Links 3/8/11


  1. PhilK

    In the comments to the Raw Story article, somebody linked to this: Why employee pensions aren’t bankrupting states

    From state legislatures to Congress to tea party rallies, a vocal backlash is rising against what are perceived as too-generous retirement benefits for state and local government workers. However, that widespread perception doesn’t match reality.

    A close look at state and local pension plans across the nation, and a comparison of them to those in the private sector, reveals a more complicated story. However, the short answer is that there’s simply no evidence that state pensions are the current burden to public finances that their critics claim.

  2. vlade

    Shliefer’s paper put some rigor behind what I called for some time “law of risk conservation”. When you think risk went away, it didn’t – it just got transformed to a different risk(s), and always at least partially to risks you never even thought of before.

    And, it doesn’t matter what the risks are (financial, social, political whatever).

    A more complicated version of my theory is risk as entropy – it can be created (every more complex system creates more risks), but it’s very hard to get rid of, and ultimately impossible.

      1. vlade

        One person’s risk is another person opportunity – and in general we get paid for carrying risk (even as small risk as delivering on our jobs).

        What I’m saying is that by doing that you don’t remove the risk, you just move it and create another you didn’t have before.

        Say if you pay me for doing a job for you, you didn’t remove the risk of the job not being done (or done badly) – just shifted it, and in some ways made it less controlable/verifyiable by you.

        Believing that you removed the risk is actually most dangerous of all (just ahead of believing you can quantify and recognize all risks) – which is the “locality” in Shliefer’s paper.

    1. Paul Repstock

      This is how our governments are snowing us. They claim to provide protection against every concievable threat (and many noncredible ones), in return for the complete subservience of the people.

      The “Security Industry” is a fraud perpetrated upon all people. The only benifits are lowlevel job creation and high level corporate profits.

  3. ep3

    Yves, I read a similar article regarding NASA’s priorities. It is interesting the scrutiny that goes in to the financing of each mission. We are talking about $2.7 billion (over the life of the mission) and they are willing to pull the plug at the hint that it might go over cost. That’s ridiculous. I believe our future is in space and by spending money building satellites and probes and vehicles that go there, we are making society better. We learn so much, we employ engineers and scientists and computer persons at very good wages, and the resulting knowledge advances our civilization in a positive way. And people like Obama want to privatize space. It’s all about the money. Corporations want the govt to invest the money so that they can profit off of it.

    1. craazyman

      they could do all of that by remote viewing and I’m sure it would only cost a few hundred thousand dollars, maybe a million or so.

      Get about 10 or 11 really good remote viewers and have them send their consciousnesses out to check out specific astronomical targets.

      If you really want to send a machine out, then do it, but at least compare what the remote viewers came up with.

      I have no problem with the machines. Making them must be kind of fun and watching them blast off is really trippy. Doing science is fun, no question. But if you really want to understand something, then just remote view it.

    2. Chemical Ali

      learn so much, we employ engineers and scientists and computer persons at very good wages, and the resulting knowledge advances our civilization

      You need to take an unguided tour of the stacks inside your library. We got enough “resulting knowledge” to last for another 4 centuries but darn few people who are enough industrial to put that knowledge to work. Tell me something! How long have we known about the binary radix? The hexadecimal radix? Much more efficient, right? But we still spoon-feeding the decimal system to our Dewey, Hughie and Louie. Why can’t we implement what we already know about banking, economics, smoke-free lungs, and daily exercise? Because somebody stopping us, same guy who wants to blow our money on space-ship, spacey plans that make billions for his fambly*.

      Pardon my Steinbeck

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    How cute…the dog and the cat are connecting.

    Inter-species love – another taboo subject.

    1. Paul Repstock

      No MLTPB! We do not want to hear about your sheep..:)
      Way too much information. lol

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Speaking of different perspectives, like risks and opportunities, here is another one – Can a protesting Wisconsin high school teacher make the point that if Scott Walker is what one can expect from the Wisconsin public education system (and he did graduat from Delavan-Darien High in Wis), then all Wisconsin high school teachers should resign in shame?

    That perspective is of course different from another one that probably views Walker as just an exception..a bad apple, inevitable in a huge school system.

    Another perspective may be that in fact, Scott Walker is a fine exmaple of how good the public education is in Wisconsin that he could become a governor without a college degree, and all public high school teachers in Wisconsin should be proud of this, instead having to resign in shame.

    1. Paul Repstock

      Mr. Walker is not a reflection on the school system. He is a reflection on the political system. In his mind, he probably embodies the highest morality, being true to those who paid for his campaign and election.

  6. Hugh

    Krugman is just a dishonest Democratic apologist. Since 1980, Republicans have controlled the White House for 20 years and Democrats for 10. Republicans controlled the Senate for just over 16 years and Democrats for just under 14 years. And Democrats controlled the House for 18 years, and the Republicans for 12.

