Linky Friday #186: Guns, Bombs, & Dead Raccoons

Cities:

[Ci1] Richard Florida talks about sprawl’s ongoing triumphs, but Justin Fox says we don’t need to surrender.

[Ci2] Apartment in San Francisco, or castle in France?

[Ci3] Wendell Cox explains why increasing density doesn’t increase affordability. Not if done by fiat, anyway.

[Ci4] Dammit. Okay, everybody move to Canterbury now!

[Ci5] I don’t know, this looks kind of cool. I’m a fan of unique structures. But it might do more good in Tampa or somewhere than Manhattan (though I’m informed that the place in Manhattan isn’t really Manhattan.

Resources:

deepwater horizon photo

Image by EPI2oh

[R1] In terms of carbon neutrality, hydropower may not be all its cracked up to be.

[R2] Karen Mahon feels betrayed by the Trudeau government.

[R3] I’ve commented before that I am open to a carbon tax provided that it’s revenue-neutral. According to Greg Ip, environmentalists in Washington are saying no deal.

[R4] Goodbye World, we’re doomed.

[R5] Which is too bad, because apparently we managed to decouple economic growth and carbon pollution too late, and alsotoo energy use and renewables are getting an upgrade thanks to Big Data.

[R6] New Mexico is taking a hit with the most recent oil bust, and investors are becoming increasing skeptical of OPEC’s ability to hold prices.

[R7] If you haven’t seen a movie, and the movie involves an oil company, assuming that the movie makes the oil company look good is a really weird assumption. (Sonny Bunch reports on Twitter that it does not, in fact, make the oil company good.)

Wildlife:

sloth photo

Image by lorentey

[Wi1] Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomachs. And so it was with this snake.

[Wi2] It’s like sending your rival a dead fish, except skunks and raccoons.

[Wi3] Wait, is saving crocodiles supposed to make me like markets?

[Wi4] Sloths & Moths: An enduring partnership.

[Wi5] When birds don’t have to worry about predators, they can really get down and boogie. (Video)

Crime:

[Cr1] The Christian Science Monitor has a good article on grandparents raising the children of their opioid-addicted children. My wife runs into this a lot.

[Cr2] The mythical clowns in the woods become real.

[Cr3] Leon Neyfakh wonders if the media should downplay the murder strike. When the headlines don’t match the image you wish to convey, change the headlines? (Actually, it’s a very nuanced take on a complicated concern.)

[Cr4] Nothing to stop the bad guy buy a good woman with a gun. Unless they violate department store policy.

[Cr5] Some PUA’s crossed the line into rape. Here’s the story of the victim who took them down.

[Cr6] Sorry I tased you.

[Cr7] Crazy Eddie died this month. Here is the story of his rise and fall. It’s kind of interesting that apparently at no point did they intend to be a legitimate, non-criminal enterprise.

War:

[Wa1] Recently department former President and Prime Minister Shimon Peres claims to have stopped Netanyahu from bombing Iran.

[Wa2] Attention Mr Blue! A great New Yorker article on the Spanish Civil War, and the Americans who fought in it. {via Saul}

[Wa3] In a small plot of land in Northern France, Americans have buried their dishonorable dead from World War II.

[Wa4] Alex Rawnsley and David Brown write of the history and folly of the Limited Nuclear War.

[Wa5] Meet Lyudmila Pavlichenko, the deadliest female sniper in history. And Gertrude Sanford, who outsmarted the Nazis by playing dumb.

[Wa6] Here’s a fascinating 1918 video on plastic surgery (on disfigured soldiers) in 1918.


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Will Truman is a former professional gearhead who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He also writes fiction, when he finds the time. ...more →

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180 thoughts on “Linky Friday #186: Guns, Bombs, & Dead Raccoons

  1. Ci1: Sprawl has a lot of in built legal advantages at this point. Most land use statutes permit encourage sprawl rather than allow density at this point. The underfunding and investment in public transportation over cars and highways also facilitates sprawl. What I found most interesting in the two links were the comments in the Bloomberg article. When confronted with a survey that a significant percentage of Americans would prefer denser, more traditional and walkable neighborhoods; the defenders of sprawl began talking about revealed preferences and high crime in the city and other junk. The fact that the legal regime favors sprawl and strictly zones suburbia does not matter to them.

