Wednesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Woo Hoo. Mr Cheney back in the news, sort of. Well, actually … not.
  2. Grist for the drone discussion.
  3. Hmm, no hints at telling us how America will move to becoming an authoritarian state, but interesting nonetheless.
  4. Cronyism, fraud? Is that a start? And it’s all about who you know.
  5. Nuance.
  6. Interesting post on the first day of Spring when it’s  13 degrees out (and global temperatures have been flat for almost 20 years).
  7. For the Palin fans … the guy they fail to defend. Just remember, one heartbeat from the Oval office.
  8. Simplicity itself. Heh.
  9. Last week we had pictures of those bear sized grey wolves in Idaho … this we read from history.
  10. All electric not there yet.
  11. A budget comparison.
  12. Failure to comprehend.
  13. Abortion and consequences.
  14. Uhm, Patrick was in the 5th century … the concept of “British” had no relation to the modern concept. You’d be better off calling him Roman.

37 Responses to Wednesday Highlights

  1. Pingback: Annals of global warming: No, polar bears are not “fine” — suffer from loss of sea ice | Millard Fillmore's Bathtub

  2. I’ve answered your post, in some detail, here: http://timpanogos.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/annals-of-global-warming-no-polar-bears-are-not-fine-suffer-from-loss-of-sea-ice/#comment-271975

    It would be nice if otherwise good Christians would join us in working to save the planet, instead of cheering the destruction of human habitability.

  3. Ed,
    Wouldn’t warmer weather more Northerly be more, not less, human habitability. And how did the polar bears survive earlier warming periods historically?

  4. Too bad God wasn’t as smart in making the earth as modern day pro-warming Christians who know better what the weather should be in northern areas. It’s also amusing that people who make such arguments are eager to talk, in other contexts of course, about unintended conquences and the illusion of controlling highly complex systems.

  5. Boonton,

    Too bad God wasn’t as smart in making the earth as modern day pro-warming Christians who know better what the weather should be in northern areas

    You pretend that if warming is happening God isn’t involved?

    It’s also amusing that people who make such arguments are eager to talk, in other contexts of course, about unintended consequences and the illusion of controlling highly complex systemsUhm, I’m not the one pretending to control the complex system … and btw, I’m not sure I qualify for adjective “denier” that Mr Darrel pretends. I deny certainty, certainly … which he does not. It’s also, oddly, likely that I do more fuel/energy conserving things in my life than he does.

    Too bad God wasn’t as smart in making the earth as modern day pro-warming Christians who know better what the weather should be in northern areas

    No. Too bad when I asked before for the consequences bad/good of warming questioning whether warming was as bad as you pretend, you failed to come up with anything of substance on the negative side, which served for me to convince me further that warming wasn’t as bad as is claimed. Mr Darrell’s example, as case in point, Polar bears did not go extinct in earlier warming periods. It’s unlikely they will, as he pretends, be ultimately as threatened by warming as he thinks.

  6. You’re right. If tomorrow you wroke up at the control center for the Star Ship Enterprise’s Warp Core you’d have no idea which button blows the ship up and which sends it on its way. Your kid is with you pushing the purple button because it ‘seems fun’. You say stop since it could cause a diaster. It is correct to reply to you that you cannot be certain about diaster, in fact the result might even be ok. Nonetheless the brat should stop hitting the purple button.

  7. Boonton,
    I hope you’re having fun in Spain. Tomorrow our family is heading to New Mexico for a week (by train for the CO2 curmudgeons … although I like the train travel because it enforces some quiet time).

    Is this a purple button thing a climate question? Because, like the violin thing, it seems to miss important features as an analogy. We are a fossil fuel economy, the kid isn’t “pushing the button for fun” he’s doing it to make a living and prosper. There are extreme consequences for not pushing the button (and the poor of course are hardest hit).

    Ed,

    BTW, I just picked up a new “SWITCH” Led light (liquid cooled). Kinda pricey for general markets but it works so far.

  8. Spain was good, Barcelona excellent though I think it would be difficult to do as a family vacation. You may want to consider the Montserrat Mountain/Monastary. It’s a pretty stunning place high up on top of an impossibly steep mountain. Plenty of hiking opportunities if you’re ok with hights (by hights I mean ledges with 500+ foot drops). Otherwise you can use the cable car. If you do go stay in La Rambla.

