Confessions of a Supply-Side Liberal

A Partisan Nonpartisan Blog

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Drew Hinshaw: Nigeria Produces Half the Electricity of North Dakota-for 249 Times More People

I have heard distressing, yet fascinating, stories from a colleague who has spent time in Africa about how folks in Africa often act like the “Homo Economicus” of our theories, but without the benefit of adequate property rights to keep things on track. One example I found vivid is the routine theft of wire from power lines in order to sell the copper. So I was interested to read Drew Hinshaw’s Wall Street Journal article linked above about electricity in Nigeria. I particularly noticed these passages which help make vivid the kinds of problems that can face a poor country trying to get richer:

The quest to turn the lights back on in Nigeria is pitting some of the country’s richest men against rusted power lines, pilfered electricity and grenade-lobbing saboteurs. …

Half of Nigeria’s electricity is stolen or lost on quarter-century-old power lines. Companies have taken on the job of installing electric meters and bringing bills to the hundreds of thousands of Nigerian households that run wires to nearby electrical poles, without paying. …

Nigeria will need to lay fresh pipelines to tap its gas reserves—the world’s eighth largest—to fuel those turbines. One problem: Saboteurs lurking in the swamps keep throwing grenades under what few gas pipelines exist in an attempt to extort protection money from Nigeria’s government. …

When Mr. Elumelu’s staff first walked into the plant last November—they weren’t given access until it was purchased—they discovered technicians weren’t wearing safety goggles or even shoes. Some crawled into the innards of deadly gas turbines wearing flip flops.

Those workers had also lost track of turbine parts, rendering the massive machines unusable. All told, the station produces just 160 megawatts—half the wattage the company assumed when it bought the place.

Filed under growth

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Michigan, University and State, Occasion a Landmark Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

The link above is to a well-written and careful discussion by Jess Bravin in the Wall Street Journal of the Supreme Court’s 6-2 decision to uphold the right of a state—in this case Michigan—to prohibit the use of explicitly race-based affirmative action at its universities.

Within Michigan, the voter initiative against using race-based affirmative action was prompted in the main by the University of Michigan’s actions.

As a professor at the University of Michigan, what I regret most is this: by going too far in the direction of formulaic affirmative action, the University of Michigan caused a backlash that may imperil the ability of the faculty and administrators at the University of Michigan to do affirmative action based on case-by-case judgments. That seems especially unfortunate to me because I think affirmative action based on case-by-case judgments is likely to strike a better balance among all the different kinds of affirmative action that might be warranted.

Filed under politics

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The Periodic Table in the Round

I like these different versions of the periodic table flagged by othmeralia, who wrote: 

In 1869 Dmitrii Mendeleev sketched his first draft of the periodic table.  While Mendeleev’s version remains the most common, alternative arrangements include circular, cylindrical, pyramidal, spiral, and triangular layouts.  Indeed, Edward Mazurs chronicled over 140 types in his seminal work, Graphic Representations of the Periodic System over 100 Years! Which one gets your vote?

(via 33arquitectures)

Filed under religionhumanitiesscience

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The trouble is that the more well-known you are, the more difficult it is to hide away and actually work. When no one is interested in you and inviting you to things, it’s easier.
British designer Zandra Rhodes, in an interview for the April, 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review by Alison Beard. My title for this quotation is The Boon of Being Unknown.