Thursday, May 27, 2010

Comparative Social spending

This article has a new take on who spends more on welfare, health, education and depending upon how one measures it, the United States is comparable to the Scandinavian countries that are stereotyped for spending lots of money on social spending.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

IRAQI parliamentary election and a wrinkle on proportional list voting.

The Fair Vote list had a very good discussion of proportional list voting in IRAQ. In particular, IRAQ allows voters to vote for a party and each party gets candidates proportional to their party vote totals. Within that list, they can provide a preference for the candidates. And this will determine which candidates become MP's. However, what happens if one selects a candidate and that candidate is disqualified. It turns out one might lose one's vote which would not have happened had one just gave a party preference.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

A Systems Approach to Public Decisions

One thing I have felt for many years is that we should look at the entire system in dealing with energy and other problems. How can a nation particularly United States convert from a petroleum based personal automobile transportation to mass transit and electric vehicles. We always hear that it would cost XYZ billion dollars to convert our infrastructure from gasoline stations to rechargable batteries. For example, if all automobiles had interchangeable batteries, one could have the whole battery assembly swapped out if one runs out of juice on a long trip. This is part of a Better Place infrastructure, which is a challenge to collaborative process.

To build anything takes resources and if we ramp up too fast, we would hit capacity limitations. I. E. would we run out of steel making capacity? This requires a system capacity and systems approach and a linear programming approach, looking at the different resources needed. Do we use steel capacity to build new rails so that the different components of a new energy infrastructure can be shipped at a greater efficiency or is it better to use that capacity to construct the windmills, etc. first.

We have to figure out what is feasible before we can vote on it, and a dollar approach isn't the first one. The price of lithium or antimony only tells you what is available for a marginal or small change, not a big one. (Admittedly, this concept is relevant to decision making about moving a nation in a grand sense, whether for war or military accomplishments, whether participatory democracy, conventional democracy or a dictatorship.) The cost of a teacher doesn't tell you whether there are enough teachers to halve class size.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Participatory Democracy for Eliminating uneeded or wasteful government programs

Dr. Peixoto proposed a fix my street model for participatory budgeting to priorize such things as pothole repair. Here is another one-cutting University programs. At most Universities, a quarter of the programs graduate seven or few students per year! (83% in baccalaureate institutions) and (74% of Masters level institutions) (Chronicle of Higher Education, April 2 2010, Volume LVI, Number 29) And many University or planning cuts and some of these reviews start with the programs who graduate with five (or so) bachelors degree students per year over the last five years.

Could we have the citizens vote on which ones to eliminate-- But we need to consider combinatorial effects. Killing an engineering school also eliminates the need for advanced math classes and math professors. And the citizens of a state may want to drop one program but not all of them, or may only want to leave one instance of a very specialized major.

Many Military Bases were closed by an independent commission. Congress could have vetoed the entire list. This way allowed many bases to close which could not happen if each Congressperson that had a base in their district could fight them individually. So there are ways to close things down in a representative democracy.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Over Confident Dumb People" or the Dunning-Kruger Effect

They found that people who are less experienced or skilled are overconfident, are more likely to overestimate the chances that they are correct. Those who truly know tend to downplay their ability. This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.

My thanks to Bob Ritholz for the pointer who had a great quote from the scientists:

"Overestimation occurs, in part, because people who are unskilled in these doLmains suffer a dual burden: Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it."

They provided the citation to the original paper:

Psychology, 2009, 1, 30 to 46, "unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficilties in recognizing one's incompetence Leads to Inflated Self Assessments" by Justin Kruger and David Dunning. The introduction to the article is a gold mine of citations that support the conclusion that those who do poorly are less likely to realize it.

However, there are apparently other papers that show the effect is less significant, according to one comment on the blog. I have back at home a paper on uncertainty in estimation for estimating the time and effort for software engineering projects. (I am travelling this Summer, probably for about seven weeks.) So I will put these on queue for a future Thoughtful Thursday.)

Obviously, decisions have to be made with the help of expert opinions and whether participatory democracy or not, information on assessing the reliability of such estimates would seem useful to the decision maker. Paul Woodruff gave a wondrous example from Athenian Democracy of interpreting the opinions of generals on the invasion of Syracuse. They also found that people not only could not determine their own ability they were less like to assess competence in others. Can these kinds of social science form a modern piadaia ?

