November 18th, 2008


"Reality laughs at the Laffer curve, calls Ronald Reagan wrong and says George W. Bush is a loon."

I used to run a small business - a commercial film production company. Every time we took a dollar out as personal income, it instantly turned into 50 cents. If we didn't really need the money, that was an incentive to keep it in the company and to find ways to spend it that took it out of the taxable profit column but increased the value of the company. High taxes create an incentive to reinvest profits into long-term growth.

With high taxes, the only way to retain the bulk of the wealth created by a business is by reinvesting it in the business - in plants, equipment, staff, research and development, new products and all the rest. The higher taxes are (and from 1940 to 1964 the top rates were around 90 percent), the more this is true. This creates a bias toward long-term planning.

If a business is planning for the long term, it wants a happy, stable work force. It becomes worthwhile to pay good wages and offer decent benefits. Low taxes create an incentive for profit taking.

It is easy to confuse profitability with wealth creation. They are not the same.

You can make the argument that even if high taxes encourage long-term growth, it's still wrong to have high taxes. I'd agree with that argument. But the statistical data seems pretty clear - higher taxes do have a positive effect on the overall health of the economy.

Honda and Toyota vs. Detroit.

Honda's ability to juggle these technologies successfully is perhaps a matter of survival. It competes in the mass market against companies, such as Toyota, General Motors, Ford and Nissan, that are either bigger or in alliances with other automakers. Other small carmakers like Porsche and BMW flourish by selling high-margin luxury cars. So that leaves Honda, with just 9% of the U.S. market, on its own and adamant that it remain unattached.

The strategy has worked thus far. Honda has never had an unprofitable year. It has never had to lay off employees. In the fiscal year that ended in March, profit grew 12%, to $5.1 billion, on $84 billion in sales. In the U.S., which accounts for 43% of Honda's sales, vehicle sales are up 7% through July, even as the industry slipped 5%. The company sold more vehicles in July than one member of the old Big Three, the Chrysler Group.

Longtime auto analyst John Casesa, who now runs a consulting company, says, "There's not a company on earth that better understands the culture of engineering." Honda spent $4.4 billion on R&D last year, 5.2% of sales, but, like most carmakers, it won't disclose how much is for basic research. One big investor says: "The good news is that they are run by engineers. The bad news is that they are run by engineers."

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How sorry a fucking state is this country in, when the evil Japanese megacorps are now the good guys...

Creating anti-matter by zapping gold with frikkin' laser beams!

Take a gold sample the size of the head of a push pin, shoot a laser through it, and suddenly more than 100 billion particles of anti-matter appear. The anti-matter, also known as positrons, shoots out of the target in a cone-shaped plasma "jet." This new ability to create a large number of positrons in a small laboratory opens the door to several fresh avenues of anti-matter research, including an understanding of the physics underlying various astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and gamma ray bursts.

Chen and her colleagues used a short, ultra-intense laser to irradiate a millimeter-thick gold target. "Previously, we concentrated on making positrons using paper-thin targets," said Scott Wilks, who designed and modeled the experiment using computer codes. "But recent simulations showed that millimeter-thick gold would produce far more positrons. We were very excited to see so many of them."

In the experiment, the laser ionizes and accelerates electrons, which are driven right through the gold target. On their way, the electrons interact with the gold nuclei, which serve as a catalyst to create positrons. The electrons give off packets of pure energy, which decays into matter and anti-matter, following the predictions by Einstein’s famous equation that relates matter and energy. By concentrating the energy in space and time, the laser produces positrons more rapidly and in greater density than ever before in the laboratory.

I hate to nitpick LNL, but how exactly do you "ionize" an electron? It's already got an electric charge, doesn't it? Maybe they mean "excite"? And I'm not even going to touch that designed and modeled the experiment "using computer codes" bit...