Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Would You Buy Stock in a Trump IPO?

Not I.  Too afraid that any anyone anti-US would attack the hotels, damage the golf courses, whatever.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


A Japanese phenomenon, young men who don't work and don't play with others, instead withdrawing from social contact.  Hat tip: Marginal Revolution.

I've some sympathy with them--I wasn't that extreme but I also used to withdraw, at least outside work. 

It strikes me that it's something which can exist only in a wealthy society, where people have enough to support unproductive members of the society.  As such it's a bit related to the US decline in labor force participation by men in the prime working ages.  Whether it's society's safety nets or the informal workforce, it's a measure of how far we've changed from a rural agrarian society. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Where You Stand Affects Your Opinion

Because you see different things:  Ran across this instance this morning:
Every set I’ve been on has had an ethnically diverse crew. I see how directors might not clue in to the lack of diversity of their work because they look out onto an inclusive set. The principal actors onscreen are only a small percentage of the entire body of employees. What they forget is that the rest of the world only sees who is put in front of the camera, and they are hoping to look into a mirror.
From a Vox post by a Chinese-American actress.
This sort of thing occurs with race more generally, dating back to antebellum days:  Most blacks lived on large plantations with large numbers of other blacks and small numbers of whites; most white slave owners lived with small numbers of slaves; most whites weren't slave owners.  

Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Trump Administration: Drama

Since I failed to predict Trump's win, why not predict what I expect from the administration?  Basically, I'm relying quite a bit on the Reagan history here:

  • Drama.  We'll go from "no drama, Obama" to the drama king himself.  Lots of t.oing and froing, changes of direction, suspense over decisions.  I expect this because Trump himself doesn't seem to have firm beliefs in a lot of areas, because he's new to government, and because likely many of his appointees will be new.  Compare this to Obama, whose big four appointees (State, DOD, Justice, and Treasury) were all old hands, with Clinton being the only one new to her responsibilities. 
  • Scandal. Despite the Republicans best efforts, Obama didn't have significant scandals.  Trump is likely to.  Think of Reagan: Interior, HUD, and Iran-contra spring to mind very readily. That's partly the same factors as for drama, but it's also appointing true believers who are more likely to follow their beliefs across the lines of ethics and legality.
  • Economy growth or inflation.  I can go a couple ways here:  I believe Trump is inheriting a good economy, one which likely would continue to improve.  So maybe he gets really lucky and has four solid years of growth despite himself (i.e., he doesn't carry out his promises).  Alternatively, he carries out promises which results in inflation and rocky economics by disrupting trade, increasing inflationary pressures, promoting inefficiencies in the economy.
We'll see.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Congressional Research Reports

This site has Congressional Research Service Reports.

A couple recent ones:

Farm Bill  "The new five-year estimated cost of the 2014 farm bill, as of August 2016, is now $466.5 billion for the four largest titles, compared with $484 billion for those same titles two years ago. This is $17 billion less than what was projected at enactment. SNAP outlays are projected to be $24 billion less for the five-year period FY2014-FY2018 than was expected in February 2014. Crop insurance is projected to be $4.4 billion less for the five-year period and conservation nearly $4 billion less. In contrast, farm commodity and disaster program payments are projected to be nearly $15 billion higher than was expected at enactment due to lower commodity market prices (which raises counter-cyclical payments) and higher livestock payments due to disasters. 

Conservation Compliance

Why Farmers Went for Trump

Modern Farmer has a post listing five reasons.

I've lost my memory of how the "waters of the US" issue might relate to swampbuster rules.  I know NRCS, EPA, and Corps of Engineers all get involved.  I also remember in 1991 getting an earful in Kansas about SCS handling of sod/swamp. I assume that's still a sore spot.

