Month: October 2016
Democrats are already looking beyond ObamaCare’s slow-motion failure, and Colorado is showing where many want to go next: Premiums across the state are set to rise 20.4% on average next year, and some have concluded that the solution is more central planning and taxation. Voters will decide on Nov. 8 whether to try the single-payer scheme that blew up in Vermont.
Amendment 69 would alter the state’s constitution to create a single-payer health system known as ColoradoCare. The idea is to replace premiums with tax dollars, and coverage for residents will allegedly include prescription drugs, hospitalization and more. Paying for this entitlement requires a cool $25 billion tax increase, which is about equal to the state’s $27 billion budget. Colorado would introduce a 10% payroll tax and also hit investment income, and that’s for starters.
So far the ballot initiative is not popular, and it is also opposed by the state’s Democratic governor. Still, it would write ColoradoCare into the state’s constitution, and if you run referenda enough times, etc. The broader point is that single-payer plans, whatever their virtues and flaws in toto, cannot work at the state level in the United States. The single state is not big enough to bargain down health care prices very much, and furthermore the state government has to run a balanced budget and, because of competition with other states, has only highly imperfect control over its own feasible level of taxation and expenditure. A single state cannot simply decide to “go Denmark,” for instance.
Hat tip goes to Christopher Balding.
3. Antiprioritarianism (pdf), by Hilary Greaves.
4. Was the internet hack driven by commandeered Internet of Things? I cannot verify what is in there, but it is potentially a very important and also disturbing post, via Binyamin Appelbaum.
5. The evidence for universe acceleration may be flimsier than we had thought. And do you think this is a bigger story than #4 in this list?
6. No one bid for John Nash’s Nobel Prize — was that the Nash equilibrium?
They cost $11 a piece and come in boxes of 5:
In an attempt to create a special snack to go with their high quality beer, Sweetish brewery St. Erik’s has created the world’s most expensive potato chips.
Apparently, St. Erik’s didn’t think Lays or Pringles chips were good enough to pair with their ale, so they decided to create their own exclusive snack and price it accordingly. “St. Erik’s Brewery is one of Sweden’s leading microbreweries and we’re passionate about the craftsmanship that goes into our beer. At the same time, we felt that we were missing a snack of the same status to serve with it,” brand manager Marcus Friari said in a statement. “A first-class beer deserves a first-class snack, and this is why we made a major effort to produce the world’s most exclusive potato chips. We’re incredibly proud to be able to present such a crispy outcome.”
The luxurious black box designed by St. Erik’s contains just five individual potato chips, each made by hand by a chef, using five special Nordic ingredients – Matsutake mushroom picked from pine forests in northern Sweden, truffle seaweed from the waters around the Faroe Islands, Crown Dill hand-picked on the Bjäre Peninsula, Leksand Onion grown on the outskirt of the small Swedish town of Leksand and India Pale Ale Wort, the same kind used to make St. Erik’s Pale Ale beer.
The potatoes themselves, are also special. They apparently come “from the potato hillside in Ammarnäs, a steep, stony slope in a south-facing location where almond potatoes are cultivated in very limited numbers. The slope is difficult for modern agricultural machines to access, which means that all potatoes are planted and harvested by hand.”
The first batch sold out almost immediately, and it is unclear when more will be produced.
3. The economics of sugar in Egypt (NYT).
No, here is my latest Bloomberg column on that question. Here is one bit:
One criticism is that the tribunals could force governments to pay compensatory “takings” to foreign companies that incur costs as a result of safety or environmental regulations. But it has long been standard practice for trade treaties to protect foreign companies, for example by limiting the nationalization of foreign investment. Investors don’t always trust the courts of the nations they are investing in, and indeed from 1990 to 2013, at least 150 foreign-owned firms were nationalized, typically in emerging economies, or otherwise subjected to confiscation of value. Agreeing to refrain from such practices can attract more foreign investment and raise living standards.
…the U.S. and Vietnam have had a bilateral investment agreement since 2001, and with few if any negative consequences. More generally, there are now more than 2,000 bilateral investment treaties worldwide, 41 with the U.S. at last measurement, and they typically have some form of investor-state dispute resolution. So does the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Mexico and Canada. Over this same period, trade and investment have brought global living standards to unprecedented heights.
National sovereignty has not exactly disappeared. Trade treaties typically recognize that governments have a legitimate interest in regulating safety and the environment, and most of the world’s trading nations have made good progress in those areas.
Part of the discomfort over dispute-resolution panels is the notion that their private deliberations circumvent the democratic process. But it is a basic feature of most democratic governments that the legislature sets up legal institutions that subsequently act outside of direct democratic control.
I do readily grant that ISDS may be a bad idea for tactical reasons, simply because it is unpopular. But a good question to ask is this: if someone opposes a trade agreement because of ISDS, is that person a committed opponent of excess litigation more generally? Usually not.
I’ll be interviewing Mark soon, at a private venue, no public event, but for eventual release in the Conversations with Tyler series. Here is a short bio of Mark. He is credited as being the founder of modern Southwestern cuisine, and he was the driving force behind Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe and Red Sage in Washington, D.C. He has written numerous books on food, including the very best books on chilies. He is a supertaster, and more generally one of the world’s great food minds and a truly curious and generous soul. He also has a background in anthropology, cooked for Chez Panisse in its early days, and is one of the best-traveled people I know. Do you want to know what is/was special about chiles in Syria, or how many varieties of soy sauce you can find in one part of Hokkaido? Mark is the guy to ask.
