Clever. And sobering.
Barack Obama, Economy, Fleecing the Taxpayers, government bailouts, Washington D.C. / No Comments
I occasionally blog on more obscure things because I am naturally curious and like to learn. So:
From The Corner today:
Your Tax Dollars at Work [Veronique de Rugy]
According to FoxNews.com:
Commercial fishermen struggling from catch restrictions and high fuel prices are getting $700,000 in federal stimulus money to retrieve lost crab pots now littering the ocean bottom, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday.
The money will be used to hire 48 people — including 31 fishermen — and to charter 10 vessels to retrieve an estimated 4,000 derelict crab pots, which pose a hazard to whales, seal lions and fishing boats, Jane Lubchenco said.
That’s $14,583 per person/job or $175 per retrieved crab pot. Hard to gauge those numbers not knowing if this is a salary or commision job, or how long it will take to gather them all up.
I was curious to know if this ”hazard” is BS, so I searched out this article on the environmental impact of derelict gill nets and crab pots. The crab pot problem is described thusly:
Commercial and sport crabbers are required to use a biodegradable cotton rot cord (also known as escape cord) on their pots so that if pots are lost, the cord will degrade and crabs can escape. Our research shows that only about a third of crab pots are properly equipped with escape cord and many derelict pots are found to continue fishing for months and even years. On average, a derelict crab pot will catch about 72 crabs a year. Primarily, crab pots become derelict when their buoy line is clipped by a passing vessel. Pots are frequently found in vessel traffic lanes and boaters out after dark have a challenging time seeing crab pot buoys.
So, 72 crabs times an estimated 4,000 derelict cord-lacking crab pots is 288,000 crabs that are caught and die, uneaten and unenjoyed, each year. That, in itself, does seem like a terrible thing. And at $1.60 per pound on average (that’s off the boat, not wholesale or retail), assuming a per crab weight of 1 pound, it’s also $460,800 goes uncollected by fishermen. Or, at retail prices of $10 per pound, $2.88 million.
Anyhoo, apparently there is not much data on the hazard to whales, sea lions, and fishing boats due to derelict crab pots. I assume this means not a lot of whales and boats are being taken out by stray crab cages, despite all the hullabaloo. There was some data on the danger of the stray gill nets, though:
In 2008, the Northwest Straits Initiative removed a gill net with 162 seabirds, 14 salmon, 42 dogfish, 1,400 Dungeness crab and 1 harbor seal. Factoring in decomposition rates, it is estimated that this single net in 23 weeks time killed 1,800 birds, 450 salmon, 1,300 spiny dogfish, 16,900 crab, and 11 harbor seals. In an ecologically rich area like Port Susan bay, derelict gear can be a tremendous stress on the ecosystem and source of mortality.
That does seem bad. This organization seems to have done their homework and to be doing decent work, and I was interested to read about their “no fault” non-legislative approach to the problem of reporting stray gear:
Central to the success of the derelict gear program has been its grassroots nature and partnerships with commercial and recreational fishermen to locate and remove gear. The Commission takes a no-fault approach to derelict gear removal. Rather than assigning blame for the derelict gear in the marine environment, the Commission focuses on removing existing gear and preventing new gear from entering the water through non-regulatory means. This approach is based on the following assumptions:
• That the majority of the derelict fishing gear in Washington state waters is local or regional in origin;
• That the majority of fishermen are operating legally in Washington state waters;
• That fishermen do not want to lose expensive gear;
• That if they do lose gear it is for reasons outside of their control;
• That fishermen have a stake in recovery of lost gear that might otherwise impact the sustainability of their industry.
[Conclusion]: The no-fault approach encourages fishermen to report lost nets so that they can be removed quickly.
I wonder what improvement could be made to crab pot and gill net technology to reduce the loss ratio? Ideas?
In closing, here’s some trivia for all you crab pot geeks:
Derelict pots remove an estimated 74 Dungeness crab from Puget Sound each year. Dungeness crab larvae are a critical component of juvenile salmon diets.
