Archive for December 12th, 2013

Daily Glimpse December 12, 2013

Daily Links From Glimpse From a Height

  • Libertarians For (and Against) Safety Nets
    In particular, some form of the Basic Income.  Matt Zwolinski of Bleeding Heart Libertarians makes the case for, including a couple of different forms it might take, and quotes from both Friedman and Hayek in support of the idea: Both Milton Friedman and Friedrich Hayek advocated for something like a Basic Income Guarantee as a proper […]
  • A Detailed Explanation of the Bitcoin Protocol
    We posted a video last week about the basic principles of Bitcoin.  Here’s a detailed explanation for the layman of how Bitcoin’s cryptography works. Understanding the details of the Bitcoin protocol opens up otherwise inaccessible vistas. In particular, it’s the basis for understanding Bitcoin’s built-in scripting language, which makes it possible to use Bitcoin to […]
  • FSA Commander Flees Syria
    According to the Wall Street Journal: Islamist fighters ran the top Western- backed rebel commander in Syria out of his headquarters, and he fled the country, U.S. officials said Wednesday. The Islamists also took over key warehouses holding U.S. military gear for moderate fighters in northern Syria over the weekend. The takeover and flight of […]
  • The Fourth Branch
    Jonathan Turley, the liberal law professor who spoke of Obama’s being “the threat the Constitution was designed to prevent,” wrote about the rise of the bureaucratic state earlier this year: This  growth since the founding has led to increasing power and independence for agencies. The shift of authority has been staggering. The fourth branch now […]
  • Access to a Waiting List
    That’s what happens when 70% of doctors don’t join your exchange: An estimated seven out of every 10 physicians in deep-blue California are rebelling against the state’s Obamacare health insurance exchange and won’t participate, the head of the state’s largest doctors’ association said. … “Enrollment doesn’t mean access, because there aren’t enough doctors to take […]
  • Floating House
    Also, some instruction on camera angles and perspective.  Shot from a distance, I think it might look bleaker and less pleasant.
  • Should Queens Tear Down the 1964 World’s Fair Pavilion?
    The latest Preservation Battle at Gizmodo: Last month, officials in New York determined that it would cost $53 million to fix and restorethe New York State Pavilion, the series of hulking space-age structures built in Flushing Meadows Corona Park during the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Should these deteriorating ruins be preserved? That seems like a lot of […]
  • An Affordable Metal 3D Printer?
    So far, they’ve been plastic.  The results are pretty robust, but metal is a whole ‘nother ballgame: Now, scientists have built an open-source 3D metal printer that costs under $1,200, sharing their design and software with the maker community. “We have open-sourced the plans,” in the hopes of accelerating the technology by allowing others to build upon […]
  • An Internet Radio From 1969
    Who knew Al Gore was so into transistors?
  • Sub-Launched Drones a Reality
    The US Navy has launched a drone from a submarine platform.  No word on whether they’re naming it after the birds that Noah sent out.
  • Earth’s Gravity Scarred By Earthquake
    The ESA GOCE satellite maps the earth’s local gravity, and shows that the March 2011 Japan earthquake left detectable changes in the earth’s gravity there.
  • Four Social Security Reforms
    Courtesy of the e21 Project at the Manhattan Institute.  Basically they amount to making marginal systemic changes now in order to avoid crashing the system just in time for me to retire.   They’re good ideas. Much of Paul Ryan’s budget strategy centered around getting discretionary spending off the table so we could focus on […]
  • Modern SF Loft
    Brick-and-Wood at its best: Two problems: first, it’s in San Francisco, which means it’s completely unaffordable unless you own Oracle;  second, as with so much modern interior design, it’s beautiful because it’s empty.  Nobody actually lives this way.
  • Notes on Israeli Income Inequality
    From Tyler Cowen: The bottom decile actually has done quite well in terms of rates of change, but the 6th through 8th deciles have done especially poorly (same link).  That source serves up the intriguing hypothesis that the disappearance of middle class-earning middlemen in the Israeli economy is due to the disintermediation of the internet, […]
  • Maybe They Just Don’t Like Wal Mart Because It’s a Meritocracy
    A new Wal Mart just opened in Washington, near the old downtown shopping district.  They get 38 applications for every position, and Mark Perry notes that it’s more from hope than desperation. Too bad, though, that they didn’t take Garfinckel’s old location.  Would have driven people like Jonathan Singer up the wall.
  • How to Bend Markets
    Innovation, of course: The WSJ has an article today about innovation blowing up the commodity industry…. The price of nickel, a metal used to make stainless steel for everything from sauce pans to guitar strings, spiked past $50,000 a metric ton in 2007 from less than $10,000 just a few years earlier…. The innovation has sent nickel […]
  • Jewish Democrat Foundation Makes It Official
    From The Jewish Week‘s Gary Rosenblatt: Several weeks ago the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a stalwart in the Jewish philanthropic community for 25 years, announced that its new strategic plan calls for focusing on two specific areas: inequality and climate change…. In the past, about 20 percent of those funds were designated to Jewish groups and […]
  • First Books, Now Newspapers
    Millennials Still Want Their Newspapers.  I think the headline overstates this considerably.  Of those from 18-34, 56% are reading their local paper online or in print, and 60% of that self-selected group consider it trustworthy.  Those are ridiculously low numbers compared even to 20 years ago, never mind 40 or 60.  It’s taken a long […]
  • What Industries Are Driving Denver’s Bounce Back?
    Tech, oil, and…lawyers? I don’t know if 33rd in the country is “impressive, though.”
  • National Geographic Maps Meet Google
    National Geographic Google-Maps 500 of its own maps.  You can search on a location, and then zoom in and out.  The link has a couple of maps to explore, but it’s unclear how you get to the other maps they’re digitizing.  
  • Harold Edgerton, Call Your Office
    From Hi Fructose: Alan Sailer, a microwave engineer and photographer, creates remarkable photographs that capture, with incredible precision, the explosion of several objects as he shoots them with a pellet rifle.
  • The 3D Pen
    An Engadget review is lukewarm: Drawing on a flat surface is simple enough, however, and tracing seems a pretty good place to get started with the new tool. Lay a thin piece of paper over a well-defined image and go to town…. The trouble starts when you attempt to draw in the air. You’re essentially […]

