Monday, 31 October 2011

08:44 – Edward P. Lazear in the WSJ points out something that should be obvious to anyone. The EU problem is too much government. Unfortunately, the only “solutions” they’re considering involve more of what’s caused the problem in the first place. It’s apparently impossible for politicians even to consider that government is the problem, not the solution. And the US has the same problem, albeit not quite as advanced.

Instead, EU politicians blame the market, the ratings agencies, and indeed anything else they can think of other than themselves. They’re now apparently seriously considering implementing a horrible idea that’s been simmering on the back burner for a couple of years now. A so-called “Tobin Tax” on financial transactions. Basically, the idea is that by making it more expensive for traders to trade they’ll reduce volatility in the markets.

Their problem is that, as Sweden found out in spades a few years ago, a Tobin Tax must be implemented globally. When Sweden implemented a Tobin Tax, the markets simply abandoned Sweden and moved their trading elsewhere. The vast majority of market activity in the EU already occurs in London, so implementing a Tobin Tax in the eurozone would simply cause essentially all of the little remaining market activity in the EU to relocate to London and New York, where it would not be taxed. The EU’s solution to this is to attempt to force the Tobin Tax on the UK (which has a veto over such things) and to lobby the US to implement such a tax. It’s not going to work, any more than any of the EU’s other “solutions” have worked. We’re really well into the endgame now.


10:51 – Hmmm. I just finished writing up a lab session on Mendelian inheritance, and realized that I might have a serious problem. Back when we were in school, everyone did the PTC tasting thing, but it was typically done with just the students in a classroom. This lab session is a bit different…

“Testing unrelated individuals provides some useful data, but ideally you want to test as many related individuals as possible so that you can follow inheritance of the PTC tasting and non-tasting alleles through generations of families. Testing both parents and their children is good; testing parents, children, and all four grandparents is better still. Best of all is testing the full extended family, with aunts and uncles and cousins.”

Most of my readers will immediately spot a very serious potential problem there, so I added the following warning:

Any human genetic testing, including this lab session, potentially has serious ethical implications. Many families have at least one “skeleton in the closet” that they’d prefer to keep hidden from the world at large. You are obligated—morally, ethically, and possibly legally—to maintain the absolute privacy of your test subjects by refusing to disclose the data you obtain to anyone else, including the test subjects themselves.

For example, in one of your family groups of test subjects you might find that both parents are non-tasters, as are all of their children except the eldest. You might conclude that that child was adopted or had a different father. Disclosing that conclusion TO ANYONE is a serious ethical violation, and may have direct and indirect consequences you cannot imagine. If you discover such an anomaly, KEEP IT TO YOURSELF.

Also consider this: you are not a geneticist, so you may be wrong.


12:02 – Jerry Coyne comments on Science publishing a new phylogeny of the mammals.


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13 Responses to Monday, 31 October 2011

  1. Chuck Waggoner says:

    Just in time for Halloween–a really talented puppeteer:

    http://www.myvido1.com/wUV92dOVEdVd1RrRjVG1UP_dancing-skeleton

    An edited version of this is going around Facebook, but here is the original. This guy is phenomenal. Little Richard’s music may be American, but the video is from Barcelona. Some of the best moves are near the end.

  2. BGrigg says:

    Ah, the Tobin Tax. Canada’s contribution to Occupy Wall Street, and Brian Tobin, former Newfie Premier, started beeping this one years ago. It gets traction in Canada, as “only the wealthy” make big bank transactions. So it’s the death of a thousand cuts for the rest of us, who are already Taxed Enough Already! Newfies, BTW, are Canada’s equivalent to the hillbillies.

  3. OFD says:

    We can usually count on the statists to come up with solutions involving more government and more confiscation of our money at virtual (or, if necessary, for real) gunpoint. This, naturally, exacerbates the problems, which then necessitate more statist solutions.

    Thus the cries from the Left in this country now that the State isn’t spending ENOUGH and more spending is critical.

    Money we haven’t got, and, increasingly, money our children and grandchildren won’t have, either. Amazing.

    Yup, still living in Bizarro World.

  4. Dave B. says:

    We can usually count on the statists to come up with solutions involving more government and more confiscation of our money at virtual (or, if necessary, for real) gunpoint. This, naturally, exacerbates the problems, which then necessitate more statist solutions.

    Thus the cries from the Left in this country now that the State isn’t spending ENOUGH and more spending is critical.

    My primary objection to our government’s spending is not how much our government spends, but how wasteful it is. I would object much less to our current spending for primary and secondary education if our schools did a better job of producing literate graduates.

  5. SteveF says:

    DaveB, I disagree. I oppose many of the things that government tries to do. As a consequence, them doing it more efficiently would be bad. I’d rather that all levels of government consumed a total of 1% of GDP and wasted most of it.

  6. OFD says:

    And I don’t want Our Nanny the Almighty State “educating” our children anymore, not after the last century of record, utilizing first the theoretical churnings of such as Mann and Dewey, and now the neo-Marxist-Leninists. No thank you.

    I am not a full-fledged libertarian, merely a paleo-conservative with libertarian leanings, but agree with them that the only business of the State is police, to protect us from criminal depredations; and armed forces for regional and national defense; and both sorts of organizations need to be monitored very closely at all times. Other than that, nothing, least of all education.

  7. chris els says:

    You are obligated—morally, ethically, and possibly legally—to maintain the absolute privacy of your test subjects by refusing to disclose the data you obtain to anyone else, including the test subjects themselves.
    The bold part I rebel against, since I claim knowledge about myself as a right – just as I claim a right to know my own length, weight, IQ, how many teeth I have left, etc. It is part of my freedom as an individual to know anything about myself that I care to know.

    Also consider this: you are not a geneticist, so you may be wrong.
    This part I agree with. Better get a professional. But then they won’t tell you, because of ethical constraints … 🙁

  8. chris els says:

    Sorry, last part, from “This part …” should not be quoted. Wish there was a preview.

  9. Rolf Grunsky says:

    Bill

    the Tobin Tax is the brainchild of this guy, , and not our poor Brian Tobin. No Newfies are involved.

  10. Rolf Grunsky says:

    Let’s try that again.

    Bill

    the Tobin Tax is the brainchild of this guy, James Tobin, and not our poor Brian Tobin. No Newfies are involved.

  11. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    The bold part I rebel against, since I claim knowledge about myself as a right – just as I claim a right to know my own length, weight, IQ, how many teeth I have left, etc. It is part of my freedom as an individual to know anything about myself that I care to know.

    The individual test subjects already know whether or not they can taste the PTC. The issue is about revealing the results from other test subjects.

  12. BGrigg says:

    Rolf, I thought Brian had beeped a similar tax back when he was in Chretien’s Cabinet? Perhaps he was just a fan? Boy, am I ever glad to find out it’s some stupid American economist (redundancy alert!) instead of one of ours.

    Still, you have to admit, it’s the sort of dumb-ass idea a Newfie would think up after downing some Screech! 😀

  13. ScottK says:

    My high school biology teacher managed to accidentally prove one student had a different father than the student had assumed (having not thought the possibilities through very fully) and decided after that year to have a different set of experiments for genetics that didn’t carry that particular risk.

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