A rational proposal for resolving the fiscal cliff debate.

Lets start with some assumptions:

1. The Democrats and Republicans both want Americans in general to have more wealth and for the US Government to have deep pockets full of valuable purchasing power.

2. Pro-growth policies such as low tax rates, light and tight regulation, improved access to infrastructure (including an appropriately educated work force and research and development programs in addition to the bricks and mortar projects) have the most potential to create wealth for individuals and revenue for the government.

3. Large amounts of debt relative to GDP are a drag on the potential to grow the economy because money that would otherwise be spent to promote bullet 2 is spent financing the debt.

4. Job creation (stimulating business activity) is the number one thing that everyone can agree is good and should be promoted immediately to address the sluggish recovery.

Now some food for thought (facts, not assumptions):

100 million Americans are receiving Medicare or Medicaid at a cost of almost 1 trillion dollars a year. Continue reading

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Why Mars is a (Mostly) Dead Rock: It’s Too Small.

Here are two claims:

Mars has living organisms on it.

The Martians were created using computer-gener...

The Martians were created using computer-generated imagery from ILM. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mars has Earth-like plate tectonics.

Shows how ocean ridges are formed, lithosphere...

Shows how ocean ridges are formed, lithosphere subducted at trenches; good for understanding plate tectonics. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first claim is supported by good evidence. The second is completely bogus.

In this post I explain why Mars is probably alive with some primitive life, but is not a very exciting or hospitable place for it when compared to Earth. I also make the argument that learning about Mars is useful because it will help us to avoid visiting such places in the future. Continue reading

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I Want to Be Grass-Fed.

For the 27th year since year 0 of my life, I am spending a week at “The Farm”. In 1815, a Swiss Mennonite pioneer named Abraham Buchwalter bought several hundred acres of farmland in Ross County Ohio and settled there. He was my great * 5 -grandfather. Eight generations later, it remains an important cornerstone of the family, though no one in the family has been a serious farmer since my great-grandfather. Nowadays, it is a place to vacation, connect with family, and contemplate the universe while watching the corn grow without a single distraction. As a kid, visiting the farm was pure bliss. The possibilities seemed endless amidst the open terrain, creeks, ponds and wildlife; fishing, hunting for arrowheads, bringing milk to newborn kittens in the haystacks. It is a truly beautiful place that appears “unspoiled” by modernity.  However, looks can be deceiving. Continue reading

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