Wednesday, April 29, 2009

It's Not the Centers for Disease Control, But It's Probably Correct

Do you have swine flu? Are you sure?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

You've Made Miss Teen South Carolina Very, Very Happy

At last, we have a different unsuccessful beauty pageant contestant over whom to obsess.

H/t: Pandagon

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hey, Wait a Minute

The uniformly repeated 'winger comment on Arizona's budget crisis is to note that since 1993, state spending has increased more than the cumulative increase in inflation and population growth here. I've been wondering about that claim, which I assume is technically correct.

First, why is 1993 the base year? (I'm assuming it's the state's fiscal year for 1993 and not the 1993 calendar year.) I assume they're using 1993 because that's the best year possible for the comparison. The 1993 budget would have been prepared during the 1991-92 recession, but the revenues would have come in during the national economy's turnaround during the 4Q of 1992 and first half of 1993. So you'd have a very difficult budget prepared during the spring of 1992, when things looked pretty grim--and with lots of spending deferrals and such to make the budget work for FY93 in hopes that the state could make it up in FY94. So 1993 would be the very best year for this comparison; spending artificially shifted into future years due to grim revenue numbers that turned out to be too pessimistic, so things could be (and were) made up in FY94 and future years.

Second, if the complaint is that Gov. Napolitano led the state on a spending binge, why are we talking about the increase in state spending from a decade before she took office? Between 1993 and today, we've had 4 governors (counting Gov. Brewer): Symington, Hull, Napolitano, and Brewer. The great majority of that time, we've had a Republican governor with a GOP-controlled legislature. If the problem is spending during the Napolitano administration, then why aren't we seeing statistics about spending from FY03 to FY09 only, what's the point of going back to 1993? If the problems go back to 1993, then aren't the Republicans responsible for most of them?

Third, even if you assume away these conceptual difficulties, the real, human problem with the "we spent too much" argument is that these guys have to come up with not just cuts for the coming fiscal year, but they also need to tell us what we shouldn't have done over the past 16 years. What kids shouldn't have gotten mental health treatment? Which CPS cases shouldn't have been investigated? Which all-day kindergartens shouldn't have opened? Which new schools shouldn't have been built? Stop throwing about misleading statistics, and tell us who didn't deserve to be helped instead.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

El Tour de Phoenix Fun

A good day on the bike. It's 72 miles, and my time was 3:31:09, which is 10 minutes better than last year (3:41:56). 20.5 mph average speed--hooray for drafting. (Last year was 19.5 mph. I hung out with a better crowd this year.) 351 out of 917; age group breakdown not available.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Steve Owens to DC

As Assistant Administrator for the Office of Prevention, Pesticides, and Toxic Substances at the Environmental Protection Agency. Here's the White House press release.
Phoenix Guy Does Good (But Has To Do It In Pittsburgh)

The New York Times today writes about Pittsburgh's leadership in reusing existing buildings and converting both new and existing buildings into environmentally-efficient structures and uses. One of the business community's leaders in "going green" is former Phoenix native (and my friend) Gary Saulson. If Phoenix is serious about becoming a leader in environmental design and wants to become carbon-neutral, we should bring back Gary. But we have no money here to do anything remotely like that, so we'll just talk about it. Until the Next Big Thing floats by.

Of course, it's not like Pittsburgh is perfect. If this story instead had run in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, they would have noted that Gary isn't a native Pennsylvanian and has lived in Pittsburgh only for 15 years. But it If it had run in the Tribune-Review, they would have called him a communist.