Octavo Dia

Friday, September 30, 2011

Republicans Should Support Third Parties...

...but not vote for them.

The political structure in the United States necessitates a two-party system. With current structures, a third party will either fail or become one of the two parties. However, should the political structure be changed to allow for a third party, the Republican Party would be the primary beneficiary.

The Democrats are a coalition masquerading as a party. Should multiple parties be viable, the uneasy bedfellows in the Democratic Party would split into separate parties, e.g., Greens, Labor, Socialist, a few ethnically-based parties, etc. They would be natural allies, but they would lose the economies of scale as each separate party would have to develop its own structures.

The Republican Party, by contrast, is far more homogeneous. It would probably lose a rump to a revitalized Libertarian Party, and perhaps a new hard right Conservative party would form, but it would easily swallow up the middle of the political spectrum. It could then wheel and deal with the splintered parties around it and dominate American politics for decades to come.

Divide and Conquer.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

IT and Libertarians

I've noticed that most of the libertarians I meet work in IT. Based on no evidence whatsoever, I hypothesize that their work environment directly influences their politics. In an IT environment, scarcity of resources isn't really a problem. Most people have computing capacity to spare, and if your current system can't handle, just wait till the next hardware/software upgrade. In their world, the market constantly delivers improvements of all sorts. It's hard for them to imagine a world with problems that the market can't solve, with growth rates in the low single digits.

Much as the Baby Boomers' views were skewed by the world they grew up in, the techies views are skewed by the work they do. The bricks and mortar world just doesn't work like that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Trouble with Time-Traveling Assassinations

My views on time travel were largely shaped by an episode of the Twilight Zone in which he discovered that you can't change the past via time travel because the time travel that will happen has already happened in the past.

Anyway, the stereotypical use for a time machine, other than delivering a witty comeback, is to kill Hitler. (Why does no one ever travel back in time to kill Stalin or Mao? Why is it always Hitler?) Here's how I see that working out:

You take the time machine back to kill Hitler.

Some neo-Nazis take the time machine back to protect Hitler.

You bring big weapons.

They bring big weapons.

You bring some help.

They bring some help.

You bring advanced technology to the Allies.

They bring advanced technology to the Axis.

Suddenly, the plot to kill Hitler makes WWII several times worse.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011


When Tarja Turunen joined the band Nightwish, they changed their sound because her powerful singing overpowered the band. When she has left and they replaced her with Anette Olzon, who doesn't have nearly as powerful a voice. Anette, who is probably a perfectly lovely singer otherwise, is overpowered by Nightwish, and they didn't change their sound again to adapt to their lead singer. Meanwhile, Tarja is out recording on her own, and the back-up band she's found does not do her justice, so she overpowers them. Neither Tarja nor Nightwish are really worth listening to anymore.

This concludes my whining as a disgruntled fan.

A Reverse Tax Repatriation Holiday

Now and again, people (particularly large companies with vast foreign holdings) press Congress for a Tax Repatriation Holiday. The concept is, you bump the domestic money supply and generate some much needed inflation by encouraging companies to bring their earnings home. What better way to encourage them than by providing a tax break as an incentive?

Since companies are currently sitting on huge wads of cash, encouraging them to bring it home now might generate only larger wads of cash, with no attendant economic benefits and lower tax revenues to boot. So how about a reverse tax repatriation holiday? Instead of promising lower tax rates if they bring profits home now, promise higher tax rates for any profits brought home after a future date. Add a bit of stick in with the carrots. As a side benefit, a reverse tax reparation holiday would also provide more scope for future tax reparation holidays.