Category Archives: Politics vs. math

Betting against the house on the Covid vaccines

Slot machines

“You have a greater chance of being in a car accident on the way to getting this vaccine than you have of having a problem from this vaccine. But that’s not how people view risk.” — Paul Offit, vaccine expert at Philadelphia Children’s Hospital. Maybe it is because I do not seem to have a gambling gene in my body…. Read more »

Penny sucking and corporate tax reform

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Amazon van

When I purchase some stock online, I never try to nail my “limit price” down to the penny. I do not believe that ordinary people can do market timing that well. But that penny means a lot to the high-frequency traders and their AI computer algorithms. In a story that you might not see as connected, Amazon has had to… Read more »

Choosing your “Covid restaurant”

Cafe Risky

Imagine that there are just two cafés in your town at which you can dine. At Café Safe the menu is limited and rather bland, your parent’s music is playing over the PA system, and people are friendly but stand-offish. However, the place is clean, and they follow all health protocols. Business is good at Café Safe and it is… Read more »

Adam Smith meets the Suez container ship

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Adam Smith

Now that the massive container ship Ever Given has been freed from clogging up the Suez Canal, perhaps we can step back from “crisis economics” to look at the larger state of global transportation logistics. I agree with Australian economist John Quiggin that this event was more of a temporary glitch in this complex system, and perhaps a warning flag… Read more »

Beware the modern-day Gnostics

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Irenaeus

Most people know what an agnostic is, but fewer know much about the people at the root of that word, the Gnostics (without the ‘a’). Gnostics caused one of the first great doctrinal splits in early Christianity, but their intellectual descendants remain today, not just in churches, but also throughout the business and political worlds. And they want to sell… Read more »

Coronavirus mutations and the evolutionary race for time

Ark under construction

The greatest irony of the coronavirus pandemic, in my view, has been that of anti-science political forces who have resisted the most basic mitigation measures facing off against one of the best examples ever of Darwinian evolution and its related math of fecundity being played out in real (and scary-fast) time. And it ain’t over yet, with the exponential spread… Read more »

Stopping the speeding train to autocracy

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I-Voted

As I noted in an earlier post, the first-priority Republican legislative effort nationwide right now is to restrict voting rights before the next national elections come. The Brennan Center has cataloged at least 253 bills in 43 states working their way through legislatures aimed at cutting back on the right of people, especially minorities and young people, to vote. My… Read more »

January 6 and the fallacy of ‘No True Scotsman’

Scotland

A recent Suffolk University/USA TODAY poll found that 58% of self-identified Trump supporters believe that the January 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol was “mostly an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters.” Aside from being just plain factually false, this belief is an example of a classic “brain fart,” a well-documented logical fallacy that can affect… Read more »

Affective risk aversion and Covid vaccine denial

Rollercoaster

After several unsuccessful attempts in the confused and governor-hobbled Florida vaccine roll-out, my spouse and I were recently able to get the first of two Moderna jabs. Despite the tragic (and up to 40% unnecessary) loss of life and the trashing that our economy has suffered because of the coronavirus over the last year, the number of people who are… Read more »

A tax plan for Biden #3 – taxing corporations *updated*

The first two parts of this series of posts updated first some quick hits and then larger principles that I recommended to the Biden campaign last summer when Joe emerged as the front-runner candidate. The Trump administration really screwed up the U.S. Tax Code even worse that it had been, especially in business taxes. We need desperately to restore both tax… Read more »