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Monthly Archives: January 2012

After months of deliberation and procrastination, I’ve decided to move to a self-hosted location:

www.tarheelred.com

I hope the view is at least the same if not better.  The neighbors sure seem cool.  So stop on over, IPA and bourbon available upon request.  Moonshine and $1,000,000 bills are in the back.

-p

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North Carolina also boasts stupid too:

LEXINGTON, N.C. –  Do you have change for a million-dollar bill?

Police say a North Carolina man insisted his million-dollar note was real when he was buying $476 worth of items at a Walmart.

Investigators told the Winston-Salem Journal that 53-year-old Michael Fuller tried to buy a vacuum cleaner, a microwave oven and other items. Store employees called police after his insistence that the bill was legit, and Fuller was arrested.

The largest bill in circulation is $100. The government stopped making bills of up to $10,000 in 1969.

Fuller was charged with attempting to obtain property by false pretense and uttering a forged instrument. He is in jail on a $17,500 bond, and it isn’t clear if he has an attorney. He is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

Seriously.

A recent analysis of bus drivers for the Minnesota Metro Transit system provided some interesting data:

  • Base pay for drivers is nearly $50,000 a year.
  • The top earner in the system made $120,000 a year.
    • He did this by working, on average, 74 hours a week.
  • Overtime in the system has jumped by 52 percent from 2008 to 2010.
  • A driver on overtime – paid at time and a half – saves Metro Transit $4 an hour on average.
    • This due to the fact that the agency would have to pay for training, additional benefits and pension.
  • A union agreement says that no more than 24 percent of Metro Transit’s workforce can be part time – prompting the agency to turn to overtime.
  • In October, 89 percent of weekday overtime assignments were during rush hour and lasted less than three hours.

The incentives are undeniable.  For a system that demands flexibility; traffic doesn’t occur in neat 8 hour blocks, the rules prohibit the proper response.  Further, regulations surrounding benefits, those benefits that include vacation, retirement and health care, make it more cost effective to work an already employed person than to hire someone else.  And lastly, being a Metro Transit driver isn’t all that bad; 50 large is a good deal of money.

Finally I’d like to point out that for at least one of these drivers, the overtime is a feature and not a bug.  And it’s a feature because of decisions HE’S made in HIS life:

Lance Wallace is happy to drive a few extra hours if it means his wife can stay home with their four children – all younger than 5.

The New Hope man is among the top 5 percent of overtime earners at Metro Transit. Picking up extra shifts and working nearly every day, he averages 60 to 70 hours a week. The $37,700 in overtime he earned last year pushed his total earnings to $86,400.

“I don’t really want to work overtime,” Wallace said. “But I do it to make up the income.”

The extra work doesn’t make him “overly tired,” Wallace said. In fact, after working two jobs before, he “feels good” to now work where he can dictate his own hours.

Mr. Wallace is a father.  A father of FOUR.  A father of FOUR in a family that has the mother stay home.  And of those FOUR kids, all are younger than 5.  And this father of four young children is happy that he’s able to work the hours he does in order to prevent having to carry two jobs.

My point?  Incentives matter.  Raising the cost of hiring means that you will see less hiring.  Wage earners will enjoy working more hours if it benefits them, not the other way around.  Government union work pays well.  People who have 4 kids in 4 years time have a more limited ability to dictate their time.

Every indication points to the eventuality of Iran obtaining the technology to build a nuclear bomb.  It is my humble opinion that:

  1. A nation has the right to obtain such technology.
  2. We have no real ability to prevent this eventuality.

Rather than expend resources and political capital on attempting to prevent the inevitable, I think that we should prepare for the undeniable.  A nuclear Iran.  And as part of that planning, we need to address the following.

Can We Trust Iran To Be Rational

In other words, is Iran a nation ruled by people who respond to incentives in the way and manner that we would respond to those same incentives?

It turns out that Soviet Russia was.  They understood and reacted rationally to our nuclear stand-off.  Same goes with India and Pakistan.

Or do we think that Iran is led by a mindset that is mostly based in ideology, a religious ideology?  The most obvious example of which is the existence of Israel.

This question HAS to be answered.  And after it has been answered, all plans must account for the general agreement.

What Nations Put And Take With A Nuclear Iran

Who gains and loses when Iran obtains the technology and the ability to launch nuclear weapons?  The obvious losers are the United States and Israel.  But less obvious is who gains?  Understand not only who gains but why will allow us to negate many of the perceived “advantages” of those nations.

My guess is that the current modern world is mostly stable in terms of boundaries.  Certainly there will be small and rather negligent “map changes” but by and large the shape of our nations are mostly settled.  What isn’t settled is the economic influence of our nations as they stand.

How does China benefit, if they do, by a nuclear Iran?  Hell, how does Iran benefit from a nuclear Iran?

How Do We Negotiate With A Nuclear Iran

The Soviets had them and modern Russia does.  North Korea does, as does China.  Several other nations as well.  None of them have initiated a nuclear launch.

Why?

How will Iran be prevented from the same?  What will it take, what changes will have to be made, if any at all really, to prevent the launch of an Iranian weapon?  Is it the United States, in the end, that has to be the primary negotiator in these talks?  Is the United States the primary agitator in Iran’s mind?

In the end, these are the concepts that our leaders need to address.  There is little, if any, grounds to stand on that would allow us to prevent Iran from obtaining this technology.  Further, there is little, if any, hope that we’ll be able to prevent the