So what should I ask him?
…the most important technological change for the transportation of heavy goods in nineteenth-century India was not the arrival of the quick, expensive railway: it was the move from pack animals to carts pulled by two or four beasts in the first half of the century. This was the process historian Amalendu Guha calls ‘the bullock cart revolution’. Throughout the 1860s and 1870s railways found it impossible to compete not only with bullock carts, but also with human-powered river transport. Rowing boats along the Ganges and Jamuna won a price war with the railways over the cost of transporting heavy goods. Vessels powered by human beings were able to undercut steam vessels elsewhere.
That is from Jon Wilson, The Chaos of Empire: The British Raj and the Conquest of India, a new and excellent book that stresses how much British rule of India was rooted in chaos and violence, rather than the smooth operation of a colonial elite.
Japan’s Financial Services Agency is nearing a landmark decision on the status and securitisation of PokeCoins, the virtual currency used to breed rare monsters in the highly successful mobile game Pokémon Go.
The FSA, which has not formally disclosed when it will make its ruling, is debating the issue with Pokémon Go’s US-based creator, Niantic. The outcome, according to lawyers scrutinising the matter, could oblige domestic Japanese and overseas companies whose games are available in Japan to secure the virtual money they have sold to local gamers with substantial deposits of real-world yen.
Analysts say that while the FSA is focused on PokeCoins, the regulatory time-bomb could threaten the magic stones of Puzzle & Dragons, the green gems of Clash of Clans and the rainbow orbs of Monster Strike.
The FSA is so far the only regulator in the world weighing the measure, but its decision looms over Japan-based pools of cash worth tens of millions of dollars, according to industry consultants. Yen-denominated sales of virtual currencies are especially high in Japan because of its status as the world’s most valuable mobile games market.
According to SuperData Research, annual revenues from mobile games in Japan have nearly tripled since 2012 to an estimated $8.6bn in 2016 — much of that, say analysts, driven by sales of virtual currency.
Pokémon Go, the Nintendo smartphone game that was launched in Japan in July and surged at record speed to the top of the accumulated revenue charts, has made the sale of its virtual currency especially appealing to players eager to complete the full collection of monsters. One hundred PokeCoins, costing Y120 ($1.16), will buy a monster lure while 500 will buy eight lucky eggs.
That is from Leo Lewis at the FT.
The primary reason Washington operators can dictate the terms of engagement with Washington journalists is that the true insiders are few and the journalists are many. In medium-sized towns, the power dynamic is reversed, as the number of journalists is very small and sources are many. This means journalists need not ingratiate themselves in the same way to get a story. Until the Washington press corps is reduced by 90 percent—which won’t happen in our lifetimes—the mortifying dance we see in the Podesta emails will continue.
1. The drone advertising wars have begun. In Mexico City, at least.
2. Claims about evolution, and one reason why people are getting taller.
4. “The way the students made decisions about drinking actually resembled the single most common feedback controller that’s used in engineering,” Passino said. “It’s called a proportional-derivative controller, and it measures how far a system has moved from a particular set point and adjusts accordingly. It’s the same as cruise control on a car.” Link is here.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his “separation” from the United States on Thursday, declaring that it had “lost” and he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.
Duterte made his comments in China, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally the United States deteriorate.
His trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed
Duterte’s efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal ruling in the Hague over South China Sea disputes in favor of the Philippines, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.
“America has lost now,” Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people at a forum in the Great Hall of the People, attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.
“I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world – China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way,” he added.
“With that, in this venue, your honors, in this venue, I announce my separation from the United States,” Duterte said to applause. “I have separated from them. So I will be dependent on you for all time. But do not worry. We will also help as you help us.”
Here is the Reuters story.
Mr. Trump and others have criticized Ford for creating jobs in Mexico rather than in the United States. Seldom mentioned by Ford’s critics, though, is an essential fact. The Wayne factory will remain fully staffed, with 3,700 workers, to build what Ford really needs now: more trucks and S.U.V.s.
There is no doubt that Nafta has played a role in the migration of many American manufacturing jobs to Mexico in the last 22 years. Before the trade agreement, United States automakers barely had a presence in Mexico. Now, Mexico’s car-making work force is about 675,000 strong, according to the Mexican auto industry’s trade association.
But the story of Ford’s Wayne plant makes clear that many factors determine the number of auto-making jobs in the United States — a figure that according to federal labor statistics has actually grown by 200,000 jobs, to around 900,000, since the recession gave way to economic recovery in 2009.
That is from Bill Vlasic at the NYT.
The world’s highly skilled immigrants are increasingly living in just four nations: the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia, according to new World Bank research highlighting the challenges of brain drain for non-English-speaking and developing countries.
I don’t think we have thought through well enough the final equilibrium here. English will be the global language for a long, long time to come, and China will remain robust as a major source of indigenous talent. A lot of Chinese could leave and there would still be a lot of smart Chinese around in China. I do fear, however, for the politics in this semi-cosmopolitan but not cosmopolitan enough Anglo-American world in the making…
That is from Adam Creighton at the WSJ.
The accuracy of these tests is astounding.
Hat tip: Nathaniel B.
We find that the decline in these jobs accounts for about a third of the decline in the fraction of the population that holds a job in the private sector that occurred from the mid-2000s to the early 2010s.