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McCain @ Google on YouTube

McCain talk

McCain is speaking at work in some kind of fireside chat. Various bits:

"After I lost the primary to Bush, I slept like a baby. Slept for 2 hours, cried, slept for 2 hours..."

He is worried about global warming. He believes "Congress spends money like a drunken sailor, and he's never met a sailor with as much imagination as his colleagues." He is a fan of Ronald Reagan, and vetoing bills which have pork. "The first bill with pork in it that crosses my desk as President of the United States, I will veto it. And the people in that bill will be famous - you will know their names. You'll be able to find them on Google."

He thinks that the Iraq war was handled terribly, but given the current situation, more troops is the best solution. He also thinks we should probably attack Iran, although it is a complicated situation and we should be doing lots of other things too.

He uses the phrase "My friends" a lot. He gives long answers to difficult questions, which was kind of nice.

First question: "It's nice to have you here. It's pretty unusual for a Republican to be invited to Google." McCain: "Some of your best friends are Republicans?" "Speaker: Most of the people in high-tech are either liberals or libertarians. Why do you think we should be Republicans?" McCain responded with a very small-government, low-taxes, less regulation, but interventionist and large-military answer. Basically libertarian-hawk. On Google:

"I think I am more in line with you here than the Democrats are. I believe in less regulation. I believe the internet is the best invention since the printing press. The more that this can flourish - the reason I opposed internet taxes - the more it can spread all over the world, the better the world will be. That's the Republican philosophy."

Someone asked him how he would react to a bill enshrining the right to privacy in the Constitution. He said he was in favor of the right to privacy, but he would have to see the details of the bill. I think the right to privacy is totally BS, but it's nice to hear a politician want to hear the details rather than just endorsing with empty platitudes.

A speaker asked how McCain can simultaneously praise FDR and claim to be in favor of small government. McCain's response pretty much pigeonholed him as a small-government hawk - he said that FDR faced extraordinary challenges in preparing for WWII, he admires him for doing so, he thinks it would have been much harder to win the war without the New Deal, even though it was an economic waste. So he likes small-government, unless there is a crisis, but he also seems to see a lot of crises.

Ok, I'm getting bored of all the politician talk, I'm outta here.

UPDATE: McCain doesn't hate atheists (or at least, isn't willing to say so), and he is in favor of cheap Brazilian ethanol, nuclear power, and research into alternatives. He made a pretty strong statement in favor of nuclear power, actually, as the best way to generate power without greenhouse gases.

On gays in the military, he says that Don't Talk Don't Tell is working, according to his generals and leaders etc, and he relies on them. The questioner pressed by saying that several dozen translators have been fired due to being gay, how does that make our country any safer? McCain said he could basically just repeat his answer - he trusts the people in charge of the military, it's their job to recommend to him that the policy be changed.

Immigration: "If Google is to maintain it's supremacy in the world, we need immigration. Guard our borders, but let lots of people in, as long as they have biometric identification. Don't give amnesty to people already here, put them in line behind everyone else."

Globalization: "I am a Free-Trader. America can compete with anyone in the world, as long as they don't have barriers to our products." Exception for blatant abuses of IP.

Just Say No To Home Equity

Brandon's post about matching home loan payments to income got me thinking about my loan philosophy. I like interest-only loans, because index funds have a substantially higher return than real-estate, so equity is loss as far as I'm concerned. But thinking about the lifecycle of the loan makes me realize that that isn't enough. After all, even an interest-only loan will accumulate equity due to appreciation, and equity is bad!

So in addition to getting an interest-only loan (which I have), I think the consistent thing to do is periodically take 2nd mortgages, and put the proceeds into index funds.

Political movements defined

Old definitions:

Liberals: Favor social freedoms, but not economic freedoms.
Conservatives: Favor economic freedoms, but not social freedoms.

New definitions:

Liberals: Believe in evolution, but not biology.
Conservatives: Believe in biology, but not evolution.

A truly planned economy

I moved into a new, larger community recently, and we're trying to figure out how to share property maintenance fairly. Part of this is seeing how other communities, which tend towards the socialist mold, do things. Reading something like the Twin Oaks Labor Policy demonstrates that the occasional planned economy is still alive and well: Read more »

Prosper loan modeling

Apropos my last post, I just found p2ploananalytics, which does exactly the modeling I was thinking about. Lessons from their data:

  • Default rate is almost zero for the first 6 months, then rises in a roughly linear fashion, more linear for the higher credit grades (graph). This means that for portfolios with many loans younger than 6 months, projecting current lateness rate forward is erroneous.


I love statistics that show that I rule - I mean, who doesn't? Read more »

Happy Milton Friedman Day!

The Governator has designated January 29th (no idea why he picked that day) as Milton Friedman Day in the state of California. The cities of Chicago and San Francisco joined the trend. On YouTube, the Idea Channel has launched a Challenge the Status Quo video contest. Read more »

Sneezing as a public good problem

A friend just posed the question: Do we sneeze because our body wants to, or because viruses are making us sneeze to spread themselves?

A brief search suggested that the body likes sneezing as a way of getting rid of nasal irritants. And obviously, viruses like sneezing to spread themselves. So it seems like it is in both of their interests. Read more »

A Softer World

Is an excellent, if constantly depressing, web comic-like thing. The latest is somewhat libertarian:

Just how bad are trans-fats?

Libertarians have, predictably, been reacting to NYC's trans-fat ban with horror. While I share their feelings about regulation, and I agree that in general public health scares are bogus, I think it is inaccurate to (like Steven Milloy) act as though trans fats are some kind of made up scare that isn't really all that bad. I've always suspected trans fats to be the biggest US public health debacle of the 20th century, and a look at the data supports that. Trans fat is much, much worse for you than other kinds of fat. Read more »

Google to allow sale of options as well as exercise

Back in 2004, Google demonstrated a willingness to push the financial envelope with their cut-out-the-middleman dutch auction IPO, and now they're at it again:

Google Inc., in a move to attract and retain talent, will let employees sell their stock options through an online auction hosted by Morgan Stanley.

Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute

Liveblogging a talk...

I have very mixed feelings. He started out with the foolish claim that increasing energy efficiency will decrease usage - in practice it depends on the elasticity of demand. On the other hand, he is giving lots of examples of corporations that cut energy use and emissions in order to save money. He advocates saving the environment by making money, through selfish businesses. Furthermore, he claims that we can move away from oil to cheaper fuels without national legislation, acting only at the state level and through private action. Read more »

Liberal / Libertarian fusion

Brink Lindsey has a great piece outlining how and why libertarians and liberals should join forces:

Allow me to hazard a few more specific suggestions about what a liberal-libertarian entente on economics might look like. Let's start with the comparatively easy stuff: farm subsidies and other corporate welfare. Progressive organizations like Oxfam and the Environmental Working Group have already joined with free-market groups in pushing for ag-policy reform.
Read more »

Newsflash: Robin Hanson is blogging!

And some other people too, mostly names I recognize from prediction markets (Wolfers, Zitzewitz, Hibbert) at Overcoming Bias. Here is Robin's description of the blog's vision: Read more »