Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thursday Drive-By Commentary

Judge Alito, soon to be Justice Alito, gets "well qualified" ranking from the ABA. It is the second highest rating possible, just behind the "two snaps and a circle" that the ABA gave Justice Roberts.

[At right: President Bush admires the way in which Judge Alito uses his mouth.]

I would like to point out something. I am glad I live in America. Why?

There are many reasons, but here are two: I can be born to teenaged parents, start out in the bottom 10% income bracket, and end up in the top 10% income bracket, and I can buy a good sized, affordable house.

Let me explain why I mention this.

Thomas Sowell, one of my favorite columnists, noted a rare agreement between Rush and economist dunce extrodinaire Paul Krugman. The recognition of this fact:

Despite hysteria over high home prices, in most parts of the United States housing is quite affordable. But in some places housing prices are astronomical -- three times the national average in much of California, for example.

Not surprisingly, the Left wants a government solution to this problem. Sowell correctly points out that the problem is one of government to begin with.

A scholarly study published in the October 2005 issue of the Journal of Law and Economics concluded: "In the sprawling cities of the American heartland, land remains cheap, real construction costs are falling, and expanding supply keeps housing costs low."

Why then are there particular places where housing costs have skyrocketed?
In those places, much of the land is prevented by law from being used to build housing. These land use restrictions are seldom called land use restrictions.

They are called by much prettier names, like "open space" laws, laws to "preserve farmland" or prevent "sprawl," "greenbelt" laws -- or whatever else will sell politically.

People who already own their own homes don't worry about whether such laws will drive housing prices sky high. Somebody else will have to pay those prices while existing homeowners see the value of their property rise by leaps and bounds.

Everyone loves green space. But 95% of this country is still undeveloped. Just like every trade restriction is done in the name of the public interest but it more likely designed to limit competition, so too is the motivation for many land use restrictions. Limited land use means artificially high prices for land.

The[] real agenda [of many land use enviromentalists] is keeping out other people. Home builders who would enable other people to move into their community are called selfish and greedy. Green liars consider themselves morally far superior to "developers."

Which leads us to the social mobility article of this week, from Walter Williams. He points out briefly that lie about the static nature of income and the "rich get richer and poor get poorer" mantra of the left.

The authors analyzed University of Michigan Panel Study of Income Dynamics data that tracked more than 50,000 individual families since 1968. Cox and Alms found: Only five percent of families in the bottom income quintile (lowest 20 percent) in 1975 were still there in 1991. Three-quarters of these families had moved into the three highest income quintiles. During the same period, 70 percent of those in the second lowest income quintile moved to a higher quintile, with 25 percent of them moving to the top income quintile. When the Bureau of Census reports, for example, that the poverty rate in 1980 was 15 percent and a decade later still 15 percent, for the most part they are referring to different people.

This type of mobility may be unique to the United States a few other western countries, but it shouldn't be surprising. The idealistic speeches many of our parents gave us are true. Smart decisions and hard work pay off. Also, for every person moving up, that means someone else is moving down.

Cox and Alm's findings were supported by a U.S. Treasury Department study that used an entirely different data base, income tax returns. The U.S. Treasury found that 85.8 percent of tax filers in the bottom income quintile in 1979 had moved on to a higher quintile by 1988 -- 66 percent to second and third quintiles and 15 percent to the top quintile. Income mobility goes in the other direction as well. Of the people who were in the top one percent of income earners in 1979, over half, or 52.7 percent, were gone by 1988.

None of this should be difficult to figure out.

It doesn't take rocket science to figure out why people who are poor in one decade are not poor one or two decades later. First, they get older. Would anyone be surprised that 30, 40 or 50-year-olds earn a higher income than 20-year-olds? The 1995 Annual Report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that "Average income tends to rise quickly in life as workers gain work experience and knowledge.

The way to rise in normal prosperity is also easy to figure out. How does one become upwardly mobile? It is easier than you think.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas report listed a few no-brainer behaviors consistent with upward income mobility. Households in the top income bracket have 2.1 workers; those in the bottom have 0.6 workers. In the lowest income bracket, 84 percent worked part time; in the highest income bracket, 80 percent worked full time. That translates into: Get a full-time job. Only seven percent of top income earners live in a "nonfamily" household compared to 37 percent of the bottom income category. Translation: Get married. At the time of the study, the unemployment rate in McAllen, Texas, was 17.5 percent, while in Austin, Texas, it was 3.5 percent. Translation: If you can't find a job in one locality, move to where there are jobs.

I have pointed out before a study that showed the easiest way to avoid poverty was to follow 3 simple rules: (1) graduate from high school, (2) don't have a baby until you are married, (3) don't marry while you are a teenager. People who follow these fuddy duddy social conservative rules suffer from poverty very rarely.

The facts asserted by Sowell and Williams are proven in my own life. This is a great country, and the South is a great place in it.