    We are a fossil fuel economy, the kid isn’t “pushing the button for fun” he’s doing it to make a living and prosper.

    This is not an argument for pushing the button if you do not know the consquences of pushing the buttong. Additionally, it’s a fallacy of the false choice. No one is proposing that we stop pushing the button tomorrow, only that we make modest efforts to push the button less or use an alternative to the button. This can be a modest investment now which can be ditched should it turn out pounding the button is perfectly fine (even so the investment may yield secondary payoffs anyway). On the other hand if it turns out the pushing the button is a very, very bad idea the modest efforts to move the asteroid now dramatically lessens the effort needed to move it far in the future.

  9. Boonton,

    This is not an argument for pushing the button if you do not know the consquences of pushing the buttong

    Sure it is. Our entire economy is built on pushing that button.

    Look you can make arguments like that button all the time. You don’t know the consequences of people living in houses, or wearing glasses, or inter-racial marriage. So we shouldn’t. You have to understand the consequences before you want to spend trillions (by force/taxation). And shouldn’t those who believe in CO2 be leading the way in conservation? It’s why you see 30% of the drivers on the highway driving 5-10 miles below the speed limit on the highway. But they aren’t. The beliefs in CO2 and curbing such is more akin to the rich purchasing indulgences than actual worries about global warming.

  10. And shouldn’t those who believe in CO2 be leading the way in conservation?

    If your doctor is fat and smokes will you tell me you’ll discount his warnings about your weight and smoking habit?

    You have to understand the consequences before you want to spend trillions (by force/taxation).

    Trillions, of course, is just a number made up out of nothing. Well not quite out of nothing. The auto industry used to fight mpg standards by issuing estimates of the # of jobs lost. How did they derive those estimates? Well they said in, say, 1988 10% of cars sold were above some proposed requirement that would go into effect in 1998. Therefore if those 10% of cars were made by 8% of autoworkers the requirement would ‘destroy’ all those jobs. As if in ten years people who would have brought those lower mpg cars would simply opt not to ever buy a car if they couldn’t have a higher mpg one. No shift of workers into more efficient cars. No shift of spending from low mpg cars into any other part of the economy. People who would have spend money on those 10% of cars would simply make a pile of $100 bills in their front lawns and set it on fire instead.

  11. Boonton,

    If your doctor is fat and smokes will you tell me you’ll discount his warnings about your weight and smoking habit?

    Pretty much so. You’ll certainly chide him on it. If a guy says he believes CO2 is a problem and we must act now and has a 20k per month electric bill and drives a car that gets 12mpg … you believe him? Why?

    (sorry this got on the wrong comment)

    Trillions, of course, is just a number made up out of nothing.

    No. That’s the estimated costs for Kyoto which the warming faithful warn is not enough.

  12. One is a collective action problem. If everyone reduces their consumption by 5%, the impact is dramatic. If only Al Gore cuts his consumption by 99%, there is no impact at all. Same principle works for issues conservatives like. If Al Gore gives 95% of his income to charity, not much will happen. If all 300M+ residents of the Us give just 5% a lot will happen.

    In terms of the doctor, you’re suffering from an argument from authority. The doctor’s smoking doesn’t make smoking any less dangerous or more so. Maybe the doctor has a death wish. Maybe he lacks the willpower to stop smoking. It doesn’t really matter to the question of whether it’s a good idea for your kids to start smoking or not.

    That’s the estimated costs for Kyoto which the warming faithful warn is not enough

    I gurantee you those estimates were built on enough bullshit to turn this climate into Venus.

  13. Boonton,

    I guarantee you those estimates were built on enough bullshit to turn this climate into Venus.

    Yah, just like you guarantee the hockey stick is good science.

    If only Al Gore cuts his consumption by 99%, there is no impact at all.

    If 30% of the people cut their consumption by 30% the impact is … (wait for it) dramatic. If 80% of the Democrats believe in anthro CO2 is problematic then by putting their beliefs in to practice their effects would be dramatic. Alas, they don’t, it isn’t and they just want the government to require indulgences. But you knew that. So what are you really trying to apologize for?

  14. Except simply ‘cutting consumption’ is probably the least efficient way to address global warming just as using less deorderant was the least effective way to deal with CFCs and the ozone hole.

