This morning I got up very early to get in my long run for the week in preparation for the Portland marathon, which is just a matter of weeks away. The run was 16 miles. It was a though run, but I made it to the end kicking. Hopefully race day will have better conditions then today which were made worse by the incredible humidity, which you can get a sense of based on the dense fog in the pictures below. I’m running 18 next weekend and 20 the following week, then tapering volume until race day October 5th.
August 31, 2008
August 10, 2008
Alan Blinder, who wrote “Hard Heads, Soft Hearts: Tough‑Minded Economics for a Just Society”, has come up with a terrible idea of how to reduce pollution from cars. He argues for a repurchase program of old clunker cars on several merits. 1) Old clunkers produce more pollution than modern cars. 2) It would serve as an economic stimulus: Assumption (Poor people tend to own clunkers) –> if you bought them from the poor then this would amount to a cash infusion to the poor who are likely to spend the money immediately because the poor have a high marginal propensity to consume –> Higher levels of consumption –> Higher GDP.
See if you can guess a few of the unintended consequences of such a program before you jump to the link after the break. After you read the full extent of the likely perversions of such a program I think you will understand why I oppose most government subsidies even if they sound good on face value. It also underlines why I think every law should come with a sunset clause, although I don’t think even a sunset clause could help this disaster. This subsidy even seeks to reduce an externality, pollution, which generally economists think should be solved through governmental influence because private incentives yield results that are contrary to the optimal outcome for the public good.