    Ci3: Wendell Cox should be reminded that a legal regime that favors suburbia by fiat also makes city’s unaffordable. The man completely hates and loathes cities and transit and sees American car-dependent suburbia as the most supreme form of human living. He would impose it on the entire world if he could.

    Wi1: Snake had it coming. It had hubris and suffered the price like a character in a Greek myth.

    Wi2: I really wonder about the thought process that causes so many humans to do such dumb things. Doing something like this would never cross my mind. Does that make me weird or normal?

    Cr5: Well, this can cause a very heated discussion on certain blogs.

    Cr7: Crazy Eddie was Jewish. Jewish media about his passing refers to him as the son of Jewish immigrants from Syria and non-Jewish media as the son of Syrian immigrants.

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    • Long ago, when I lived in NJ and worked with hundreds of other young tech people, who for the first time in their life had enough money to buy semi-serious audio gear, it was well known that Crazy Eddie’s was where you bought specific gear after you’d done your research elsewhere. Walk in, pick the sealed box off the pile, pay, walk out. Ignore the staff.

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    • Cr5: Well, this can cause a very heated discussion on certain blogs.

      I suspect that this particular case is so manifestly awful that there won’t be much debate. These guys were beyond sleazy. Like, there are men in the PUA movement where there is room for real discourse; Mark Manson comes to mind, or even Strauss, where there are good feminist critiques to be made, but where the men clearly do not advocate rape. Those can be interesting discussions. These guys? Nah, they’re monsters and obviously so.

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        • — He’s kinda post-reformation-PUA or something. In his book he talks of participating in that culture, and how it worked but left him unsatisfied. In any case, his book is about how to meet and attract women, so if we define PUA broadly enough, then yeah, he’s part of it. If we apply a narrow definition, to only the sleaze, then no, he is not part of that.

          In her book, Clarisse Thorn considers him a PUA, but one of the “good ones.”

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  2. Lee, Esq. is right on the sprawl thing. If the polls are right, Americans are split equally in living preferences but a lot of our law and policies are designed to encourage sprawl over anything else and this makes it hard for cities to compete.

    Now sometimes urban dwellers are their own worst enemies as well. City folks can be just as NIMBY as suburbanites. A lot of anti-gentrification/anti-displacement advocates don’t realize that development is a friend and not an enemy. My theory for this is that human psychology makes us prone to symbolic gestures more than actual gestures and tribal nature. The anti-gentrification crowd sees the shiny condo buildings as being built for people “who are not like us” and they fight the buildings stupidly.

    The Guardian article on Portland at least mentioned NIMBY as a problem.

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/23/portland-housing-rent-increase-gentrification-hipster-culture

    Theirs is not an isolated story. Affordability, gentrification and homelessness are now the foremost political issues in a city in mortal danger of being loved to death.

    The driving factors – a steady stream of newcomers, a construction backlog, a Nimby attitude, and a strict urban growth boundary – are not going anywhere.

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  3. Obama is finally going after NIMBY regulations:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/09/26/the_white_house_housing_development_toolkit_tells_cities_and_counties_to.html

    Sadly the article concludes:

    The problem with this report, unfortunately, is that it does little to confront the large, diverse, and effective coalition that is arrayed against these changes: the wealthy suburbanites who don’t want rental housing in their neighborhoods; the urban white ethnics for whom more than half of household wealth sits in home values; the labor unions reluctant to support initiatives that lead to nonunion construction; the environmental groups and preservationist groups fearing a slippery-slope erosion of hard-fought gains; the Agenda 21–fearing conservatives; the municipal politicians who view extensive land-use reviews as an essential component of their power; the poor tenants who fear the catalytic, rent-spiking effect that new construction can sometimes produce at a local level and resent bearing the burdens of new development; the car-dependent commuters who feel that an on-street parking spot is a God-given right.

