Monthly Archives: March 2010

Bureaucratic Environmental Protection Agency

The proprietor of Coyote Blog is an entrepreneur specializing in operating camping & recreation facilities. Recently he’s been moving from big pick-up trucks to much smaller, more fuel-efficient, cheaper used Japanese trucks. That is, until the EPA barred their import:

These are trucks that are from an emissions regime (in Japan) harsher than ours and that have three times the gas mileage of the trucks they are replacing. But apparently the EPA doesn’t have rules for them and doesn’t know how to categorize them, and anything a bureaucrat doesn’t have rules for must be illegal, right? So now we are forced to go back to full-size pickup truck purchases until the EPA can catch up with the market.

Your government at work. Causing higher pollution and higher domestic energy usage by banning imports completely until they can fully study the matter — rather than allowing a variance and continuing to import from a more stringent country while doing their study.

But hey, I’m sure Government Motors is happy for the business Coyote might end up sending their way. No conflict of interest there, right?

The Social Security Trust Fund In Kindergarten Terms

Yesterday I had $10 in my right pocket.

I loaned that money to my left pocket, which I like to call my “Right Pocket Trust Fund”. I put an IOU from my left pocket into my right pocket to document the loan.

I then spent that $10 on lunch.

Today my right pocket wants to start collecting on that loan.


That’s the Social Security Trust Fund. An IOU that requires new taxation, NOT drawing down on savings, to be repaid.

(Inspired by Megan McArdle)

SCOTUS, Not Gov. Perry, Grants Hank Skinner a Reprieve

Hank Skinner will not be executed today. With about an hour left before Skinner was to be taken to the death chamber, SCOTUS put an immediate halt to the process.

Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press reports:

The brief order grants him the delay but does not ensure he will get such [DNA] testing. Perry had not decided on the delay.


In the order, the justices said they would put off the execution until they decide whether to review his case. If the court refuses the review, the reprieve is lifted, according to the order, and Skinner would become eligible for another execution date.

So it looks like the process is back at square one. If the court refuses the review and the reprieve is lifted, a new date will be set and Skinner’s life will be back in Gov. Rick Perry’s hands. Hopefully this case will generate even more attention than it already has and even more pressure will be placed on Perry and others to make sure the DNA testing takes place if SCOTUS doesn’t force the issue first.

There certainly are no guarantees other than the fact that Texas will not risk killing an innocent man on this day.

Hank Skinner Execution Update: Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Deny DNA Test Request

ACTION ALERT: Tell Gov. Perry to Give Hank Skinner 30 More Days

Former Texas Prosecutor and Judge Both Believe the State Has Executed More Than One Innocent Man

Rand Paul Picks Up Major Endorsement

Well, sorta:

Dick Cheney today announced that he is endorsing Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson over Rand Paul in the GOP Senate primary.

“I’m a lifelong conservative, and I can tell the real thing when I see it. I have looked at the records of both candidates in the race, and it is clear to me that Trey Grayson is right on the issues that matter — both on fiscal responsibility and on national security,” Cheney said in a statement released this morning.

I suspect for many of our readers, this is somewhat analogous to Carter’s Razor; i.e. on any policy issue, the correct position is most likely to be the exact opposite of whatever Jimmy Carter is advocating.

If Cheney is pushing for Trey Grayson, anyone with a libertarian bent should vote for “the other guy”.

Life Expectancy — Due To Lack Of Healthcare Or Gluttony and Smoking?

A new study suggests that simply due to the results of blood pressure, obesity, blood glucose levels and smoking, American life expectancy is artificially low by 4.9 and 4.1 years for men and women, respectively (h/t Reason):

A new study led by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in collaboration with researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington estimates that smoking, high blood pressure, elevated blood glucose and overweight and obesity currently reduce life expectancy in the U.S. by 4.9 years in men and 4.1 years in women. It is the first study to look at the effects of those four preventable risk factors on life expectancy in the whole nation.

Below is the number of years that would be gained in life expectancy in the U.S. if each individual risk factor was reduced to its optimal level:

  • Blood pressure: 1.5 years (men), 1.6 years (women)
  • Obesity (measured by body mass index): 1.3 years (men), 1.3 years (women)
  • Blood glucose: 0.5 years (men), 0.3 years (women)
  • Smoking: 2.5 years (men), 1.8 years (women)

This study in particular was largely looking at different subgroups within the US (ethnicities, geographies, etc) to determine relative differences in life expectancy due to those factors.

But I’d like to see a wider question answered. America typically ranks lower on life expectancy rankings than most European countries with generous welfare states and single-payer or heavily-socialized health care systems. This fact was largely heralded all during the debate over the health care bill. America is also considered to be gluttonous, unhealthy, lazy*, and fat compared to Europe; anecdotally, on my one trip to France, the only fat people I met spoke perfect English.

So I’d like to see a serious academic look at what drives the life-expectancy differences between America and Europe. I’ve heard in the past that non-healthcare death rates (automotive accidents and homicides) are significantly higher here, but is it also the case that we’re eating and smoking ourselves to death at a rate much higher than Europe?

And if so, does anyone think — as I do — that the healthcare bill will do little or nothing to affect this life expectancy gap?
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