Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Blogroll Addition

I've added smart and final isis to the blogroll for commentary on moderate Islam. Go read. Regularly.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Hard Choices, session 7

I'm taking a course at Denver University, Hard Choices in Public Policy. The instructor is former Colorado governor Richard Lamm.

Today's class was on the environment. Some of the changes that Governor Lamm has noticed over the past 35 years are as follows:

Developed CountriesEntire World
Peripheral for BusinessIntegral to Business
AestheticHealth - Survival
Few Large SourcesMultiple distributed Sources
Corporate focusIndividual focus
Make an immediate differenceLong Term solutions

Lots of companies are doing lots of good. BP, Shell

60 years to fully dissipate effects of pollution.

Tax policy, markets, bureauocracy doesn't work.

Nobody thinks long term - at least not in the general public.

Takings - 5th Amendment.

Bureaucrats never look at cost/benefit analysis.

Nanny State/Daddy State - Need two parent family!

Are population growth and rapidly expanding economies throwing earth's natural balances out of kilter?

Earth's carrying capacity? Malthus? Peak Oil?

"Two cultures" - discussed in other classes.

From 1790 through 1990, the US population has doubled 6 times.

"Climate change is more of a threat than terrorism." I've forgotten who said this, but I don't believe it at all.

I asked the question "How much of climate change is caused by mankind?" No answers yet. Answer to this may determine whether any efforts to mitigate our impact are worthwhile.

Tragedy of the commons.

Tyranny of small designs.

Fatal conceit.

Are we smarter than the market? Well, no.

Regulation is not long term.

Religious right - Bush not doing enough for God's creation.

"What is our oil doing under their sand?"

Religion - materialism is a false god.

Voting trends, polarization, no middle ground. I mentioned political maps, how I don't fit on the left-right scale, mentioned the World's Smallest Political Quiz.

Internet involvement vs real involvement. What cause would you go out and picket for? Where is the debate? Social cohesion. TV's most popular show lists are completely different for blacks and whites. No dialog.

Rocky Mountain area supposed to be the first area to be impacted by global warming.

Limits of tolerance. Too multicultural.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Colonel Bay

tosses Rumsfeld a hand grenade. This may be why lots of people are dissatisfied by the war effort and say we're not doing enough.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The real inside story

on Foley's IM's. HT tomgpalmer

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How many civil wars

on this planet since 1940? How about 132 including 6 in Iraq (not counting the current one).

Another reason to smoke pot

It may slow down Alzheimer's.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hard Choices, session 6

I'm taking a course at Denver University, Hard Choices in Public Policy. The instructor is former Colorado governor Richard Lamm.

Race and Affirmative Action were today's topics.

Basic question: What should be America's public policy agenda on race.

Hubert Humphrey: "If the Senator can find in Title VII ... any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion, or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there." See source

Building trades were first target. Nixon's Philadelphia plan led to Affirmative Action. Desperate for anything that looked like progress. Carpenters and Plumbers also targeted.

Aristotle - Injustice is treating equals unequally or unequals equally.

Colin Powell - Discriminating for one group means discriminating against another.

Supreme Court cases (recent) Gruffer vs Bollanger and Gratz vs Bollanger.

Human capital, talent pool.

Bernard Lewis - 2 questions - 1) What did we do wrong? 2) Who did this to us? Which one you ask is determined by what kind of culture you live in.

Is it time to reconsider Affirmative Action?

Number of black officials up 6x over 40 years ago.

Bowling Alone - book.

FBI's most wanted list contains 22 young arab males. obvious case for profiling.

AA helped middle class blacks, not the poor ones.

Immigrants and AA.

Entitled by the 64 and 65 civil rights act. 76 percent of immigrants qualify for AA. Competition between Latinos and Blacks. Why do Latinos get AA irrespective of education and income? Historic discrimination against Jews. Why don't they qualify for AA? AA has failed poor black underclass because it's race based, not economic based. Most discriminated against groups include Japanese, Jews, Chinese, and Koreans, none of whom get AA.

