A Pre-BCS Game Link Post
I am getting ready to sit down for the BCS Mythical National Title game, and I am not in the greatest of moods.
First of all, I have – shall we say – a lack of regard for the “university” known as Louisiana State. I really want them to lose, but that does not mean I want Alabama to win. Is it okay to cheer for none of the above?
Also, it has been a long time since I managed to put up a blog post, and that annoys me. I hope it also annoys you because that means I am doing something right when I actually do post.
So rather than continue to let the blog languish, I decided I would share with you some links that I have found interesting over the last few days. I hope you enjoy.
Europe is in a tough spot
Daniel Hannan writes in the Telegraph about how Europe, despite major efforts from relatively strong countries and the European Central Bank, is still circling the drain. This is ultimately a structural problem, and not a cyclical one:
Had Greece kept the drachma, it would never have got into its present mess: the markets would have stepped in and imposed a corrective years ago. It was the ludicrous idea that Greek and German debt were interchangeable that fuelled the artificial boom, and so made inevitable the ensuing slump. Yet, even now, Lucas Papademos, the Eurocrat who heads the
Brussels-imposed juntanational government in Athens, tells his subjects: ‘We must continue our efforts with decisiveness, to stay in the euro, to make sure we do not waste the sacrifices and do not turn the crisis into an uncontrolled and disastrous bankruptcy.’ Disastrous bankruptcy, eh, Lucas? As opposed to what you have now, you mean?
In case Mr. Hannan has not convinced you, I also found this Walter Russell Mead piece interesting. He emphasizes again that this is a structural problem. To a certain extent, Europe was simply set up to fail. Read on:
European elites tried to construct a glittering cosmopolitan tower without grounding their structure in the mud and the mire of real people, real culture and real life. They designed a technocratic government for a population that fears and distrusts technocrats. They build a German style financial order for cultures who hate Germany. They thought that if they ignored the resulting problems and resentment resolutely enough for long enough, the problems would all go away.
Sic semper tyrannis, loosely translated for my purposes to “thus always to top-down centralizing governments.”
Using the courts against trial lawyers
Who among us has not received an email or letter about a class-action settlement pertaining to something we have been tangentially involved in and yet not bothered enough even think of suing? Who among us has not been faced with the choice of either depositing a check for $0.18 or seeing their portion of the settlement proceeds go to some “charity” that really only benefits the trial lawyers?
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Heather Peters is doing something about it. Ms. Peters bought a Honda that did not get the gas mileage that Honda claimed it would. She was justifiably dissatisfied, but she was even more dissatisfied about the treatment she got as compared to the trial lawyers handling the class action.
The trial lawyers’ cut was $8.5 million. Ms. Peters’ cut? $100.
This is all too common, and thanks to the lobbying efforts of the trial bar and a largely compliant ABA, the class action system in this country is broken into tiny pieces. What else to do but take Honda to small claims court?
On Jan. 3 she’ll take her case to Small Claims Court in Torrance, where California law prohibits Honda from bringing an attorney. She’s asking for the maximum of $10,000 to compensate her for spending much more on gasoline than expected. Honda said the Civic would get about 50 miles per gallon, but because of technical problems the car gets closer to 30 mpg.
What’s more, Peters is using urging Honda owners across the country to do the same. Peters’ DontSettleWithHonda.org website and a DontSettleWithHonda Twitter account include a link to state-by-state instructions for filing these lawsuits, which have low fees and minimal paperwork.
In a lawsuit like this, which is very typical of consumer class actions, a $10,000 maximum is no barrier (and it is certainly preferable to $100). California, however, is not representative of all states’ approaches to small claims court, also called conciliation court. Minnesota, for example, allows representation by licensed counsel. However, it remains an open question whether Honda would expend the funds to defend against a lawsuit capped at $10k.
A surprising dose of reality for California high-speed rail
Although many of us have known and insisted all along that high speed rail is an expensive and unrealistic government boondoggle, it is rare that a state-funded and state-mandated panel would say so. The Los Angeles Times reports that that is exactly what is happening in California.
In a scathing critique that could further jeopardize political support for California’s proposed $98.5-billion bullet train, a key independent review panel is recommending that state officials postpone borrowing billions of dollars to start building the first section of track this year.
…[I]n a report Tuesday, a panel of experts created by state law to help safeguard the public’s interest raised serious doubts about almost every aspect of the project and concluded that the current plan “is not financially feasible.”
Almost every aspect of the project is not financially feasible. Is it any wonder then, that its major backers are public unions, state and local politicians, and UC Berkeley? It reads like a most wanted poster for spending apologists.
If you want more information about this crazy train, check out Reason Magazine’s coverage. It has been very comprehensive since at least 2008.