Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday Links

1. Intrade contracts for Obama to be re-elected next year are now trading at 56%, the lowest re-election odds since early January 2011 (see chart above).   (HT: Steve Bartin)

2. Made in China: The new San Francisco-Oakland Bay bridge.

3. Children with Medicaid are far more likely than those with private insurance to be turned away by medical specialists or be made to wait more than a month for an appointment, even for serious medical problems. Reason? Lower payments by Medicaid, delays in paying, and red tape. 

4. Increased worldwide demand is fueling a Kentucky bourbon boom, thanks in part to a growing middle class in emerging markets.  (What would Ian Fletcher, author of "Free Trade Doesn't Work" say?)

5. The U.S. military spends $20 billion annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

6. The Great Corn Con: "In its myriad corn-related interventions, Washington has managed simultaneously to help drive up food prices and add tens of billions of dollars to the deficit, while arguably increasing energy use and harming the environment." I think author Steven Rattner is agreeing with RollingStone Magazine that "Ethanol is not just hype -- it's dangerous, delusional bullshit."

23 Comments:

At 6/26/2011 6:07 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

That Obama bet is a tough one. The environment doesn't favor him, which is why Daniels, Christie, or even Rand Paul would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately, all three of them are out and we're stuck with Romney, Bachmann, Perry, etc, all mediocre or flawed candidates. The way the Republican primary is shaping up right now, I'd bet on Obama and I really don't want to see him win again. Of course things can change fast, as at this time 4 years ago, Giuliani was considered the presumptive Republican nominee, and he couldn't even win any primaries let alone the presidency, so let's hope another twist is in the works.

 
At 6/26/2011 6:25 PM, Blogger arbitrage789 said...

Rufus is going to LOVE #6 ("corn con").

 
At 6/26/2011 6:32 PM, Blogger arbitrage789 said...

Regarding Obama’s re-election prospects..

In a nutshell, registered Democrats worship the ground Obama walks on; registered Republicans hate him, and so it’s up to the independent voters.

Obama is going to make the following three arguments during his campaign:

1) the Republicans caused the recession in the first place;

2) don’t elect Republicans, because they want nothing more than to throw “grandma” over a cliff;

3) we can solve all our financial problems by “soaking the rich”.

I think that more than half of all independent voters will believe these three arguments by Obama, and that he’ll sail to re-election victory.

 
At 6/26/2011 6:41 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Rufus is all "worned out," arbitrage. I'm just gonna pop some bottled ethanol, and let that fool pass.

A man's gotta know his limitations. :)

 
At 6/26/2011 6:43 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

arbitrage, I agree that independents will decide it, just like they did last time, but I don't think they'll fall for any of those three reasons. The way I see it, the president is the salesman-in-chief, selling his party's ideas with a comfortable, reassuring face. The problem the Republicans have is that none of their current primary candidates can compete with Obama on that level. So it'll ultimately come down to whether voters decide to go with the reassuring, incumbent president who they know has some very flaky ideas or the new, unproven upstart, ie Bachmann or Pawlenty, who they know has some better ideas. I believe they will choose the former.

 
At 6/26/2011 6:45 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Palin's going to show up in Pella, Ia, tuesday for the Iowa Premiere of "The Undefeated."

There's no "Rally" planned, but this, still, might be an important political event.

I like Sarah-baby. I think I'd vote for her.

 
At 6/26/2011 6:46 PM, OpenID American Delight said...

Re: air conditioning... It's money well-spent. Have you ever read Beau Geste? In prolonged, extreme heat, Western soldiers will become insane and mutinous.

 
At 6/26/2011 7:07 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

Poor people starving in Africa, and they're turning corn into whiskey so Rich Men can get drunk.

What was that wonderful phrase? Dangerous, Demented Bullshit? Hmmm

 
At 6/26/2011 7:34 PM, Blogger Craig said...

The supposed $20 billion air conditioning bill smells bad. It needs more research and NPR is not the outfit to conduct it. It's one of those numbers that's just to good to be true.

 
At 6/26/2011 7:47 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

The GOP will probably make a hard right turn in its 2012 cycle (just like in 1964) and pick a right-wing lulu. Some guy with a funny little mustache and involuntary arm spasms could win next year for the GOP.

I think Bachmann-Palin would make a great team--but neither is willing take the #2 slot.

And I can't imagine a R-Party male agreeing to be #2 to Bachmann.

2012 looks very bad for the Grifters on Parade (GOP).

Air-conditioning in Iraq? That's small potatoes. Grifters and leeches made more money on that war that imaginable.

 
At 6/26/2011 8:00 PM, Blogger Rufus II said...

200,000 troops, in the middle of a desert. 40,000 air conditioned tents, mess halls, headquarters, garages, armories, PXs, Hangars for aircraft . . . . .

electricity produced by diesel generators

Diesel has been estimated at over a hundred dollars gallon in Afghanistan. (as high as $400.00/gal)

50% of the diesel used in Afghanistan/Iraq is for Generators.

$8,000.00 per troop per month

Yeah, I can see it.

Of course, they're "jimmying up" all the costs they can to make a story. If they fly a helicopter over the fuel convoy they "costing that." They're depreciating out the cost of the Stryker vehicle that accompanies the tanker. etc . . . .

 
At 6/26/2011 8:04 PM, Blogger Bernie Ecch said...