Book Underdevelopment Is a State of Mind by Lawrence E. Harrison.

Culture matters - socializing mechanisms. Home. School. Church. Groups have culture traits, values, and attitudes.

Contrast Argentina vs Australia, Nicaragua vs Costa Rica, Ghana vs South Korea.

Ruth Bennedict "No man ever looks at the world with pristine eyes. He sees it edited by a definite set of customs and institutions and ways of thinking." I think from Patterns of Culture

McWhorter Losing the Race 1) Cult of Victimology, 2) Separatism, 3) Anti-Intellectualism.

Juan Williams Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It

Fate vs Free Will. Minorities more likely to accept Fate as a cultural trait.

No Excuses. KIPP schools ask kids in 5th grade "what college are you planning to go to?"

Hispanic 50 percent dropout rate.

Lionel Sosa The Americano Dream: How Latinos Can Achieve Success in Business and in Life. Escaping cultural shackles. No dialog on cultural issues. Blame whites.

Malcom X. Economic power, not political power.

Hard to criticise culture.

David Landes The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor

Harrison: 1) Fair Play, 2) Education, 3) Health, 4) Experience Criticism? 5) Skills, 6) ?, 7) ?

Patrick Moynihan - conservative truth - it's the culture; liberal truth - you can change the culture.

Rangel - Latin America was settled by rejecting modernism and rationalism. Iberian peninsula catholicism. economic development. culture makes all the difference.

Humility leads to pacificism. How many generations to change a culture?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Hard Choices, session 5

I'm taking a course at Denver University, Hard Choices in Public Policy. The instructor is former Colorado governor Richard Lamm.

We covered two topics today. The first was Happiness, then Welfare.

Happiness comes from 7 factors (in descending order of importance): Family, Wealth, Work, xxx, xxx, Personal Freedom, Personal Values. Sorry about missing 2.

Victor Frankel: "Everything can be taken away from us but one thing, the last human freedom, to choose one’s own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way."

Natural selection has planted in us a desire to be better than our neighbors. Would you rather earn $50K where your neighbors earn $25K, or earn $100K where your neighbors earn $250K?

Public policy purpose? Create more happiness. Be involved in something larger than yourself. How much is enough? Live in the present.

Welfare: 4 groups of beneficiaries - Business, Elderly, Wealthy Elderly, Poor. Social Security payback is 4 years. Then you are a welfare recipient. Welfare programs started in 1935 to help divorced women and widows. Now it's mostly unwed mothers. 25% are transient. 25% are chronic.

Charles Murray paraphrase - If the rules encourage irrational behavior, that's what you'll get. Lamm knows Murray and thinks highly of him. Murray is a libertarian, see What It Means to be a Libertarian and has, I think, done work for Cato Institute and possibly either Heritage Foundation or American Enterprise Institute.

Welfare programs: AFDC, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Unemployment Insurance, Worker's Comp, Subsidized Housing (Section 8?), Disability Insurance.

Welfare uses three mechanisms to transfer money to the poor - cash transfer, food stamps, tax credit. The Earned Income Tax Credit has lifted more children out of poverty than any other program. We've spent $5.4 Trillion on the War on Poverty (started by President Johnson in the mid 1960's) but in 93 we have 15% more poor people than we did in 1960. (not sure if this is a percentage of the total or raw increase).

The 1920's saw the highest level of education for blacks. The poorest 1/5 of population spends $2.06 for every dollar of reported income. 46% of poor get no federal assistance.

Author Fallows - when Spain invaded South and Central America, they left behind disfunctional cultures. Barbados and Haiti were populated by people from the same place, yet Barbados is successful, Haiti is not. Why? Did the blacks on Barbados become Afro-Saxons culturally?

