Thursday, December 29, 2005

Scientific Misnomers

There are many misnomers, misunderstandings, or myths out there because some people have been influenced by the media, never been exposed to sound science, or have a recently outdated concenption of modern science in their daily lives. Some of the following are examples.

  1. Organic foods are healthier and better for the environment than conventional and GM foods.
  2. GM foods are not as safe as natural or organic foods.
  3. Decaffeinated coffee is unhealthy because it is produced using toxic chemicals like ammonia.
  4. We are running out of oil and are on the verge of an energy crisis.

I will address each of these in later posts.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Free Market Agriculture-Green Profits

Critics from the left maintain that modern large scale production agriculture and 'factory farms' are another example of free market degradation of the environment. This notion is not correct.

In fact the profit motive and large scale agriculture have led to the development of technologies that save energy, reduce pollution, and result in more abundant and healthier foods. Examples follow:

1ST GENERATION GM FOODS

Bt Corn: targets only pests that feed on the plant. Leads to a reduction in pesticide use, exposure, and pollution.

Roundup Ready Crops: Allows producers to switch away from using very toxic and environmentally unsound herbicide and use the much safer and low residual 'glyphosate' herbicide.

In addition these products require less management and less mechanization- saving on fuel,soil erosion, and air pollution.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Religous Thanksgiving

George Washington certainly felt that the celebration of Thanksgiving could not be divorced from any religious connotation, as indicated in the following Thanksgiving Day proclamation:

"It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors."

Although certainly not as revered as the Birth of Christ, it is as much a religious holiday as Christmas, Easter or Passover. Unfortunately this aspect of Thanksgiving has been downplayed in our schools and replaced with teachings about tolerance and ethnic diversity. They have been so successful at this there is no wonder that when it comes time to talk about Thanksgiving in the classroom, virtually no one opposes. This is because the celebration has become completely divorced from its true meaning, and hence is uncontroversial to the secularists.

They have not been so successful with Christmas, however the attempts to divorce this holiday from all historical meaning are well underway. We are seeing 'Christmas' replaced with 'Holiday.' It is done in the name of tolerance and diversity awareness.

It was in 1789 that George Washington gave the above Thanksgiving Day Proclamation. By 1989 its celebration has already lost much of its true meaning as taught in the schools and celebrated by many. I wonder what will be the fate of Christmas in the year 2089?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The Real Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving was not about the Pilgrims embracing diversity and thanking the Indians (otherwise known as Native Americans) for helping them survive. The celebration was about thanking God for the abundance which ultimately resulted from a move away from socialism ( imposed on them by the Colony’s Sponsors) to free market capitalism.
As governor William Bradford commented on the dreadful conditions of 1622:

" . . . the young men . . . did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong . . . had not more in division . . . than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors and victuals, clothes, etc . . . thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them. And the men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it."

"For this community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontentment and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort . . . all being to have alike, and all to do alike . . . if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them."



In the Spring of 1623, they moved away from Socialism and embraced the incentives of Private Property and Capitalism:

"All their victuals were spent . . . no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any. So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length . . . the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest among them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. . . . And so assigned to every family a parcel of land . . . "

"This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression."

Thanksgiving is therefore about freedom, private property and the unrestrained ability to worship and show thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Pre-pay Pumps and Smoking Bans

Trading Liberty for Safety in Bowling Green, KY

Considering the new ordinance that will require us to pre-pay for gasoline, I wonder how many businesses were supportive. I suspect that some rent seeking or anti-competitive motives may be shared among the supportive businesses.

It is similar to the case of smoking bans other cities have passed. In the free market, becoming smoke free involves the potential to increase the patronage of non-smokers at the cost of alienating smokers who have other alternatives.

For those restaurant owners that want to be smoke free and avoid this cost, the smoking ban offers an escape (from what economists would call a prisoner's dilemma game).

In the same way it would seem palpable that the new pre-pay law would offer some gas station owners (who would favor the ordinance) an escape from the competition of other stations that may be better able to monitor theft.

In both cases, consumers suffer in the name of 'public safety.' Regardless of the motives of the station owners or city officials, we as citizens and consumers are once again being forced to trade a certain amount of liberty for an uncertain or perceived amount of safety

School Choice

The state of California would certainly change its tune (regarding recent headlines) about parental discretion and sex education if school choice were both a legal and financial reality for parents.--All the more reason parents,citizens, and churches should be in favor of school choice legislation in Kentucky.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Gas Prices III:Gouged by Government

Gas Prices III:Gouged by Government
Liberals and Democrats are quick to blame corporations, republicans, and especially President Bush for high gas prices.Yet the tight inventories and scarcity that were created by the Hurricane would not have been so bad if we already did not have so little refining capacity.

Due to stringent environmental restrictions we have not built a refinery since 1976, and we have to refine nearly 20 different types of gasoline to meet these standards. The cost to oil companies of complying with these types of regulations is nearly $10 billion per year. Taking this into perspective dwarfs the one time 'windfall profits' we have recently seen.

