"Dear Editor: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth: Is there a Santa Claus?
"Virginia O'Hanlon, 115 West Ninety-Fifth Street"

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds. Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are no there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Party of Big Business

It's easy to get so involved in the policy details, procedural battles, and daily vicissitudes in the positions of key players that we miss the bigger picture. The health care bill is proving a case in point. Almost no one seems to like this bill. It is polling in the low 30s. Markos Moulitsas of the powerful netroot site Daily Kos has called to "kill the bill". Conservatives have wanted to kill it for weeks. So why does it live on?

The bigger picture here is actually a simple one: when government gets involved in business, business reciprocates. Before the Department of Justice launched anti-trust investigations of Microsoft in the early 1990s, Microsoft did almost no lobbying. By 1998 it was spending over $1 million per year, and in 2008 it passed the $10 million per year mark. Tech firms as a group spend $120 million per year and rising.

A similar story played out during the "robber baron" days of the 19th century. This episode has long been misunderstood as a few monopolists being curbed by the populist hand of government. But a more accurate interpretation of those events is that a few connected companies encouraged regulation in order to curb competition. That is, the monopolies were created by the government, not stopped by it.

The progressives of the early 20th century saw this dynamic clearly. Their vision of the future involved, not nationalizing private enterprise, but co-opting it. The "public-private partnership" is a key element of the progressive agenda.

But partnerships involve two players. The government regulates companies; companies lobby the government. These tend to go hand in hand, since more regulation creates more value for the lobbying dollar both in defense (e.g., carving out exceptions for your company or niche) and offense (e.g., helping forge regulations that disproportionately harm competitors).

Progressives might argue that this is a great argument for shutting down lobbying altogether, "getting money out of politics" as they say. The only problem with that is that it offends several of America's foundational principles as identified in the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

One might then argue that corporate lobbying is not an instance of the people petitioning the Government. But how would that hold water? Corporations represent the interests of stockholders, employees, officers, etc. Perhaps stockholders could hire independent lobbyists to represent their interests, but the results would quickly converge to the present situation.

I mentioned before that almost everyone is displeased with the bill that is being debated in the Senate. Who is pleased with it? The insurance companies who stand to gain, via government regulation, millions of new customers. Some of these customers will be positively harmed by this coercion; others, who are subsidized, will merely harm the taxpayers. Either way, the insurance companies win.

They will have to conform to some new regulations, yes, but as we have seen historically, such regulation serves more to entrench existing companies than to create the sort of competition that brings with it innovation. (The progressive "solution" to this problem, i.e. the public option, would certainly not have helped with innovation, and indeed would have been a direct path to a fully nationalized insurance regime. All the government would have to do is consistently undercut private insurance prices, in the name of "public interest", until they all went out of business.)

Progressives want to believe that, if only they could enact the reforms they wanted, they could design laws, regulations, and institutions that could further their aims. With Democrats controlling the Executive branch, a huge House majority, and a filibuster-proof Senate majority, they will rarely see a better opportunity than now to act as they please. And still we see progressives wringing their hands about the results, because their own members were (they say!) suborned by Big Business dollars.

But this is inevitable, predictable, and has in fact happened many times in our history. Maybe it's time progressives started taking this into account before attempting to radically change huge portions of our economy.

Monday, December 21, 2009


To honor the current state of the legislation after the tensile effects of the past few weeks, I think we should start calling it the Health Care Deform Bill. It's really not reform unless you call any change "reform".

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What Does a Safe School Czar Do?

It would seem that the last thing he does is make schools safe - or at least innocent.

The one appointed by President Obama is a fellow named Kevin Jennings, the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). GLSEN maintains a list of recommended reading material for students. Frankly, it's shocking. How can an organization in good conscience recommend books depicting rape scenes to 7th graders? How is this sort of thing supposed to "ensure safe schools for all students" (to quote GLSEN)?

After the Van Jones flap and now this, I have to wonder: how exactly does the administration vet its appointees? Are its political instincts really this poor?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Job Lock

Kos is on fire today: another good post about the lost economic efficiency in the U.S. due to "job lock", i.e. the career choices people make based on their health benefits rather than their salaries.

