Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Don't we all?

Obama wants worldwide end of fossil fuel subsidies:

Many countries, including the United States, provide tax breaks and direct payments to help produce and use oil, coal, natural gas and other fuels that spew carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas. Eliminating those would provide "a significant down payment" toward the U.S. goal of cutting fossil fuel emissions in half by 2050, Froman said.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


John Ensign brought public transit into the health care debate.

Republican John Ensign said the numbers were skewed. He pointed out that if automobile and gun deaths were eliminated from the data, the U.S. would rank much higher. Calling these “cultural differences,” Ensign said “in this country, we like our guns” and “we are a more mobile society” who drives more and uses public transportation less than Europe.

It reminds me of this Andy Singer comic illustrating all the hidden costs of our automobile culture. I doubt John Ensign is going to use this as a reason to fund public transit or start measures to curb gun deaths.

Tevye & Perchik

Just for the sake of reference, here is the recent back and forth between Paul Krugman and Greg Mankiw regarding the Cap'n'trade v. Carbon-tax debate.

"He's right and he's right? How can they both be right?"
"You know... you are also right."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Joe Wilson's Embarrassment

Craig Ferguson and Keith Olbermann have both issued responses to Joe Wilson's outburst from Obama's health care speech, indicating his behavior was an embarrassment to the legislative process and the nation.

Really, I disagree. I think our houses of congress could stand to use a little bit of a relaxing of the rules of decorum. Joe's outburst wasn't quite as bad as South Korea's fistfighting, and really, was rather on par with the standard booing and cheering that would tend to occur during any speech. I might argue our legislators aren't interrupted enough. When a congressman stands in front of his (usually empty) house and the c-span camera and chooses to provide misleading information, there's no reason that person shouldn't be interrupted with exclamations to contrary or at least boos.

Joe Wilson did not embarrass the U.S.; he embarrassed himself.

There were some elements of the speech that might require some skepticism, the least of which was probably the claim to which Wilson objected. The thing I might have been most likely to question was the following: "I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits -- either now or in the future."

The president has often indicated that he intends the purpose of reform to be to "bend the cost curve," meaning to reduce, over time, the percent of GDP spent on health care. This does not necessarily mean, as is often mistaken, that we will be reducing what share of the health care cost is taken by the state. And though in the end, the cost of reform should be paid for, the time to promise no additional deficit on the state balance sheet is not in the middle of a deep recession.