    Will those people be convinced by suggestions for housing development emanating from the Oval Office? Somehow I doubt it.

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  4. Ci2: A nit to pick: The piece is almost certainly talking about châteaux, not castles. A château is a largish-to-monstrous country house. A castle is a medieval self-contained defensive installation designed to withstand pre-gunpower-era assaults and sieges. The two words are cognates (the circumflex in “château” indicates an omitted /s/), but the structures are very different. Castles, while definitely cool, tend not to make attractive residences. The military imperatives in their design are inconsistent with creature comforts.

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      • Sure, but the article is written in English. (I would not, therefore, have complained had it discussed renting a “chateau” without the circumflex, or even had it used the plural form “chateus.”) While French makes no distinction between a chateau and a castle, English does. I suspect inept translation. The writer of the English article cribbed from some French source, mindlessly translating “châteaux” as “castles” without considering the semantics.

        In the alternative, it is possible that the French source referred to both county houses and to medieval defensive structures. This makes for a trickier translation problem. No English word springs to mind that elegantly conveys the same semantic range as the French word. This does not get the translator off the hook. English “castle” is clearly not right here, even if we are discussing what is the least wrong choice.

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    • Tangentially, The Hollywood Reporter had a story this week about the rich and famous spending big bucks to add bunkers to their homes. The owner of one of the companies that builds such bunkers is quoted as saying, “Everyone I’ve talked to thinks we are doomed, no matter who is elected.”

      Maybe I live in a little cocoon here in a west Denver suburb, but TTBOMK I don’t know anyone locally who thinks that way. I do have acquaintances (of widely varying political stripes) who live out East who think that it’s all going to go to fall apart.

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      • I’ve never met anyone who thinks that way about HRC and Donald simultaneously. Interesting….

        There are certainly times I have become a bit chicken little about what happens if Donald Trump gets elected and runs into a court that rules against him. Does he pull an Andrew Jackson and say “Justice Roberts made his decision, now let him enforce it! Sad!!” What is the probablity on Trump using the military to occupy courts? Could Trump order the military to do something and have top command balk at the order?

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        • Saul,
          Then you’re listening to morons and not thinking things through correctly. Exogenous variables are going to doom America. It’s not Clinton OR Trump, it’s Merkel and Deutschbank.

          Because even if you’re not paying attention, I am.

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          • I suspect Barro’s most likely outcome would be right. A Bad President with some lasting damage/lingering effects. But not bad enough to make the world turn away from the US Dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

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                      • Aaron,

                        I’m not sure how “win rate” is used as a metric of anything other than … well … win rate.

                        Could you elaborate on why you think this measure is somehow decisive against the Obama admin?

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                        • Sure, it’s the number of times you get challenged on laws and, and the number of times you fail those challenges, at the highest judiciary level. Thus win rate. How is this important, you might ask? Well, as it was presented as how Trump will act during his presidency with a “a court that rules against him” this is how we can look at it, as SCOTUS has ruled against Obama quite a bit.

                          Further, I think this win/loss rate is quite important when it comes to rating a president, as it gives a strong indication on his ability to follow the rule of law and not give in to the fascist temptations of an imperial presidency. One could make the argument that he supreme court is purely partisan, and from comments made by the ridiculous RBG I would say that it is so, in a leftward statist direction.

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                          • Further, I think this win/loss rate is quite important when it comes to rating a president, as it gives a strong indication on his ability to follow the rule of law and not give in to the fascist temptations of an imperial presidency.

                            Not SCOTUS cases, because SCOTUS cases almost always involve areas where the law is grey and there is no clear precedent.

                            If you want that, you want to count places where Executive branch policies (not to be confused for places where the Executive is attempting to defend laws, since those were passed by Congress) were struck down by lower courts.

                            (Even then, you’d have to ask yourself how closely those lower courts hewed to precedent, how much precedent there was, whether you had circuit splits or whether the decision had been overturned at any point — anything indicating disagreement inside the judicial system).