It is no new thing – at least among educated, well-informed conservative women - to talk about the hi-jacking of Feminism by angry, man-hating shrews bent on perpetuating their anti-paternal, victim mentalities. Unfortunately, many of these women are professors in insitutions of higher learning. And according to a piece by Christina Hoff Sommers in The Chronicle Review, at least some of these educators are guilty of citing false statistics in their work – and of getting quite testy when it is pointed out to them.
After choosing some sample texts and correcting or critiquing their statistics regarding violence against women and domestic abuse, and after interacting directly with their none-too-pleased authors (click thru and read about it!) Sommers says this:
All books have mistakes, so why pick on the feminists? My complaint with feminist research is not so much that the authors make mistakes; it is that the mistakes are impervious to reasoned criticism. They do not get corrected. The authors are passionately committed to the proposition that American women are oppressed and under siege. The scholars seize and hold on for dear life to any piece of data that appears to corroborate their dire worldview. At the same time, any critic who attempts to correct the false assumptions is dismissed as a backlasher and an anti-feminist crank.
Why should it matter if a large number of professors think and say a lot of foolish and intemperate things? Here are three reasons to be concerned:
1) False assertions, hyperbole, and crying wolf undermine the credibility and effectiveness of feminism. The United States, and the world, would greatly benefit from an intellectually responsible, reality-based women’s movement.
2) Over the years, the feminist fictions have made their way into public policy. They travel from the women’s-studies textbooks to women’s advocacy groups and then into news stories. Soon after, they are cited by concerned political leaders. President Obama recently issued an executive order establishing a White House Council on Women and Girls. As he explained, “The purpose of this council is to ensure that American women and girls are treated fairly in all matters of public policy.” He and Congress are also poised to use the celebrated Title IX gender-equity law to counter discrimination not only in college athletics but also in college math and science programs, where, it is alleged, women face a “chilly climate.” The president and members of Congress can cite decades of women’s-studies scholarship that presents women as the have-nots of our society. Never mind that this is largely no longer true. Nearly every fact that could be marshaled to justify the formation of the White House Council on Women and Girls or the new focus of Title IX application was shaped by scholarly merchants of hype like Professors Lemon and Seager.
3) Finally, as a philosophy professor of almost 20 years, and as someone who respects rationality, objective scholarship, and intellectual integrity, I find it altogether unacceptable for distinguished university professors and prestigious publishers to disseminate falsehoods. It is offensive in itself, even without considering the harmful consequences. Obduracy in the face of reasonable criticism may be inevitable in some realms, such as partisan politics, but in academe it is an abuse of the privileges of professorship.
For comments such as these, and for her exposure of specious feminist statistics in her 1994 book Who Stole Feminism? Sommers has been called a “thug,” “parasite,” “dangerous,” and a “female impersonator.” Early in her piece, she quotes sociologist Joel Best who once said that a bad statistic is ”Harder to kill than a vampire.” Apparently the egos of feminist professors who cite those bad statistics are pretty hard to kill as well.
Veronique @ The Corner is on fire today. Memorize the data so you can speak intelligently on the issue of income taxes:
Everyone Should Pay Income Taxes [Veronique de Rugy]
I am sure the proposition that “everyone should pay income taxes” seems obvious to you and me. And yet, the reality is quite different. Over at the Wall Street Journal, Ari Fleischer, Pres. George W. Bush’s former press secretary, has some interesting numbers about how many taxpayers pay the income tax, and how much each group contributes.
At the top:
A very small number of taxpayers — the 10% of the country that makes more than $92,400 a year — pay 72.4% of the nation’s income taxes. They’re the tip of the triangle that’s supporting virtually everyone and everything. Their burden keeps getting heavier.
At the bottom:
According to the CBO, those who made less than $44,300 in 2001 — 60% of the country — paid a paltry 3.3% of all income taxes. By 2005, almost all of them were excused from paying any income tax. They paid less than 1% of the income tax burden. Their share shrank even when taking into account the payroll tax. In 2001, the bottom 60% paid 16.3% of all taxes; by 2005 their share was down to 14.3%. All the while, this large group of voters made 25.8% of the nation’s income.