  15. Boonton,
    I see. Cutting CO2 production is the least efficient way of addressing global warming. Welcome aboard.

  16. Thought experiment, a UFO lands and aliens announce we have three years to achieve a rate of CO2 release equal to what we did in 1973. Failure means they will blow up the world. How to accomplish that?

    well one way would be to bring back 1973. Whatever we did in 1973, we just do again. If we made 18 million cars in 1973, we make 18 million cars now. If we drove 22,532 miles per car then, we drive 22,532 miles per car now. The cost of doing this is easy to calculate. GDP 2013 – GDP 1973.

    That’s the bullshit calculation you use to argue that addressing global warming will, not matter what, hopelessly cost us trillions upon trillions etc. etc.

    But if this really happened we wouldn’t quite do things this way. For example, we have more people today than in 1973 so if we limited ourselves to 1973′s # of cars, we’d have people stuck. BUT a 1973 Ford Impala isn’t all that efficient as a new car today. Instead of trapping ourselves with 1973′s stock of cars we could get away with more cars if we used everything we learned from 1973 to now to make each car better. Likewise 1973 had plenty of coal power plants but fewer natural gas ones, but we could comply with the UFO’s demands and still have more electricty to enjoy if we utilized natural gas instead of 1973′s coal technology (and in both cases used computers to run the plants more efficiently) etc etc.

    The effect of all of this means the cost has to be < (2013GDP-1973GDP). Or in other words the 2013-1973 calculation only provides an upper bound to costs (an absurd one at that). So what would be the cost?

    Well I think it would be a function of three things: Time to achieve reduction, amount of reduction and 'wisdom' of the policies used to achieve the reduction. F(T,A,P).

    Certainly the max would be the pure dumb 'time machine' approach where you simply recreate the entire economy of whatever era you're trying to achieve. There's probably even worse ways to do it but for now let's call that the relevant max. of the function. The min. of the function is going to depend highly on those inputs and yes it can even be no cost or even a negative cost (aka positive gain).

    For example, instead of CO2 let's say its horse poo. US cities probably have as much horse poo on their streets today as they did in…I don't know 1670 when the 'cities' were like just a few houses close together. Certainly we didn't achieve the lower poo rate by returning to the economy of 1670 where beaver pelts was the Microsoft type industry of the era.

    We also didn't achieve it by 'reducing consumption'. A person in 1670 who was an advocate against poo in the streets might have been told by the nags of the day to stop going about town so there wouldn't be so many horses needed. But we 'go about town' much more these days than ever before. Achieving a pooless street was not done by mass ascetism by advocates. (pooless blogs, of course, are a utopia we will probably never see).

  17. Boonton,
    Have you been taking “how not to make an argument classes”, ’cause it’s working.

    First, “to bring back 1973″ is perhaps interesting, but if you actually listen to the knuckleheads warning about CO2 levels they cite a timeframe more like “we need to get back to 1873″ levels of CO2, 1973 won’t cut it. Tell me your costs estimates for bringing us back to 1873 levels of CO2 production.

    Second, whose calculation are you citing as a method of calculating costs. Not mine. That’s called a straw man argument. It’s also a fallacy.

    Third, your example is not very good for your side of the argument, and pretty good for mine. How did the “horse poo” problem actually get solved? Was it politicians (or bloggers) bloviating about the poo problem? Answer: no. Was it taxes levied on poo? Answer: no. Was it scientists working on solutions to the poo problem? Answer: no. Was it engineers and others looking for and designing things to stop the poo problem? Answer: no. Was it nanny state poo-heads advocating less moving around by horse? Answer: no. So then, what was it? Well, it turned out to be a side effect of engineers and consumers wanting to fix the “how to get me or my crap from X to Y quickly where neither X nor Y are near a train station?” It turned out the solution was popular and didn’t produce poo. And voila, the poo vanished ’cause we all moved to non-poo modes of transportation. Now, perhaps in 10 years some bright guy will figure out how to take atmospheric carbon and deposit on surfaces in a diamond lattice structure and that consumers (like they like to get from X to Y in the absence of trains) happen to like shiny durable stuff and suddenly the CO2 problem becomes a “we don’t have enough” instead of “we have too much” worry. But following your argument, it’s not going to be fixed by trying to solve the problem at all, but only can be fixed if a happy side effect for things we all desire is accidentally discovered. That is your actual argument. It is, indeed, a strange one. Interesting argument, and again, welcome to my (the dark?) side.