The Divine Right of Kings was modified peacefully by the English via things like the Magna Carta. It needed to be changed via force/warfare elsewhere. Does that explain why we're successful and other cultures aren't?

Are some cultures fatalistic? Culture is the humus where people get planted.

Many poor people are work ready and their poverty is shortlived.

Carnegie - paraphrase "I wouldn't give a pauper a loaf of bread, but I'll build him a library."

President Clinton - "End welfare as we know it".

International Poverty - what to do? is it our responsibility?

Positive and Negative rights. Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness. Jobs, Health Care, Shelter, etc. More discussion next week.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

This is cool

The city council in Greenleaf Idaho is considering doing what Kennesaw Georgia did a long time ago. Every household should have at least one gun.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Have they no shame?

I've been thinking a bit about the recent congressional scandals involving Mark Foley, who has resigned. While there are scandals on both sides of the aisle, there is one difference: Republicans like Tom Delay, Randy Cunningham, and Mark Foley have all resigned. Democrats like Ted Kennedy, Harry Byrd, Barney Frank, and William Jefferson have not. Have they no shame?

Hard Choices, session 4

I'm taking a course at Denver University, Hard Choices in Public Policy. The instructor is former Colorado governor Richard Lamm.

Today we talked about Crime and Punishment. The poor tend to focus on short term gratification. Cultural (non-genetic) traits may lead to more or less success. Unintended Consequences - Charles Murray. Into the Promised Land: Issues Facing the Welfare State by Asher Ben-Arieh. Some of the major reform efforts that had unintended consequences were Community Mental Health Act of 1963, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Immigration Act of 1965, Campaign Reform Act of 1974. Adam Smith's the Invisible Hand. Rent Control, Busing, Birth Control, GI Bill, Term Limits, Initiative and Referendum, Tabor, and Amendment 23 (education).

"God uses lust to impel man to marriage, ambition to office, avarice to earning, and fear to faith." -- Martin Luther

Criminal justice system consists of Police, Courts, DA's and Public Defenders, Parole and Probation, Jails, and Prisons. Crime rates have been falling sharply. Homicide is lowest in 35 years possibly because we've locked more people up, but prisons are graduate schools for crime. Incarceration rates - US 700/100K (148 for drugs), Canada 102/100K, UK 132/100K, France 85/100K, Japan 48/100K. Why? more lenient? different crimes lead to prison? other?

100 felonies > 30 arrests > 20 prosecutions > 15 convictions > 5 prison sentences, but those 30 arrests may account for the bulk of those 100 felonies.

It costs $32K to keep 1 person in jail for 1 year. Is that the best use of our resources? Fastest growing segment of the prison population is women. From 1925 to 1973 the incarceration rate was 110 per 100K population. US has 2 million behind bars and another 4.5 million on probation or parole.

Info was flowing so fast and furious I didn't get it all. The Latino population is 11.5% of the total but 19% of the prison population. Missed the African American stats.

A significant number of people get off because of illegal procedures by the cops. Who's going to police the police?

The crime tax is $425 in economic costs and $1800 in non-economic costs. We have 3 million ex-cons. What restrictions should we put on people who have served their time, if any? Are there certain jobs they shouldn't be allowed to do?

Up until 1980, drug offender incarceration accounted for 15 per 100K population; in 1996 it was 148 per 100K. Each person in prison prevents 15 crimes per year.

Reductions in crime may be due to other factors such as an aging prison population. As criminals get older, they may be less inclined to lead that kind of life. Missed other factors. Mandatory sentencing came up several times.

The two parent family is probably the best crime preventor says James Q Wilson.

Gun control was briefly mentioned. I said I thought that people with concealed carry permits were probably very low on the crime rate stats.

Punitive punishment doesn't work. Neither do juvenile courts.

Governor Lamm said that if he could wave a magic wand, he would have everybody living in two parent families. Lamm is a member of National Issues Forums and he gets a lot of his material there.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


If this doesn't make you mad, nothing will. HT instapundit