Friday, November 25, 2016

History and Jawboning

An excerpt from the Politico tipsheet:

"TRUMP’S AMERICA -- @realDonaldTrump: “I am working hard, even on Thanksgiving, trying to get Carrier A.C. Company to stay in the U.S. (Indiana). MAKING PROGRESS - Will know soon!” … @Carrier: “Carrier has had discussions with the incoming administration and we look forward to working together. Nothing to announce at this time.” … @justinamash (Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, one of the staunchest libertarians in Congress): “Not the president(-elect)’s job. We live in a constitutional republic, not an autocracy. Business-specific meddling shouldn’t be normalized.”
I remember JFK and LBJ, both believed in jawboning.  JFK had a famous blowup with a steelmaker, ending with something like:  My father told me businessmen were all SOB's but I didn't believe him until now.  LBJ of course gave the Johnson treatment to everyone, not just business.  

The difference is Trump is jawboning/dealmaking? presumably to help Carrier, where JFK and LBJ were usually IIRC working to keep down inflation and settle strikes.

How the Free Market Works

An article on how prices for chicken are set.  Not so much by the free interplay of supply and demand among willing buyers and willing sellers, but by negotiations between big consumers (supermarkets, fast food chains) and big suppliers (Perdue, Tyson), using a reference price supplied by the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Sort of reminds me of the scandal over LIBOR, where a handful of bankers collaborated to set rates which didn't reflect reality.

Lesson:  just because something is denominated in money, doesn't mean the market economy is operating.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

To all.  Thankful for all the progress the world has made during my lifetime, despite the setbacks along the way. 

Also thankful for a body and mind not too much diminished by age, so I anticipate the events of the next 4 years with interest.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

How To Evade Trump's Two for One Regulation Cut

One of Trump's promises is "so important" in his words--the idea of eliminating two regulations for every new one.  In my words, so stupid.

First, there's a lot of definitions to be written:
  • what's "new"? Is it a brand new subject area--would all the regulations issued to implement ACA be considered "new"?  Trump's not proposing many new programs, so that would cut the impact.  But he does have to implement his infrastructure bank and his replacement of ACA and..  Or when FSA issues new regulations or revises old regulations to implement the new farm bill, will those be considered "new"?  That definition would greatly expand the impact. What is the distinction between substantive newness and editorial newness?
  • who's the actor, at what level will the balancing have to be done?  In the case of USDA, is it at the agency level, FSA? How are cross-agency regs handled (like sodbuster/swampbuster applying both to ASCS and SCS)? Or will it be USDA as a whole?  Or maybe the government as a whole?
  • who's the enforcer?  Obviously if it's the government as a whole, then only OMB's regulatory shop can enforce, but if it's at a lower level you could also delegate the enforcement responsibility.  But with delegation comes discretion to interpret the rules.
  • when does a document become a regulation?  Is it when the final rule is published, or do you have to be identifying the regs to be eliminated back in the proposed rulemaking document? Or can you publish a final rule Z with the promise that reg X and Y are being eliminated?  
  • finally, what is a "regulation"?  Are we focused on the paperwork or the legal substance?  The two are not the same--one document may cover several parts (a "part" is a subdivision of the Code of Federal Regulations, representing some legal substance) or only a subpart or subsection of a part.  Or will the definition limit the applicability to "significant" regulations, the ones exceeding $100 million in impact (a threshold which has never been adjusted for inflation)?
Once you tell me how these definitions are written, then it's child's play to lay out a plan to game the system to do what needs to be done. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Our Heroes: Cowboys Versus Superheroes

Just saw "Dr. Strange", which was only redeemed by Mr. Cumberbatch and some humor. I think it counts as maybe the only superhero movie we've seen.  Got to thinking: back in the day our heroes were in Westerns.  They stood out because of courage and usually moral status and being fast on the draw.  Children, boys at least, could aspire to that status.

I don't know what lessons or models our modern superheroes present for children.

(My, I sound like an old fogey.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

My Alternative for the Hamilton Cast

Much discussion about Pence's attendance at the Hamilton musical performance, some boos from the audience and a post-show statement from the cast.  My position:  no big deal, I wouldn't have done either, but it's within the realm of civil society.  But it is a bit too self-righteous for my taste.

