Monday, April 30, 2007

Why Not Clean Up The Slums When You Can Tax?

Read a very interesting (to me, at least) article this morning about de facto privitization of law and order in Brazil that disguised itself as "Vigilantes impose peace in Rio slums". I don't understand why politicians think they have a monopoly on public service or even if relying on government is the most effient means of providing public goods. One of these days I'll get around to writing some thoughts about public education.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Why Collect Tolls When You Can Tax?

So I'm in the Bay Area this week and want to rant about the stupid bridge tolls. It's not the amount that annoys me but rather the inefficiency of the toll collection process. Don't get me wrong, I'm all about fee for usage as a more socially efficient means of paying for infrastructure. That being said, collecting tolls on the various bridges in the Bay Area is one of the biggest wastes of resources. Any one who has tried to cross one of the bridges during rush hour knows exactly what I'm talking about. Traffic gets backed up for miles just so the city can collect $4 per car. In this case, the cost (inefficiency) of collecting the direct usage fee is far greater than the alternative of collecting the revenues in a more indirect manner. My proposal would be to increase property taxes for homeowners in the Bay Area to offset the revenues lost by ending the bridge tolls. EVERYONE benefits from the bridges in some form or another and I'm willing to bet there's a pretty high correlation between price of home owned and usage of the bridge. In any case, the inefficiency of this indirect payment would be considerably less than the current inefficiency of everyone slowing down to pay the toll. I actually like property taxes a lot because it's one example of a progressive tax that is based on consupmtion and not production., but that's a topic for a different day....

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Why Ban When You Can Tax?

So all this talk about banning incandescent light bulbs in California is really annoying me. I can just see it now -- Californians making a run for the Nevada border to buy their fix of cheap light bulbs. A much easier and more efficient remedy is to simply levy a large tax on incandescent light bulbs. The revenues from this special tax could then be applied to subsidize the price of more expensive (but more efficient) florencent bulbs.

And in case you think this is crazy and without precedence, it's essentially what the cigarette tax does.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Proposal on Gun Control

I've got a simple proposal to overt tragedies such as the Virginia Tech shootings: co-signing gun permits. While the waiting period and background checks mandated by the Brady Bill certainly make a lot of sense, I think we need more stringent measures to protect against first time felons such as Seung-Hui Cho. Just about everyone from his classmates to an escort he hired a week before the events knew this guy was "creepy". Even his own sister says he was a weirdo! It got me thinking if there is ANYBODY who is willing to vouch for this guy. Voila! Co-signing for gun permits.

Just like a loan, the co-signer would bear responsibility for the actions of the primary signer. Gun enthusiasts, hunters, and even people who want to own a firearm for personal protection should have no problem finding someone to co-sign their application. And if they can't find a friend or loved one to co-sign and accept responsibility for their actions, shouldn't that tell us something about the applicants' worthiness to own a means of death?

Of course, we could always just adopt Chris Rock's proposal and levy a HUGE tax on bullets....

Long Delay Explained

I started blogging a few months ago in an effort to stay in touch with my friends better as my travel schedule was getting rather crazy. The blog really helped me keep in touch with one friend in particular, Wes Roberts. Wes was by far the most frequent reader of and commentator on my site. Many times, my postings would lead to a long e-mail chain back and forth. For those of you who don't know Wes, we were friends in college and worked together for 5 years. Much of our time at work was spent talking about the sort of things I write about. Sadly, Wes passed away a few weeks ago. Here's his obituary.

Wesley David Roberts passed away on March 23, 2007. He was born on January 12, 1977, beloved son of Renae and David Roberts. He attended Palos Verdes schools, beginning with Mira Catalina where his mother was and is a teacher. He was in the first class to go through four years at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, where he was active with Mock Trial, a member of the cross country team and Spanish Honor Society, and captain of the golf team. He belonged to Palos Verdes Assembly and was presented in 1995, the year he graduated. He received a BA from the University of California Berkeley in 1999, majoring in Economics, and was president of Chi Psi Fraternity. While attending Berkeley and after graduation he was an executive at Virco Manufacturing in Torrance. He received an MBA from the Marshall School at the University of Southern California in 2005 and was a law student at UC Hastings at the time of his passing. He had a heart of gold and was a pet lover, avid reader, hiker, traveler and Cal football fan.

Wesley is survived by his parents, Renae and David Roberts of Rancho Palos Verdes, his English bulldog, Bentley, his grandmothers Peggy Johnson and Delia Roberts, his grandfather Dale Johnson, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins in the South Bay. He will be remembered with love by Katie Dye Roberts and her family in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Donations in his memory can be made to The Beacon House (1003 S. Beacon Street, San Pedro 90731) or the Peninsula Education Foundation (PO Box 2632, PVP 90274).

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