  18. CO2 levels they cite a timeframe more like “we need to get back to 1873″ levels of CO2, 1973 won’t cut it. Tell me your costs estimates for bringing us back to 1873 levels of CO2 production.

    Really? YOu cited Kyoto, did Kyoto mandate an 1873 level? Or even 1973 for that matter? Regardless we are probably at something like a 1500 level of horse poo in the US. What was the ‘cost’ of achieving that?

    Second, whose calculation are you citing as a method of calculating costs.

    I’m establishing a ceiling for the most it could possibly cost. Of course strictly speaking there might be ways to make it cost even more but it seems sensible to say simply reproducing 1973 down to the 8-tracks and bell bottoms is technically always an option so take that as a max.

    How did the “horse poo” problem actually get solved? Was it politicians (or bloggers) bloviating about the poo problem? Answer: no.

    I suspect a horse riding and loving 17th century man magically transported to present day NYC would find trying to keep a horse both very taxing and fraught with all sorts of legal problems.

    Now, perhaps in 10 years some bright guy will figure out how to take atmospheric carbon and deposit on surfaces in a diamond lattice structure and that consumers (like they like to get from X to Y in the absence of trains) happen to like shiny durable stuff and suddenly the CO2 problem becomes a “we don’t have enough” instead of “we have too much” worry

    This danger is not going to cause me to loose much sleep. If it does for you, I suggest pills and other medications.

  19. Boonton,

    This danger is not going to cause me to loose much sleep. If it does for you, I suggest pills and other medications.

    Uhm, this “danger” was cited as a hypothetical development that might affect CO2 production. Since you’ve argued by analogy (poo) that the only way we’re going to combat the CO2 problem is by hoping for an unrelated technology to take over and reduce CO2 effluent as a secondary effect … that was the first possibility that occurred to me. I’m not quite sure why this was seen or implied as a “danger” by anyone.

    I suspect a horse riding and loving 17th century man magically transported to present day NYC would find trying to keep a horse both very taxing and fraught with all sorts of legal problems.

    This relates more to the rise of the auto and relegation of horse riding to a pastoral hobby (except the Western ranchers who still do it for a living) than the putative urban “poo problem”.

    I’m establishing a ceiling for the most it could possibly cost.

    I’m waiting for your cost estimate of cutting global population back to the 1970s levels.

    YOu cited Kyoto, did Kyoto mandate an 1873 level?

    It was recently noted on another blog that Medicare D was criticized from the right for being a wasteful expansion of our entitlement programs but it was also strongly criticized from the left for being “not enough.” Likewise, Kyoto was criticized from the right as being an economic burden and costly to implement and not enough to make a difference by the left. Apparently “not enough” was missed by you. But I forget, your poo argument indicates your sympathy for the “no bureaucratic solution exists” point of view.

  20. Boonton,
    Wait I missed something. Your “horse riding guy in present NYC” is quoted in response to my suggestion that politicians and their policy did effect the rise of the auto and the reduction of horses in NYC. Are you seriously suggesting that horses are rare now in NYC because of regulations? Or because your car is much cheaper, less care, less trouble, and more effective?

  21. Boonton,

    I suspect a horse riding and loving 17th century man magically transported to present day NYC would find trying to keep a horse both very taxing and fraught with all sorts of legal problems.

    Kinda like the legal problems of opening a homeless shelter in two story flat without installing an elevator?

  22. Are you seriously suggesting that horses are rare now in NYC because of regulations?

    No but regulations have certainly changed. Consider horse poo. Probably in 1700 the regulation was ‘where the horse poos is a problem for whoever owns that place’ whereas today the regulation is ‘where it poos is a problem for whoever owns the horse’. If you told people in 1700 that horse owners had to clean up their poo they would probably scream that commerce would scream to a halt, there’s thousands of horses all over and some men own dozens of horses! That’s a perfect illustration of what I was talking about hidden costs versus transparant costs. To the 1700 man the cost imposed on property owners was hidden. To the 2013 man the NYC horse’s cost is hidden, unless the man is one of the few that owns the horse.

