Reasons For Optimism 59-64

59. Solar power is still becoming more efficient at an incredible rate, and it could finally eclipse the equivalent energy costs of fossil fuels by the end of this decade, marching us into “a whole new world” of abundant, cheap energy.

60. More climate scientists are lowering their projections for global temperature rise.

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Is The Economy Headed For Good Times or Bad Times?

In one corner, we have the Bulls. “Stocks near record highs.” “Investor risk aversion is disappearing quickly” as “Junk bond yields hit another all-time low.” The housing market is recovering! US unemployment claims are at a 5-year low! Even the deficit is looking optimistic! Etc. Etc. We’ve finally made up for the last few years and are ready to push on towards a bigger and better future!

In the other corner, we have the Bears. “The market has become dangerously euphoric” even as global growth is declining. EU unemployment is still rising. Cyprus is defaulting. Obamacare is not slowing down health insurance costs. US deficits are still over one trillion dollars per year and interest rates are still at zero, and that’s before the next recession hits. Etc. Etc. We’re sitting on top of another artificially inflated bubble that’s about to come crashing down harder than the last one!

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The NRA As The Big Bad Boogieman

As the debates about gun laws unfolded after the Sandy Hook tragedy, a lot of people seemed to think there was one particular force standing in the way of real reform. News articles talked about how “The National Rifle Assn. and its allies have successfully kept” reform efforts “at bay for years.” Pundits talked about “the orthodoxy promulgated by the National Rifle Association.” Liberal economists tweeted tirades about the “pricks in the gun lobby who enable this madness.” EvenĀ President Obama accused lawmakers of caring more about getting “a A grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns.”

All of these people seem to imagine the NRA as this Terrible Necromancer that wields an unjust amount of power with its Magic Wand of Lobbying to prevent the common-sense changes that most people really support to make the world a better place. The accusations carry a vibe similar to the oil industry: If only it wasn’t for that powerful oil lobby, we could take real steps to prevent climate change. If only it wasn’t for that powerful gun lobby, we could take real steps to prevent mass shootings!

Unfortunately, I don’t think this characterization of the NRA as a big bad boogieman has much relation to reality.

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BREAKING: The Federal Reserve Does Not Know Everything

Transcripts have been released from some Federal Reserve meetings in 2007. I haven’t read through any of the hundreds of pages, but the word on the pundit street is that, despite having a lot of information at their fingertips, the Fed kinda didn’t really at all anticipate the big crisis that was about to unfold. Apparently this revelation surprised some of the pundits, but it did not surprise me in the least.

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Freaking Out About Filibuster Reform

Every few days I get a hair-raising email from Rand Paul urging me to sign a petition and donate some money because “left-wing benefactors are busy mobilizing support to RAM through Harry Reid’s illegal, rule-breaking filibuster scheme as soon as the Senate goes back into session.”

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The Absurdity of the Platinum Coin and Other Absurd Absurdities

The clever plan to sidestep the debt ceiling with a $1 trillion platinum coin swept the blogosphere and even the real-life-news-osphere this week, but it was definitively shot down today by the U.S. Treasury. I didn’t get a chance to blog about the silliness before it was too late, but Sonic Charmer (or is he calling himself The Crimson Reach now?) dutifully delineated the absurdity of it all, including the meta-absurdity that many serious people seriously regarded the idea without any absurdity.

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