Energy, Growth and Sustainability, Thoughtful Thursday

SPRU Electronic Working Paper Number 185, ENERGY, GROWTH AND SUSTAINABILITY: FIVE PROPOSITIONS, Steve Sorrell, March 2010

The modern financial system means that most of the money supply is interest-bearing debt. This article cites several references, which I list below for follow up where people proposed one hundred percent reserve banking. It is a theme that Anne Pettifor spoke in her book. And it would also re resolved under a share economy. Because of the reserve-banking-based economy, the developed world cannot shift to a low-consumption pattern without financial crises. This issue was taken up in several comments to Gail the Actuaries post in the Oil Drum this May Eigth about the debt rate, where one comment said if "wipe out all debt" would "wipe all money" if we ever have a jubilee. In the old days, whoever possesed the money at the time of the jubilee would keep it and would then have purchasing power to reprime the pump. Is this true when so much of the money is based upon the fractional reserves banking system?. It seems that if one has lots of bankruptcies or a Jubilee-approach or liquidations of companies, a participatory-democracy case-by-case approach needs to be taken to ensure that the person who lied about their income on their mortgage application, engaged in unproductive financial engineering, does not get left with a totally unfair share of the purchasing poewr. And we protect the person who worked hard for a pension or the person of modest income who scrimped and saved a million dollars over a life time, a la Millionaire Next Door.

One would think when our engineers develop better ways to use energy, efficiency, our economy will use less energy. That is, if an automobile has better miles per gallon, less gasoline is consumed. However, some indivdiuals may find more money in their pocket, which will lead to more spending. A little bit of it is a direct rebound effect--it costs less to drive so we drive more, but probably, this is not elastic. But the global effects are different. The Bessmer Steel process used less energy than the alternative--more rails and more transportation and all the economic goods that come from economic productivity. Similar things happened with motors, the steam energy making it more efficient to mine coal, which meant that more coal was available. The latter was observed in 1865 by Jevons--hence the name, Jevons paradox.

California sets energy efficiency requirements for new television sets. But it does not do anything to get consumers to purchase a smaller Television and save energy that way. Their web site says "Consumers will always have the freedom to buy any size or style TV they like." Compare and contrast the sortition-based consumption-based badness tax.

And this article confirmed something I cited earlier in the United States. Britain reduced its carbon emissions at home, but this at the same time that it imported products that were made by burning lots of coal elsewhere.

To follow up on future Thoughtful Thursdays

  1. Fisher I (1936) 100% Money New York Adelphi
  2. Fisher I The debt-deflation theory of great depressions" Econometrica October 1933
  3. Friedman M. (1960) A Programme for Monetary Stability New York, Fordham University Press
  4. Jackson T. (2000() "Prosperity without growth? The transition to a sustainable economy" Sustainable Development Commission
  5. Douthwaite, R. The Ecology of Money Dublin Ireland: Theo Foundation of Economics of Stability (FEASTA)
  6. Simons H. (1948) Economic Policy for a Free Society Chicago: Univerity of Chicago Press
  7. Soddy F, 1926, Wealth, Virtual Wealth and Debt London George Aleln and UNW
On the rebound effect and energy efficiency:
  1. Rosenberg N. (1989) Energy Efficient Technologyies: Past, Present and Future Perspectives How Far can the World Get on Energy Efiicnecy Alone Oak Ridge National Labs.
  2. Sanne C. (2000) "Dealing with Environmental Savings in a Dynamical Economy How to Stop Chasiong YOur Tail in the Pursuit of Sutainability" Energy Policy 28 6 to 7 487 to 95
  3. Sanne C. (2002) Willing Consumers or Locked in? Policies for Sustainable Consumption" Ecological Ecoomics 47 273 to 287.
  4. Saunders H. D. (2000) "A view from the Macro Side: Rebound, backfire, and Khazzoom-Brookes." Energy Poicy 286 t to 7 439 to 49, 2000
  5. Sorrell S. (2007) "The Rebound Effect: An Assessment of the Evidence for Economy-Wide Energy Saviongs from Improved Energy Efficiency"
  6. Sorrell, S. and J. Dimitropoulous (2007a) "The Rebound effect: Definitions, Limitations and Extensions" Ecological Economics 65 to 3 636 to 649
  7. Victor, P. A. (2008) Managing without Growth: Slower by Design, Not Disaster Edward Elgar

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Congressional Budgeting Office said they were off by one hundred billion dollars on the cost of the Health Reform Some companies apparently will drop their health coverage for their employees since there was something already available-- Walmart was accused of relying on medicaid for its employees, but it shows that it has a greater percentage of full time workers on medical coverage than other retail firms and large firms and net it is removing people from the Medicaid rolls.