                            Your “win/loss” ratio conflates all sorts of things (outright laws generated by Congress, actions by various federal agencies, stuff passed by Congress) together, assigns it all to the Presidency, and then finishes by assuming that any SCOTUS loss (whether 5-4 or 9-0) is Executive Imperialism.

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                      • I don’t; outside of impeachment [1], there just wasn’t the same intensity of inter-branch conflict. I also just think, “Losing in front of the Supreme Court,” is a really lousy metric to use for Presidential quality. Just because the Court generally gets in the last word, it doesn’t mean it gets in the correct word.

                        [1] Which, don’t get me wrong, was a big deal on its own.

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                        • Just because the Court generally gets in the last word, it doesn’t mean it gets in the correct word.

                          Seems to me the argument has to go the other direction: the claim that Obama admin’s ideological approach as obviously and blatantly unconstitutional is supported by its record in SC decisions.

                          IOW, the offered data supports an implied claim rather than being indicative of anything interesting in and of itself. (Well, except the bare fact that the O admin lost more than it won, or that the lawyers arguing its cases are muy malo, or etc. I mean, without Roberts activism from the bench the ACA woulda gone down in flames…)

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                          • Of course, a lot of people were flabbergasted that the ACA challenges made it as far as they did. As you say, there are too many confounding factors to support the implicating that those SCOTUS rulings have a lot to say about Obama’s in-office performance.

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                  • When, not if, Obamacare completes blowing up…

                    Let’s be clear here: health care in the US – delivery mechanisms, price, funding mechanisms, etc – is totally and absolutely FUBAR. Hence, any official policy affiliated with it is effed too.

                    It’s not a criticism of the ACA that it will blow up. That outcome is merely a symptom the way we do things.

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          • Still, no one I’ve talked to – right OR left of me – has said my desire (if I only could) to take my annual 2 weeks’ vacation to begin the evening of Nov. 8, and to go hide out in the woods or be in my house behind a locked door, is at all paranoid or silly.

            At the VERY least, I’m going to heavily censor my access to social media for that time, because there will be, regardless of outcome, some football spiking, some name-calling, and some doom-saying.

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  5. R1: The framing is about hydroelectric power, but the actual content is about artificial lakes created by dams. These frequently serve dual functions, typically including being reservoirs for water supplies. It’s not as if shutting down the power plant part will make the demand for a water supply go away.

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    • Yep. Drinking water, irrigation, flood control, electricity — multi-purpose investments. Four of the ten largest impoundments in the US are on the Upper Missouri River, where electricity was… not an afterthought, exactly, but not a particularly big deal.

      Generating, transmitting, and distributing enough reliable electricity to allow 320M USians to enjoy its full range of benefits is going to mess up the environment somehow, it’s a matter of choosing which.

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        • Of course, if you have a plan going in for mitigating the environmental damage, it’s a lot easier & cheaper to do so then it is 25-50-100 years later. Part of the problem with many hydro facilities in use today is such planning wasn’t a concern at the time, so the damage has to be mitigated now, which makes it ever so much more difficult.

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          • Yep. One of my friends is high up in his company and his job covers a lot of that. He’s generally the voice of “Please, let’s plan ahead here” and the voice of “It costs less in the long term, we are planning to use this new facility/produce this new product for more than 2 years, right?” and “Jesus, guys, neither water NOR this feedstock is going to get cheaper, nor is disposing of this waste byproduct! You cannot pretend it will just to make your numbers add up”.

            I get the impression a lot of his headaches come from the usual places — like executive bonuses tied to stock prices and the usual “Two quarters ahead, max” kind of thinking.

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            • Two quarters ahead, max

              Such people need to go work for a smartphone app kind of company. If the project has a lifetime measure in years or decades, your mindset needs to reflect that, across the board.