No Comments

Devolving the Gas Tax

Over at Complete Colorado, the Independence Institute’s Dennis Polhill writes in support of a proposal to devolve the lion’s share of the federal gas taxing authority back to the states, and remove federal restrictions on the states:

The Transportation Empowerment Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ga., gradually would lower the federal gas tax from the current 18.4 cents to 3.7 cents per gallon over five years. The legislation also would lift federal restrictions on state departments of transportation.

Not only would devolving the federal gas tax to the states result in a major boon to Colorado roads and bridges, it also would honor a promise made to the American people more than 50 years ago. In 1956, Congress passed the National Defense Highway Act to construct the Interstate Highway system. The temporary federal gas tax was promised to expire when construction was completed.

For all practical purposes, interstate highway construction was finished in 1982. Unfortunately, taxes almost never go away, or get smaller. Nor do government agencies or programs. Coincidentally, 1982 marks the same year roads outside the interstate system became eligible for federal funding. By tripling eligible mileage, the U.S. Department of Transportation used road revenues to fund other things more aggressively. Increasing amounts of gas tax revenue were siphoned to fund non-road programs, and congressional earmarks mushroomed.

For Colorado voters, the salient point is that we’ve been shorted on the deal, sending five cents per gallon to Washington that we never see back.  There was a time when federal development of large-scale road projects made sense, in order to avoid things like the Kansas Turnpike dead-ending in an Oklahoma field, because Oklahoma couldn’t get its act together:

But given that much of this money isn’t going to roads any more, anyway, putting an end to the Colorado-DC-Colorado round trip makes sense.

It’s certainly better than this monstrosity from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) that would add 15 cents to the federal gas tax in order to make up for the money that they’re siphoning off to pet projects, a prospect he doesn’t want to admit to:

 

, ,

No Comments