Saturday, December 27, 2008

Big Changes Needed in Detroit

Detroit has had, arguably, the worst record ever. It really is almost amusing if it wasn’t so bad.

Many blame management, but that is only part of the story. Even if they were, miraculously, able to come up with the perfect game plan, they just don’t have the talent to implement it.

So just wiping out the top and calling it a day isn’t enough. But it isn’t really fair to clean out the labor in this is it? Well, if you consider that if management had been doing their job they wouldn’t be getting those huge paychecks anyway, consider it a short-term windfall that they didn’t really deserve anyway.

But it really isn’t their fault, and no one should be blaming them. They were looking out for themselves, just as you would in that position. You always think that you are worth more than you are – its human nature. But there is supposed to be someone there telling you that maybe you just aren’t good enough.

But that is irrelevant anyway, even if you were able to clean the slate at the top and the bottom it will be years before Detroit can really compete again. So what is the answer? To change the rules of the game?

That will have all sorts of unintended consequences. You won’t really want to be on Detroit because the changes may not be enough. But betting on the competition that has been running all over Detroit for years is risky as well. They are, after all, getting some incredible advantages.

And what rules do you change anyway? Give them 5 downs to get 10 yards? Maybe make touchdowns worth 10 points? Or maybe you just spot them an extra 20 yards every possession. How do you make sure that it makes it “fair” and not just giving them an overwhelming advantage in every game?

Wait. This is absurd? You thought I was talking about the Big 3? That would just be absurd.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Easiest Money Ever

And no, I’m not talking about selling a Senate seat.

Large Hadron Collider will destroy Earth.” – Stakes $1000.

Why not make it $10K or even $100K?  Its not like there is going to be anyone around to collect if you are wrong.

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Breaking News: Politician is Corrupt

I was going to write a story about the Blagojevich story pointing out that politicians are only for sale because they have a lot to offer.  But this post says almost exactly what I wanted to say, so I can maximize my comparative advantage (namely driving my daughter to school).

So the big news today is that the governor of Illinois has been caught doing explicitly what most politicians do with more subtlety every single day:  selling off their power to the highest bidder.  I can't help but note that yet another politician is indicted on corruption charges at the very same time we are handing over unprecedented power to the political class as we partially nationalize the banking system and, apparently, the Big Three auto companies.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Glimpse of Life at Home

I’m what you would call nominally agnostic.  I was raised Catholic and was very involved in the church up until college.  I quickly became very disillusioned with organized religion. 

My opinions have morphed slowly over time into thinking that if there is a god, it is impossible for human to know what it is or what it truly wants.  Its possible that some Creator is responsible for our universe.  It is also possible that it is a cosmic accident.  I’m OK with not knowing, it doesn’t really drive my behavior one way or another.

The upshot of all of this is that religion doesn’t have a very active role in my home life.  Both of my girls were baptized in the church, but we don’t attend mass outside of the odd baptism or wedding.  We celebrate Christmas and Easter, but they are family events, not religious ones.

Earlier this week my daughter, Alanna, was working on a homework assignment and I asked her what she was working on.

“I have to write a paragraph explaining whether I would rather live in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance.”

I jokingly asked if I got to be a King in the middle ages to which she rolled her eyes. “No, Dad.  You are the same class as you are now.”

I told her the decision was easy – we would likely be artisans or merchants and life was much better for them in the Renaissance than the middle ages.  She was worried though because non-Christians were killed in that era.

“I’d rather be a slave than dead.”

I pointed out that many that actually could make that choice made the opposite decision, but her statement surprised me.  While we are certainly not actively involved in church, I wouldn’t necessarily describe the family as “non-Christian.”

My wife would absolutely describe herself as Christian and I don’t really discuss religion at home.  My daughters are free to come to their own conclusions on the subject, so I don’t actively try to influence them.  I am not a militant anti-religious person, I think that there are some positive aspects to religion in the community sense.

So I guess I have been successful in not instilling strong religious feelings in my kids – hopefully it leads to being open minded about the subject.  I do wonder sometimes if I have taken the wrong tact and should have instead raised them in a more “mainstream” manner.

I guess only time will tell.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Posted Without Comment

From Gov Perry (TX) & Gov Sanford (SC): 

we'd ask the federal government to stop believing it has all the answers.

The rest is worth reading as well..

Where Is the But?

An interesting Markets in Everything from Marginal Revolution:

Tom Farber gives a lot of tests. He's a calculus teacher, after all. So when administrators at Rancho Bernardo, his suburban San Diego high school, announced the district was cutting spending on supplies by nearly a third, Farber had a problem...

"Tough times call for tough actions," he says. So he started selling ads on his test papers: $10 for a quiz, $20 for a chapter test, $30 for a semester final.

What does it say about me that as I read this post I was expecting to see something about the teacher going to jail or the school board receiving hundreds of complaints from students or some other anti-market reaction?

I would be willing to take a bet that Mr. Farber will be admonished for his entrepreneurship – any takers?

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