    But that’s a digression. We went from having a lots of horse based economy to a very few horse based economy. You say that happened because of consumer preferences (smelling smoke is less annoying than stepping in poo, and you can go faster with fewer bumps). Yea so what? We aren’t talking about why shifts happened, we are talking about their costs. That cars were more appealing than horses has nothing to do with it.

    If people suddenly got an insane desire to return to horses tomorrow, that would be a consumer driven change. But it would impose a huge cost. If people really wanted to revert to a horse centered transportation system rapidly, they would have to pay a very high price. It would take a lot of resources to teach millions how to ride. Lots of in process investment would stop and new investments would be required to handle the rise in horses (saddles, vets, horseshoe makers etc.). Needless to say since there are only so many horses in America and they can only have so many baby horses per year we might end up having to spend huge fortunes importing nearly every horse from around the world. But if people wanted to pay the price they would. But if people were willing to slowly transition to a horse based system, it could be done very cheaply. Say over 100 years it wouldn’t be very expensive at all to gradually increase horse populations, expand horse based services and products, teach people horseback riding in school, figure out how to make ‘horse lanes’ on some major highways without disrupting regular car traffic etc.

    Now if the reason we did this was because a UFO arrived and said that it would blow up earth in 2113 if we didn’t do horses again, it would not be a big deal. But if the UFO said it would blow us up on 2015 it would be a huge problem for us. But how would you advise handling it?

    Well your logic would seem to be along the lines of in 2113 we may have the tech to defeat the UFO, or maybe the UFO will have a change of heart. So we should do nothing until about 2100, at which time if it seems like we really do have to switch to horses we’ll engage in a radical crash course to do it. The less costly option would be to slowly move towards horses and if later on the UFO changes its mind or we figure out how to blow it up, it’s not really all that sunk investment into the horse industry

  23. Kinda like the legal problems of opening a homeless shelter in two story flat without installing an elevator?

    Kinda interesting if the person who originally build the building, for whatever reason, had been required to have a elevator then it would have been quite easy for the next owner to walk in and get a homeless shelter up and running, wouldn’t it?

    But here’s why not to trust sensational stories like this. Ask yourself this, do you really think there’s no two story homeless shelters in all of NYC?

  24. Boonton,

    But here’s why not to trust sensational stories like this.

    Uhm, the building could have been residential for which an elevator is not required.

    Do you think there are multi-story homeless shelters without elevators in NYC?

  25. Mark
    Add “new” not grandfathered … that is are multi-story shelters opened in the last 30 years without elevators? Yes or no.

  26. I’m going to guess there are multi-story homeless shelters in NYC with elevators which are less than 30 years old.

  27. Uhm, the building could have been residential for which an elevator is not required.

    Was this the case or are you guessing?

  28. Boonton,
    I agree, there *are* multi-story buildings in NYC with elevators. The question is whether there are those without. You cannot build a commercial or public multi-story building without elevators, … in Northern Illinois. I suspect NYC zone is tougher (just like Chicago is tougher) than the outlying areas.

    Was this the case or are you guessing?

    About what? You said the building must have already had an elevator if it was multi-story, yet in Chicago (and I’m guessing NYC) residential buildings don’t require elevators, but commercial and public ones do. So we have a large class of dwellings of the sort that a bunch of nuns might be more likely than the other sorts to acquire for a song. Seems to me the story is less far out than you pretend.

  29. Found this article which has a handful of facts about it
    http://www.ourcivilisation.com/signs/deadsens.htm

    So NYC owned the building, offered it for $1 but did have a condition that it have an elevator installed (cost estimate $130K). The failure seems to be totally on the part of the charity. Empty lots in the Bronx these days are going for over $600K and ones with at least 10 units are breaking into the million and over range ( see http://www.loopnet.com/New-York/Bronx-County_Apartment-Buildings-For-Sale/). They could have brought it for a song, operated a homeless shelter for a few years, then turned around and got back all their costs by selling it and plough the money into some other charitable activity.

  30. Boonton,
    Failure on the part of the charity (a Mumbai/Bombay based charity that operated on a shoestring, btw)? You make my point for me. Well done. The point being made was a nonsense zoning regulation providing barriers to charity. Which is what your cite provides. Good on you. You make my point for me. Thanks for that. Alas, apparently you don’t even realize that you made my point.