This shows the importance of two things:

  1. Firms should compete on the way they treat their workers to avoid taxation and that it is difficult to evaluate the numbers fairly.
  2. The only way to fix the costs is to fix the expenditures and let the providers compete to earn them on the basis of their accomplishments.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday, more on Combinatorial Auctions

In an earlier Thoughtful Thursday, I talked about Combinatorial auctions based upon Dr. Conitzer's article in Communications of ACM, March 2010, Volume 53, Number Three, Pages 84 to 94. What are the issues and how do they relate to combinatorial auctions? This allows people to put values on bundles of goods. eBay only allows one to make bids on individual goods. One can put a bid on the tables being sold. One can put a bid on a set of chairs. One can put a bid on both of them, but then one may win the chairs and not the table or vice versa. This Thoughtful Thursday is based upon Combinatorial Auctions by Peter Cramton, Yoav Shohan, Richard Steinberg.

An issue in all auctions is whether to use a single private bid or allow bidding. The first is used in bidding on government contracts, everybody puts in their bid. The one with the lowest bid gets the contract at that price. A stereotypical auction, the auctioneer keeps raising the price by reasonably small increments. But a sealed-bid auction is subject to the winner's curse. The company which wins the auction is probably the person who underestimated how much it would cost to do the work, or the company that is desperate. The Vicrey's auction, the person who has the lowest bid earns the bid. But he is awarded the second lowest price rather than what he bid. This reduces the incentive to underbid. Assume that B would do the contract for $100,000. And A bids to do the contract at $95,000. A gets the contract but gets the price of B. This has a whole bunch of nice properties, described in the first chapter of the book and in Wikipedia. In particular, it allows the parties to get the advantages of learning each other's prices as they go along. One can get the advantages of a stereotypical combinatorial auction by generalizations described in Chapters Four and Chapter Five of the textbook. These have been used in bidding for blocks of radio spectrum, mentioned in Mr. Othman's blog as a "Foundational Paper." That simply means that bid makers get to make slight changes in their package, every couple of hours and react to the others doing the same thing. This continues every few hours or couple of days until things converge.

One concern is how the particpants can express their bids. eBay sells thousands if not millions of item at one time. Clearly, one cannot specify a bid for every possible combination 2^n different bids or prices where n is the number of items. Even if only ten items were available, that would be 1024 different bids to be entered. One for every possible combination of bids. One needs to be able to specify different combinations more succinctly (Noam Nisan's Chapter Nine on Bidding Languages for Combinatorial Auctions). I discussed using ID3 to select via participatory democracy, the gun law. There are many categories in a gun law:

  1. (Is this a BB-gun, an antique gun, a non-functional gun, an assault gun, a pistol, etc?)
  2. Is the weopon concealed? And there are the characteristics of the owner of the possessor. Are they mentally ill, convicted of a crime, have an order of protection against them, etc.
  3. Was the person's life threatened?
  4. Does the person job need it, e. g. security guard.
  5. And lastly, what is the place: a school, bar, a place where beer is sold such as some supermarkets.
To specify every possibility that is relevant, one would need 360 votes, just for the possibilities that I explicitly listed above--and certainly the above list is not complete. However, some voters might want to specify relations between categories-- if pistols are allowed, then we should allow BB guns. And, we haven't even considered having different categories of offense such as various grades of misdemeanor or felony Dr. Sandholm pointed out that in all but small auctions, nobody will bid on most combinations. For example, at eBay, nobody is going to bid on a combination of thousands of items with everything from vintage hairbrushes to industrial water distillers. However, in developing a penal code or tax code, one needs to allow for every possible combination of factors, and somehow specify them.

In the I proposed, I handle this by allowing people to vote on what categories are most important first. Thus, the voters could together decide to look first at type of gun and then location and decide that pistols are not allowed in bars. In fact, they could just look at the conviction status of the person first. They could then vote to choose status immediately for a felon convicted of a violent crime--they would not be allowed to own any type of gun at any time.

And we may want to allow some kind of horse trading. There are voters who are very concerned about gun rights. There are other voters concerened about abortion or the right to choose. Might there be a way to trade between those who feel passionate about one and have mild feelings about the other? From a satisfaction point of view, this makes sense, but obviously some people feel that such horse trading or log rolling is immoral.

