Thursday, May 31, 2007

If they make me by a hybrid, I'm going to drive twice as much as I need to

I've already been on what amounts to a hiatus, and I figure that will continue through the bar exam at the end of July. In the mean time however, I still plan on posting every time I get the chance- and I have the chance this afternoon, where this little story about lowering the speed limit caught my eye. Here's a taste of just why we need the government to lower speed limits in order to restrict oil usage:

By '84 attitudes had changed. Like petulant children, having come down hard from a candy-driven sugar high and ready for a new buzz, Americans started consuming petroleum in the transportation sector again at an unprecedented rate. The rationalizing child's argument that "since she has a dollar and the candies are only a penny a piece, she should be entitled to eat 100 pieces" is exactly the same argument by which Americans collectively justified their gasoline consumption.

Here's my big problem when it comes to all of these measures, whether it's reducing speed limits or forcing auto companies to improve gas mileage: They are indirect and imprecise solutions to what is supposedly a catastrophe waiting to happen. Either there is a crisis or there isn't- if there isn't, then why can't we let the market function freely. And if there is a crisis, then why use such indirect measures. You can mandate a speed limit and mandate mileage, but that won't stop me from driving a hybrid an extra 400 miles a day for no reason. If there's a real crisis, we should do what was done in World War II and ration- of course, there isn't a real crisis and such a move would be politically unfeasible precisely because there is no crisis. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

More discussion on how the poor are victimized everytime they make a bad deal

I just had to comment on this story from Business Week before heading to bed: The Poverty Business. It's the same sorts of stories I've been blogging about, with some clearly illegal/fraudulant activity thrown in for good measure- but let's be clear here, the real complaint is about the victims - the "unsophisticated" consumers who don't read contracts, don't understand terms like "interest." Now maybe in some cases this is true, but plenty of poor people are not stupid and are perfectly capable of understanding the basic terms of a contract. The idea that we need a law that restricts what everyone can do in order to protect the least responsible among us is down right offensive - unless of course you really like the idea of the government running your life for you.

The theme in all these sorts of stories is that the poor are over-extending themselves financially in order meet some sort of slickly marketed higher standard of living. What I'm really wondering is where all the liberals have gone. The only reaction I've heard to these sorts of stories is how we need to stop these big, evil companies from taking advatedge of the poor. I haven't heard anything about helping the poor out with their financial obligations and allowing them to maintain the standard of living they've strove to acheive. It's just odd that we've reached the point where bashing business is more important than the actual living conditions of the poor.

And just one final note, this about the sob story that ends the Business Week article. The numbers don't make any sense - these reporters are either lazy, sloppy, or stupid. This woman, Connie McBride, makes $47,000 a year and we're supposed to feel sorry for her- she has $450 per month garnished from her take home pay, supposedly leaving her with $1338 per month in take home pay. But added up, that works out to $1788 a month or $21,456 per year. I have trouble beleiving she's paying more than double that in taxes. I'm not trying to say that this women has it easy, but add in her $385 per month car payment and her $590 per month rent and we're talking $1425 per month (or $17,100) for these three expenses - factoring in taxes in the range of 20% (-$9,400) still leaves $20,500 (or around $1700 per month) for living expenses and other bills. Again, maybe not ideal for this women's situation, but she's probably doing better than 99% of the people in the world today.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Busy, Busy, Busy

I'd like to apologize for my lack of postings over the past several weeks - I've been beyond busy with moving, final exams, and graduation. I'm contemplating taking an extended hiatus from this business of blogging, as in several weeks I'll be starting Barbri bar review classes. In the meantime, I'll be trying to finish the move, trying to get out more job applications, and finishing my bar application.

I'll let you all know - for now, except some random blogging and some catching up on the last several weeks.