What the “Anti-Federalists” Got Right

First, the Anti-Federalists predicted that the federal government the Constitution created would increase its power until states were merely secondary considerations. Second, that this powerful federal government would be too big and distant for the people to effectively control, and thus vainglorious men of ambition and avarice would control it to enrich themselves off the common people.Third, that it was unwise to govern a diverse and large population from a remote and distant government that would hold such immense power over the daily lives of common people, and, as a result, politics would become something more primitive than civilized, characterized by constant discord and fighting as different factions tried to control the lives of their fellow citizens.

Source: The Anti-Federalists Predicted Today’s Political Morass, & Can Get Us Out

Why They Sent Ahmed To Juvie

Multiculturalism eliminates any shared sense of rules beyond an ever increasing tangle of bureaucratic doctrines. The administrators who sent him to a detention center were almost certainly following strict rules about how to respond to students bringing unidentifiable electronic devices into school — those rules having been created by hysterical liberals terrified by the acts of terror committed by youths addled by prescription drugs and seeking a glorious death with huge media attention.

In order to make room for Ahmed, Jamal, J’miriquoi, Running Bear, Jorge, and Moonbeam, we subject all of them — including lil’ Johnny the racist cracker — to the same set of regulations, because we see all of them as potential malefactors to be treated uniformly by a blind system.

Source: Why They Sent Ahmed To Juvie – Henry Dampier

National Debt: “We Owe It To Ourselves”? Not Quite.

The burden of the debt is that we create an ever-deeper conflict of interest between Lenders and Spenders. Yes, if you think of Lenders and Spenders collectively, you can say that “we owe the debt to ourselves.” But that is a dangerously vacuous way of looking at it.

An excellent analysis of national debt. In short, one person is doing the lending, and another person is doing the spending. At some point you need to pay pack the specific person who did the lending.

Source: Lenders and Spenders: Confronting the Political Reality of Debt – AEI

The TSA as Milgram Experiment

I have had it in mind to write up an article about the TSA as an implementation of the Milgram experiment, but it’s apparently old ground already covered:

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=tsa+milgram

(Posted from inside Newark Airport, at which security was pleasantly civilized: no taking-off of shoes, a metal detector instead of a body scan, and of course a bag scan.)

NYTimes: Low Carb Eaters Lose More Fat, Show Better Health

People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.

The new study was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It included a racially diverse group of 150 men and women — a rarity in clinical nutrition studies — who were assigned to follow diets for one year that limited either the amount of carbs or fat that they could eat, but not overall calories.

By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity.

While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat.

By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity.

While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat.

In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group.

Those on the low-carbohydrate diet ultimately did so well that they managed to lower their Framingham risk scores, which calculate the likelihood of a heart attack within the next 10 years. The low-fat group on average had no improvement in their scores.

Score another one for Atkins, Taubes, et al. Note also that this is a direct refutation of the Food Pyramid the Federal government has been shoving down our throats for years. What else have they gotten wrong? Via A Call for a Low-Carb Diet – NYTimes.com.

Most Federal Housing Subsidies Do *Not* Fund The Poor

The bulk of homeownership expenditures go to the top fifth of households by income, who typically could afford to purchase a home without subsidies.  According to estimates by the congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, more than three-fourths of the value of the mortgage interest and property tax deductions goes to households with incomes of more than $100,000, and close to a third goes to families with incomes above $200,000.

Yet another reason to start stripping back entitlements, including things like mortgage interest deductions. Via Chart Book: Federal Housing Spending Is Poorly Matched to Need — Center on Budget and Policy Priorities where there is a pretty chart. Hat tip to Arnold Kling where the comments are enlightening.

Potentially “Lethal Blow” For Obamacare: Subsidies Invalid In Most States

in what NBC classified as a "potentially lethal blow to Obamacare" a federal appeals court has ruled that the federal government may not subsidize health insurance plans bought by people in states that decided not to set up their own marketplaces under Obamacare. The law clearly says that states are to set up the exchanges. But 34 states opted not to, and the federal government took over in those states. The court ruled that federal government may not pay subsidies for insurance plans in those states.

I have to say I am partial to anything that has the potential to consign Obamacare to the ash heap of history. Maybe after that we can get something like market reforms into place, in terms of “real” insurance and published prices, instead of the perverse-incentives payment-plan system we have now. Via In Potentially "Lethal Blow" For Obamacare, US Appeals Court Finds Insurance Subsidies Invalid In Most States | Zero Hedge.

Why Government Worker Unions Should Be Illegal

But this idea that bureaucrats — very broadly defined — can become their own class bent on protecting their interests at the expense of the public seems not only plausible but obviously true.

The evidence is everywhere. Every day it seems there’s another story about teachers’ unions using their stranglehold on public schools to reward themselves at the expense of children. School-choice programs and even public charter schools are under vicious attack, not because they are bad at educating children but because they’re good at it. Specifically, they are good at it because they don’t have to abide by rules aimed at protecting government workers at the expense of students.

The Veterans Affairs scandal can be boiled down to the fact that VA employees are the agency’s most important constituency. The Phoenix VA health-care system created secret waiting lists where patients languished and even died, while the administrator paid out almost $10 million in bonuses to VA employees over the last three years.

Working for the federal government simply isn’t like working for the private sector. Government employees are essentially unfireable.

See also the IRS. Via Of the Bureaucrats, by the Bureaucrats, for the Bureaucrats | National Review Online.

All Project Failures Are Management Failures

When you even contemplate bringing an old legacy system into a large-scale web project, you should do load testing on that system as part of the feasibility process before you ever write a line of production code, because if those old servers can’t handle the load, your whole project is dead in the water if you are forced to rely on them. There are no easy fixes for the fact that a 30 year old mainframe can not handle thousands of simultaneous queries. And upgrading all the back-end systems is a bigger job than the web site itself. Some of those systems are still there because attempts to upgrade them failed in the past. Too much legacy software, too many other co-reliant systems, etc. So if they aren’t going to handle the job, you need a completely different design for your public portal.

A lot of focus has been on the front-end code, because that’s the code that we can inspect, and it’s the code that lots of amateur web programmers are familiar with, so everyone’s got an opinion. And sure, it’s horribly written in many places. But in systems like this the problems that keep you up at night are almost always in the back-end integration.

The root problem was horrific management. The end result is a system built incorrectly and shipped without doing the kind of testing that sound engineering practices call for. These aren’t ‘mistakes’, they are the result of gross negligence, ignorance, and the violation of engineering best practices at just about every step of the way.

The title is adapted from Peter Drucker, “All business failures are management failures.” The quoted piece is from a comment that I can’t link to directly, so go to Arnold Kling on the problems with the health insurance exchanges and look for Dan Hanson on October 25, 2013 at 2:13pm.

Healthcare.gov: 47 Different Contractors Built The Site?

I don’t hold it against the contractors that they had prior government experience. I don’t hold it against them that they lobby or contribute to campaigns.

To me, the scandal is that there are 47 different organizations involved in building the site. I cannot imagine that any sane project executive would want it that way. I am just guessing, but it seems more likely to me that this many contractors were imposed on the project executive because there was a requirement to “spread the work out” to keep all these companies in the politicians’ pockets.

In any case, if you are trying to fix something that was assembled by 47 different organizations….good luck with that.

Remember this story any time you think government actors (at any level!) are somehow immune to bad management practices and skewed incentives. They are no smarter, and in aggregate often dumber, than non-government actors. Via Pinpoint the Scandal | askblog.