Commentary From the Mile High City

"Star of the conservative blogosphere" Denver Post

"The Rocky Mountain Alliance offers the best of what the blogosphere has to offer." -David Harsanyi, Denver Post
Joshua Sharf

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April 30, 2009

The State Backs Loans

Apparently jealous of the Federal government's ability to distort credit markets, the Colorado legislature has decided to get in on the act.  SB-051, which Gov. Ritter signed into law, would extend loans to banks, who would then turn around and loan the money to homeowners and businesses to install solar equipment.  The idea is to smooth out the cash flows, eliminating the up-front cost of the system, up to $12,500.

For the homeowner, and especially for the business-owner, for whom the interest and depreciation are deductible, this is a good deal.

For the government and the taxpayer, not so much.  There's no fiscal note attached, which means that, in theory, there's no cost to the government.  This can't possibly be true, otherwise there would be an obvious arbitrage opportunity for the state.  The state can obviously issue debt for lower interest than the banks will lend it out at.  The state could do that, split the difference on the interest with the banks.

Why not do this?  Because of default risk.  You know, people not being able to pay the debt.  Which under the terms of the bill will almost always result in subordinated liens against the property, with the taxpayer coming out on the short end of the foreclosure proceedings.

Now, where have we heard this story before?

December 3, 2008

Fish and Wildlife to People: "Rats!"

The US Fish and Wildlife Service has moved one step closer to declaring the prairie dog - of which there are millions, with habitats in a dozen states - endangered. While the prairie dog is the kind of animal most people had in mind when the Endangered Species Act was passed, it's also not even close to being endangered.

Prairie dog-niks say the animals were here first, are no threat to humans and are a reminder of how the plains used to be, before farms, houses and strip malls.

Their allies include some people who don't like more development in general.

The first sentence is a collection of non-sequiturs.  Of course the prairie dogs were here first.  So were all animals.  And an animal doesn't have to be a threat to humans to forfeit protection.  It merely has to be non-endangered.  Black bears are manifestly a threat to humans, but are a dime-a-dozen, and not on the list.

It does, however, come close to revealing the true hostility of the rodents' advocates to human beings and their desire to live pleasant lives.  The second is closer to the real purpose behind this movement.  It's a typical perversion of the ESA designed to prevent development and dictate land use policy from Washington.

I wonder if Sen. Salazar and Gov. Ritter will be as quick to intervene in the federal regulatory process this time as they were in trying to prevent oil shale development.

October 8, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

From the AP:

The Supreme Court appeared divided Wednesday over judges' authority to limit the Navy's use of sonar to protect whales.

The court heard arguments in a dispute between the Bush administration and environmental advocates over court rulings that restrict sonar in naval training exercises off the coast of Southern California.

The administration says the training is vital for teaching sailors how to find enemy submarines.

Are they out of their minds?

Look, I like whales. When I was in 3rd grade, I made a "Save the Whales" poster. I like sperm whales, killer whales. When I see one of those National Geographic specials, I never have even the slightest urge to root for the krill.

I like the Smithsonian blue whale. I like Minki whales, batter-fried. I like Fudgy the Whale. I like the Wailing Wall and I like gunwales.

But the life of every whale on the planet doesn't add up to the life of one US Navy sailor.

The numbers involved are on the order of a few dozen per decade. It's not as though the Navy is using whales for torpedo practice, or for targeting practice, even for sonar practice. They just happen to be in the way.

ASW is a skill, it's an art, and it takes practice. And if the other guys are better at it than we are, because they don't give a damn about their whales, and would just as soon that they get the hell out of the way and head for the safe pastures of California, our sailors are going to die.


Power, Faith, and Fantasy

Six Days of War

An Army of Davids

Learning to Read Midrash

Size Matters

Deals From Hell

A War Like No Other


A Civil War

Supreme Command

The (Mis)Behavior of Markets

The Wisdom of Crowds

Inventing Money

When Genius Failed

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

Back in Action : An American Soldier's Story of Courage, Faith and Fortitude

How Would You Move Mt. Fuji?

Good to Great

Built to Last

Financial Fine Print

The Day the Universe Changed


The Multiple Identities of the Middle-East

The Case for Democracy

A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America's Last Years in Vietnam

The Italians

Zakhor: Jewish History and Jewish Memory

Beyond the Verse: Talmudic Readings and Lectures

Reading Levinas/Reading Talmud