I'd rather have seen the statement after the show say something like: " the cast members in the spirit of supporting diversity....blah blah.. in today's world, are donating their pay for the night to [some charity]."  That would have been a stronger statement IMHO.

The Romantic Virtues of Dirt

The NYTimes had an article on the definition of "organic": specifically can vegetables grown through hydroponics be considered "organic"?  There's different views, particularly the big hydroponic growers who can get premium prices for their hothouse produce as compared to the dirt based organics.

Back in the day there would have been no question:  the organic movement had IMHO a romantic view of the virtues of dirt: there was a magic in the dirt, perhaps embodied in the bacteria and organisms present in natural soil, soil which had not been denaturalized by the repeated applications of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.  (Though back in the 1950's it was mostly fertilizers, not so much herbicides and pesticides.)  The organic people had a faith in nature, usually "Nature", that exceeded their faith in man.  It's partly the old top-down, bottom-up dichotomy.  If you believe in human reason you think people can figure out anything and then improve on what's developed from the past.  If you have a less strong belief, either in the strength of reason or in current development of understanding of natural phenomena, or if you want to avoid the work of understanding, you trust in nature.

I see a similar dichotomy in the controversies over GMO's or the precautionary principle.  I'd generally expect the Trump USDA to go with the hydroponics people, but maybe I'm just using the stereotype of Republicans favoring business people.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Too Much Fear, Too Little Calm

My title could apply to many things, including the current agita over the Trump administration to be.

I want to note the election, specifically the lack of major problems at the polling place, as reported by this ProPublica blog post. All the fears of intimidation at the polls, etc. weren't borne out.  People have the ability to work themselves into a lather (a metaphor dating back to the horse age) over things which don't come true.

The reality is that Trump and his people will make mistakes, do some bad things, do some good things, and often kick the ball down the street.  They may well be as bad for the country as were Nixon and Reagan, but maybe not.  We'll see. 

Harry Potter and Bureaucracy

Any bureaucrat who's a fan of Harry Potter knows he's also a bit masochistic (the bureaucrat, not Harry).  Here's an old essay which makes that point, several times.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Benefits of Immigrants

Andrew Gelman writes about attitudes to Hungarian refugees in 1958.  I commented

One of the lesser contributions of immigrants to American culture is the soccer-style field goal kick. Yes, before 1959 all field goal kickers kicked straight on. It was Pete Gogolak and his brother Charlie who brought soccer-style kicking to the college level (Cornell for Pete), and then to the pros. They were Hungarian refugees.

An example of how we all benefit from the interchange of people and ideas.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

I Was Wrong, Again

Sometime recently I believe I blogged about the difficulty in undoing regulations which had been finalized after the rule-making process.  The idea was, and is, that an agency needs to go back through the rule-making process in order to revoke a reg, a process which takes a while and can, in controversial cases, result in lots of comments to respond to.

That's still the case, but I'd forgotten Newt's baby, which is briefly referenced in this post.
It's the Congressional Review Act, part of Gingrich's Contract with America, which allows simple majorities in both Houses to nullify major regulations within 60 legislative days of promulgation. With divided government it hasn't been used, hence my forgetting about it.  Twill be interesting to see how many of the candidates the Republican Congress actually nullifies.  My bet is a minority, perhaps a small minority, unless some wiseass packages a number into one legislative act.

Spikes in Homicides and Traffic Deaths

Peter Moskos picks up on the same thing I did.  The only difference is he wrote about it: the increases in traffic deaths and homicides are roughly the same percentages, but the Times minimized one and not the other.

Not good, NYT, not good.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

On Reconciliation With Enemies

Boston 1775 cites a letter by Jonathan Sewell, a Loyalist, regarding his old friend, John Adams, the Partriot.

Some Good from Trump?

