Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricanes as economic growth generators?

I've actually heard a few talking heads on TV talk about how the hurricane currently bearing down on the Northeastern US could actually spur economic activity if it does a lot of damage. On first thought it sort of makes sense, but think about it a little more.

If I owned a house in NJ and I needed to replace 4 windows due to storm damage, I'd have to buy new windows and put them in, so let's say I spend $2000 to do so. If I don't have insurance, I'm spending that money out of my pocket, so while the window guy is getting $2k that's two grand I'm not spending on something else, like a vacation, or a new PC.

If I have insurance, let's say I have a $250 deductible. That's $250 out of my pocket I don't spend on something else, like a weekend out on the town. The other $1750 is covered by insurance, but my rates and the rates of other customers will go up to offset the losses paid out by insurance. Insurance companies are in business to not lose money, just like every other business.

Any money spent means that money isn't spent someplace else. The only way to truly create new economic activity is to create new jobs and new wealth through designing and creating new products which make our lives better, things that truly innovate. A good example is the personal computer revolution. I'm not sure what the next big thing is, and that's too bad, since I'd try strike it rich working on it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Um, how about no?

There are so many things wrong with this story that I don't even know where to start.

This woman, who can't work due to her weight and needs to ride a scooter through the grocery store to gather up the 20k calorie a day menu she eats, wants to reach 1 ton in weight. Since she can't work I'm guessing the taxpayers are funding both her groceries and her current and future medical care necessitated by this "lifestyle choice".

I am overweight myself, and while it is a daily struggle to lose weight I certainly do not desire to gain more. While self acceptance is important, the fact that her physicians do not think she has mental problems is astonishing to me. This is not normal behavior, and while it is not harmful to others if she wants to engage in it she should certainly not be subsidized in doing so.

I saw another story recently where there was a man on government assistance who lived in a crib like an infant, and his girlfriend was paid to be his caretaker. He threatened to kill himself if he was removed from the dole. I wonder how many examples of this kind of thing you could find if you looked for them.

Friday, August 12, 2011

English? We don't need no stinking English!

A really interesting video series on the origin and evolution of the English language is here. Worth a look when you have 10 minutes to spare.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Internet! Glorious glorious Internet!

I finally have an internet connection at home again!

Last Friday Qwest called me and told me I could save money by bundling my DSL and home phone. I told them OK, but mentioned I get my DSL line through Qwest but have a different ISP. They said, no problem, so I said sign me up.

Monday my internet quit working. I called my ISP and they said all was well with my account and said I should call Qwest and have them do a line check. Long story short, Qwest switched me to their ISP. I said no, don't want it. They say, can't bundle without us as your ISP. I asked them to put it back the way it was. They said OK, have it back by Wednesday. I said WTF? No matter, they said. I must wait.

Today, no internet. Call Qwest. They say order to switch was cancelled. I say WTF?!? They said, readded order. I ask when. They say Friday. I say I hope you all DIAF if it's not fixed today! They say sorry, you wait til Friday.

So this afternoon I set up Clear internet and phone over 4G. Cheaper than Qwest, so we'll see how it is. Canceling Qwest tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Internet problems are no good

My home internet is down for a couple days thanks to a Qwest screw up, so I'm posting this update from work on my lunch break. I'll try and get a real post in later today. Thanks!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A reasonable suggestion :P

If nationalized healthcare is constitutional, then perhaps Congress should start pushing for a single payer legal system. Unlike healthcare, I actually have legal rights explicitly granted to me in the Constitution, such as the rights of free speech, and the requirement that a warrant needs to be obtained to search my residence.

Imagine a society where a free lawyer, paid for by the government, is available to anyone who needs one. Laws could require a set fee be paid to attorneys for services, regardless of years of experience. Perhaps you could even have lawyers assigned by lottery. Why should only the wealthy be able to get the absolute best representation. All lawyers could be government employees, paid on a federal pay scale, starting at $50k and topping out at $125k or so, reducing the costs of civil lawsuits immeasurably. 

Along with that could be capped levels for judgments, and since all attorneys would work for the same employer there would be no need for legal fees or a percentage off the top for any judgments.

Of course the problem we run into here is Congress and Senate are chock full of lawyers, and they aren't about to crap on their gravy train. They don't seem to have any problem crapping on everyone else's though.