Steven Taylor’s latest print column looks at the new frontier of municipal pork: Birmingham suburb Hoover’s addition of a new “Department of Homeland Security and Immigration,” complete with a $110,000-a-year director’s job. They’ve gotta protect the SEC baseball tournament from terrorists, after all… (þ: PoliBlog, of course.)
Blatant fabrications by their leading media outlets might be part of the explanation. (þ: OxBlog)
† And by “people,” I of course mean “Britons.”
The Steelers pulled out a nail-biter yesterday and the Boston Globe is writing about the significance of home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Patriot fans are apparently quite concerned about this, but it doesn’t seem to matter:
Since the inauguration of the cap, home-field advantage in the conference championship games has been of little or no statistical importance. Since 1992, when the cap went into effect, there have been 24 conference championship games. In the AFC, half have been won by the visiting team. In the NFC, five of the 12 games have been won by the visiting team. Thus, in a statistical sense, at least, the advantage of home field as it relates to a Steelers-Patriots showdown would be minimal.
Since the dawn of the new millennium, it’s been the same story. The visitors have won a trip to the Super Bowl in half of the eight conference title games, including the last two in the NFC. Perhaps more significant, the Steelers are a lowly 1–3 in AFC title games since 1992, despite hosting the game four times—1994 (lost to San Diego), ‘95 (beat Indianapolis), ‘97 (lost to Denver), and 2001 (lost to Patriots).
What is clear is that home-field advantage throughout the playoffs meant a lot more in the conference title games prior to the advent of the salary cap, hinting that increased parity has changed considerably the disparity of talent between top teams.
From the first year of the AFL-NFL merger to the final year without the cap (1978–91), home teams dominated the 28 conference title games. In the AFC, the home team was 11–3, the only losses coming in 1980 when the Raiders beat the Chargers in San Diego, 1985 when Raymond Berry’s Patriots upset the Dolphins in Miami, and in 1986 when the Broncos needed a 98-yard John Elway-led drive to beat the Cleveland Browns as time was running out in old Cleveland Stadium.
, I think Eli Manning did well yesterday and it was nice to see him have a kind of “coming out party”; if he hadn’t been playing the Steelers, I probably wouldn’t have seen it.
Statistically it might not matter who has home field advantage in the playoffs, but the Steelers team that the Patriots faced in 2001 lacked the confidence, I think, that the current team has. The game against the Giants should serve as a wake-up call—they’re not unbeatable.
On an unrelated subject, Cass has started blogging again at Villainous Company. I’ve been remiss in not blogrolling her and bookmarking her. That has now been fixed.
Cool Mozilla Firefox extension of the day (at least for Windows): ForecastFox. Under Linux, the GNOME Weather applet is more generally useful, although ForecastFox has the advantage of taking up otherwise-useless space in the Firefox status bar.
Apparently the blogosphere has gotten the better of Michael Kinsley, in this round anyway. He plans a more detailed response for next week’s WaPo, but this week is simply a concession that some bloggers got the better of him, i.e. made him think twice about dissing Social Security privatization. Here’s a quote:
That conference was the last straw. Last week, to vent my frustration, I sent an e-mail to some economists and privatizing buffs saying, look, either show me my mistake or drop this issue. Refute me or salute me. Disprove it or move it. Or words to that effect.
As an afterthought, I sent copies to a couple of blogs (kausfiles.com and andrewsulllivan.com). What happened next was unnerving.
A few days later, most of the big shots hadn’t replied. But overnight I had dozens of responses from the blogosphere. They’re still pouring in. And that’s just direct e-mail to me. Within hours, there were discussions going on in a dozen blogs, all hyperlinking to one another like rabbits.
Just so I don’t sound too naive: I am familiar with the blog phenomenon, and I worked at a Web site for eight years. Some of my best friends are bloggers. Still, it’s different when you purposely drop an idea into this bubbling cauldron and watch the reaction. What floored me was not just the volume and speed of the feedback but its seriousness and sophistication. Sure, there were some simpletons and some name-calling nasties echoing rote-learned propaganda. But we get those in letters to the editor. What we don’t get, nearly as much, is smart and sincere intellectual engagement—mostly from people who are not intellectuals by profession—with obscure and tedious, but important, issues.
I always thought Kinsley was fundamentally decent, and regardless of what he has to say about SS privatization, I’ll probably continue to think so. Welcome to instant fact checking, Mr. Kinsley.
On a somewhat related note, I thought I remembered a quote by JFK, about the WaPo no less, regarding getting in a fight with people that buy ink by the barrel. Turns out it was Clinton:
Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel.
Kinsley has a similar statement in his column:
You can send your views electronically to a blog in less time than it takes to find a stamp, let alone type a letter.
It’s a good column. RTWT
, and I’ll be looking forward to next week’s installment.
Apparently, in Arianna’s world, a guy that creates a company from scratch in his dorm room—enriching millions in the process—is a demon when it becomes economical to offshore 3000 jobs to India:
MICHAEL “DUDE, YOU GOT OUTSOURCED!” DELL
Name: Michael S. Dell
Company: Dell Computers
Title: Chairman and Former CEO (Chairman and CEO until July, 2004)
Crime Against America: Dell’s Bangalore and Hyderabad, India, facilities employ close to 3,000 people.
Partner in Crime: Dell has contributed $3,000 to the Bush campaign in 2003 and 2004, plus an additional $25,000 the Republican National Committee, and $10,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. Dell CFO James M. Schneider is a $25,000 contributor to the RNC.
Even more unpardonable: he donated to Republicans. Arianna supposedly has an economics degree, though it appears that anything she learned has long since disappeared. She still has mastery of the Populism 101 material, though.
Tyler Cowen has been beating the drum against social security privatization for a good while, and it has finally sunken in with me. After thinking about it enough, it appears that he is right: we will end up with two programs if we transition to private accounts and it won’t reduce the unfunded liability, which is the central problem. Presumably, when the actuaries refer to an unfunded liability they are referring to an excess in the present value of all cash outflows versus the present value of all inflows. If the first number exceeds the second, you have a liability. We’ve promised to pay too much and benefits will have to be reduced, or taxes raised, to bring the system into balance.
Private accounts alone won’t change the unfunded liability. However, Tyler offers an intriguing solution to part of that problem: auction off the right to leave the system. An auction provides a great mechanism to separate those that are risk averse from those that are not; those with financial savvy from those with none. It also creates a logical break point to show where they have left the system and have acknowledged that the system owes them nothing, though they have paid into it. They should similarly understand that they will need to save enough for their own retirement and will have to keep working without enough savings.
There would be an initial inflow of money that could be used to retire debt—thereby enabling future borrowing for the government to cover shortfalls—and presumably an increase in savings from those that leave the system; no more payroll taxes, higher disposable income. The system could then transform into a poverty program for the elderly, which should be
far [Ed.: got a little carried away.] smaller than in its current setup.
I’m sure the details would need to be hammered out by actuaries—how many people would pay to leave the system, how much would they pay (meaning how much current debt could we retire) and how much would the unfunded liability would be reduced. Even with these questions, it seems like a sounder suggestion than getting people into a forced savings program where the government still implicitly takes responsibility for everyone’s retirement and the unfunded liability is unchanged.
Cass has more here.
I’ve seen this poll in a number of places, but Volokh conspirator Orin Kerr is the first I’ve seen that really dissects the results. Do 44% of Americans really want to curtail the civil liberties of Muslims in America? It doesn’t sound like it.