There are two other major concerns. In a combinatorial auction, we have to decide who wins, "Optimal Winner Determination." If one is an auctioneer or auctioning off things sucha s a government auctioning off surplus goods or those seized, one desires to maximize revenue or total bids. However, this is an NP complete problem. (That means the general solution is probably computationally impossible! But often a random solution that works most of the time or an approximation is available. Computer Scientists discovered three main limitations on algorithms that are impossible--Last Century Dr. Webber at Western Illinois University gave a wonderful colliquium here on them. NP-complete, chaotic problems such as weather prediction or simulating what happens on the billiard table, and undecidable problems. Thus, many things we would like to do, such as computing the results of certain voting schemes, bad for us as participatory democrats, or computing how to vote strategically in others, which is good for us as participatory democrats.) And like many other NP-complete problems, Chapter Fourteen and Connitzer's articles describe practical algorithms to find which person wins their bundles, when there are conflicts, someone bids n dollars for A,B and C, someone bids m dollars for A,B and D, and someone bids q dollars for b and D.

But, the budgeting problem and revenue problem are interesting. For example, their may be several proposals for new public works on the ballot on which people can vote. Let's say two of these are bridges, a and b over the Mississippi river about fifty miles part. Each voter will value just bridge a being built, bridge bbeing built and many would like both, but probably not as much as the sum of the values for a and b In participatory budgeting, projects are winnowed down so voters might vote for only one project of a type. For example, a new sports complex, a libary, a street renewal project, or "commercial center regeneration" as they did in one district of Belo Horizonte. But what if there were projects to widen streets that were fairly close to each other and which could form an alternative for some people, or to build two libraries? So our job is to find a way to combine everyone's preference function to decide which government projects will be undertaken. And there is sadly reason to believe this might be difficult.

Christos Papadimitrou and Yaron Singer looked at an auction to purchase goods by a government. The government has a utility for each combination of goods (forget about considering participatory democracy). This is different from the mechanism used where each public contract is bid separately. And it is different when one wants to get the best allocation of goods to achieve a social welfare. They found that standard mechanisms where the "auctioner" hopes to optimize a utility function on subsets of items for many functions. But they do have some good approximation results for submodular functions. (This is defintely on queue for a future Thoughtful Thursday post.)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Chinese Real Estate ASset bubble

China inland cities (second and third tier such as Hefei) are suffering a real estate asset bubble with fifty percent increases and sales at $50,000 to $120,000 for places where the average annual income is two thousand dollars, one sixth of its workers doing construction, and half of the apartments owned by speculators without occupants. And local officials are encouraging this to gain fees from developer feesand to meet central government growth targets.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Debt Updates from excellent blog post

There have been several good charts of debt lately. The oil Drum shows the components of debt. Total debt per person (US) federal, state, business, mortgage and consumer credit) is a little over three times personal income. On a share basis over a life time, that means one should be able to trade a ten percent drop in personal income for total freedom from all debt, on a share basis forever--that is burdening out grand^n-children, it would be a much smaller percentage. Although ten percent is a nice chunk of one's income, for most American's it is more than survivable. And I think many Americans would gladly exchange the psychological burden of $100,000 over one's head for a ten percent cut off the top from their take home pay.

Likewize Dr. Ritholtz should be praised for posting a chart showing the debt owed by five troubled European economies and to whom it owed.

Paul Krugman showed that at current interest rates, the current federal deficit and even higher is quite sustainable. However, the danger of short-term debt is when it comes due and one can't sell the new bonds to cover that debt. The solution is a share debt-- without arbitary restrictions.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Participatory Budgeting, Thoughtful Thursday Posting

  1. "e-participatory Budgeting: e-Democracy from Theory to Success" by Tiago Peixoto, (e-democracy center at the Universitat Zurich)
  2. 72 Frequently Asked Questions About Particpatory Democracy, Urban Governance Toolkit Series, UN-Habitat (the "FAQ")
  3. Participatory Budgeting in Brazilian Cities: Limits and Possibilities in Building Democratic Institutions, by Celina Souza (I printed this out some time from It now appears to have morphed into several articles, one from Environment and Urbanization Volume 13 Number One 159 to 184 Also at

Several cities have a system where people vote on part, or occasionally of the budget. The two most significant are Belo Horizonte and Porto all Alegre in Brazil. Brazil is eighty percent of these. And as Souza points out, decentralization in general is marked in Brazil, participatory budgeting experiments started during the military regime. The Constitution shifted more resources to municipalities and provinces, and local revenue increased as well. The FAQ covers are seven in Brazil, four, elsewhere in latin America, Cordoba in Spain and Saint Denis in but three hundred cities use it to some extent. It can be just voting on several options, but often it includes some direct democracy and chances for ordinary citizens to debate the option. The FAQ has links to several city web sites. And many cities just have a few small project handled by participatory budgeting. Porte Alegre has elected elegates look at the entire capital budget-- about ten percent of the total budget. Mundo Novo has a town hall debate the entire budget--including the mayor's salary! The FAQ cites situations where having the people make the decision on only a minor part of the budget has a beneficial effect on public participation. Also, both Souza and the FAQ denote the tendency of participatory democracy experiments to make decisions to fund specific projects rather than do long term planning although there are exceptions.