Benjamin proving once again that when you don't have any sound arguments to make, call people you disagree with Nazis. Or racists. Yawn.

 
At 6/26/2011 8:08 PM, Blogger Amateur Economist said...

Great links Mark! Thank you.

 
At 6/26/2011 11:22 PM, Blogger Robotech said...

Corn-based ethanol production didn't make any economic sense to me back when it was first being pushed, and makes even less sense now. The ONLY reason that I could see the government pushing it was if they wanted to set up the infrastructure for production and use as a strategic hedge against the possibility of foreign oil sources being cut off again.

On the other hand, there are other potential bio sources for ethanol production that might be worth looking at. Sugarcane, while limited in growing areas, could still be used for food production, while the crushed cane "waste" could be used both by converting the remaining sugars, and also using cellulose-to-ethanol conversion. Several other otherwise wasted plant materials left over from harvesting and processing are also possible sources, as well as other types of non-food plants. Sure, use corn for ethanol production, but use the stalks, shucks, and empty cobs, not the kernels. Just make sure to factor into your equations the increased need for fertilizers on fields where you aren't normally leaving those "byproducts" to be plowed back in. Cattle, hog, and poultry operations produce a huge amount of waste, which while is a great source of methane, might also be used as feedstock of algae production for conversion to ethanol, as might the materials left from municipal wastewater treatment. The trick is to use materials that are otherwise waste, with near zero additional production costs, not something that in itself is already valuable and has a key place in the economy.

 
At 6/27/2011 4:39 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> (What would Ian Fletcher, author of "Free Trade Doesn't Work" say?)

"Don't confuse the issue with facts, man, I've got speaking engagements to sell!!!"

At least if he had the slightest semblance of honesty.

Of course, what are the chances of THAT?

 
At 6/27/2011 4:44 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>>> Poor people starving in Africa, and they're turning corn into whiskey so Rich Men can get drunk.

Yeah, cause sending food to Africa... that's worked SO WELL in the past... hasn't it.

Geez, even Bob Geldof has figured out that it's not that simple.

What's your excuse for remaining utterly clueless?

"Oh, I'm just a complete and total fool unable to learn anything from my mistakes, much less anyone else's"?

 
At 6/27/2011 8:42 AM, Blogger morganovich said...

we had an investment in a company that sold a pediatric drug for a tiny indication called infantile spasticity.

the medicare rebate on the drug was 105%.

this is a bit higher than usual, but mid 90's rebates are quite common.

50% of us kids ore on medicaid.

consider what this does to the development market for pediatric drugs.

you know that you will lose money selling to half the market.

it makes it unattractive to develop drugs and forces you to price higher if you do and make it up from those who do pay.

it's horrendous freeloading and cost shifting on the part of the government.

functionally, how is this any different that a tax on the upper 50% of kids?

 
At 6/27/2011 1:39 PM, Blogger juandos said...

'3. Children with Medicaid are far more likely than those with private insurance to be turned away by medical specialists or be made to wait more than a month for an appointment, even for serious medical problems. Reason? Lower payments by Medicaid, delays in paying, and red tape'...

Typical of the New York Times, its mantra about the 'children' is getting old as it is ridiculous...

“It’s very disturbing,” Dr. Rhodes said. “As a mother, if I had a kid who was having seizures or newly diagnosed juvenile diabetes, I would want to get them in right away.”

Hmmm, I wonder if Dr. Rhodes offered up her own money to make up the gaps in payment amounts and time lost?

Funny how the New York Times never mentions the the responsibility of the adults who these children are from...

Why is that?

 
At 6/27/2011 2:00 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Re: '5. The U.S. military spends $20 billion annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan'...

Gee! I wonder if NPR has a credible source for that?

Is 'Steven Anderson' a credible source? Considering what he did one would think so...

Still, what's the big deal over the cost of air conditioning troops in war zones?

HUD plans on spending $40+ billion this year alone...

 
At 6/27/2011 3:27 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> Still, what's the big deal over the cost of air conditioning troops in war zones?

HUD plans on spending $40+ billion this year alone...


The Troops, being eeeevil minions of Amerikkka, should suffer. Like... DUUUhhh?

Ummmm... 40 billion on *AC*?

;-)

 
At 6/27/2011 3:52 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

>> The ONLY reason that I could see the government pushing it was if they wanted to set up the infrastructure for production and use as a strategic hedge against the possibility of foreign oil sources being cut off again.

The problem with this is that there is clearly no rational excuse for choosing this use over various oil shales and tar sands in NAmerica. The bio option inevitably screws with food and feedstock production, driving up the price not just to Americans but also to the world's poor.

Further, alcohol collects water from the atmosphere much more than gas does, screwing with internal parts in a much more corrosive and destructive fashion that gas does not, meaning shortened lifespans for cars, which, of course, are NEVER figured into the idea of doing it, by adding to hidden costs rather than up-front costs.

 
At 6/28/2011 4:34 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey OBH check out the following: A newly released economic impact study finds that the Environmental Protection Agency’s “Tailoring Rule” – a back-door Cap-and-Trade style regulation scheme that limits the greenhouse gases industries can emit – jeopardizes over 130 renewable energy projects, between 11,000 and 26,000 green jobs, and $18 billion in capital investment across the country...

 
At 6/28/2011 10:53 AM, Blogger St paul guy said...

Ethanol Myths Busted: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2011/06/five-ethanol-myths-busted-2/

 

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