Wednesday, December 12, 2007

End of Semester

Since this is finals week and the semester is just about over, I won't be blogging until around Jan 10.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Is The Environment Sacred?

Last week in the San Antonio Express-News, Michael E. Kraft, professor of environmental sciences at the Unviersity of Wisconsin-Green Bay, said that "in writing the Clean Air Act, Congress explicitly instructed the agency (EPA) to base its decisions on public health and not economic costs." Then in yesterday's Express-News, the environmental watchdog Germanwatch said the U. S. was the 2nd worst "climate sinner" behind Saudi Arabia. So we are at the point where air should be cleaned no matter what the cost and those who don't go along with this are sinners. It seems that this has now become a religious crusade. Environmental policy should be made both scientifically and cost-effectively. If it isn't we will all pay a very high price in the long run.

Also, here is an exerpt from an article in the International Herald Tribune

"James Lovelock, a British scientist whose 2006 book, "The Revenge of Gaia," argued that most of humankind is doomed, does not think much of renewable energy. At a panel on climate change at the University of Cambridge this summer, Lovelock was asked what would be the most effective action people could take. Because humans and their pets and livestock produce about a quarter of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, he said, "just stop breathing.""

Gaia is an earth goddess, so again, we see the extremism that results when religion is brought in: die (stop breathing) to save mother earth.

Friday, December 07, 2007

An Economic Analysis of Toll Roads in San Antonio

This is a big issue here. There was an op-ed article on this in the San Antonio Express-News yesterday by John Merrifield, economics professor at UTSA. You can read it here. One of the big points is that if you build special lanes for toll payers, they will only be used when the rest of the lanes are very congested. Why pay to use the toll lanes when the free lanes are moving pretty fast? So you end up building lanes that don't get used much. But things still move slowly during rush hour and that may be the time to have tolls. That would cut down on the congestion and speed things up.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Some Good Economic News: Alot of New Jobs Added and Productivity is Up

You probably hear alot of bad economic news: the dollar is down, the housing crisis, high oil prices, etc. But there was some good economic news today. Worker productivity was up 6.3% (adjusted to an annual rate) in the third quarter. That is a very high rate. In the long run, the only way to raise our standard of living is through productivity growth. You can read about this here. The economy also added 189,000 new jobs in November, many more than predicted. You can read about that here.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tattoos: Symbols of Rebellion or Signs of Selling Out to the Man?

It seems that tattoos are now being used for advertising. That means they are furthering the aims of the capitalist, for profit making system. So how can getting a tattoo be a rebellious act when it merely helps preserve the status quo? You can read all about it at Tattoos: a new favorite of advertisers

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Historical Tax Rates

Ever wonder how much people paid in income taxes in the past? Some of my students have asked about this. Our current federal income tax began in 1913. If you made under $20,000 then, your tax rate was 1%. In 1963, every dollar you made above $400,000 your rate was 91%. In 1980, your rate between $45,800 and $60,000 was 49%. In today's terms, those incomes would be between $100,000 and $120,000. That 49% is higher than even the highest bracket now (35%). The Tax Foundation has all of the historical income tax rates. Click here to go to that site.