Thursday, October 21, 2010

Random Thoughts

1. If the South had a way to make money without needing to enslave Africans, would we have had a Civil War?

2. The surest path to tyranny is hyperinflation.

3. Public sector compensation and private sector compensation are completely different. Unlike the private sector, public sector compensation usually includes unpredictable long-term structural debt, such as pensions and medical costs. The costs of pensions and medical treatment depend on a person's age and health. If it was so easy to analyze costs relating to a person's age and health, we could all run insurance companies. Moreover, when governments make long term compensation promises, they are using taxpayer money (OPM) and have little incentive to get the numbers right. More here, from a letter to The Atlantic (Nov 2010):

In the final analysis, it doesn’t matter whether you work for GM or N.Y. or U.S.A.; it doesn’t matter if you are in a defined-benefit or defined-contribution plan--your retirement is dependent upon the earnings and productivity of your grandchildren and their friends. All of the pieces of paper in these plans are just proxies: claims on a portion of the labor of future generations. All of these retirement schemes seemed affordable when they were new. We didn’t see why they were inexpensive: because they were built on leverage. They depended upon borrowing against the future growth of the three unsustainable pyramids: economic, population, and credit. None of those can continue forever, and as one fades, the others must take up the slack. But once all three pyramids are played out, the plans face a few stark choices: substantially raise contributions, substantially lower payouts, or go bankrupt.

Steven Flint Manasquan, N.J.

4. People's voting preferences are probably based in large part on whether they have children. Most parents probably favor the status quo. Why? The more society changes, the less knowledge they can pass along to their kids. The parents' economic skills may also decline in value if society changes too much. In contrast, people without kids have more time to adapt to changes and also have a higher incentive to change society to suit their own needs and wants. In conclusion, I bet parents tend to be more "conservative" while childless adults tend to be more "liberal."

5. The S&P 500 is about 1180. The Dow is about 11,142. Perhaps the market is a bit frothy. Markets may be anticipating an extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, which means an assumption of a more politically balanced federal government. But elections can be unpredictable...

1 comment:

Tom said...

1. The South DID have a way... free (hired) labor was cheaper than slave holding, even then, and the economics of slavery could only continue worse.

While it's true that the institution of slavery couldn't die fast enough, I would balk at killing 2% of the population to hasten it.

2. The surest way to tyranny is WAR.