While very politically appealing, it has some serious economic implications:
Picture an upside-down pyramid with its narrow tip at the bottom and its base on top. The only way the pyramid can stand is by spinning fast enough or by having a wide enough tip so it won’t fall down. The federal version of this spinning top is the tax code; the government collects its money almost entirely from the people at the narrow tip and then gives it to the people at the wider side. So long as the pyramid spins, the system can work. If it slows down enough, it falls.
The open question is: When will it stop spinning? Read the whole thing here.
With just 8 days left until the polls close for the 2008 presidential election, the Las Vegas Review Journal is reporting that nearly 190,000 voters had turned out through Saturday in early voting in Nevada’s largest county (Clark). Of the 186,849 voters to show up at the polls, 103,719 were Democrats and 52,850 were Republicans. Of mail ballots received so far, there have been about 14,000 Republicans ballots vs. 12,500 Democrat ballots. Combining both mail ballots and early voting, Dems represented 54 percent of all Clark County voters while Republicans represented 31 percent.
What remains to be seen is how the rest of Nevada’s counties - many of which lean Republican – turn out. Washoe County, which contains Reno-Sparks, is particularly of interest. According to the Washoe County website, 51,209 voters have turned out to the polls as of yesterday. 26,214 of those were Democrats, compared to 16,838 Republicans. The final count will likely be a lot closer, though. A late September Reno Gazette Journal piece said that total Washoe County registration stood at 87,971 registered Republicans and 84,705 registered Democrats, with a backlog of about 5,000 registration applications still awaiting processing at that point. If we assume that most of that backlog were Democrats, Washoe may be ”a wash” because the numbers will be nearly even.
For the break down of voter rolls of Nevada’s 15 remaining counties, see the Sec. of State’s website. The sum up is this: when the numbers from Clark and Washoe counties are set aside, the rest of Nevada leans Republican. September stats showed Republican registrations at 75,402 vs. Democrat registrations at 49,687 in these counties. The GOP to Dem ratio used to be a lot bigger in northern Nevada, but the large influx of liberal leaning California residents has chipped away at it over the last decade.
According to this RJ piece last week, Nevada Democrats increased their total voter registration edge over Republicans to 111,559 this year – huge in comparison to the edge of about 4,100 voters a year ago. The RJ says the total of all registered voters in Nevada stands at nearly 1.5 million, including 625,333 Democrats and 513,774 Republicans. For Democrats, that’s 43 percent of the voters; and for Republicans it’s about 36 percent.
Note: The numbers of active voters on the Sec. of State’s webpage are a lot lower than the RJ is reporting so I called Matt Griffin, our state Elections Deputy, to verify. I’m waiting on a call back and will report.* The SOS website says that as of September 2008 there are 498,143 registered Democrats; 417,477 registered Republicans; 168,606 Non-partisans; 44,481 Independents; 6,388 Libertarians; 3,699 Others; 3,282 Greens; and 200 Natural Laws (what the heck is a “Natural Law” voter?)
Assuming these numbers are correct, those identifying with parties other than the Big Two total 226,656 with the Independent/Non-partisan voters totaling 213,087. That being the case, it looks like it’s the Independent/Non-partisan votes that will make the difference in Nevada.
I know a lot of in-state folks have called Nevada for Obama already. This little blogger ain’t so sure. Nevada’s independent voters tend to lean conservative and residents of all political stripes favor low taxes, small government and generally being left alone.
The more Obama talks about government programs, the less likely he is to please the Silver State’s electorate. Las Vegas also has hundreds of small businesses whose owners (and nervous employees) may well have been swayed by McCain’s Joe-the-Plumber-esque pitch this past week. And let’s not forget: we are very much a war-hawk/pro-military state, with Nellis AFB just a few miles east of Vegas.
Election Fact: Since 1912, Nevada has voted for the winner of every presidential election, except 1976, when the state chose Republican Gerald Ford rather than Democrat Jimmy Carter.
*Elections Deputy Matt Griffin called me back re: the discrepancy on voter registration rolls. He said the RJ is likely basing their numbers on registered but-not-yet-validated voters, whereas the Sec. of State’s website is citing verified, eligible voters.