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              • He’s into sustainability in a chemical company, so a lot of pushback is also from some dinosaurs. 60 to 70 year old board members who were around when it was still a good idea just to dump that byproduct into the river, it’ll be fine. (Well not quite, but their experience and such was during a much different age. There’s also the fact that chemical companies often get a lot of unwarranted grief from the more radical environmentalists. For every ‘stop dumping this crap in the river, I’m getting the EPA on you’ there’s probably a half dozen ‘Your 1ppb emission has given all my dogs cancer!’ complaints).

                Right now he’s on a big push on water sustainability. There’s a lot of places where infrastructure upgrades, process changes, and general ‘modernization’ (which is, admittedly, a lot of capital infrastructure) would save quite a bit of water (both coming IN and waste water coming out) and save them money even if water rates remain flat.

                He does say that sustainability (a field that, according to him, really didn’t even exist 20 or so years ago and is now often has board level representation) is really growing, so that’s something.

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  6. R1

    I’m surprised that apparently the journalist was surprised. The fact that dams are significant sources of methane, a more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2, is well known, and part of any decent environmental assessment.

    Not mentioned in there, but the major contributor, at least in the first couple of decades, is the old vegetation rotting under the water. This rotting process goes on for years, with additional negative environmental impact besides the methane emissions. Current good practices require totally clearing the site from vegetation before flooding

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    • Just wait until they figure out solar panels use lots of rare earth elements that are mined in China in, shall we say, significantly unsustainable ways.

      Seriously, there is no manner of creating power available to us that will not have some degree of environmental impact. All we can do is move to less bad means of generating power.

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  7. Ci5 I think it is kinda cool also.

    Wa5 We need more princess stories like this. Women who actually did things, instead of being born with things.

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  8. The complicated concern of the murder spike.

    Every year in the US, about 50 people die from complications from bee stings (53, to be exact). It’s a country of 320,000,000. Medical news today says:

    The most recent data (2013) reveals that annually there were 2,596,993 deaths registered in the US

    42 policemen died in gunfire-related incidents in 2015.

    Imagine if bee deaths were reported like police gunfire-related deaths.

    That said, the media does a great job of beating a very particular drum and so it shouldn’t be surprised when someone else discovers how well that very particular drum works.

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      • I watched a 1970s comedy on TV some weeks ago. Part of the running gag (though unrelated to the plot) was people talking about and panicking about when the (Kille) Bees would arrive to California.

        I’m just old enough to remember that that panic was real, and big, and dignified with cover stories in national magazines, and Congressional hearings. Movies and TV shows addressed the issue. It was big.

        And I had completely forgotten about it until this stupid movie reminded me that “killer” bees arrived to the USA decades ago.

        I doubt anybody younger than five years less than me could even understand why the movie chareacters kept talking about bees at odd moments, when not a single bee appeared on screen.

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        • I remember the whole killer bees thing of the 1970s.

          Part of it was yes, it was that much in the news, but part of it was I was utterly terrified of bees as a kid, so “killer” bees were kind of seven-year-old-me’s “WAGD” moment.

          Supposedly they are now where I live. I had a student who kept bees as a hobby and he said he had to euthanize a couple of hives because they got taken over by “killer” queens.

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  9. re: the “heartbroken”* lefty who felt betrayed by Trudeau. Is it just me that the left is much, much faster to claim betrayal of supposedly-sympatico politicians? It seems that the right waits until the policy is a clear failure before they perform disappointment for ideological deviation.

    As for this particular policy choice, what’s the issue here? It seems like the alternative is to leave gas in the ground where it waits for the inevitable next conservative government to take it out. It means clean hands for Trudeau in the eyes of the people least likely to vote for someone else, but what else of consequence?

    Then there’s this:

    Some part of me was deeply invested in the hope that this new government, led by a young Prime Minister who marched at the front of the pride parade and who passionately articulates the need for reconciliation with First Nations, was going to do things differently.

    What, you don’t think a QTPOC can’t work in the oilfields? This idea that politics has “good people” who will fight to the bitter end for all the good things, and then there’s everybody else, is exactly why the far left is so constantly stymied. Purity politics is a circular firing squad.

    *”Heartbroken” is rather mild as far as hyperbole goes. I thought “literally shaking right now” was the standard. But maybe that’s just Tumblr.

