GOP attacks

Republicans not buying Hillary hurts Dems down ticket and Obama doesn’t meme.

On another issue, I want to believe that Jeremiah Wright’s egomaniacal world tour this week was choreographed by the Obama campaign to give Obama a chance to Sister Soljah him, but I’m not sure I do.

While I continue to believe that Obama sealed the nomination on February 5, the separate and distinct question of how his campaign has been run the last several weeks, I believe is answered differently. It’s been bad.

A lot of the buzz has worn off. And perhaps the press’s love afair has chilled a little. The numbers are mostly stable, and his base support is still energized. But there is a palpable reduction in the energy.

Arguably, that’s Hillary’s fault: she needs to get out of the race so Obama can get on with it. But since it has now been long established that she’s not doing that, the failure of anyone else to do anything about it has to be in the mix too.

It’s time for Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, et al. to end this.

Posner on re-regulation

From one of the members of the intellectual vanguard of Neo-classical economics, “law & economics”, and, in a sense, the whole late 20th century conservative movement, Judge Richard Posner:

I no longer believe that deregulation has been a complete, an unqualified, success. As I indicated in my posting of last week, deregulation of the airline industry appears to be a factor in the serious deterioration of service, which I believe has imposed substantial costs on travelers, particularly but not only business travelers; and the partial deregulation of electricity supply may have been a factor in the western energy crisis of 2000 to 2001 and the ensuing Enron debacle. The deregulation of trucking, natural gas, and pipelines has, in contrast, probably been an unqualified success, and likewise the deregulation of the long-distance telecommunications and telecommunications terminal equipment markets, achieved by a combination of deregulatory moves by the Federal Communications Commission beginning in 1968 and the government antitrust suit that culminated in the breakup of AT&T in 1983.

First, considering the source this is shocking. Second, there is a very simple distinguishing feature between successful deregulation industries and others: the services can easily be “unbundled.” By limiting regulation to the natural monopolies, they are freer to let competition work in the other parts.

For example, natural gas can come from quite a few places. Not infinite, but many. And it can be stored. There’s a fine line, but I think gas falls on the side of the line that lets it be free, as long as the natural monopoly pipelines are not.

The same applies to the tons of trucks out there. There’s not really a natural monopoly the way there is with, say, trains. Telecommunications is the same thing. The “pipe” can be regulated as long as the contents can go from point A to point B mostly freely. This is especially possible in the era of packet-switched inter-networks.

Electricity, on the other hand, is always going to be an oligopoly. It’s also too essential to everything else to just leave the regulation to the power lines. Sure, like in Texas, you could unbundle, but at the end of the day there’s only going to be a handful of providers and a handful of power plants, and electricity is virtually impossible to store efficiently.

Same with airlines. Unless you just had a regulated fleet of cargo planes that carried service modules from different companies in them, it’s more or less impossible to unbundle the medium and the cargo. There is also a finite number of routes that can be flown, resulting in natural oligopolies.

Any true champion of the free market doesn’t want monopolies or ologipolies, whether natural or not, whether government or not, interfering in their markets unregulated. This is why we don’t have private ownership of roads or bridges.

This all goes back to the way these issues were understood in the 1800s, arguably in a free market era, but without the same degree of fundamentalism or concentration of political power, which has become a natural monopoly (duopoly?) of its own.

With relation to banking, there is simply no compelling argument for the level of deregulation that we have. It’s too fundamental to everything else, it’s too disaster prone, and that’s been shown again and again, but we keep forgetting.

P.S. How many times have I lamented the repeal of Glass-Steagall as the single worst act of the Clinton administration? That act was responsible for Enron and the current subprime crisis (an expert cited in this Bloomberg.com article agrees). It’s Bush’s fault for not doing anything, but this was made possible by 90s “New Economy” triumphalism and forgetting not just the Great Depression but the recent history of Long Term Capital Management’s meltdown in the mid 90s, and the S&L crisis in the 80s.

Solve Every Environmental Problem

Solve global warming, overfishing, soil destruction, pollution, and a great deal of poverty in one fell swoop over 30 years:

Cost: $2T. Pay 1 billion people $1,000 to get sterilized, and use the other half to pay for the operations.