Whatever else happens in the next four years, Trump's election and administration will act like a bowling ball (no, not a gutter ball), knocking the pins around and disturbing past patterns.  Any change of political party does that, but he will do so more.  In that sense, voters who wanted "change" will get it.

What do I mean:  take the farm bill, for example.  For decades it's been an omnibus that served the interests of those liberals who wanted food stamps (SNAP), the greenies who wanted conservation, and production agriculture who wanted farm programs and insurance.  This alliance has been stressed at times, most recently in the House during the consideration of the last farm bill.  This time around is likely to see more changes.

Another example: it looks as if the intra-party coalitions which comprise both parties are under strain. The Democrats are debating whether to change the Clinton/Obama formula to be more aggressively liberal and perhaps more class-conscious, a direction which may lessen their support from the professional upper classes.  The Republican coalition of fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, libertarians is now figuring out whether it can accommodate a renewed appeal to the "Reagan Democrats".  IMO the original Reagan Democrats tended to be Catholic working class who left the Democrats as a result of social issues, mostly abortion, and resentment of blacks. The new working class seems to be more populist in tone, which doesn't work well with Wall Street Republicans.

So if Trump is successful as a change agent, does that mean he'll be successful as a President.  My answer--no.  But are these changes "good"?  I'd resist that term; rather I'd say the changes are somewhat inevitable.  We shall see.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

What's Wrong With California?

It doesn't matter this year, and may not matter in the near future, but what's the matter with California?  Suppose the election is such that California's electoral votes will be decisive.  Are we really willing to wait for weeks until they get through counting all their ballots?

Monday, November 14, 2016

Trump's Popularity

Matt Yglesias tweets reminding us that Trump is unpopular. But what do we think will be the future?

Personally I think during his term in office his approval rating will hit 65 percent and fall to 30 percent, perhaps not in that order.

Bitter Defeats: A Life Following Politics

Live long enough, and be into politics enough, and you'll have some bitter moments.  Two of mine:
  • Hubert Humphrey was a leader in civil rights from the time he spoke to the 1948 national convention, passionately appealing for Democrats to end racial segregation.  (No, the only thing I remember from 1948 was the sound of Alben Barkley speaking--my interest in government and politics grew in following years.)  Humphrey was the standout liberal during the 50's and the author of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. 1965 was the best time to be a liberal, given the Dem's majorities and LBJ's mastery of Congress, even though it was also the year I got drafted.  In a just world Humphrey would have reaped the rewards of his endeavors by succeeding LBJ in 1968 by beating Tricky Dick Nixon and the demagogue George Wallace.  Alas, the world was not just.
  • I remember listening to Ronald Reagan on radio during the 1964 campaign, speaking on behalf of Goldwater.  I think I turned him off, his assertions seemed so ill-founded, and his speaking seemed so glib.  I had problems taking him seriously even after he beat Pat Brown for governor of California, nearly beat President Ford for the 1976 nomination, and ran again for President on a platform of keeping the Panama Canal and rigid anti-communism. I knew he was a genial lightweight, who talked well but glibly and with no regard to factual accuracy.  I fastened on every straw in the wind to believe Carter would beat him as he deserved.  
  • The deaths of JFK, MLK, and RFK.  We're lucky to have survived almost 50 years without more such killings.
  • .I was disappointed by the results in other elections, notably 1988 and 2000, but as I grew older I began to have more perspective. But I haven't gained enough perspective to make 2016 less than bitter.

Young Protestor: Write or Visit Washington

As a followup to my previous post, Emily Ellsworth has a set of suggestions for how people  should work to influence Washington. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Go To Washington, Young Protestor

The research shows that the way to have impact on politics is face to face.  So instead of marching in protests the protestors should plan on visiting DC to talk to their elected representatives. Granted that it doesn't provide the emotional release of marching, but it's more effective long term.