Couple of things, though: first, I'm not sure the effect is so great as to be the #1 reason why the first decade of this century is on pace to be the worst one for economic growth since WWII. Even if the numbers quoted are correct (about 1.5 million workers in "less efficient" jobs as a result of health care decisions), that's only a bit over 1% of the American work force. And of this 1%, the amount of lost efficiency is some fraction of that, probably no more than 10%. So this effect might explain 0.1% in lost economic growth. But that's not enough to explain the slow decade.

Second, of course Mr. Devilstower from Kos cannot help but blame Republicans for this. He's entirely wrong. The reason we're in this pickle in the first place is because of wage freezes put in place by the FDR administration. And the only Presidential candidate in 2008 who wanted to level the playing field between buying health insurance indepenently and buying it through your employer was... John McCain. Obama simply pilloried him for this. Furthermore, breaking the link between employment and health insurance is a feature of many Republican counter-plans.

Kos is Right!

But for the wrong reasons.

Today Moulitsas himself argues that Dems should strip out the "mandate" provision from the health insurance "reform" bill under consideration by the U.S. Senate. He's right: they should. Even if the mandate is Constitutional - and that's not a layup - it is just what Mr. Kos says: is, after all, an epic giveaway to the health insurance industry.

The problem is that Kos also thinks that the GOP wants the mandate to stay in because of their corporate-lobbyist friends. This is a little surprising coming from Kos. While his political philosophy is nuttier than Jimmy Carter's farm, he's usually pretty clear-eyed about the politics. Surely he's aware that his Democratic buddies, President Obama included, are raking in huge piles of money from the health insurance lobby?

If a "progressive" (who would supposedly be immune to the allures of PAC money, unlike, say, a Blue Dog) offered to strip the mandate, it's possible that could pull in a Republican or two. But it also very well might push out a Democrat or two beholden to PAC money. There's no guarantee at all that the trade would be favorable to passing a bill.

More on Early 2010 Senate Projections

In the spirit of climate science and financial derivatives, let's put some mathematical gloss on those horserace projections from yesterday.

First, let's pick some probabilities out of the air like Al Gore mentioning that there's a 75% chance of there being no Arctic ice in six years. For the sake of argument, say that if John J. Miller considers it a "likely retention", then the party retains 90% of the time. If he considers it "leaning retention", then the party retains 75% of the time. And if he considers it a toss-up, it's a 50/50 proposition. In that case, his breakdown gives us:

  • 4 GOP seats are "likely retain"
  • 3 GOP seats are "leaning retain"
  • 8 seats are "toss-ups"
  • 5 DEM seats are "leaning retain"

So assuming independence, it's a simple matter to calculate the probability of different senate compositions after the 2010 elections. And without further ado, it looks like this:

  • 21% chance that the GOP ends up with 39 or fewer seats
  • 17% chance that the GOP ends up with 40 seats (same as today)
  • 61% chance that the GOP ends up with 41-45 seats
  • 1% chance that the GOP ends up with 46 or more seats

The bad news for the GOP is that of Miller's 20 "interesting" races, half of them are currently owned by the GOP. Naturally it would be better for them if their races were safe and all the DEM-controlled seats were in play. The worse news is that there's at least one chance in five that, even with the favorable poll numbers we're currently seeing, the GOP could drop even below 40, and two chances in five that they go no higher than 40. That would keep the filibuster off the table (although, as we've seen with health care, corraling 60 senators can be harder than it might be, especially in the teeth of countervailing public opinion).

The good news for the GOP, of course, is that there are three chances in five that they pick up some seats.

Take this analysis with liberal doses of salt and any other spices you happen to come across. Things are looking moderately up for the GOP, but there's a lot of work to be done before next November.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Early 2010 Senate Projections

On NRO today, John J. Miller runs down the 2010 Senate races. It's very early, so these are about as accurate as using, say, the rings on a single tree in Siberia to predict global warming. But if you assume the toss-ups really are basically 50/50 propositions and that the leaning or likely retentions hold as Miller predicts, then the GOP picks up just one seat. (Eight toss-ups, five for Dem seats and three for GOP seats.) Of course, with the 60-40 Senate balance today, one seat is a big deal.

Here are the toss-ups: Colorado (Dem), Connecticut (Dem), Missouri (Rep), Nevada (Dem), New Hampshire (Rep), North Dakota (Dem), Ohio (Rep), Pennsylvania (Dem).


