Mad science: here to solve a problem that does not exist

May 30, 2010

They laughed at me in Vienna, the fools!

It seems there’s no lack of weird and wonderful (to put it nicely) ideas to fight the (non-existent) threat of anthropogenic global warming. The latest comes from a meeting of scientists in Monterey, California, at which physicist David Keith suggested spraying the world with sulfuric acid:

None of the scientists in the room so much as blinked when David Keith suggested saving the world with spy planes spraying sulfuric acid.

Keith, a physicist at the University of Calgary in Canada, was facing an audience not likely to be shocked: nearly 200 other researchers, some of whom had their own radical ideas for fighting global warming. His concept was to spray a mist of sulfuric acid high in the stratosphere to form particles called sulfate aerosols, which would act like a sprinkling of tiny sunshades for the overheating Earth.

Keith’s idea may sound outrageous, but it is just one of many proposals for bumping the global thermostat down a couple of degrees by tinkering directly with the planet’s heating and cooling systems.

If that isn’t begging to invoke the law of unintended consequences… I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.  Silly


Henry Waxman and the knowledge problem

April 5, 2010

Let’s get past the obvious, first: Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) is a statist thug. He’s upset that corporations have begun reporting the very real costs they’ll incur under ObamaCare, even though they’re required to do so by law, so he’s scheduled show trials hearings at which to chastise them. After all, health-care reform was supposed to bring only good to America, wasn’t it?

Trouble is, as Glenn Reynolds points out, would-be statists like Waxman always run up against a brick wall: there’s too much information for them to process efficiently in order to run a command economy, so they regularly face surprises like the corporate announcements. Call it the knowledge problem:

Economist Friedrich Hayek explained in 1945 why centrally controlled “command economies” were doomed to waste, inefficiency, and collapse: Insufficient knowledge. He won a Nobel Prize. But it turns out he was righter than he knew.

In his “The Use of Knowledge In Society,” Hayek explained that information about supply and demand, scarcity and abundance, wants and needs exists in no single place in any economy. The economy is simply too large and complicated for such information to be gathered together.

Any economic planner who attempts to do so will wind up hopelessly uninformed and behind the times, reacting to economic changes in a clumsy, too-late fashion and then being forced to react again to fix the problems that the previous mistakes created, leading to new problems, and so on.

Market mechanisms, like pricing, do a better job than planners because they incorporate what everyone knows indirectly through signals like price, without central planning.

Thus, no matter how deceptively simple and appealing command economy programs are, they are sure to trip up their operators, because the operators can’t possibly be smart enough to make them work.

In this case, Waxman and his progressive-statist allies didn’t realize that imposing vast new regulations would trip other regulations that forced the revelation of information harmful to their political position – and perhaps their political careers. As Reynolds points out, there’s a silver lining in this: as Waxman, Pelosi, and Obama keep trying to create a command economy, they’ll step on more and more of these mines because they can never have all the information they need. These will serve as regular reminders to the people that government that’s too big simply can’t do the job and should be shrunk down to size.

The dark cloud behind that silver lining, however, is that getting there is likely to be painful.

FURTHERMORE: Dan Riehl discusses the mainstream media’s role in abetting the Waxmans of the world:

When news broke of ATT and others promptly announcing write downs after ObamaCare passed, only the Wall Street Journal shed much light on what was really taking place. And they only did that several graphs down. Most mass media outlets simply let the narrative stand that, government passed a law to help the little guy, now big business Republicans have hit back by citing earnings woes, yadda, yadda. Whether due to rushing, bias, or simple incompetence, as the story played out across America, the mainstream media did less to inform the country, than they did to inflame it, while feeding into whatever one’s preconceived notions might have already been.

It’s going to be hard to expose the knowledge problem unless the major media, on which most of the public depends, starts doing its job and stops being a facilitator.

LINKS: More at Hot Air.


Small businesses hurt by ObamaCare

April 1, 2010

I’ve joked among friends about the tax on salon tans included in ObamaCare, but, to the small businesses that comprise much of the tanning business, losing another ten-percent of their income during a severe recession, when customers are cutting back, is no joke. KHAS-TV of Nebraska presented this report:

People are already cutting back on their spending and, unless you’re George Hamilton, tanning is a luxury that can be cut. For tanning salons, this new tax will mean even less income, leading to letting employees go or, for some, going out of business altogether.

The very real costs of ObamaCare are a story that is already playing out in large businesses and small, and, no matter how much they try to suppress it, the thugocracy cannot keep the people in the dark. There are too many sources of information, the effects will be too widespread, and everyone will know who did this to them.

And they’ll remember in November.

(via Fausta)


Palin on health care: Good intentions are not enough

October 18, 2009

From her latest Facebook posting:

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has approved its health care bill, it’s a good time to step back and take a look at the long term consequences should its provisions be enacted into law.
The bill prohibits insurance companies from refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and from charging sick people higher premiums. [1] It attempts to offset the costs this will impose on insurance companies by requiring everyone to purchase coverage, which in theory would expand the pool of paying policy holders.
However, the maximum fine for those who refuse to purchase health insurance is $750. [2] Even factoring in government subsidies, the cost of purchasing a plan is much more than $750. The result: many people, especially the young and healthy, will simply not buy coverage, choosing to pay the fine instead. They’ll wait until they’re sick to buy health insurance, confident in the knowledge that insurance companies can’t deny them coverage. Such a scenario is a perfect storm for increasing the cost of health care and creating an unsustainable mandate program.
Those driving this plan no doubt have good intentions, but good intentions aren’t enough. There were good intentions behind the drive to increase home ownership for lower-income Americans, but forcing financial institutions to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them had terrible unintended consequences. We all felt those consequences during the financial collapse last year. Unintended consequences always result from top-down big government plans like the current health care proposals, and we can’t afford to ignore that fact again.

Now that the Senate Finance Committee has approved its health care bill, it’s a good time to step back and take a look at the long term consequences should its provisions be enacted into law.

The bill prohibits insurance companies from refusing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and from charging sick people higher premiums. [1] It attempts to offset the costs this will impose on insurance companies by requiring everyone to purchase coverage, which in theory would expand the pool of paying policy holders.

However, the maximum fine for those who refuse to purchase health insurance is $750. [2] Even factoring in government subsidies, the cost of purchasing a plan is much more than $750. The result: many people, especially the young and healthy, will simply not buy coverage, choosing to pay the fine instead. They’ll wait until they’re sick to buy health insurance, confident in the knowledge that insurance companies can’t deny them coverage. Such a scenario is a perfect storm for increasing the cost of health care and creating an unsustainable mandate program.

Those driving this plan no doubt have good intentions, but good intentions aren’t enough. There were good intentions behind the drive to increase home ownership for lower-income Americans, but forcing financial institutions to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them had terrible unintended consequences. We all felt those consequences during the financial collapse last year. Unintended consequences always result from top-down big government plans like the current health care proposals, and we can’t afford to ignore that fact again.

Be sure to read the whole thing.