[Turns out the women are planning a march on Washington for Jan. 21.  Hope they plan on visiting their representatives as well as talking. ]

Trump and Reagan

Some comparisons between the Reagan administration and what may happen in the Trump administration:

Seems to me there were three power centers in the Reagan administration: the true believers (Reaganauts), the establishment (most notably Baker), and Nancy.  Over the course of the administration each group won some.  There may be a similar dynamic for Trump:
  • the establishment would be Priebus, Ryan and McConnell
  • the Trumpites would be Bannon, Giuliani, Sessions
  • the children would be Nancy.
In the Reagan administration over time the establishment outlasted most of the Reaganauts--Schultz, Baker, and Weinberger--and tended to have the major policy posts  The Trumpites like Hickel (Interior), Block (USDA) and Pierce (HUD) ended up with lesser posts and scandals and major snafus.  Nancy protected her husband's longrange image, which is the role I see for the children (their future is their name, their inheritance is their name).

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Hypocrisy or Just a Matter of Time?

Orin Kerr at Volokh Conspiracy notes it's time to turn our clocks back to before Obama, so liberals and conservatives will switch places on matters of principles.

Schadenfreude: Both Sides

I was going to label the first sentence of this paragraph of a NYTimes article as the best sentence of November:
Mr. Trump will have no immunity from lawsuits involving his corporate ventures, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling involving Paula Jones, one of President Bill Clinton’s accusers. And nothing will stop Mr. Trump’s family from continuing to run its vast international web of businesses. Federal ethics laws and conflict-of-interest statutes that apply to other federal employees and cabinet members do not apply to the president.
But fairness compels me to note that Obama did expand the scope of the President's powers, so we liberals will be mourning that in a few months. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Why Rural Areas Went Trump

One factor I haven't seen mentioned (which was IIRC key to Truman's victory in 1948): bad economics for farmers.  Prices are down, land values are down.  For example, per bushel corn prices have declined from $6.89 to $3.61 in four years.

Good News for Some, Bad for Others

Gun maker stocks took a big hit after Trump's win.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

What If? Immigration First?

Matt Yglesias asks somewhere what would have been the result if Comey's letter had come out earlier and Trump's video had come out later?  The moral is the effect of contingency.

Along somewhat different lines, what would have happened had Obama opted to put immigration reform first, and health care second back in the first days of his presidency?  I could argue that there was a deal to be made on immigration (almost had one in the last year of GWBush's presidency) that would have reduced the heat the issue had this year.  If he'd then failed to pass Obamacare, the Tea Party uproar in 2010 might have been less effective, meaning less energy for the populist resentment this year.  And having passed immigration reform might have improved the Latino support for Clinton this year.

Of course, with all those what-ifs, Trump might not have become the nominee. 

Social Media and the Government

Dan Drezner has a couple posts at the Post about the future.  I commented this way on one
which included a discussion of some of the structural constraints on Trump:

You fail to note one factor not present in the past: social media.  Is the government much more permeable and transparent because of it?  Remember Nixon's tapes were secret and only revealed by accident.  Clinton's emails were hacked. Anyone with a gripe, justified or unjustified, can now find a speaking trumpet. Or does social media tend to empower the more extreme partisans, further dissolving the moderate middle?

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Hidden Toll of Gay Marriage

Does anyone remember it's been just a year and a half since same-sex marriage became legal nation-wide?  I didn't, and was surprised when I looked it up.

I may be the only one, but it seemed to me that the nation had quickly moved on to other things so issue quickly receded into the rear-view mirror.  Is it possible that the "elites" have assumed that relative silence (except over issuing marriage licenses, photography, baking) means the nation had accepted it? 

What if that assumption was wrong? Even though President-elect Trump didn't talk about it that I remember, and the Republican convention didn't make a big deal of it (not that I watched the speeches), perhaps one of the (many) reasons whites and some African-Americans went more strongly for Trump than Clinton is resentment that the rules were imposed from the top, by the lawyers and the Supreme Court? 