Lately, several large banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup and Wells Fargo, have either paid back or completed negotiations to pay back the money lent to them by the federal government under the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). In a sense, this is good: it's good to separate the banks from the government again. Temporary emergency measures have a disconcerting way of becoming permanent, so the quicker they can be reversed, the better.


Before we're too quick to celebrate, we should remember that a great deal of damage has already been done. One reason why these banks have been able to raise private capital to replace the TARP money is precisely because of TARP, or rather, because investors now believe that their money is safe; the banks are "too big to fail," and shareholders won't be held accountable. That's not the way the capital markets are supposed to work.

To be sure, shareholders in the big banks have taken a hit. From September 15, 2008 (the date when Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and Bank of America bought Merrill Lynch) to yesterday's market close, the S&P 500 is down 11%. But over the same period, Wells Fargo is down 25.7%, B of A is down 54.3%, and Citigroup is down a massive 79.4%. But the latter two banks likely would have gone under without TARP, leaving shareholders with nothing.

The bully-pulpit nonsense about "fat-cat bankers" is really smoke and mirrors. If these banks are to be competitive, they have to pay their employees comparable wages and bonuses. The real problem is that no one was really punished, and in the end, we've just set up the next bubble. Investors in bank stocks are a little more certain that they'll be saved again the next time, which makes them a little less diligent in making sure their boards are watching out for them.

TARP may have (repeat: may have; we don't really know) prevented a massive wave of bank failures that could have brought our financial system to a standstill. But it was mishandled. Rather than trusting the capital markets to punish less-than-prudent investors, we're setting up a system where investors are kept safe, and trusting regulation to instill prudence.

A better system would be to have both. The capital markets need some regulation, because they are so critical to the operation of the country. But they also require free-market controls. Investors need to be fearful in order to be careful. We've just removed, or at least weakened, that safety line.

Slicing Pizza

When you get a pizza, it's usually not sliced exactly through the center. So some pieces are bigger than others. For over 40 years, mathematicians have been working on the problem of classifying exactly who gets more if two diners share alternate pieces of pizza from an unequally-cut pie.

This classification has now been found. It's not the most ground-breaking research. Deierman and Mabry won't become household names, and won't be nominated for a Fields Medal for this work. But I love this sort of thing because it shows how the application of some intelligence, hard work, and cleverness (not the same thing as intelligence) can simplify decidedly nontrivial problems.

The solution, btw, is simple enough to write down here:

  • If at least one cut passes through the center, then the two diners will always get equal amounts.
  • If you cut your pizza an even number of times (say, 4), then the two diners will always get equal amounts.
  • If you cut your pizza an odd number of times and that odd number is expressible as 4n+3 (say, 3, 7, etc.) then the person who eats the piece that contains the center of the pizza gets more.
  • If you cut your pizza an odd number of times and that odd number is expressible as 4n+1 (say, 5, 9, etc.) then the person who eats the piece that does not contain the center of the pizza gets more.

One cool consequence of this result is that, if you have a pizza with an odd number of unequal cuts, and you want to share it equally between two people, all you have to do is just cut it one more time (the new cut must pass through the common intersection of all the previous cuts). Then as long as the diners take alternate pieces, they will get equal amounts. That's a nontrivial, counterintuitive result, and with a practical application!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Interracial Marriage Patterns

Very interesting article on interracial marriage by Steve Sailer. He addresses the question: What explains current imbalances in intermarriage rates between American blacks, whites and Asians? According to the 1990 U.S. Census, in 72% of black-white marriages, the husband was black, while in 72% of white-Asian marriages, the husband was white. This all goes against expectations, as Sailer explains in some detail. (The 2000 Census shows no great changes in these trends.)

Sailer only really gets into trouble when he tries to explain the disparity. Searching for correlated variables, he happens upon muscularity. Using the percent body fat goal as determined by a TV fitness expert as his proxies, he notes that the ratio between differences in body fat goals for various pairings. To get the flavor of his methodology, the difference between black men (12%) and white women (22%) is 10%, while the difference between white men (15%) and black women (19%) is 4%. This 10:4 ratio is almost an exact match to the 72:28 ratio in marriage rates. And the ratio for white-Asian marriages is also 10:4, matching their 72:28 marriage ratio as well. Thus, Sailer concludes:

When, in the names of freedom and feminism, young women listen less to the hard-earned wisdom of older women about how to pick Mr. Right, they listen even more to their hormones. This allows cruder measures of a man's worth -- like the size of his muscles -- to return to prominence. The result is not a feminist utopia, but a society in which genetically gifted guys can more easily get away with acting like Mr. Wrong.

