Octavo Dia

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Get disenfranchised (like a boss)

I've read innumerable articles about requiring photo ID in order to vote. This week's Economist provided the latest one, and included an argument that is part of pretty much every article on the topic:

"Democrats argue that such provisions have the effect of disenfranchising minorities, young people and the poor, who are more likely to lack suitable ID than other groups (and who mostly vote for them)."

This is fundamentally an identification issue, not a voting issue. Why don't the young and the poor have ID? If the problem is that it is too expensive, then the solution is reducing the fees. If the problem is that they don't have traditional evidence of identity, then the solution is a regulatory change to allow more discretion in evaluating evidence of identity. If the problem is that they don't have access to an issuing office, then the solution is to provide more access.

There is no situation in which improving access to identification is not a better solution than disallowing ID requirements at the polls.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Syrian Rebellion will be Defeated Before 11/06/2012

Prior to the rebellion, All reporting of Assad's behavior depict him as a relatively enlightened despot. Assad is not a bloodthirsty sadist; he is acting quite rationally:

Assad knows that, if he is going to end the rebellion by force, he has to do it before the U.S. presidential election. Obama has one issue left on which he has not entirely disillusioned his supporters--his role in ending the wars. He used a lot of political capital in Libya, and only survived because it was a quick, clean war in almost ideal circumstances for the U.S. military.

Intervention in Syria would not be such. Indeed, Assad is deliberately making war in such a way to make a quick, clean intervention difficult. He's not using his airpower at all. As part of a divide and conquer strategy, he's mixing his forces in with the rebels. He's moving his armor into the cities (which is not a very good place for armor), because it would then be protected from air strikes (the risk of friendly fire would be too great).

As a result, Obama is waiting. He's waiting until after the election, when either it's somebody else's problem, or he is no longer constrained by facing an election. Once the election is over, he can decide if he wants another messy war in the Middle East. And because Obama is waiting, everyone else is waiting. And while they're waiting, Assad's forces are carefully killing as many rebels as possible, but not so many that it would trigger an incident to which Obama would be forced to respond. If he wins before the November election, he will be invulnerable.

There's a military saying, "In war, the enemy gets a vote." In this case, it is almost literally true. The enemy, Assad, is voting by proxy in the U.S. election through the anti-war faction in the Democratic party.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Phantom Tax Hike

The Monkey Cage blog recently puzzled over American's largely erroneous views of tax rate changes. I think that the real disparity between the objective facts and American's perceptions is that, because our liabilities have risen--even though the bill has not arrived--Americans will be taxed more highly in the future.

Americans are fully aware that current deficits will have to be paid--through either direct taxes or indirect taxes (the costs of inflation or default). Americans are also aware, regardless of political leanings and whether they support its goals or not, that Obamacare will be a boondoggle for which a large bill will come due.

Since the Obama administration made spending decisions that will increase the tax burden, Americans rightly perceive that taxes have risen, even though no cash has yet been required of them.

Friday, March 09, 2012

How to Negotiate with North Korea

I know I've blogged about North Korea before, but this article in Foreign Policy--Let North Korea Keep Its Nukes--has all the risks, but none of the safeguards I blogged about.

So let's try this way: negotiations begin, and end, with fissile material. They give us fissile material, we give them some large multiplier of its value in aid. They don't have to give up their nukes, as though they would anyway, but with every purchase we'd be reducing the total amount that could be diverted to other ends.