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Archive for January 10th, 2013

Subsidize Mediocrity

I’ve never been a fan of “shop local” programs. I grew up in Detroit, where there was a big push to buy American cars, and I did not put much thought into what I wanted for my first vehicle. It was a Japanese product that was bottom-of-the-line in price, low-maintenance, and capable of 60 mpg.

One of my mechanical engineering instructors encouraged us to read Rivethead, a book on how American auto workers would either lay out or show up for work stoned, making those who were fit for work have to pull too much weight. In the same course, we learned about which vehicles (Honda and Toyota) had the least manufacaturer defects and the longest lives. Young and naive, I couldn’t understsand how using my purchasing power to encourage the production of overpriced junk was good for the economy.

Years later, Ross Perot was faulted for contracting with a Canadian firm after complaining about the “giant sucking sound.” Would he have been nobler to contract with an American company and proverbially pass the higher cost for shoddy workmanship on to his customers? I also recall hearing propaganda about how backward China became behind its Great Wall. But then, as always, what do I know?

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Amazing Discovery

The Hendersonville Times-News has been running a headline-challenged article for at least a couple days. Yesterday, it claimed that individuals were spending billions of hours preparing their taxes. The claim clashed with my connotation of an individual. Today, the headline was reworked to assert that a watcdhdog, which I consider to be an attentive, perspicacious investigator, has uncovered information leading him to conclude that the tax code is too complex for the average citizen.

As an aside, here’s a picture of politico-economic guru Carl Milsted reading a bedtime story to the baby genius.

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Day off Work

It will be my privilege to be in Atlanta tomorrow, attending another presentation on unfunded liabilities. The guest speaker will be actuary John Boyle, and a preliminary draft of the speech was very impressive. Fiscally-conservative think tanks have been aware of the problem for ages, but this event is intended to educate-and-outreach policy makers who might not have learned about negative numbers in grade school. Hopefully, enough influence will coalesce to generate competition against at least one humongous victim-creating, government-bloating lobby (whose four-letter name begins with an A).

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