This is certainly thought-provoking, and like any concatenation of correlations, may contain some truth. But we should not imagine that it is too scientific. For starters, body fat goals are not the same as body fat. Are blacks actually more muscular than whites? Sailer has no idea, or if he does he doesn't say. Are black men in black-white marriages typical of all black men? (And for that matter, are the white women typical?) The same questions apply to white-Asian pairings, of course. And of course, Sailer does not (and really cannot, given the data he has to work with) tackle the gap between correlation and causation that so hampers amateur investigation.

Even with all these shortcomings, an interested social scientist could use Sailer's ideas as a jumping-off point for actual scientific study. If we had any interest in such things, perhaps one might.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time to Cheat

Daily Kos sees no way to get the health care reform they want, so they're ready to throw in the towel, and blatantly cheat to get it:

There are so many barriers to getting 60 votes, it's time to refocus on what can actually be done with 50 votes. That's the public option, Medicaid expansion, and/or Medicare buy-in. Do the things by reconciliation that will really help solve the crisis for the most people via reconciliation, and pass the insurance reforms, which have broad support, in the regular process.

No surprise that Kos encourages the misuse of a tool designed to resolve small budget issues to reconfigure one-sixth of our economy. For them, it's all about winning. Screw democracy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Blame Game

Had a terrorist bombing in Baghdad today
It was George W. Bush's fault!

And the housing market continues to sway
But it's George W. Bush's fault!

Unemployment rate continues to rise
It's still George W. Bush's fault!

Health care's collapsing before our eyes
And it's George W. Bush's fault!

Got stuck in traffic on the Belt Parkway
'Cause it's George W. Bush's fault!

The Celtics lost on the home parquet
It was George W. Bush's fault!

On Thanksgiving Michelle made too many pies
That was George W. Bush's fault!

I can keep this up for three more years, guys
Always George W. Bush's fault!

Job Creation

Congress is currently considered another job stimulus that would be "deficit-neutral", meaning that it would take $200 billion in savings from TARP and spend it instead on "stimulus".

Even NPR finds this a bit hard to believe. In their report last night, they pointed out a couple of problems: first, that any savings found in any federal program tends to be spent three different ways. So we'll probably end up even worse off. Second, that the "stimulus" under consideration isn't very stimulating: extensions to unemployment benefits (which, er, don't help create jobs, although they may ease the pain for the unemployed), subsidized loans to small businesses (which might help if those businesses wanted loans; many don't since they aren't expanding anyway, with consumer spending off).

Here's my alternative, which I present as free advice to Congress and the Obama administration: stop. Stop meddling with health care. Stop talking about cap and trade. Stop encouraging the EPA to regulate CO2 emissions. All of these are job killers, but health care is the big one. How can any business - especially a small business - budget for employees when they may be on the hook for health-care-related penalties or insurance at any time? It's no surprise that no one is hiring; uncertainty looms everywhere.

Must we reproduce now the typical liberal error of spending a trillion dollars to "fix" something, then another trillion to fix the problems the original fix caused, and so on forevermore?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Hopenhagen Fever!

The prostitutes in Copenhagen
Are offering a free Gropenhagen
To climate scientists and politicians
Who want you to believe in Hopenhagen.

The timing could not be worse, though.
Hacked e-mails make them Mopenhagen
About the prospects for a new treaty
Like Kyoto, but with even greater Scopenhagen.

But they should not reach too quickly for that noose-shaped Ropenhagen.
When the data doesn't fit
They can clean it with a little Soapenhagen.
And maybe a blessing from the Popenhagen.

The Mann hockey-stick might be no more real than a Zoetropenhagen
But the politicians see lots of opportunities
To bring to their districts eco-Porkenhagen.
And the scientists want to keep the eco-funding spigots Openhagen.

Do they think we're smoking Dopenhagen?
It's time to say Nopenhagen.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Honduras Update

So the U.S. has decided to do the right thing and recognize the Honduran elections. Good. That actually is a step towards resolving this crisis.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"No Problem"

Does it bother you when you thank someone and the response is an airy "no problem"? This is increasingly common, especially among the younger crowd. As a not-terribly-old adult, I find myself succumbing to the same reflex all too often. But is there really anything wrong with "No problem"?