    What is the point of the elevator? None. Without an elevator could homeless be fed and sheltered? Yes. Without an elevator could handicapped homeless be accommodated? Yes. What did the elevator mean? That NYC could look good on paper and be a-wipes in practice.

    What was the real likely barrier? Local zoning reps didn’t want unsightly homeless in their neighborhood so they blocked it.

  31. Boonton,
    Another note on homeless shelters and access. As noted earlier, my parish offers Monday night housing for up to about 22-25 women from October through April for homeless in a “PADS” network. We house them in the basement/reception hall, which is on the lower level. While (as required by zoning and our elderly parishoners) we have a inexpensive elevator to the basement. However the entry to this elevator is not accessible to the door opened to the homeless, i.e., the homeless cannot use the elevator Monday nights. Oddly enough this doesn’t pose the difficulties you seem to pretend it should.

  32. Failure on the part of the charity (a Mumbai/Bombay based charity that operated on a shoestring, btw)? You make my point for me. Well done. The point being made was a nonsense zoning regulation providing barriers to charity.

    Shoestring? Mother Theresa’s charities pull in millions in donations. Certainly they are more well known than the hundreds of other charities in NYC that have managed to somehow open homeless shelters.

    As for being operated from Mumbai, the article said they had set aside $670,000 back in 1988 for rennovation of the building. The lift would have added $130,000 to that cost. They were applying to buy the building for $1. So their choice was free building for $670K or free building for $800K. Given the randomness of construction projects, these are essentially the same choices. Perhaps the problem was less about regulation than about trying to manage a NYC project from Mumbai. Most real estate managers either live in the same area as their holdings or easily travel there often.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/17/nyregion/metro-matters-fight-city-hall-nope-not-even-mother-teresa.html provides a bit more context.

    First this wasn’t a small ‘walk up flat’. These were four story buildings that were intended to house up to 64 homeless men. And second the objection to the elevator wasn’t its cost or that it ‘wouldn’t help any handicapped people’, it was:

    They replied that they were forbidden by their religious vows from routinely using modern conveniences and were prepared to carry any handicapped people themselves. City officials suggested, among other things, a fully automated elevator, like those placed in some housing for Orthodox Jews, who do not operate mechanical devices on the Sabbath. Instead, the frustrated nuns applied for a waiver from the handicapped access law for religious reasons.

    Notice how very interest facts get dropped from the story to fit it into the narrative? But take a step back, your argument wasn’t about regulation frustrating charity but the overall economy. Your case would be saved if the frustration of the Sisters resulted in the building going to waste rather than being used for something useful (even if handicapped people are awkwardly being ‘carried’ around by nuns rather than having an elevator which is pretty standard in NYC). well the NYT article happens to give us the address of those two buildings, 315 and 317 East 148th street. We can see what became of those two buildings!

    http://www.spokeo.com/148th+St+Bronx+NY+addresses#662865651 says 315 now has 77 men and 28 women and is worth maybe $870K (pretty sure that has to be much less than true market value). 317 is a single home (possibly torn down and rebuilt?).

  33. Oddly enough this doesn’t pose the difficulties you seem to pretend it should.

    Thank you for helping undermine your case of ancedotes showing regulation being a problem by providing an ancedote of regulation not caushing a problem for your parish’s efforts to help homeless people. But my birthday isn’t till June and I don’t really need the help, just send cash instead ;)

  34. Boonton,

    Thank you for helping undermine your case of ancedotes showing regulation being a problem by providing an ancedote of regulation not caushing a problem for your parish’s efforts to help homeless people.

    It’s unclear how a regulation overlooked undermines my “case.” You can perhaps work on that for me.

    It seems to me not wanting to spend money on an elevator is not unreasonable. You wanna pretend it’s automatically unreasonable because “it’s a religious objection” … but when you are trying to maximize your impact of the money you do have on helping the plight of the poor, not getting them 40″+ flat-screens or elevators isn’t unreasonable … unless you wanna pretend it is. But you then have to drop the “reality” adjective from the progressive movements platform. You’re campaigning for blind-for-the-sake-of-rhetoric as a substitution.