    However the two parties controlled the Presidency and both Houses for only 4 years apiece during those 30 years: the 4 mid-years under Bush II and the first 2 years of both Clinton and Obama’s terms.

    The House was Democratic-controlled throughout the Reagan years, Bush I, and the first 2 years under Clinton. Indeed from the last 2 years of Reagan through the first 2 years of Clinton, Democrats controlled both Houses. Clinton may have balanced the budget but he did so with Republicans controlling both Houses during the last 6 of his 8 years. Bush had a slightly Democratic Senate during his first 2 years, followed by Republican control of both Houses for 4 years, with Democratic controlled Houses in his last 2 years.

    I cite all this because Krugman would have us believe that there is a clearcut division between the parties when, in fact, there is none. It’s important to remember as well that during this whole time there was a 60 vote cloture rule in the Senate. So even in those years where Democrats were in the minority in the Senate, there was no year where they didn’t have the votes to enforce a filibuster.

    1. Max424

      Thanks for the info.

      Yeah, I’ve always felt; if you parlay with the insane, the best result you can hope for is an insane compromise.

    2. Anonymous Jones

      Sometimes I read comments like this and I cannot determine whether I’m more overcome by astonishment or despair.

      The truly spectacular lack of logic, rationality, intellect and fact in a comment like, “Krugman would have us believe that there is a clearcut division between the parties when, in fact, there is none.”

      Obviously there is a difference between the parties. This is indisputable. Are the events in Wisconsin mere Kabuki?

      Listen, I don’t want to defend the Democrats. They are, by and large, almost as captured by the moneyed interests as the Republicans, and they are spineless to boot. There’s little to like.

      But the idea that there is *no* difference? That idea could only come from a truly disfigured and demented mind.

      So let me get this straight, just because they don’t do what you want them to do all the time, the Dems are put into one *completely* undifferentiated box with the Republicans?

      How lazy. How preposterous. It’s truly stunning in its lack of reason.

      This is the deal. Money talks. If the moneyed elites have a strong grasp of 100% of the Republicans, they only need to concentrate on a few Democrat defectors. Money and efforts are concentrated, and then a few Democrats yield to temptation. That explains your results. Not that there is “no difference,” which is truly a lunatic raving by an unhinged mind.

      Sorry, but sometimes people need to hear the unvarnished truth about their irrationality. We all have some. This is at least part of yours.

  7. ScottS

    I just thought of starting a Pirate Party here the other day! Anyone in California want to join in?

  8. Max424

    Paul Mason: “First, we’re in the middle of a mini oil shock.”

    What is an “oil shock?” Is there any such thing?

    For the past 23 months, the inflation adjusted price of oil has been above $60 per barrel, and for the past 14 months, the adjusted price of oil has been averaging above $80 per barrel.

    The 1973-74 oil shock, the first of the so called “oil shocks,” saw the inflation adjusted price of oil rise from $20 per barrel, to $55 per barrel, and the price then settled in the mid-50s for the next five years — until the second of the big “oil shocks,” the Iran-Iraq War induced oil shock of 1980.

    So, if we have not been in oil shock for past 23 months, then we must go back and rewrite the history of the 1970s, because the adjusted price of oil now, is much higher than it ever was then. We must draw a conclusion, based on simple, present day facts, that there was no oil shock in 73-74, that the oil shocked 70s were not in fact “oil shocked;” basically, that the history changing events of the 1970s never actually happened.

    You know what, scratch all that. I’m talking out my ass. The fact of the matter is: we can’t draw any conclusions, about now or then, about anything, because we can’t see a goddamn thing. We are blind to history — especially the history that is taking place now.

    1. Paul Repstock

      When the value of a currency cannot be defined, it is dangerous to use that currency as a yardstick to measure anything else.

      As it is not possible to obtain honest values for consumption, production and storage, we really have nothing to measure against except reality. Reality shows that we can still purchase all the gasoline and petroleum products we want, if we have cash or credit. That day might end, but I doubt it. The consumer is the one providing justification for this whole illusion.


    400 8 50

    That is because the 400 own the 50%. When you buy shares in a company that owns 50 workers you are buying a piece of 50 workers. That is why it is called the live-stock-market. Or just stock-market. R U the livestock or the shareholder

    Is an infamous shareholder now waging war on his runaway slaves in a Southern Mediterranean Country? Are other shareholders from other countries rushing to the aid of those hapless slaves as we discuss? No! Why no?

    Think about it

    1. Paul Repstock

      It may be interesting to note that the other ‘slave owners’ are standing idle watching the show unfold. This inspite of Canada’s prime minister bleating about the possibility of “unilateral” intervention over to weeks ago. lol..:(

      Tis is not Iraq or Afganistan folks. The Libyans have been horribly abused and have called for help.?? They even took steps to gain democracy on their own. Funny, but I don’t remember any of this happening in Iraq before the invasion.

      Either the Western Powers want the oil price to go up, or Gadhafi is firmly in control of the oil production system.

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