Sunday, January 7, 2018

Lottery winnings - a repost

(The recent large lottery prizes prompt me to post this entry from June of 2015 again.)

Yes, the state run numbers game, aka the lottery, is with us for good or bad, but I do question the way prizes are distributed.

From time to time I see posted in store windows the top prize that will be awarded to a winning ticket; this sum sometimes exceeds $200 million.  Now consider who are the purchasers of lottery tickets: the poor, the indebted, the desperate.  How much would it take for them to get their lives back on track?  I would suggest a lot less than $200 million, and I also ask myself: just what is the average lottery ticket purchaser going to do with that much money?

It would make more sense to split the large prizes into a number of smaller amounts that would be enough to turn people's lives around (pay off debts, buy a house, get some job training, put kids through college), but not so huge a sum as to be overwhelming.  Say twenty $10 million prizes instead of one large prize.  So instead of the size of the prize going up week by week as there are no winning tickets, the number of prizes would go up.  Having a larger number of prizes increases the chance of picking a winning number combination, so we could have more winners, and so more people whose lives could be improved.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Democrats Fail Once More

The Democrats have once more showed their massive incompetence at messaging in the face of the Republicans' passing of the irresponsible tax cut bill.

How hard would it have been to have a unified message something along the following lines?

The Republicans are offering you a little extra spending money by adding $1.5 trillion to our national debt. Think of it like credit card debt.  In your private finances, would you run up your credit card just to give yourself a little extra spending money?  Surely not. So why would you want us to run up the national credit card that way? Especially as most of the extra debt is money going to wealthy people who surely don't need millions more in their pockets.

Responsible people who've had to temporarily live on credit start to pay down their balance once they have regular employment and a steady income. They don't keep running up their debt for extra spending money. 

That's what we should be doing as a country now the economy has recovered. We should be acting responsibly. Those with more than enough money should be contributing part of their large incomes to start paying down our national credit card, not be adding huge sums to it, leaving someone else is to pay the bloated balance sometime in the future.

(Not to mention the fact that the cuts for middle income people will turn into tax increases in just a few years.)

It's really not that hard to put out a message to counteract the Republicans' dishonest rhetoric.  It's shameful that the Democrats won't even try.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Stay Focused!

NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem are doing so to protest aggressive police practices against people of color, and in particular the killing of unarmed people.
Right wingers are distorting  the protests by making them all about the anthem, the flag, and our servicemen;  the reason for the protests are drowned out by the right’s loud rhetoric.
I suggest the discussion could be turned back to the reason for the protests if each player who knelt displayed a photo of a person unjustifiably killed by police. 
Here's a mockup of how it might look if they did:

Holding the photos would keep the discussion where it belongs:  the issue is not the anthem, but bad police practices.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mnuchin and Math

So Steve Mnuchin finds that lowering middle class taxes without also lowering taxes on the wealthy is beyond his mathematical ability.

Let me lend him a hand here.

(From my blog post of February 2013)

(Suggested marginal rates for married filing jointly - halve the income ranges for singles. The top marginal rate - constant dollars - is the same as in 1965-66.)

10%            $0 - 25,000
15%            $25,000 - 75,000
25%            $75,000 - 150,000
35%            $150,000 - 325,000
50%            $325,000 - 650,000
60%            $650,000 - 1,500,000
70%            Over $1,500,000

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Actions and Consequences

The shutting down of Charles Murray's talk at Middlebury College by self righteous narcissists reminded me of a similar attack on speech many years ago at the University of California, Berkeley, when the same kind of intolerant people shouted down Jeane Kirkpatrick, President Reagan's foreign policy advisor.

And their actions had consequences down the road: the present day terrors inflicted by ISIS.
Absurd, you say? Well, follow this chain, each of link of which I believe is valid.

A young David Brock was in the audience there at Berkeley in his capacity as a reporter for the student newspaper. He was so appalled by the intolerance of the left that he gravitated to right wing politics, and signed up as a propagandist for the right.

In that capacity, he uncovered the Paula Jones story, which led to a lawsuit, which led to President Clinton perjuring himself, which led to his impeachment.

The damage to the Clinton presidency rubbed off on Al Gore, who (while winning the popular vote), narrowly lost the presidency to G.W. Bush. It's not unreasonable to think that, without that taint, he could well have gained those few thousand extra votes needed to assure him the presidency.

President Bush ordered the invasion of Iraq, which Gore would not have done were he president.

The destruction of Iraqi society allowed ISIS to establish itself, and to commence their reign of terror.

So: I am arguing that foolish students shouting down an ideological opponent years ago led to the horrors we see today.

Yes, actions have consequences.  Who knows what may happen years down the road as a result of the shameful behavior at Middlebury?

How do I think the Berkeley students opposed to Reagan's South America policy should have reacted to Ms. Kirkpatrick's appearance?  By going out in advance to locate some of the many refugees from El Salvador who were  in the Bay area, and arranging for them, and them only, to have the microphones during the Q&A after Ms. Kirkpatrick's talk.  Let each of them describe the atrocities - tortures and murders of their families - that prompted them to flee, and ask Ms. Kirkpatrick how she and President Reagan could possibly support such evil. If just one or two spoke this way, Ms. Kirkpatrick might dismiss their stories as invented, but a sufficient number of recitations would show the emptiness of such a response on her part. And contrast the news reporting of what such an approach would have been to that describing the self indulgent acting out of foolish young people, actions that only reinforced many people's support for Reagan's toxic Latin American policies.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Romney and Exploitiation

Reading the transcript of Romney's infamous "47%" speech, I find this:
Oh, I just, we didn't talk about immigration today. Gosh, I'd love to bring in more legal immigrants that have skill and [unintelligible]. I'd like to staple a green card to every Ph.D. in the world and say, "Come to America, we want you here." 
Think about that. Romney would like countries poorer than ourselves to educate some of their citizens to Ph.D. level, and then have those people abandon their home countries to bring their expensively provided skills to the US, so those poorer countries gain nothing from their investment in educating those people, and the wealthy US would become the beneficiary of that investment.

We know the Romney business model: enrich his investors by leaving empty shells of companies behind, with workers losing their jobs, and often their pension funds.  This desire to exploit the investment in education made by other countries shares the same moral emptiness.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Well, duh!

Brad DeLong quotes from an article by Jason Furman in the Financial Times:
But the post-crisis experience, as well as research on the effects of fiscal policy, is establishing a “new view” grounded in five principles:
  1. At a time when conventional monetary policy faces limitations in a world of lower interest rates, fiscal policy can be a particularly effective complement....
  2. In today’s conditions fiscal policy may... “crowd in” private investment through stronger growth....
  3. [In] advanced economies... under today’s economic conditions effectively crafted investments could raise output by more than they raise debt--reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio....
  4. Prolonged lower interest rates and economies operating below potential suggest that fiscal expansion should be more sustained....
  5. Fiscal policy is even more beneficial if co-ordinated more across countries...
To which my reaction (as a lay reader, not an economist) is: Well, duh!  Wasn't all that obvious (except maybe for  #5) seven years ago?