The proposed Nashville mass transit plan is not exactly what we would call a “lean startup.” With an optimistically estimated cost of $9 billion to be spent over the next 15 years, the new transit plan makes the Metro Nashville 2018 budget of only $2.2 billion look lean by comparison. If the transit money were spent evenly over 15 years, that would be $600 million per year of additional spending, a 27% increase over the existing budget.
Water for all and water for none 27 February 2018 Dr Richard J. Grant
Cape Town is not the first city to face a drought, but it is predicted to be the first major city to run out of water. Municipal water restrictions are in effect and “Zero Day” is expected to arrive in June 2018, at which point the municipality will be unable to supply any water to its residents.
The short-term supply problem is serious and although the current drought might be the most severe in the lifetime of anyone currently living, it is not said to be the worst drought ever faced by the Cape Town region. In the past, Cape Town has prospered and always survived the vagaries of the weather. People choose to live in cities for the very reason that they flourish in the presence of other productive people with whom they exchange goods, knowledge, and companionship. In recent years, Cape Town’s population has grown by more than half a million people per decade. Yet in the city, no one remembers a “Zero Day”. What is different now?
In an amusing modern twist on mercantilism, India has actually been
trying to discourage gold imports. Last month, the Indian government
increased its import tariffs on gold, silver, and platinum bullion
imports to 10%. It also banned the import of coins and medallions in the
hope that it might help stop the slide in the value of the rupee, which
continued to fall to a record low last week. Consistent with the old mercantilists, India already has rules
requiring that 20% of imported gold be used in exported products, such
as jewelry. Last month, the government expanded the categories of gold
to be subjected to this restriction. The stated objective for all this
is to reduce India’s current-account deficit, which hit record levels
this year. It is hard to believe that they expect this to encourage
capital inflows, but apparently they do. India is not a gold producer, but even in South Africa (which is a
major producer) some politicians are perennially dissatisfied with
merely exporting gold. They want also to encourage (i.e., subsidize)
beneficiation of gold and other basic commodities before export. They
believe that policies intended to promote “adding value” would improve
on market outcomes and increase export earnings. Due to American low-interest-rate policies and “quantitative easing,” the central bankers in India and South Africa ...
Mark Shuttleworth is a South Africa born tech entrepreneur and
venture capitalist who is perhaps best known in the rest of the world
for being the second “space tourist” to spend time living and helping
with experiments on the International Space Station. After a year of
training and reportedly paying about US$20 million, in early 2002
Shuttleworth rode on Soyuz spacecraft to spend about eight days on the
Shuttleworth had the wherewithal to buy his space ride since 1999,
when he sold his four-year-old Internet security company to VeriSign for
about US$570 million. Since then, he has used his wealth to finance and
build new companies as well as to fund charitable ventures. But living in South Africa, with its restrictions on capital
movements, created problems for Shuttleworth’s international operations.
This soon prompted him to take advantage ...
Published at FORBES with archives. A shortened
version was published in The Tennessean, Sunday, May 12, 2013. by Richard J. Grant When our political leaders tell us lies, we can forgive them
when they do so for clear national security reasons. That is, when they lie to
protect us, not merely to protect themselves. We can also forgive error when it is not due to negligence or
incompetence. Uncertainty dogs our decisions at the best of times, but during
an emergency requiring immediate action the uncertainty can bite hard.
The official immediate response (or lack of response) to the
September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi might have been
explained away retrospectively as an attempt to minimize losses. It might be
argued that fewer Americans would have died in the attacks had everyone obeyed
orders to stand down. A decision based on this belief would be forgivable,
unless those in charge should have made a better assessment of the full context
and had a better knowledge of the capabilities of available assets.
It seemed obvious at the time that not only had the rescue
been botched by decision-makers at the highest level, but also the situation
arose because an American ambassador was inadequately protected on hostile
territory. Eight months later, with new information finally coming out, it
appears that the obvious was true.
It had also been obvious that the Obama administration, which
was two months away from an uncertain reelection, wanted the whole issue to go
away. Clearly the events did not fit with the campaign narrative, and release
of the full facts would have jeopardized the president's reelection.
By the time our ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, appeared on
several Sunday television programs to assert that the Benghazi consulate attack
was a spontaneous reaction to a video offensive to Muslims, the absurdity of
this claim should have been obvious to her and to everyone else. Now, eight
months later, few question that the narrative was false.
Assessment of the response to the security failure remains
important but is necessarily overshadowed by the question of who tried to cover
it up. The two are inseparable.
Some might also be surprised by the smoothness with which the
Obama administration shifted into cover-up mode. But there was no shift
necessary. Given the administration's transformative social and economic
agenda, the resulting state of constant policy failure makes necessary a
constant state of cover-up.
Four years after the official end of the last recession,
economic growth remains below our long-term average and joblessness remains
high. As cover, the fact that we are no longer at the bottom is hailed as a
policy achievement. The so-called stimulus programs and assistance packages,
far from helping, have delayed recovery, weakened civil society, and hindered
economic progress. The Obama administration's complicity in the stagnation must
be denied, not for our benefit, but for theirs.
It is no accident that the response of the Obama
administration (and many predecessors) to any perceived problem, especially
healthcare costs and financial market reforms, resulted in bigger and more
intrusive government. In the course of enhancing their own power, they create
the very problems from which they pretend to protect us.
As Friedrich Hayek warned 70 years ago, the propaganda
necessary to support the transfer of power from civil society to central
government “is destructive of all morals” because it undermines one of their
foundations: “the sense of and respect for truth.”
Members of Congress have been trying for several months to
get the facts on the Benghazi fiasco. In a classic evasion of responsibility
and reality, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asked, “What difference
does it make?” Alas, the truth is not her friend.