Quotulatiousness

October 31, 2017

How Sugar Subsidies Ruin Halloween

Filed under: Economics, Government, Health, Politics, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

ReasonTV
Published on 30 Oct 2017

This Halloween while you’re getting pudgy from candy, crony capitalists are getting rich off of sugar subsidies. The system is rigged through price controls, subsidies, and tariffs, all designed to protect the sugar industry from competition – and basic math. In the latest “Mostly Weekly” Andrew Heaton tears into the Willy Wonkas gaming the system, and shows why an open market can more than handle your sugar craving.

The adage “When you get a free good, you use a lot more of it” also applies to the military

Filed under: Middle East, Military, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

John Stossel talks to Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater:

The military uses contractors to provide security, deliver mail, rescue soldiers and more. Private contractors often do jobs well, for much less than the government would spend.

”We did a helicopter resupply mission,” Prince told me. “We showed up with two helicopters and eight people — the Navy was doing it with 35 people.”

I asked, “Why would the Navy use 35 people?”

Prince answered, “The admiral that says, ‘I need 35 people to do that mission,’ didn’t pay for them. When you get a free good, you use a lot more of it.”

Prince also claims the military is slow to adjust. In Afghanistan, it’s “using equipment designed to fight the Soviet Union, (not ideal) for finding enemies living in caves or operating from a pickup truck.”

I suggested that the government eventually adjusts.

”No, they do not,” answered Prince. “In 16 years of warfare, the army never adjusted how they do deployments — never made them smaller and more nimble. You could actually do all the counter-insurgency missions over Afghanistan with propeller-driven aircraft.”

So far, Trump has ignored Prince’s advice. I assume he, like many people, is skeptical of military contractors. The word “mercenary” has a bad reputation.

He moved on after selling Blackwater, and dabbled in fighting piracy:

In 2010, Prince sold his security firm and moved on to other projects.

He persuaded the United Arab Emirates to fund a private anti-pirate force in Somalia. The U.N. called that a “brazen violation” of its arms embargo, but Prince went ahead anyway.

His mercenaries attacked pirates whenever they came near shore. His private army, plus merchant ships finally arming themselves, largely ended piracy in that part of the world. In 2010, Somali pirates took more than a thousand hostages. In 2014, they captured none.

Did you even hear about that success? I hadn’t before doing research on Prince. The media don’t like to report good things about for-profit soldiers. Commentator Keith Olbermann called Blackwater “a full-fledged criminal enterprise.” One TV anchor called Prince “horrible … the poster child for everything wrong with the military-industrial complex.”

When I showed that to Prince, he replied, “the hardcore anti-war left went after the troops in Vietnam … (I)n Iraq and Afghanistan they went after contractors … contractors providing a good service to support the U.S. military — vilified, demonized, because they were for-profit companies.”

If we don’t use private contractors, he added, we will fail in Afghanistan, where we’ve “spent close to a trillion dollars and are still losing.”

H/T to Stephen Green for the link.

Strategic Bombing on the Western Front I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, France, Germany, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 30 Oct 2017

Bismarck’s Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/Bis18marck70/featured

With the development of planes shortly before the Great War, the concept of strategic bombing made its debut in this conflict. Each country had different doctrines with regards to strategic bombing, and in this video we’ll be looking at British, French and German doctrines regarding the bombing of civilian targets and supply lines, as well as considering their effectiveness.

We may no longer refer to a last-place candidate as having “lost their deposit”

Filed under: Cancon, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Colby Cosh on a recent court ruling in that hotbed of radical democracy, the Alberta Queen’s Bench, declaring candidate deposits for federal elections to be unconstitutional:

Deposits are a tradition in Canadian federal elections as old as the ballot itself, dating to 1874. But Queen’s Bench Justice Avril Inglis’s ruling suggests that their days are probably numbered. They were introduced for the purpose, stated at the time and very often re-stated since, of deterring frivolous candidates for office. Before the year 2000, you needed to hand over $1,000 to run in a federal election: you got half back automatically if you complied with the Ps and Qs of election law, and the other half if you got at least 15 per cent of the vote.

This practice ran into trouble when (literal) communists litigated against it, arguing that it impeded the Charter rights of the poor and humble to participate in elections. Parliament acknowledged this by making the full $1,000 refundable, so talking heads no longer speak of “forfeiting one’s deposit” on election night. But the government continued to take the view that the “frivolous” need to be discouraged from pursuing federal candidacies. This was not really a satisfying rectification of the Charter issue, as Kieran Szuchewycz, an Edmontonian with some legal experience, seems to have noticed.

The truth is that Szuchewycz (who, for all I know, could be the guy who mops my local 7-Eleven) ran circles around the Department of Justice lawyers who turned up to oppose him. Justice Inglis has ruled that the $1,000 deposit fails almost every point of the Oakes test for laws that impinge on Charter rights. She found that “preserving the legitimacy of the electoral process” is an important objective, but the connection between having a grand lying around and being a “serious” candidate is not clear.

Szuchewycz observed that nowhere in the literature defending election deposits is “seriousness” or “frivolousness” defined. Nobody can point to an example of any harm arising from the existence of even admittedly frivolous candidates, like the long-established Rhinos.

And, well, the deposit doesn’t seem to discourage the Rhinos, does it? If you are well-heeled but “frivolous” you can afford the deposit. If you are in earnest, but broke, it’s a problem. And there are other “seriousness” tests in election law, notably the requirement for candidates to gather nominating signatures from riding residents. So what’s the thousand bucks for specifically?

Update, 8 November: Elections Canada is respecting the Alberta Queen’s Bench decision and no longer requires candidates in federal elections to submit a deposit. H/T again to Colby Cosh.

Yes Minister — The Five Standard Excuses

Filed under: Britain, Bureaucracy, Government, Humour — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Hostis Humani Generis
Published on 26 Sep 2015

Humphrey Appleby’s five standard excuses from S02E07.

QotD: Consensus “science”

Filed under: Quotations, Science — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled.

Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

Michael Crichton, “Aliens Cause Global Warming”: the Caltech Michelin Lecture, 2003-01-17.

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