Friday, February 27, 2009

Medical marijuana

Finally, there might be a change to stop this nonsense of raiding medical marijuana clinics in California.

With the budget crisis, doing so is certainly a waste of money. Well, actually even without the budget crisis it's a waste of tax payer dollars. No wonder we are in trouble.

U.S. to yield marijuana jurisdiction to states


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Income taxes

In 1957 the marginal income tax rate in the US was 91% and most people think that economic growth thing and worker productivity was doing pretty good even though they think over 90% is pretty high taxation

Actual facts is one thing. Economic theory is another.

the top marginal federal income tax rate in the United States was 91% (beginning at taxable income of $400,000). This is an unimaginably high rate by today's standards, when the dominant view in Washington is that a marginal rate of 39.6% (the top rate from 1993 to 2001) is too high. The key turning point in the process of abandoning high marginal tax rates occurred in the presidency of Ronald Reagan. When Reagan became President in 1981, the top marginal federal income tax rate was 70%; when he left office in 1989, the top rate was 28%.

The reduction of marginal tax rates in the Reagan years was driven by a new policy consensus that still persists today. That consensus is that high marginal tax rates on the rich come with an unaffordably high price for the U.S. economy in the form of reduced incentives for the rich to work and to save, and increased incentives to engage in socially wasteful tax planning. And yet 1957, when Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged and the top income tax rate was 91%, falls in the middle of the period from 1951 through 1963. Those were the golden years of the U.S. economy, in which the average annual rate of productivity growth was 3.1% (compared with about 1.5% after 1981). Of course, the growth might have been even faster had the marginal tax rates been lower, but the coincidence of high rates and high productivity raises challenging questions for those who believe that high marginal tax rates carry an unacceptable cost.

Lifestyle and Political Blogs

Monday, February 16, 2009

Good Food

My grandfather grew up on a West Texas ranch, SouthWest of Lubbock, in the early 20th century. He learned enough about ranching to know that cowboying was not his idea of a rational way to make a living.

So he became a cook.

Om the kitchen he was kind of a cowboy hothead, so he changed jobs a lot. He ran a lot of restaurants -- Mexican food in tourist hotels, a french restaurant, a chicken and chicken fried steak place, a steak house, a bbq place, a doughnut shop.

My first job that required me to have a social security card and pay taxes was when I was 12, passing out hot breads at a white table cloth chicken fried steak place in Austin. During my teenage years I worked for him at a couple of places, sometimes in the kitchen as a dishwasher, a prep cook, a salad cook, sometimes in the dining room as a bread boy, a bus boy and as a waiter. I learned enough about the restaurant business to know it's not a rational way to make a living.

The main thing I learned bout cooking from him was that the ingredients is the main thing. When he ran a place known for it's fried chicken he'd buy his chicken at a grocery store, paying retail, and if he couldn't find top quality chicken he didn't have chicken on the menu that day. At that restaurant he'd just buy steaks in bulk from Armour. But when he was running a steak house he'd go to a butcher shop and hand pick his steaks.

He didn't hand pick all his foods, there was too much of it for that. But whatever the specialty item for that place was would be hand picked and if he couldn't find top quality he just wouldn't have the house specialty on the menu that night.

According to him, and he think he was right, that's the secret to running a top flight eating establishment.

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Friday, February 06, 2009

The Detective

Great movie.

From 1951. With Kirk Douglas. It's like a long version of a dramatic episode of "Barney Miller". And it doesn't get better than that.

The movie was adapted from a Broadway play and is entirely set in the detective bullpen area of a Manhattan police precinct. (a couple of scenes are set in the Lieutenant's office, the rear of a paddy wagon, the roof of the precinct station, and on the sidewalk in front of the precinct station.)

Lynda watched it with me and she wondered whether a Manhattan police station would have had a black uniformed officer in 1951. I think it would have -- the white detectives would have needed a black officer to do the booking fingerprints of any blacks that might have been arrested. In 1951 white cops didn't like touching blacks -- that darkiness might have rubbed off on them.

Almost everything about the movie rang true to me.

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A Pirates Life

Some jobs never disappear
NAIROBI, Kenya - There's at least one job these days that's recession-proof, if you can handle shark-infested seas, outrun some of the world's most powerful navies, and keep your cool when your hostages get antsy.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Keeping up with the Jones

A frowny face is not what most electric customers expect to see on their utility statements, but Greg Dyer got one.

He earned it, the utility said, by using a lot more energy than his neighbors.

The district had been trying for years to prod customers into using less energy with tactics like rebates for energy-saving appliances. But the traditional approaches were not meeting the energy reduction goals set by the nonprofit utility’s board.

So, in a move that has proved surprisingly effective, the (Sacramento, California) district decided to tap into a time-honored American passion: keeping up with the neighbors.

Last April, it began sending out statements to 35,000 randomly selected customers, rating them on their energy use compared with that of neighbors in 100 homes of similar size that used the same heating fuel. The customers were also compared with the 20 neighbors who were especially efficient in saving energy.

Customers who scored high earned two smiley faces on their statements. “Good”

“As Americans, we are good at entertainment and competition,” Mr. Kelley said. “It’s why on ‘American Idol’ they get 40 million voters. It’s the part of this culture that people really understand, and we should be harnessing it.”

Score one for the psychologists.


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