I Was Wrong

See this, and should retire as a predictor but I'm still optimistic.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Voted in 5 Minutes

That may be an exaggeration,but we parked, walked up the sidewalk to the elementary school, picking up a Democratic sample ballot, walked into the gymnasium and up to one of about seven desks, handed in drivers license which was scanned, repeated my name and address, the poll worker repeated it into a recording device, gave me a card to take to another station where I picked up the ballot.  Was directed by another worker to a long line of cubicles, sat down, filled in the ovals, got up and went to the scanning station where my ballot was scanned and accepted.  No lines.

Of course this was at 1:12 pm. I took this as I waited for my wife.  The initial reception stations are behind the woman on the right, the cubicles to complete the ballot are behind the divider on the left, the scanning station is at the immediate left.  All in all it was a new system and impressive.

The Conservatives I Follow

I've three blogs I keep up with which are mostly conservative.  The Volokh Conspiracy is a bunch of law professors.  Powerline is four lawyers/scholars.  Ann Althouse is a law professor.  Althouse voted for Obama in 2008, don't think she revealed her choice in 2012, and is keeping quiet about her vote in 2016, though I'd say her posts tend to be pro-Trump and her readership definitely tilts to the right. (She tends to tease her views.)  Powerline contributors are torn, but my guess is they'll vote Trump or a write-in, never Clinton.  Orin Kerr at Volokh did an anonymous survey of contributors--only one voting for Trump, the rest for others.

Where I'm At: Optimistic

At noon on Election Day, I'm optimistic, both about the election and the country:
  • I want and expect Clinton to win.
  • Trump will concede, either graciously or at the behest of his family.
  • If the Dems take the Senate, they'll still be at the mercy of their conservatives: Manchin and Donnelly. If they don't, I expect the remnants of the Gang of Eight (or was it Sixteen) to help pass legislation.  (Republicans don't have many running in 2018 so Senators won't be pulled to the right by primary fears.)
  • Clinton will likely work from the center, both as a result of Congress being narrowly divided. She'll turn out to be a good president.
As always, I'd predict an extension of past trends (which is a sure way of being wrong--things stay the same until they don't)--growth in the economy, improvements in social trends (teen pregnancy down, crime low, lower obesity), and innovations which help and hurt (autonomous vehicles, health care innovations, etc.)

Monday, November 07, 2016

You Don't Get It Right the First Time: China's Carriers

If there are any long-term readers out there, you'll recognize the title as one of my rules from early on.

Robert Farley has an interesting take on the new Chinese carrier.  (Full disclosure: I was a long timer naval war addict.  Ballantine paperbacks had a series of WWII books back in the 1950's.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Terrorism in Vermont?

Beings with destruction on their minds destroyed a portion of the Internet yesterday--I'm sure it's just a taste of what will happen on election day.

Friday, November 04, 2016

That's Our President

Obama tells crowd to "respect" protester at Clinton rally: "We live in a country that respects free speech."

Sixty Plus Years Later--Appalachian Regional Commission

JFK got the Appalachian Regional Commission established as a result of campaigning in West Virginia and seeing the poverty.  For political reasons (gaining more support in Congress) they made Appalachia spread into NY, including Broome County. (I never thought of myself as living in Appalachia.) The ARC is still around, and The Rural Blog has a post on their latest status report.

A Sixth Hack--Mess With GOTV

David Sanger at the Times has a piece on five possible hacks of the election process. All very good, but he misses what seems to me to be the most significant hack: messing with a party's "get out the vote" (GOTV) operation. Unlike most of the election operation, this seems to be centralized, so if there's one central database it's a high-reward target. Screw up the database and the GOTV effort is wasted. Barring that, do a denial of service attack, and you have a similar effect.

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Humans Are Strange

"Active and ambitious in a career notorious even among slave owners for its viciousness, Bacon Tait nevertheless married a free woman of color, Courtney Fountain, whose extended family were involved in the abolitionist movement and the Underground Railroad."