  35. It’s unclear how a regulation overlooked undermines my “case.”

    Informally ‘overlooking’ regulations is part of the regulatory environment. A country with a 50 mph speed limit where there’s a 95% chance you can always drive 55 mph without getting a ticket is not the same as a country that aspires to issue tickets 100% of the time anyone hits 51 mph.

    It’s interesting that your church operates to help people but at the same time navigates between setting up a full fledged shelter versus doing nothing. This might be because your church knows the environment it’s in. It would have a harder time understanding those nuances if it was being directed from, say, Mumbai where carrying handicapped people around on your back is a perfectly fine way to run an institution.

    I suspect the regulations here combined with informally ‘overlooking’ them create a positive environment. The regulations exist to deter and prevent fly by night operations that would in the long run degrade neighborhoods by setting up ‘charity rackets’ while at the same time allowing those serious about helping some flexibility to operate.

    An interesting counter story I heard recently is ‘sober houses’ cropping up in CA. The idea is someone coming out of jail or a drug program moves into a ‘sober house’ where they can start rebuilding their lives for either very low rent or rent paid for by welfare programs (think like $500 per month per bed). The best examples combine drug testing, services and caps on the number of men in each house to create a safe environment. The worse, though, consist of homeowners milking the system putting dozens of beds in houses sometimes with a single bathroom (one example cited had the garage set up to house 3-4 men alone).

    but when you are trying to maximize your impact of the money you do have on helping the plight of the poor, not getting them 40″+ flat-screens or elevators isn’t unreasonable

    We are not talking about maximizing the impact of that particular charity but maximizing the potential of our economy. Here we see both the area and the actual buildings did quite well for themselves despite being denied the opportunity to be a homeless shelter.

  36. Boonton,

    Informally ‘overlooking’ regulations is part of the regulatory environment.

    This is harmful for two reasons. Laws which are on the books which everyone ignores lessens respect for obeying the law and as our regulatory environment is leading can put you in the position where everyone is breaking the law and it is up your good relations with government official to keep you out of trouble. Both are problematic. See the IRS now. When the IRS audits a company … they arrive. And if the issue which brought them to you is not a problem they will remain until they find enough fines/problems to pay for their time and trouble to come out and audit you. You think this is a good idea. Why? because it allows “regulators” flexibility to to “overlook” those things they like and crack down on those they don’t. Uhm. Rule of law is in fact better than rule by the buddy system. You knew that at one time I suspect.

  37. 1. Respect for the law -

    Not all of law is written. That is the essence of the English concept of ‘common law’ which both respected written law but also used common sense combined with precedent. The fact that we don’t write a law that says something like “the speed limit is 50mph but cops may ignore 55mph” doesn’t mean such an informal rule is ‘disrespecting law’.

    You haven’t really addressed my point here, a country that issues automatic tickets every time you hit 51 mph is not the same as one like ours even though ‘on the books’ both have 50mph speed limits. This is one reason why cameras at red lights issuing tickets have raised so much controversy.

    “regulatory environment is leading can put you in the position …”

    Since your every attempt at discussing regulation seems to almost always get regulation wrong what credibility do you have in discussing regulation on any type of macro trend level?

    See the IRS now. When the IRS audits a company … they arrive

    Actually they usually send a letter, not just show up at the door unless there’s something more serious afoot.

    And if the issue which brought them to you is not a problem they will remain until they find enough fines/problems to pay for their time and trouble to come out and audit you. You think this is a good idea. Why?

    The corporate tax rate is officially 35%. In reality corporations pay less than 10% of their profits in tax, often with the most profitable corps paying nothing. The corporate tax code is so loaded with fuzzy loopholes and giveaways that it’s almost impossible for auditors not to find income companies legitimately owe. IMO I would scrap the corporate income tax and replace it with higher individual rates on higher incomes and higher rates on capital gains. Barring that the corporate income tax is less regulation and more of a subsidy scheme at this point making the IRS audits more about reducing spending on corporate welfare than true regulation IMO.

    Rule of law is in fact better than rule by the buddy system.

    Less about the ‘buddy system’ and more about recognition that language is limited. The rules about permanent housing, for example, can be legitimately read to not apply to cases like your church which isn’t really letting anyone ‘move into’ their basement. In areas where language is fuzzy the two options are to expand upon the language or to allow enforcers to use common sense discretion.

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