Category Archives: Politics vs. math

“Rent-seeking” and the socialist corporation

Charges of “socialist” seem to be emerging as primary attack strategy by Republicans toward Democrats as the 2020 elections fire up. It is, in my view, all an inane “Humpty Dumpty” twisting of the terms capitalist and socialist to mean “whatever I choose them to mean” in order to raise the ire of captive television and online audiences. In addition,… Read more »

Postage stamps and other big numbers

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A continuing theme of this blog is that humans have a difficult time grasping some basic math, even if their futures depend on it. A combination of “scare quote” stories I have read recently about the size of the national debt as well as discovering the new price of first-class postage stamps (now 55 cents) set my mind on the… Read more »

“Testosterone Rex” meets the U.S. Congress

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There has been no more interesting contrast in recent history than to see side-by-side photos of the swearing in of the 2019 U.S. House of Representatives. On one side, a diverse mix of young and old, men and women, and of various ethnicity. On the other side, a bunch of mostly-old white men like me, all dressed in dark suits:… Read more »

The math behind Elizabeth Warren’s “wealth tax”

Elizabeth Warren has come out of the presidential primary gate swinging with a proposal for a 2% wealth tax on assets over $50 million, rising to 3% on assets over $1 billion. Despite the freak-out by conservative pundits, I’d like, in this post, to put these numbers in perspective with a bit of basic math. This, in short, is not… Read more »

Parsing policy proposals – Defense

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This is the third in a series about how to parse the varying policy proposals for the United States government emerging in advance of the 2020 election. The subject here is how to weed-whack your way through the often-inflated rhetoric on defense and defense spending to find the meat of the proposal. Parse #1 – The great Keynesian jobs program… Read more »

Parsing policy proposals – Healthcare

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This is a second part in a series where I am looking at the “parsing” process I go through in evaluating stated policy positions from the various candidates or interest groups. The direction of healthcare will be front and center in the 2020 election, and we are finally beginning to see some proposals with meat (and a lot of proposals… Read more »

Parsing policy proposals – Revenue

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Well, we are off to the races for the 2020 elections. My hope against likely reality is that the media would focus on policy proposals by the candidates rather than personality, but so far the new year is starting on the latter trend. This is the first post in a series that will look at my own process for parsing… Read more »

Posts that the internet missed – part 2

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In the prior post I brought back some of 2018’s posts from this blog that should have had more internet traction. In case you missed them, here are a few more: Government budgets are moral documents It looks like a real U.S. budget from the dysfunctional Congress will not be a Paul Ryan legacy. He should have read this post… Read more »

A year of rolling the dice

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I started this blog in early 2018 as a place to post some pieces I had developed over several years looking at how probabilistic randomness and other mathematical realities affect everything from the way we vote to our scientific and religious understandings of the “human condition.” Some blog posts achieved more web penetration than others, and so this post is… Read more »

Net metering and the politics of utility pricing

I think it is safe to say that most utility executives detest net metering, in which any excess electricity generated by solar panels and other home-based “green technology” is “bought back” by the electric utility at the same rate charged to that home for using electricity. I sat on a “green innovations” committee for my small Iowa town for a… Read more »