From a book review at Dead Confederates, a reminder that history is stranger than fiction.  Book sounds good.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Times and GMO's--II

I blogged previously about the NYTimes article on GMO's,  Tyler Cowen links to another approach--the writer arguing that farmers are making rational decisions on which seeds to buy, which must mean that GMO seeds have advantages over nonGMO.

An Idea for Grain Elevators

This post from Life on a Colorado Farm caught my attention.  They are in the midst of corn harvest:
"One of the things she wanted to do was ‘Go with Grandpa to the Elevator’.  Terry left early…7:30 in the morning…he was 11th in line.  The Elevator opens at 6:00 a.m.  There were trucks there starting at 4:30 a.m.  The days are long during harvest. The wait is longer."
Not clear how long it was before he unloaded but at least 3 hours or more.  So with 11 trucks at 3 hours per that's a good bit of time.

How difficult would it be to do a software program to coordinate scheduling between farmers and grain elevators? It is, after all, just a scheduling problem:  you've got a resource that's time-bound just like a doctor's time, and you've got patients wanting service.   I suppose the reason there is no such program (if that's a true fact, maybe there is one used everywhere but in this Colorado county?) is that it's only a yearly thing, and maybe farmers enjoy the break and the chance to compare notes with the others waiting? 

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

Dairy: Supply Management Versus Organic

NYTimes has a story on Canadian dairy farmers and their relationship to the EU (remember the Canada/EU treaty which was delayed for a bit by Walloon dairy farmers (i.e., Belgium).  Their concern is that more cheese may be imported from the EU into Canada. Two paragraphs:
The way the country’s “supply management” system works now, Canadian dairy farms are almost guaranteed to prosper. Milk production is controlled by quotas, marketing boards keep prices high and stable, and import duties of up to 300 percent largely shut out competition from abroad.
But after the deal, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, which was signed on Sunday, comes into effect, much more imported cheese will be allowed to enter Canada duty-free from the Continent. And farmers worry that this one dent in their defenses could be the beginning of the end for supply management.
Later the article cites an estimate of over $200 per year in additional costs for dairy products for the average Canadian farmer, or roughly $.50 a day.  Some speculations:

So the Canadian system probably maintains a lot of smaller family dairies, farms which have been lost in the U.S. as dairies got bigger and bigger.  (Maybe I'll get ambitious and research the point--looks like 11,000 farms averaging about 90 cows.  It's hard to get comparable data but a quick skim of this says my generalizations seem valid. This seems to say that there's proportionately more organic dairies/cows in the US..)  The food movement would like that.  But the dairy products in the grocery stores are likely rather generic; with supply management protecting a farmer's place in the economy, there's little incentive to experiment with organic milk, raw milk, or niche cheeses.  The food movement won't like that.

The bottom line, very tentatively, is: families can pay more to preserve family farms or pay more for choice of milk products (i.e., organic).  The downside of supply management is the higher prices apply to all; the upside of the US system is consumers can choose whether to pay the premium prices for organic.

FSA Aerial Photography Using Drones?

FCW has a post on USDA's IT budget requests.  It includes this paragraph:
Then there's the outright fanciful. When the Federal Aviation Administration issued permits allowing commercial drones to be used in agriculture, USDA set plans in motion for its own implementation. To plan for resource allocation and budgeting, the department will need big-data analysis of crop imagery and related data gathered by unmanned aerial vehicles.

So I go to the FSA website and search for "drones", get two supposed hits although I don't see the word within the document, but one of them discusses four-band aerial photography as being available in some states.  

Trump's Taxes

Kevin Drum as usual has a good post on the issue of how Trump handled his tax returns in the 90's, specifically how he avoided declaring forgiveness of debts as income.  I think I'm wrong in my comment on the post--this Trump issue occurred before the Republicans started hammering the IRS (in Congressional hearings during Clinton's second term).  So if the IRS accepted a dubious interpretation of law in the first term, it may reflect something other than badgering from Congress.