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  10. R3: That’s why they’re called watermelons. Green on the outside, red on the inside.

    It’s worth noting that Yoram Bauman is pretty far left, as mainstream economists go. This definitely isn’t some kind of nefarious public plot.

    That said, while I’m on board with a revenue-neutral tax on gasoline and carbon emissions from utilities, I do worry that taxing industrial carbon emissions from manufacturing and other businesses that don’t need to be located near their customers may just push industry out of the state. But I don’t know what $15/ton translates into practical terms. Maybe it’s not big enough to make a major difference. Overall, I’d still vote for the proposal.

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    • I think there are good reasons to support using the tax to raise new revenue, and singling out that revenue to reduce carbon use, but politics is all about getting half a loaf instead of none, and this is IMO a lot more than half a loaf.

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  11. [R4] I notice that the second article points out that tropical storm Madeline going near Hawaii dropped the atmospheric carbon count below 400 ppm for a day. I also recall from other education that many of the sensors to measure atmospheric carbon are located atop the two volcanoes on the Big Island.

    That hints to me that storm activity decreases atmospheric carbon, at least in the local area where the storm is going on. So…

    Why should that be? Is it the cloud cover, the condensation of water, the wind? Lightning, maybe?

    How much does it change the density of atmospheric carbon?

    Can anyone point me to a place where, in something approximating a smart layman’s language, I can learn if that’s true, and if so why that happens and how much? (Or better yet, just tell me?)

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    • Off the cuff guesses:

      Strong winds can play merry hell with certain types of sensors, even if they are shielded against normal winds, so it could be that the drop is not real.

      Cyclonic action causes atmospheric carbon to concentrate away from the sensors.

      Carbon is being dissolved in the rain and falling to earth. As the rain evaporates, it releases slowly back to the atmosphere.

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    • CO2 sources and sinks are not uniformly distributed, so despite atmospheric mixing there are areas with higher and lower levels. Hurricanes disrupt atmospheric patterns over long distances. The working hypothesis from sources used in a Scientific American article is that temporary disruptions brought in air from other areas that weren’t quite as high in CO2.

      The map at this NASA page illustrates the variations.

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  12. Why are you open to a carbon tax ONLY if it is revenue neutral?

    Revenue neutral continues the fiction that carbon externalities do not exist, and nobody has to pay for them.

    Though I’d rather have a revenue neutral tax than no carbon tax at all, I would be conflicted on how to vote in WA. At the end of the day, either us or our children will have to face the much bigger costs and sacrifices required to address the carbon externalities. If we don’t do it now via the carbon tax, we will have to do it later through general taxation. I think that’s a worse option (and not just because the latter the externalities are addressed, the more expensive it will be)

    1- A general taxation does not provide a price signal that the issue is carbon emission/energy consumption related. Thus, high energy consumers (that correlate with high income/high wealth people) are subsidized in their behavior by the general public.
    2- A general taxation increase will be subject to all the problems that are involved in raising taxes in the USA, which means it will be smaller, and later, than needed.

    On the plus side of the WA initiative, it does:

    A- Make the tax code more progressive, by reducing sales and low income taxes and replacing it with a tax levied towArds high energy consumers
    B- It’s a step in the right direction, and provides a price signal to nudge towards lower energy consumption.

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    • Whether revenue-neutral or not, people who use more, and produce the negative externalities, have to pay more, making it not free to people who use more. And it encourages everyone to use less.

      As for why not use it also to raise more net revenue, Idont think that’s a goal unto itself, and it we want to raise more money or divert it for transit or solar panels or whatever, that should be justified independently.

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      • The key issue here is “negative externalities”. If people don’t agree on that basic concept (eg, the Rugged Individualists!) then ANY proposal is a nonstarter, irrespective of disagreements over secondary details like revenue neutrality.

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      • The problem with this theory is that if you set out to be revenue neutral, and the tax works by driving down carbon consumption, you’ve just blown a hole in the state budget, requiring a painful round of tax increases and/or spending cuts. If you divert the money from the Carbon Tax to stuff that you won’t need if the Carbon Tax works as intended, at least you’ve taken a stab at averting that outcome.

