Sunday, September 30, 2012

On beer consumption per capita (as of 2011)

Beer consumption may be a proxy for social attributes that are very desirable. For instance, it is rare to drink beer all by yourself, just to get trashed. It takes too much beer to be able to get drunk quickly.

We drink beer with friends and family and the theory is that the more beer we drink the more friends and family relationships we possess. In a way, we can use beer consumption per capita as a gauge of social closeness.

Personally, I would not want to live in a country not in the top 20 on the list below...

Chart above can be found at

Thursday, September 27, 2012

On American constitutional stability (I)

Arguably, the US has had the most stable constitution in the Western hemisphere. Stability should be a good thing when it comes to constitutional concepts.

After all, the constitution is the framework around which all our government institutions functions. Justice, governance, openness, use of force, freedom of expression, and enforcement of rules are all the main foundation on which the institutions of our society function. We want stable institutions, don't we?

Yet, there are a few conflicts between stability and the evolutionary needs of a growing society. We can see the conflicts being played out in at least 2 major directions.

The first is centered around the 2nd Amendment which is interpreted as the unstoppable right of all Americans to have weapons. This is the text of the 2nd Amendment: 'A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.'

The second conflict relates to the fact that we, as Americans, are under-represented in the Congress.

Since 1910 the number of Federal representative has remained constant across the years while the population has grown dramatically. We have had 435 Congressmen for the past 102 years and 100 Senators. For more details on apportionment, please see this US Census link.

As far as the Senate, we have 100 Senators, so the apportionment is not population driven (2 per state).

The US population has evolved as detailed below.

...To Be Continued

On Redistribution

We hear many commentators opine that governments should not 'redistribute' wealth from the rich to the poor. According to them, this kind of redistribution is what socialism is all about. I say: 'really'?

NFL takes money from rich team and gives the funds to the poorer teams. So does NHL and MLB, and almost all corporations. GE transfers money from more profitable subsidiaries to less profitable ones every day. Critics would say that corporations can do so as it is 'their money'. It is actually the shareholders' money.

If individuals redistribute funds and have no resources they may ask for a loan. And when that happens they engage yet another set of redistributive processes (where do financial institutions get their money if not from savers or from almighty Fed?).

When you save money to buy a car, a house, or a boat you actually redistribute money from present potential expenditures to future expenditures. When you give lunch money to your child you actually redistribute money from somebody -you- who has money to somebody who does not -your child-, for very legitimate -and moral and noble- reasons.

We are redistributing money every time when we engage in financial transactions. Why should the government not protect the interests of all of us by harnessing the power of redistribution? We, after all, can choose to move to another country with less public redistribution or we can elect representatives who support the notion that private redistribution is more effective than public redistribution. But maybe it is not that simple.

Given the 2007 private banking generated crisis we could successfully argue that the government is the only institution with authority, durability, and credibility to preserve the value of private redistribution over the long term. So, I say, public redistribution is actually more desirable over private redistributive processes, at least on large and public scales.

Long live public redistribution, I say. Private redistribution will always thrive, no matter what the government does, so it can fend for itself just fine.