Belo Horizonte, a city of 2.5 million, budgets 43 million dollars in a series of forums as well as eleven million in an electronic mechanism. In this process, citizens voted for a public work in each district of the city. Thus a person could vote on one choice for each of nine projects. Ten percent participated in the isprocess. Yet only half the voters only voted for one choice, 15 percent for two, 6.57 for three. 16.25 percent took advantage of all nine choices. (There were four choices per district.) The turn out was 9.97 percent, greater that eh face-to-face approach, that Belo Horizonte has been using for some time. The conventional system involves meetings, and from my readings it is unclear how many and the role of the delegates that simply choose to come, and those that are elected in some process. There is a series of meetings, thematic meetings, and a special housing participatory budget because of concern about homelessness.. ( Since, there was online (and telephone voting), citizens could log in and vote for the public work in district one, log in later, vote in district two, etc. They had a total of fourty two days. As many citizens did not have computer or access to same at work or school, there were 178 places throughout the city where they could vote. As well a bus went to poor areas and highly travelled areas such as the city center to ensure access for everyone.

The city provided an official electronic moderated text-only for people to discuss the projects. Individuals provided pointers to videos,etc on other sites. The moderator kept the comments to the point, but some citizens posted something about one of the proposals and then let loose on their pet topic.

Souza cites statistics that show that Porto Alegre and Belo Horizonte enjoy large numbers of people who are involved with civic associations, trust them, and seek information on current events and local politics. Both Belo Horizonte and Porte Alegre appear to have high levels of civic involvement and civil society than other Brazilian Cities and that might have led to the success of Participatory Budgeting. But it appears as well that the the participatory budgeting program improved it futher. 46.3 percent of Porte Alegre residences know about it and in Belo Horizonte 81.5 percent of the delgates approve and 67.3 percent of the general population approve, the highest of all local government policies.

Tiago Peixoto was kind enough to answer questions on his web site. And Paul Johnston raised an issue of concern to this blog, could citizens follow up and help manage the construction and running of the projects on which they voted to choose. Belo Horizonte does do this to some extent, but Dr. Peixoto raised the issue of managing technical projects such as road resurfacing. Demarchy calls for sortition juries to specialize. Thus, road resurfacing projects might be managed by a group that have an interest, expertise, or simply are assigned over a long period of time to this kind of project. And many cities have citizens, special monitoring commissions, and as well as the day-to-day authorities monitor the project--this is a type of demarchy for which I asked what kind of education is needed for such a specialized jury. Could a group of citizens read "RoadWork for Dummies" and participate in a meaningful way with the public works officials such as civil engineers, both to prevent corruption, rent seeking, and just to present a public view (the tension between the job benefits of public works and ensuring that competent committed workers do the work.) And how well does a City Manager, Major or elected Alderman do in keeping an eye on technical projects?

And the issue came up of more more frequent voting than once every two years. Dr. Peixoto proposed a process for prioritizing relatively minor issues, perhaps a "fix my street" site--connected to GIS technology. (This could be a person getting care who was uninsured or deciding on grants for scientific research or giving a bonus to a meritorious public employee.)

