Back to the trough for Tesla Motors?

27 09 2011

Fledgling electric automaker Tesla Motors is once again gearing up to ask the federal government for access to low-interest loans. Looks like the first $465 million just wasn’t enough to kick the upstart manufacturer into gear.

They were going to call the Tesla Roadster the Electric Lotus, but it sounded too much like a Prog Rock band name

To those who believe that “public-private partnership” means something other than “subsidies for trendy sectors and kickbacks for the well-connected,” there’s nothing untoward about Tesla’s planned request (though how the recent Solyndra scandal hasn’t opened their eyes is a mystery). Their argument for more spending on cutting-edge companies like Tesla can be persuasive. It typically goes something like this:

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One more reason to love History as a major: fart jokes

20 09 2011

Towards the end of last semester, I decided that economics wasn’t really the major for me. So I made another more or less blind leap…to history.

I probably should have selected a major that played to my strengths–reading, analysis, and writing–from the very beginning, rather than concern myself with trivialities like “post-graduation marketability.” I could have graduated in three years with a stellar GPA, but someone has to help pay for Mary Sue Coleman’s pay raise.

Anyway, I feel like I’m in my element, for once. Besides, where else would I get to write a paper that included this passage: Read the rest of this entry »

The Munificent Mary Sue

17 09 2011

I’m the last person to criticize executive compensation, so long as the executive in question is earning his or her keep in a bailout and subsidy-free market – qualifications which, I’ll readily grant, are become ever harder to satisfy.

But if an executive ran a high-minded, non-profit, and indeed, tax-supported organization that decried any attempts at cost-cutting while dramatically increasing the cost of its product every year, would a lavish pay raise still be justified?

The University of Michigan Board of Regents seem to think so. They just approved a 2.75 percent salary increase for UM President Mary Sue Coleman. That’s a $15,678 raise on top of last year’s base pay of $570,105 plus $100k in deferred payments, a $100k retention bonus, retirement pay, benefits…all in all, it’s a haul that would satisfy most any non-Fortune 500 CEO. Read the rest of this entry »

For your dining pleasure, the Whitefish Roll

16 09 2011

The Maine lobster roll has long been something of a mystery to me. They’re certainly tasty. But why take an ingredient like lobster, which has a rather sweet and delicate flavor, and then proceed to smother it in mayonnaise? Anything would taste good smothered in seasoned mayonnaise.

I’ve pioneered (so far as I know) an alternative with a uniquely Michigan twist: smoked whitefish. Making the whitefish roll is even easier than making the lobster roll linked above (it’s the recipe I used, with some minor variations), provided that you have access to smoked whitefish. It won’t work with fresh whitefish for the same reasons that I feel that lobster falls short of expectations: it’s too mild.

It would have made a lot more sense to post this before Labor Day, but the end of summer and the yearly move-in process put a kink in my plans. Plus, who wants to read two posts about whitefish in a row? Anyway, here goes:

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Banning water bottles won’t slake thirst for control

15 09 2011

In an effort to educate students about the great evils of bottled water, the University of Michigan has spent gobs of money on extravagant new drinking fountains that feature water bottle filling stations and – I’m not making this up – a cute digital counter to indicate how many plastic bottles responsible students have avoided using. Signs laden with water bottle-related facts accompany these fountains, constantly reinforcing the “bottles are bad” meme.

Yet if you’re unwilling to use a refillable container and able to burn the cash, you can still buy bottled water at university vending machines and on-campus stores–for now. That will change if a Michigan Student Assembly initiative to ban the sale of water bottles on campus is successful.

Grab me another can of that, er, bottled water!

I could make any number of snide comments about how this new initiative seems completely contrary to the aims of the campus-wide smoking ban (if you’re trying to promote a “culture of health,” why remove a healthy alternative to bottled sodas from vending machines?). It is, at the very least, student-driven, unlike the UM Administration’s anti-tobacco edicts. Instead, I’ll try to shed some light on the mentality works tireless to justify this breed of interventionism.

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Dirty Harry and the Mainstreaming of Libertarianism

14 09 2011

A few days ago, I expressed my opinion that libertarianism seems to be growing at the expense of both conservatism and liberalism. Of course, the validity and impartiality of my remarks are open to debate–I framed my argument with my experiences on UM’s campus as President of the College Libertarians.

Still, I never expected my hands-off views to be echoed by a venerated member of the Hollywood Establishment.

That’s not really much of a surprise, you’re thinking. Some crazy Lib probably came out (so to speak) in favor of gay rights. Maybe it was Fonda. Or Redford. They all seem to be using the same set of talking points, so they may as well be interchangeable.

But what if I told you it was Clint Eastwood?

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Students are ready for liberty–is the Right ready to provide it?

11 09 2011

Ask anyone who has spent time on campus the past 40-50 years: liberal progressivism is the default ideology for those who aspire to be a part of the so-called thinking class.

If you want to be viewed as sensitive, sensible, and informed – join the College Democrats, participate in leftist activism, or simply nod vigorously whenever your professor launches into a stream of anti-capitalist invective. It’s not difficult to understand why so many fall into this comfortable trap (some of my friends certainly have). Inside the campus bubble, you rarely needs test theory against reality.

But this is changing rapidly. The failures of the Bush Administration, followed by the ongoing failures of the Obama Administration, have birthed unprecedented disillusionment with our political system. It is becoming apparent that government is more willing to establish and enforce privilege than to defend individual rights. Big Government Republicans have no qualms about trampling economic liberty (supporting endless bailouts and failing to address rampant spending) – just as Democrats seem unwilling to make good on their promises (black unemployment remains shockingly high, and Obama has fallen short on nearly all of his campaign pledges).

Students are taking notice. Read the rest of this entry »