Wednesday, May 28, 2008

60% Cancer, 20% Parkinson's Prevention, 20% Pure Pleasure*

I was listening to Dan Carlin's podcast, Mad about Torture, and after the apparently controversial bit about hating torture** he talks about the idea that fat people are using all the oil to move their fat butts around and eating all the food, therefore increasing food prices for people abroad.***

I'm not going to talk about that.

I'm going to talk about cigarettes. In the '90s Phillip Morris did a study in the Czech republic indicating that cigarette smoking is a net positive for government revenue. I suppose there's a debate about healthcare costs, but if someone dies before the age of 65, they get no social security, whereas if they die at age 90, they suck up a lot.

This phenomenon is enhanced in the U.S. by private insurance. If someone dies before 65, they don't get Medicare at all, and private insurance pays for it.

So: Cigarettes = Gov't saves money. Private insurers hosed.

Now, the government introduces cigarette taxes, with the idea that they're going to recoup the added costs that smokers cause the government. Remember, those costs are illusory. But, the taxes will cause some people to stop smoking, which will increase government costs, which will be offset by cigarette taxes****

So: Cigarette taxes = Gov't increases spending and revenue (no idea which is greater). Private insurers save money.

It follows that: Smoking Ban = Gov't increases spending with no consummate increase in revenue. Private insurers go to the bank (increased tax revenue?).

Therefore, a cigarette tax is a win, win, win, win, lose situation (gov't, insurers, quitters, smokers, smokers).

*: via VKP, actually cigarettes are a mixture including emphysema, prevention of Crohn's
disease, various cancers, and asbestos, in addition to the ingredients presented above.

**: Apparently some people thought he was pro-torture 'cause he projects a very manly image. I don't know, I just started listening 'cause I wanted more podcasts. Anyway, one of my great formative experiences was reading The Gulag Archipelago. I swore when I read it that I would fight against any government that resurrected those principles. I have to say that an America in which citizenship and fair skin may or may not protect you from getting kidnapped, taken to a black site, disappeared and tortured to death deserves fighting.*****

***: It's the old mother's standby - how can you leave food on your plate when children in India are starving. As far as I can tell, the world food price increase is a result of more numerous meat eaters everywhere, thick and thin, combined with biofuels, and agricultural subsidies in the West.

****: Yes, I realize that cigarette taxes are local and medicare and social security are national. I'm assuming that since governments are always passing around responsibility / grants, it's fungible. Feel free to correct me.

*****: But, you say, It's just a few people. IT ALWAYS STARTS SMALL. Part II of The Gulag Archipelago talked about the establishment of the Gulag in the Solvetsky Islands in the 1920's, and how it started small, and now the original camps were replaced by voleyball courts. Sick stuff, kids.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Obama Must Name VP Nominee NOW!!!

Via Matt Yglesias:

New HRC campaign rationale -- Obama might get shot and killed before formally securing the nomination, so she may as well stay in the race!

Specifically (from NY Post MY links to), "We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California."

The thinking being that if Barack gets assasinated now, the Democrats would nominate Sen. Clinton. The only way to avoid this is if Obama names his VP nominee now. While I can't think of any examples of nominees being assassinated, surely the VP nominee would take the top slot?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Creativity = Synthesis

Once upon a time, I was worried that I wasn't creative. All I did was take two things that existed and put them together, sometimes in an unusual way. My friend Marc said "But, J, that is what creativity is."