The South is not perfect, however. A cricitism of the university structure in the South is offered by rabblerouser Mike Adams in two articles this week. In the first, he addresses constitutional violations at Georgia Tech in the application of its mandatory student fees. He publishes Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's phone and e-mail information. This apparently lead to a lot of phone calls and e-mails, which the Governor re-routed to the University, which already knew about the problem and apparently didn't care. So the second letter, sarcastically, deals with that response, and raises a few other issues.

I don't always agree with Mike's approach or his opinions, but he is entertaining.


Congratulation Texas Longhorns.

Great game, great victory. Can we quit hearing about whether USC is the greatest team ever now? When you barely win 3 games and give up 42 points to Fresno State, you are not the best team ever. Thank you Texas for making that clear.


At 11:45 AM, Blogger Benoit Lapierre said...

Hi. Your blog is interesting I like it!

At 1:37 PM, Blogger KJ said...

Thank you, Benoit. Glad you stopped by. I would offer an opinion of your blog, but I am monolingual.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger spd rdr said...

Good [post, KJ. I was a luncheon seminar on liquified natural gas couple of weeks ago, and the speaker was talking about energy trends and competition with China for supplies and yada yada yada. It was thrilling I tell ya! Anyway, the guy starts laying out how many years its been taking to try and get approvals to build LNG terminals offshore to get cheaper gas to into the pipeline. Decades.
(Stay with me here...I'm almost done.) The only thing I remember clearly about the whole mess was the unfamiliar acronyms he used as the next logical step after "NIMBY" (which y'all better know already)

CAVE: Coalition Against Virtually Everything
BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

That part was worth the lousy chicken they served.

At 3:35 PM, Blogger KJ said...

"Liquified natural gas."

Eeewwwww. I hate when that happens.

I know the CAVE group well. They are just less than half of Congress.

I love the BANANA one though. First time I've heard that one.

At 8:04 PM, Blogger Pile OnĀ® said...

What a great game that was. USC had a great run, I don't want to take anything away from them and I hate Texas, but Vince Young is something special.

He is the only high school player I ever recall generating any buzz on sports talk radio here, and as a Nebraska fan I hope he enters the draft.

That performance in a Championship game exceeded even Tommie Frazier in 95. That hurt to type, and it is making my eyes hurt to look at.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger RAM said...

USC sucks!!! They should have lost to Notre Dame, when their QB was pushed into the endzone at the end of the game.

They probably played their best game of the year last night. All the announcers could talk abouty was the TD that was scored when Young flipped the ball forward when his knee was already down. So what? Sure it was a bad call, but the way Texas was driving, it would have been a first down, if brought back, and they would have probably scored anyway.

What they didn't harp on was the interception by Texas on the next USC possesion, that wasn't reviewed.

In my opinion, they cancelled each other out.

No matter what, it was one hell of a game! The bowl games this year were for the most part great! I really didn't think the Orange Bowl could be topped, but Texas-USC may have been as good, although no OT.

At 5:01 AM, Blogger Cassandra said...

Yes, well I'm sure you're all wondering why I didn't liveblog every thrilling moment of this historic game the way I usually do, but I worked through the first quarter and then went to sleep with a screaming headache. The spousal unit actually managed to watch part of it since the federal gubmint was coming out the next morning to install some kind of secret squirrel phone in our house so he can have secure conversations with Nancy Pelosi about how we need to keep a close eye on those terrorists in the White House and he didn't need to leave at 5 am the way he normally does.


At 7:56 AM, Anonymous Rocket J. Squirrel said...

Luckily for you, Ms. Cassandra (we know that's not you real name), we here at the NSA watched the rest of game for your husband. Texas won. BTW, check out your Tivo. We did.

At 12:33 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

Since when did Squirrels become so mouthy? I don't have Tivo yet Monsieur Rodent, but I suppose I should get it since the spousal unit has been missing so many football games lately. My son was going to get it for me for Christmas but was afraid I wouldn't use it.

I finally broke down and got the whole durned cable package so we could watch the thrilling conclusion to HBO's Rome, ostensibly b/c the husband likes the show but more likely b/c I have always thought the guy who plays Caesar is madly attractive...

I can't BELIEVE Adelphia took HBO away in the middle of the season. I hate TV, but I'm warming up to it.

At 1:21 PM, Blogger KJ said...

TiVo is one of those things you didn't think you needed, and thought you wouldn't use it that much, but will soon realize that you can't imagine living without it.

Trust me Cass -- get it. You will use it, and you will happily pay whatever it costs, though it is quite cheap nowadays.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Cassandra said...

That is what my son tells me. He was going to get it for my other son and his fiancee (!!!***@@@) [yes that was me doing triple back flips] for Christmas too, but he didn't know if he already had it. I told him you liked it.


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