Friday, July 31, 2009
Why the falling attendance ? Two reasons, perhaps. First, the economy is quite weak, with Virginia' unemployment rate reaching its highest in years last month. Second, and as your humble blogger can confirm, the most recent IRL races at Richmond have not been particularly exciting. The oval track is relatively small --- about three quarters of a mile, compared to 2.5 miles at Indianapolis, and 1.5 miles at the Kentucky Speedway, for instance. The short straightaways at the track make it very difficult for one car to pass another or, for that matter, for the cars to run two wide. As the Times-Dispatch article puts it: "During the race, there were long stretches of uninterrupted racing with few lead changes."
For the sake of posterity, here, courtesy of the Times-Dispatch story, are the winners of the nine IRL races held in Richmond over the years.
• 2001: Buddy Lazier • 2002: Sam Hornish Jr. • 2003: Scott Dixon • 2004: Dan Wheldon • 2005: Helio Castroneves • 2006: Sam Hornish Jr. • 2007: Dario Franchitti • 2008: Tony Kanaan • 2009: Scott Dixon.
The Indy Racing League will unveil its 2010 schedule live, at 4:00 PM. Go to http://www.indycar.com/ to watch the broadcast.
The UK Guardian reports that three electricity companies in China emit more carbon dioxide than the entire United Kingdom, the latter of which is the sixth or seventh largest economy in the world.
The report also notes that China emits less carbon per capita than various industrial nations, but omits the fact that, as a reported in a prior post, China utilizes and emits far more carbon per unit of output than the United States, for instance.
Here is the prior post:
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Flat Hat Story was updated Tuesday afternoon, to report that a fund has been created to assist the employees of the restaurant. Here is the information about the fund:
A fire fund account at Chesapeake Bank has been set up for the 48 employees of Sal’s by Victor. Those wishing to make a donation may do so in person at any Chesapeake Bank branch, or by mailing the donation to the bank, attention Sal’s by Victor Fire Fund, 1229 Lafayette St., Suite 202, Williamsburg, VA 23185. Checks should be made payable to the Sal’s by Victor Fire Fund.
WAVY News 10 also has a detailed story on its site, along with some video.
Thank God that no one was seriously hurt in the fire or in the efforts to extinguish it. Let's hope that Victor can get Sal's back up and running as soon as possible despite the devastation. Ditto for the other businesses that we affected.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Here is the core of the paper's argument for this legislation:
"For decades, middle-class wages have been stagnant and union membership has been in decline. The trends are connected. America has been losing the industrial manufacturing jobs which were once the stronghold of organized labor. The result can be felt throughout the economy. Union members are better paid and are more likely to have employer-supplied health insurance and pension plans than non-union employees. Non-union workers in communities with strong unions are better paid than similar workers in other areas. The importance of unions has been recognized in federal law since the 1930s. But organizing today's workers in service sectors, like high-tech and medical industries, will take some changes to the rules that were put in place to govern organizing factory workers many decades ago."
In other words, unionized workers earn more than non-unionized workers, so "reform" that encourages unionization over the objection of employers is a good thing. This is a very common argument for unionization and legislation that facilitates it.
There are, however, several flaws in this all-too-common argument. Here are three.
First, the observation that unionized workers earn more than their non-union counterparts may simply reflect the fact that unions are more likely to organize workers in high wage industries. Campaigns to unionize a workforce can be expensive, and unions can only recoup their expenses by charging workers who choose to organize union dues, dues that are presumably higher in high wage industries, where workers can afford such levies. As a result, unions may choose not to unionize low wage industries in the first place, thereby explaining the gap between wages for union and non-union workers.
Second, the data invoked do not, contrary to the editorial's assertion, indicate that unions make workers in unionized industries better off than they otherwise would be. While unionization may raise the wages (and benefits) of some workers, such wage increases will cause employers to substitute capital for labor, thereby employing fewer workers now and in the future and reducing overall employment. Such adjustments will be more pronounced in the longer run, as capital wears out and firms thus have more flexibility to adopt capital-intensive production processes. In some cases, industries may shut down altogether because of competition from foreign firms with lower labor costs. (Indeed, the editorial does not seem to recognize that America has been losing manufacturing jobs precisely because unionization of such industries artifically raises the cost of labor. Instead, the editorial seems to treat the failure of these industries and resulting reduction in manufacturing employment as an argument for encouraging unionization elsewhere !) Thus, while the wages of some workers may rise as a result of unionization, the wages of others may fall to zero, at least until these laid off workers obtain less remunerative employment elsewhere. Studies purporting to show that unionized workers, who are by definition employed, earn more than others, do not account for the negative impact of unionization on those who, because of unionization, are now former employees.
Third, even if additional unionization will increase the overall welfare of some employees, one still needs additional argumentation to support such legislation. Higher wages and benefits are not free. Firms and/or their customers must pay for such additional labor costs. Thus, legislation that encourages unionization may simply transfer income from one set of middle class workers and business owners to others. To be sure, unionization may in some instances increase the productivity of employees by, for instance, facilitating the negotiation and enforcement of efficient and complex contracts between labor and management. However, if the efficiency benefits of unionization entirely offset the increased wages resulting from unionization, then employers would embrace unionization, thereby obviating the need for such legislation. Absent some convincing argument that unionized workers deserve increased wealth more than employers and their customers, the editorial's argument fails on its own terms.
Monday, July 27, 2009
Some of you may have seen the video on YouTube collecting what purport to be the 100 best movie lines, including the line quoted above from Planet of the Apes. The video is quite impressive, managing as it does to collect all 100 lines in under four minutes. Here is a link to the video.
At the same time, there are, in my mind ayway, some obvious omissions from the list of top 100 lines, including the following, in no particular order. Where possible, I have located and posted a clip from Youtube or another source.
1) "I'm Spartacus" from Spartacus
2) "Dodge This" from The Matrix
3) "You used up all the glue . . . on purpose." From "A Christmas Story"
4) "I'll make it." From Hoosiers.
(50 seconds into this clip).
5) "Michael, we're bigger than U.S. Steel." From The Godfather II
6) "Leave the gun. Take the canolis." From The Godfather
7) "I've got nowhere else to go." From Officer and a Gentleman
8) "There is no fighting in the war room." From Dr. Strangelove
9) "I get paid to be suspicious when I've got nothing to be suspicious about." From The Firm
10) "30 years from now when you are sitting around your fireside with your grandson on your knee, and he asks you 'what did you do in the great World War II' you won't have to say, 'well, I shoveled shit in Louisiana." From Patton.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
The report also estimates that China's GDP is less than half that of the USA. Other estimates place it at about one third of the USA's GDP. Thus, China's output is much more carbon-intensive than that of the USA. Indeed, according to this story from NPR, China's emissions grew 14 percent in 2004, a gross amount equal to the entire emissions of Germany or the UK.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Virginia 41 percent
Sunday, July 5, 2009