To be followed up in Future Thoughtful Thursdays

Many of the writeups of the most prominent country in Participatory Budgeting, Brazil, are naturally in Portugese. I unfortunately have not had an opportunity to learn Portugese. I do have three years of Spanish and will follow up on some of the web sites in the Spanish Speaking countries of South and Central America, listed in the FAQ.
  1. Abers, Rebecca, "From Clientelism to Co-operatino: Local Government, Participatory Policy, and Civic Organizing in Porto Alegre Brazil' Politics and Society 26(4) 511 to 523.
  2. Navarro, Zander (1197) Affirmative Democracy adn Redistributive Development the Case of Particpatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil 1989 to 1997, unpublished
  3. Nylen, William (2000a) The Making of Loyal Opposition: The Workers' party (PT) the Consolidation of Democracy in Brazil in P. Kingstone and T. J. Power (Democratic Brzil:Actors, Institutions and Process (Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh Press) pages 126 to 143
  4. Nylen William, "Testing the Empowerment Thesis: The Partici9ipatory Budget in Belo Horizonte and Betem Brazil, Comparative Politics volume 34 Number Two Jan 2002 pages 127 to 145
  5. Santos, Boaventura de S. (1998) "Participatory Budgeting in Porto Alegre: Towards a Redistributive Democracy" Politics and Society 26(4) 461 to 510
  6. Souza, Celina (1997) "Constitutional Engineering in Brazil: The Politics of Federalism and Decentralizztion" London Macmillion New York
  7. Wampler, Brian, "Participatory Budgeting in Brazil" Contestation, Cooperation and Accountability, Pennsylvania State University Press
  8. William R. Nylen, "Testing the Empowerment Thesis: The Participatory Budget in Belo Horizonte and Betim Brazil Compartive Politics Volume 34 Number Two Jan 2002 pages 127 to 145.
As I was searching for these references from Souza's article, I see a rich gold mine of information on the participatory budgeting experiments .

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Intolerance in representative democracies-Belgium ban of full-face coverings

An obvious concern is that plebiscites can be quite intolerant, or that a nation's people's intolerance can be reflected in the laws they choose to approve. Switzerland recently passed a referendum against minarets. But representative parliaments can be intolerant against Muslim minorities. Belgium just outlawed clothing that does not allow one to see a persons face, i. e. full-face niqab and burqa.

(The law does allow people to cover their face if their work requires it, e. g. a welder's mask or a surgeon's mask. And there is a procedure to have police approve masks at certain carnivals. But what about a ski mask against the cold?)

And, of course, the United States has incidents of rendition, internment of the Japanese, and Jim Crow.

Shop Talk on Privacy of Public officials

On Shoptalk today, they discussed whether public employees evaluations such as the evaluation of teachers as well as there tax returns should be made public. (The Illinois State House and Senate passed alaw that would stop the public from reading evaluations of individual employees.) In the 1800's, all tax returns were public record. And, at a minimum, should candidates for governor be forced to disclose their tax returns.

Of course for sortion-based taxation, there would be less privacy for the taxpayers. Of course, if wages were variable for governmetn work, determined by sortition jury, there would be less privacy for the government worker.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pointer to a wonder ful article

John Mauldin published an excellent article on financial engineering in the collateralized debt offerings that were associated to the forest. It echoes the division of an income stream into the most reliable and the least reliable that I talked about from John Edmund's book , last week's thoughtful Thursday post.

He also says that many governments are having rapidly rising debt to GDP ratios. And now Japan is the only country with a two to one ratio--all of its citizen's investment is funding public debt. Other nations are likely to hit these ratios.

However, as interest this is scary, twenty percent of a nation's GDP to paying interest in the public debt. However a one to one or two-to-one share economy. this number goes down to one or two percent.

Dr. Stearns on judge-made law and vetting nominees for Supreme Court honestly

Dr. Stearns has expertly said, that the Supreme Court does make policy, law and are not neutral umpires. However, there is another alternative to vetting nominees. When the justices diagree five to four or six to three, the whole thing is sent to the American people as a plebiscite.

The factor approach provides a useful way in which cases and precedents can be framed.

I do note that Dr. Maxwell Stearns co-authored "Public Choice Concepts and Applications to Law" which I am putting on the queue for a Thoughtful Thursday post.

Warren Buffet came out in support of Value Added Tax.

Warren Buffet came out in support a Value-Added-Tax. I proposed a Badness Added Tax, which is a sortition-based consumption tax. It has the advantages that it promotes exports as the Value Added Tax, And it also deals withtthe pollution haven issue--a country that has loose environmental or labor standards can sell its products cheaper displacing domestic industry in the country that wishes to have better environmental or labor standards.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Recent Immigration Information from an International Perspective

India, like the United States, is facing immigration issues and a conflict over those who wish to welcome more of those who wish to contribute to America and those who are concerned about unemployment. Many nations have their conflicts. Michelle Malkin points out the hypocricy fo Mexico criticizing the reaction of Arizona when it deals with its undocumented aliens more harshly. They have a mandatory citizen's identiy card. And its Constitution bans all foreigners from political speech and participating in the 'political affairs of the country.' Although the laws is tough, in fact most illegal aliens are simply deported, and often police corruption interferes with even that.

Several other countries are also trying to reduce illegal immigration and have passed laws as Peter Williams documented in the May Second issue of Foreign Policy.