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        • The problem with this theory is that if you set out to be revenue neutral, and the tax works by driving down carbon consumption, you’ve just blown a hole in the state budget

          This criticism strikes me as applying more to legislators and (capital P) Politics than anything inherent to the revenue-neutrality or (more importantly) the purpose of the tax itself.

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          • I suppose it does, but nonetheless I think revenue neutrality has this sort of downside. I don’t think you can just handwave away the politics in these conversations.

            By the same token, the politics are such that I don’t think this is a deal-breaker, just a (pretty good) compromise.

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            • I don’t think you can just handwave away the politics in these conversations.

              No. I agree. Insane policies like the 9/11 victims bill are always lurking right around the corner.

              Add: tho, of course, a radical individualist, anti-establishmentarian may wonder why this isn’t a good policy after all (???).

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                • Damn. When I said “a radical individualist, anti-establishmentarian” may not see why this is a bad policy, I shoulda included “partisan Republican.”

                  Hell, even McConnell now thinks it was a bad policy, and he led the fight to get it passed.

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                • I look forward to your clear support of the lawsuits brought by Pakistani, Iraqi, and Afghani families against the US for all that ‘collateral damage’ from the last decade or so.

                  And then, of course, if those Pakistani, Iraqi, or Afghani courts find fault with the US, the US paying up promptly. Because after all, why should their laws shield the US from paying for the damage it’s caused?

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                        • I’ll indulge you for a minute and pretend you’re serious, instead of reflexively supporting this because Obama vetoed it.

                          If we get to sue foreign countries in our courts, and try to subject them to such penalties as our legal system prescribes, they get to do the same back.

                          So the problem with the law is simple: By allowing Americans to sue the Saudi government in US courts, we are allowing foreign citizens to sue us in theirs.

                          And of course, when we refuse to pay (as they will), we’ll just seize their local assets. And they’ll seize ours.

                          Fun for all the boys and girls.

                          If you support this bill, you support foreign courts doing the exact same thing to us. The merits of individual lawsuits are immaterial.

                          The door swings both ways, and it’s height of stupidity to think any other country will allow our courts to order THEM what to do without turning their courts loose on us.

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                          • Morat20: And of course, when we refuse to pay (as they will), we’ll just seize their local assets. And they’ll seize ours.

                            We don’t need their money to keep flowing to us. They still need our money to keep flowing to them. So if they want to choke off aid and foreign direct investment – great. Let’s see how that works out for them.

                            (And maybe if we juse stopped bombing people, nobody would need to sue.)

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                            • As McConnell knows full well, all of this is pure posturing. One of the privileges of being a sovereign is sovereign immunity. No American is ever going to recover a single penny from the Saudi government unless it chooses to pay up.

                              So the reality is that a small group of people, who will have substantial financial backing especially if Hillary wins, will file a complaint in federal court in New York making all kinds of lurid claims (some of which may even be true). The Saudi government will either do nothing and default on the case, or make a limited appearance solely for challenging the court’s jurisdiction. And if Hillary is President the Justice Department would likely join the motion on the grounds that the law interferes with the power of the Executive to conduct foreign affairs.

                              The Sup Ct case raises some interesting issues. Can the US govt waive a foreign country’s sovereign immunity? Can the federal judiciary issue orders seizing and selling the assets of a foreign country held domestically? It’s been many years since I read Dames & Moore v Regan, which upheld the Algiers Accord and the Iran-US Claims Tribunal, and I’m not doing that tonight. But if memory serves, a key point was that both parties consented to the Tribunal.

                              Also keep in mind that Iran was an international pariah in the 80s. The House of Saud, by contrast, has global influence over the price of oil.

                              Finally, the US both imports and exports goods all around the world. Before we decide to be a dick to a foreign country, we might want to think about the impact of trade wars. Airbus, for one, would love to have foreign governments no longer buy from Boeing.

