Growing Food, not Crops

[Here’s the orginal: http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/214%5D

Michael Pollan, the author, gives an extrodinarily insightful TED talk on how much we can gain if we change the perspecive regarding how we view nature.

I must admit, generally prefer the more technical to the philosophical, but at its basis, technical comes from a philosophical outlook, and Pollan’s shift in looking at nature is quite exciting.  Definitely check it out, even though it is longer than the usual internet video.



This is why I always use the “enviro”-type laundry detergent.



Veg Propoganda

I am a vegetarian, and I have very good reasons, and while I think this is great, I can’t deny that the makers are a little crazy.

I can’t embed flash games in a wordpress-hosted blog, but here is the link.



And I Thought Farts Smelled Bad

This is way too good.  An Israeli research team has developed a non-lethal weapon that is in fact a horrible horrible smelling, yet totally organic, substance that can be sprayed on protesters or what-have-you.



First Interesting Consumption Tax Proposal

Iʻve been opposed to a consumption tax (called the “Fair Tax” by proponents) because I had never seen a proposal where it could be made to be progressive.

A couple of reasons are usually given for advocating consumption taxes in favor of income taxes:

  1. Working is a good thing, and we should not tax what people earn, theoretically discouraging them from working.
  2. There are tons of income tax loop holes, and rich people often exploit them better than the less-rich.
  3. A consumption tax is more “fair” because it does not penalize people when they make more money.

The basic proposal would be a national sales tax.  Since rich people spend more, they would pay more taxes.  In reality, this would shift the tax burden from rich people to poor people.

But I recently read a very interesting proposal that advocates a consumption tax as a way to encourage saving, while also addressing the issues of keeping it progressive.  The idea was to tax the difference between the personʻs earnings and the change in their savings accounts, i.e. their consumption.  This amount could be taxed at a progressive rate.  So if the person spent $20,000 in the year it could be taxed at some rate x, and if they spent $120,000 it could be taxed at some higher rate y.  There would be some logistical kinks to work out, like would it hurt people who invest in things like gold coins and art?  But I really like the idea.


GM Would Not Disappear–Even if Bankrupt

Many people really do not understand what bankrupcy means.  Bankrupcy means that an entity does not have enough money to continue to pay its debts, and files for protection under bankruptcy law.  It seems like airlines go bankrupt every few years.  Kmart went bankrupt.  Texico went bankrupt.

If General Motors files for bankruptcy protection it does not mean that it will totally disappear.  The dealerships will not vaporize.  The assembly lines will not vanish into thin air.  The company will go into a harsh restructuring and emerge as a company the can *hopefully* actually make some money. Because as it is run now, it would have to be bailed out indefinitely because it cannot make any money!! This is way different than AIG, Fannie, Bear, WaMu, and Wachovia.  If the financial system explodes, like a real total collapse, the world as we know it would be over.  (In the Great Depression the unemployment was 25%, and we donʻt have a farm economy anymore to help absorb labor anymore!)

If GM goes into bankruptcy, they renegotiate their union deals, layoff a bunch more people, plunge forward with the Volt, and hope to emerge as a new company.  Face it–people will get laid-off by GM whether or not they get a bailout.  A bailout would just extend the inefficiency, bleeding and pain.  The incompetence over the last 20 years of GM management would be paid for by the US taxpayer.  This is not cyclical.  They suck.

Some commentary I liked.


No-Risk Capitalism

The argument.

Exhibit A.