Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bad Incentives Yield Bad Government

It is one of the few great truths that Economists will agree upon that people respond to incentives. If you want to change behavior, change the incentives. If you have a system where people are incentivized to behave in a perverse and destructive manner, guess what happens? A bad system of incentives caused the financial meltdown (a system, by the way, that has not been fixed!!!), and it is now doing the same thing in the debt ceiling crisis.

Sane people would see that the debt limit must rise, and come to some agreement on doing this. Then, they would go about fixing the long-term budget problems that pose a threat to our solvency down the road. That is, sane people with a sane set of incentives. But our current Congress is operating under a situation that causes most of the assholes in Washington to act in a destructive way. The sad thing is that it is not easily fixed.

Here is what is going on. First, we must understand that the primary interest of politicians is to remain in office, or to step up to a bigger job, where the, campaign contributions....are bigger. Most members of the House are elected from districts that have been gerrrymandered to be be safe for their party. Safe GOP seat, safe Dems seats. And the nation is now so divided between red and blue states that many Senate seats are also certain to go to one party or the other.

So, if a House member wants to stay in office, chances are his biggest fear is not losing to a member of the other party by going to far to the right or left and being unreasonable. While that type of behavior violates good sense, good government, and the wishes of most of the electorate, our Congresspersons have been incentivized to do exactly that. Why? Because they don't fear that sane folks in the center won't re-elect them, they fear a primary challenge from the extremists who tend to vote in primaries.

While this is somewhat of a factor in the Democratic Party, the ignorant d-bags in the Tea Party are now the the real threat to sane government. They challenged a lot of incumbents in the last election who were not nutso enough for them, and are threatening to do the same in the next election. John Boehner knows he should make a deal with the Democrats, but fears if he does that the Teabaggers will attack, and he will lose his leadership role and perhaps even his seat in the house.

And, since the Tea-D-Bags have decided that Obama is the root of all evil, they threaten anyone who would even hint at making a compromise with him. Oh, and then there is the House GOP leader Mitch McConnell, a complete lying scumbag who has only spoken the truth once in his life: When he said his goal is to make sure Obama doesn't get re-elected. That's a really great way to negotiate!

Politicians suck, but remember, we let them do this to us. But, if you see a member of Congress on the street this week, kick him in the nuts!!!

Friday, July 15, 2011

New Stuff from The Standup Economist

"The Tea Party believes in social darwinism, but they don't believe in Darwin". And other fun stuff.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Another Example of Why Soccer is a Great Sport

OK, I admit it. I haven't been to an MLS game in a few years, even though the defending champions play here in Colorado. Mostly that is because they seem to play their home games when I am busy, but it is pretty tough to get too excited about an MLS regular season game.

But, I will continue to proudly admit to being one of America's only soccer fans over 50. And if you watched yesterday's US-Brazil Women's World Cup game you should be joining me.

This was just a great game from start to finish. Two very good and evenly matched teams trying to overcome a horrible officiating job, matching each other's moments of brilliance. The amazing Marta, who is probably good enough to play in MLS, scores minutes into overtime, and tough and skilled Amy Wambach heads in a perfect cross as the game is about to expire. If you are a sports fan and missed this.....well, this is the reason we are sports fans. It also demonstrated what makes soccer exciting, the fact that it only takes one miracle play to change a game. This game had several.

Kudos to the American girls for never giving up, even after they had tripply screwed by the ref in what looked like a disaster. They kept working, kept their composure, and seemed to wear down the Brazilians, as there is no way that Megan Rapinoe should have been given the time she had to play that heavenly ball right onto the head of the Wambach. Great stuff girls. You are now America's Sweethearts, which makes me happy that we are celebrating women who play a real sport (yes, I am talking about YOU, gymnasts and figure skaters!).

Can't wait until Wednesday's game!

Friday, July 8, 2011

In Praise of The Woodman

I will admit to having been a Woody Allen fan since I saw "Bananas" in college, back in the days when phones were attached to walls and had dials. In fact, one of my favorite movies is "Annie Hall", which I think all film makers should be forced to watch before they fill their films with a bunch of time-wasting nonsense.

As much as I admire his films (and, his standup comedy, if you can find it!), he has made some stinkers. He has been up and down in the past 20 or so years, making some brilliant stuff like "Deconstructing Harry" and "Match Point", and some that just leave you scratching your head, like "Small Time Crooks".

As a patriotic American, I thought there would be no better way to spend our nation's birthday than seeing Woody's latest "Midnight in Paris". If anyone was worrying that Woody had lost his fastball, well, this movie is proof that he is still brilliant.

The last time I raved about a comedy film on this page was a few years ago, when I compared "The Hangover" to "Animal House". Well, this comedy can best be compared to.......the best of Woody Allen. Smart, clever, makes you laugh from start to finish without ever making you feel dirty for doing so. The fun of revelation of who the main character hangs out with as he goes to Paris in the 1920's is hilarious, and the only disappointment is that the main character turns down Hemingway's challenge to a boxing match (oh, and Corey Stoll is fantastic as Hemingway!).

And clearly Woody Allen could care less about selling tickets to his movies. Do you see him on Letterman or Colbert promoting? Never. And in this case he has made a film for a group of people who barely exist anymore.......people who read books. If you are one of those people, put the book down for 90 minutes (yes, Woody still knows that a comedy film should only last that long!) and go see "Midnight in Paris"!!