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Archive for the ‘Snow’ Category

Since we’ve been talking about the snow, here’s a story about city that must have no real crime. At least, that’s the only sensible thing to conclude after reading that cops in Harrisonburg, VA, arrested (on felony charges!) two college kids for the horrific offense of tossing snowballs (technically they were charged with “throwing a missile at an occupied vehicle”). This would be understandable if the kids embedded rocks in the snowballs, or even if they compacted slush to make ice balls, which also can be dangerous. But the city’s press release offered no evidence of anything other than kids having fun. The Smoking Gun has the details:

Felony snowball throwing charges have been leveled against two Virginia college students for allegedly pelting a city plow and an undercover police car during Saturday’s blizzard. Charles Gill and Ryan Knight, both 21, were nabbed by cops in Harrisonburg, where they attend James Madison University. According to police, the pair first targeted a city plow last Saturday afternoon. …If convicted of the felonious snowball tossing, the men each face between one and five years in prison, and a maximum $2,500 fine.

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For the fourth day in a row, the federal government is shut down because of snow. This causes me mixed feelings. Because federal workers already are so vastly overpaid, part of me is irritated that they are getting what are, for all intents and purposes, extra vacation days. On the other hand, isn’t it better to have bureaucrats sitting at home instead of hunched over their desks figuring out new ways to tax and regulate? And let’s not forget that Harry Reid has been forced to delay the so-called jobs bill because of the snow, so the economy at least will be temporarily spared this new stimulus scam. But then I saw a story that it costs $100 million for each day the government is shut down. This perplexed me. While I have great faith in the ability of government to waste money, how could it cost even more for bureaucrats to stay home? It turns out this number is fake. As the story excerpted below indicates, the $100 million figure is a government estimate of “lost productivity.” For people in the real world, however, fewer IRS audits, fewer OSHA inspections, and fewer Dept. of Energy subsidies translate into higher productivity:

While D.C. residents take out their snow shovels for untold hours of back-breaking labor, the Office of Personnel Management estimates that the shuttering of the federal government is breaking the bank as well — costing taxpayers about $100 million every day in lost productivity, or work that’s not getting done. With Friday’s half day, and three full days of government shut-down this week, that adds up to $350 million — and it could top $500 million if the government, with its 230,000 D.C.-area employees, remains closed through the end of the week.

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One of the key principles of economics is specialization of labor. Simply stated, people should specialize is doing what they do best.

But either because I’m cheap or because I have this delusional sense of pioneer spirit, I’m digging out from the blizzard.

So the bad news is that I’m not applying the lessons of economics. The good news is that I’ve reached the halfway point.

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