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              • My favorite part of that is one Republican politician blaming Obama for not opposing it successfully enough, because now that he’s gotten out his patriotic fervor and relished in his victory, he’s realized what a can of worms he opened and how bad it can get.

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        • Well, if the tax is revenue generating, and the law very specifically allocates that revenue toward carbon cutting/public transit/the like, that’s a good thing, but we’ve all seen such arrangements, if they are good at generating revenue, changed at the first opportunity to allow for raiding the fund.

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      • Push it towards offsets, maybe? “Every penny of the carbon tax we use for CO2 sequestration”? Buy up land for parks, replant forests? Or towards tax credits for green energy, or heck just outright green energy R&D grants?

        “Oh noes, we’ve reduced carbon output so much we’re 15% short on our revenue. We’ll just have to not fund as many grants/plant as many trees, but that’s okay because we’re well above our target carbon cuts, so it all works out!”

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          • The problem with revenue neutral is that you want to lower carbon emission, right? So “revenue neutral” can’t be “revenue neutral Day One” — you have to shoot for revenue neutral down the line when you’ve met your targets.

            I mean a lot depends on implementation (I mean I’d go with a tax with a stepwise increase, designed to encourage going after low-hanging fruit with the initial tax, and then the looming stepwise increases aimed at justifying commercial R&D costs and make more expensive infrastructure changes more profitable over the long term), but I can’t help but see a rather lengthy lag between the addition of the tax and hitting the targets you want in terms of emissions.

            So if you start revenue neutral, you’ll end up with sizable revenue loss. If you aim for revenue neutral at your emissions target, you’ll have some period of time where you have more revenue.

            I’d rather go with the latter and dedicate that funding to something that (1) isn’t persistent and (2) relevant to the reason we have carbon taxes and (3) hopefully reduces in need as we approach the emissions target.

            You can’t really say ‘revenue neutral’ on a tax designed to discourage the taxed behavior.

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            • With rebates it’s really pretty easy. With tax cuts, British Columbia seems to get close enough.

              Treating revenue-neutrality the same way states treat balanced budgets is fine. There’s a lot of guesswork and estimates and sometimes you run over or under, but neutrality is the target rather than trying to figure out what to do with the money.

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              • Rebates would work, but functionally that’s no different than using it to fund research grants related to carbon, funding sequestration efforts, or buying up land for parks or something.

                They’re one-offs that don’t require a dedicated funding stream (well, the parks would add a bit to the Parks budget, but that’s kind of noise in the federal budget).

                I’d prefer aiming for revenue neutral at the end target rate (tax rate and emissions targets) and then using any intervening excess to pay for mitigation, research, and other things associated with the carbon problem at hand. The better the tax works, the less revenue, but also the less need for further action on the problem.

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              • but neutrality is the target rather than trying to figure out what to do with the money.

                Or trying to ween yourself offa spending that sweet, sweet cash!!

                In all seriousness, tho, pigouvian tax revenue needs to account for the pigouvian nature the tax serves.

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            • By ballot initiative, Colorado has a choice to increase the tobacco tax, which makes me wonder if the motivation is to reach a pain point where tobacco consumption actually declines or where tax revenue is functionally maximized.

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  13. re: Wa2 (Spanish Civil War):

    It’s hard for me to put myself in a place where I can understand why someone would interject themselves into a war they don’t understand, to be willing to kill other people because something something is funded by something something that’s horrible or something something. But humans gotta human, I guess. Perhaps most (all?)l conflicts involve a bunch of wannabe Byrons and actual Orwells to do foolish things.

    I guess my real problem is I have a hard time swallowing the romanticism behind the struggle. Not that the New Yorker article is doing this, mind–it’s just….talking about a minor, mostly PR-able contribution to THE STRUGGLE.. I’ve read For Whom the Bell Tolls and liked it. But at the end Robert Jordan is lying in wait trying to kill people while waiting to be killed by his targets. I guess that means there are fewer living people and something something has been made/done/voiced against “fascism.” And the war came. Anyway.

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