Financed over 30 years at 5%, that’s about $60B per year, or 0.6% of GDP (and less than the Iraq war by far). Almost no one in the developed world would take the money, because it’s nothing to them. However, that would feed people in the developing world for about 3 years in some places, and those are the exact areas that are suffering the worst from overpopulation.

But since you’re not forcing it on anyone–they get to choose–it’s not a scary totalitarian thing.

The total world fertility rate is about 2.6. The total world replacement rate is about 2.3. At present that means a growth rate of about 13%. Reducing the fertile population by 1B would increase the replacement rate, by my amateurish calculations, to about 2.7, which would mean, on average, a population decrease of about 600m per generation. I suppose that’s about a billion in the 30 year period, assuming no countervailing increase in fertility elsewhere.

That calculation could be even greater if not spread out over the whole world. Inasmuch as the appeal of $1,000 would correlate strongly with places with higher birthrates, it might skew that number even higher, so the 1B reduction over 30 years is conservative.

Of course, a simpler and even less scary way of doing this would be to provide free of charge birth control of all kinds to everyone in the world, everywhere. It would cost much, much, much less than $1,000 per person, could arguably reach everyone in the world instead of 15%, and could work an even more drastic reduction.

All of this involves no killing.

Of course, the alternative is to wait for the earth to just choke and kill us through famine and disease.

Claire Promises!

Claire McCaskill promised on MSNBC Tuesday night that Barack Obama would “pivot” against John McCain and go on the attack after the Pennsylvania primary. Am I impatient by complaining now?

Obama has certainly addressed a lot of my concerns in the past several weeks. He seems to get through the media maelstroms with decent aplomb. One of my remaining concerns is his ability to kick some Republican ass. His campaign and surrogates are shocked—shocked!!! I tell you—that the Clintons have the temerity to use his gaffes against him, or to hit below the belt.

You can read 10 page treatises on a seemingly infinite number of lefty blogs about how Clinton’s attacks were “wrong” or whatever. Who cares? The effect in the polls is what matters. Obama’s already got the cerebral crowd, so he can stop campaigning for them. Ph.D’s everywhere are putting Obama bumper stickers on their Volvos. He’s the president of college.

But for those dominated by lower reaches of the brain, attack politics work. If you whine about them, it just makes it worse.

Time to roll up the sleeves, Barack. Time to get some of that shoe leather up where Hanoi Johnny kept his grandfather’s watch.

Hillary Defeats Misogynist Conspiracy Again!

Despite only having the entire state Democratic establishment, sans Senator Casey, behind her, Boomer Clinton was able to defeat the incredible misogynist conspiracy again. Despite having a yap dog from her hubby’s administration and a Fox News hack trying to destroy her not white opponent, the incredible misogyny of American culture was not enough to defeat the dogged underdoggedness of Her Royal Clintoness. Clinton Patsy Ed Rendell did not legitimize the quiet racism of “small town” Pennsylvanians by saying that many of them are not ready to vote for a black person. I mean, c’mon, he’s only the Governor! After all, the Clintons are not race baiters, as far as I know.

Now it’s on to North Carolina and Indiana. Hopefully, the fact of Clinton’s vagina will not be enough to undermine her in Indiana despite having the support of Senator Bayh, the governor, and the entire state Democratic machinery. Keep on defeating that phallacracy you multi-millionaire president’s wife underdog with the mini-celebrity daughter! I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, but oh my god it is true! The Democratic Party is finally being wrested away from the iron grip of Senators Leahy and Rockefeller. If only my grandfather had lived to see this moment! I’m gonna’ cry!

Problem

McCain 254 Obama 269; ties 15 — Obama wins in House of Reps.
McCain 239 Clinton 289; Clinton wins outright
–April 23, 2008

If those polls are correct and their methodology is sound it’s either an argument for Clinton to get out because she’s hurting Obama. . . or, that the Superdelegates need to support her.

I’m not sure which it argues more for, but I’m pretty sure that the former option is more reflective of reality.

Time to take a bow, Hills.

Prediction: Obama *narrowly* wins PA

Man — have you ever seen such a mess of polling? I think I’ve seen everything from Clinton +16 to Obama +6. I know there were some divergences in other places, but there’s been so much time to measure Pennsylvania, you’d think they would, I don’t know, be better.

I think Obama will pull it out, and I think that’s going to mean the party leadership better get their shit together and end this.