It's true that it somewhat undercuts the original thanks. Spelled out in full, "thank you" essentially means: "I appreciate you going to the trouble to help me." The response "no problem" expands to: "There's no need to thank me because it was no trouble." The implication is that you may continue to ask for help as long as it remains no trouble, but please piss off if you really do anticipate causing a problem. Compare to the traditional "you're welcome", which says that you are welcome to continue to ask for help when you need to.

Confusion between gratitude and praise may be part of the explanation as well. When praised, it's certainly not impolite to self-deprecatingly deflect the praise somewhat. It can be embarrassing to be praised. But being thanked is not the same thing, and deflection can create the impression that perhaps the gratitude was misplaced. If it really was no problem, why extend thanks at all? We do not thank someone for stopping at a red light.

How do other responses to "thank you" stack up? "My pleasure" is an ambiguous one. It could be taken to mean, "there's no need to thank me because not only was it not a problem, it was actually a pleasure." This goes even beyond "no problem" in its deflection of the gratitude proffered. Or it could mean, "it was my pleasure to serve you," a statement beyond "you're welcome." Then there is "not at all" and "sure thing" and the like, which are essentially along the deflectionary lines of "no problem."

These contemporary social formulae reflect our increasing preference for casualness. It's no longer cool to care greatly about much of anything. "You're welcome" indicates that you cared and appreciated the thanks. "No problem" indicates just the opposite: you're a laid-back fella, for which nothing much is a problem. It was no problem to pass the salt. Oh, you ran over my cat with your car? No problem.

That casualness is the real problem. To digress for a moment, I like the story of the premiere of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring by the Ballets Russes in Paris in 1913. The performance was so radical both musically and choreographically that a riot broke out, so severe that the dancers could not hear the orchestra playing, and police had to intervene to break up fistfights in the aisles. Can anyone imagine such a scene today? Not that I wish for more fighting during music performances, but it would be nice if people cared that much. There was a welcome outburst during the last intermission of a performance of Götterdämmerung I attended a few years ago: some intepid audience members yelled out please not to applaud at the end until the opera was entirely over (rather than applauding over the final few notes, as had happened in the first two acts).

I didn't yell out a "thank you" to them, but I'm pretty sure that if I had, I would not have heard back: "No problem!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Safe Zone Violation

Jay Nordlinger likes to write about "safe zone violations," a term he coined to mean unwelcome intrusions of politics into otherwise apolitical settings. A music critic and golf aficionado (as well as political opinion journalist), Nordlinger has written most often about such violations during classical music performance and sports reporting.

I had my own such encounter a week ago, when my family took my three-year-old son to see a musical production of "The Three Little Pigs" at a local theater. The production was a bit of a mashup, and somehow Little Red Riding Hood was incorporated with the pigs. All was going along swimmingly until the following exchange between Red and her mother:

Red: I'm not afraid of anything!
Mother: You're not afraid of the dark?
Red: No, I'm not afraid of anything!
Mother: Big bad wolves?
Red: No, mother, nothing!
Mother: Sarah Palin?
Red: ...well...

(If I were a nut for symbolism, I might make something of the fact that a character named "Red" is afraid of Sarah Palin. But I'm not, and I won't!)

This is just gratuitously insulting. Even in suburban New Jersey, probably a third of the adult audience is at least neutral to Palin; why risk pissing them off? Is it worth the laugh from the other two thirds? Obviously, kids' shows feel the need to insert adult humor to keep the parents engaged. But does it have to be political?

Pelosicare: Commerce Clause Irony

From Nancy Pelosi's Web site:

The 10th amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that the powers not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states… or to the people. But the Constitution gives Congress broad power to regulate activities that have an effect on interstate commerce. Congress has used this authority to regulate many aspects of American life, from labor relations to education to health care to agricultural production. Since virtually every aspect of the heath care system has an effect on interstate commerce, the power of Congress to regulate health care is essentially unlimited.

I'm sure health care affects interstate commerce in lots of ways, except, oh yeah, for the ability to buy health insurance across state lines.

Nominations for "Most Abused Constitutional Amendment" must start with the Tenth, no? Does any other even come close?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Climate Research Scandal

I haven't posted on the "Climategate" scandal, but it's terribly relevant, of course. Here's a better summary than I could put together, anyway.