These are all policies coming from the left. It is therefore the democrats that have set the stage for 'windfall' profits and high gas prices.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Gas Prices II- Unspoken Miracle

GAS PRICES II- Unspoken Miracle
While there is much attention given to 'price gouging' and 'windfall profits', no one in the media seems to be talking about how well the markets have functioned. In a time of tight inventories, reduced crude oil supplies, peak driving, damaged refining capacity, and great uncertainty increased prices and profit incentives allowed us a peaceful and effective transition through a time of crisis. The increased profits provided the incentive for increased imports, while the high prices prevented hoarding and shortages.

The miracle is that despite the devastation from hurricane Katrina and Rita, we did not run out of fuel and we did not have to stand in long lines with violent mobs. I would much rather pay more at the pump than take on an angry driver in a long line or get stranded because I'm out of gas and the nearest gas station had to shut down.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Wal-Mart

I often hear the accusation that Wal-Mart destroys communities. While they certainly drive out competitors ( often small businesses that have been around for generations) it doesn't seem logical that they destroy communities or their local economies. If people were actually devastated, then how would they be able to shop at Wal-Mart. Does it make since for Wal-Mart to invest millions to destroy their competition and customer base and then leave town? I would agree that the aesthetics of main street are often destroyed and that is a great and horrible cost, but that is different from devastating a community.

These charges often come from those on the left that also favor inheritance taxes, minimum wage laws, elaborate workplace regulations, over zealous environmental laws, and taxing the wealthy. These things actually give large corporations like Wal-Mart advantages over small businesses. In addition it makes it difficult for small enterprises to reinvest in their businesses, or pass them on to a new generation of entrepreneurs.

It is funny how the definition of "wealthy Americans" changes when it suits political purposes. When it is Wal-Mart vs. main street rural America, the "wealthy" small business holder becomes the little guy. When it comes to income and inheritance taxes the little guy is placed among the entrenched wealthiest 6% and should not 'need' a tax cut.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Gas Prices

For now I say let people make accusations about price gouging all they want. It appears to me that the markets have functioned just as they should. With already tight inventories and near capacity refinery operations, the Hurricanes certainly created a situation of scarcity. In addition to scarcity there was much fear and uncertainty about the future supply of gas.

In this situation one would expect prices to increase dramatically ( and I believe that prices were already fairly low in inflation adjusted dollars).

While record profits have been reported by the media, what was scarcely mentioned was the fact that the increased prices actually lead to a decrease in consumption and an increase in imports and production. AS a result of these efforts and less than expected damage to refineries prices have now started to drop.

Of course oil companies made huge profits, but the price was taking into account a great deal of uncertainty that turned out not to be a problem.

Monday, October 31, 2005

School Choice: Foreign Language Requirement in KY Schools

It has come to my attention that it is going to be required that all high school students in Kentucky must “speak” a second language before they can graduate.

Too many students are graduating high school unprepared for college and the workforce. Massive amounts of resources are wasted on remedial course work on the part of students and universities. Tech schools and on the job training require rudimentary knowledge of math and science. Is it then the goal of public schools to graduate students that can speak another language, but be displaced in the work force because they haven’t developed basic math, writing, and science skills using their native language.

There is great value in learning a second language, but learning a second language does not turn an ill prepared student into a scholar. Shouldn’t we focus on those areas that are more critical, and then let those students that are most proficient in basic skills pursue learning a second language as an option.

How can we have such a drastic reform over night, when such an important issue such as school choice is tossed aside as being extreme and detrimental to our schools? Is this just an attempt for our public schools to secure more funding and jobs for more teachers?

Friday, May 13, 2005

Master of Science in Agriculture: Emphasis in Agronomy, Crop Productionand Genetics

Statistics and Research Seminar (9 hrs)

AGRI 491G DATA ANALYSIS/INTERPRET  Statistical models and use of samples, variation, statistical measures, distributions, tests of significance, analysis of variance, regression, correlation and chi-square as related to interpretation and use of scientific data.

AGRI 590 EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN Statistical consideration in experimental design; covariance, multiple regression, factorial design, and incomplete block designs.

AGRI 598 SEMINAR Problems and research in agriculture. 

Agronomy-Crop Production and Genetics (15 hrs)

AGRI 528 POPULATION GENETICS Application of genetic and statistical concepts to populations of plants and domestic animals.

AGRO 414G CROP IMPROVEMENT Identification, development, and utilization of genetic differences in the improvement of cultivated plants.

AGRO 521 PASTURE MANAGEMENT  Development of pastures, physiological principles related to forage production, pasture management, and preservation and use of conserved forages.

AGRI 597 IND SPEC PROB/AGRIC CORN PRODUCTION physiological principles related to corn production, technology adoption, hybrid development, marketing, and agricultural policy.

AGRI 475G SPECIALTY CROP PRODUCTION physiological principles related to specialty crop production including tobacco and vegetable crops; conventional, organic, and natural production systems. Impacts of biotechnology and agricultural policy.

Electives in Agricultural Economics (6 hrs)

AGEC 463G AGRICULTURAL FINANCE Farm finance problems including capital requirements, investment decisions, budgeting techniques, etc. Lending agencies and alternative means of acquiring capital. 

AGEC 468G WORLD FOOD DEVELOPMENT Problems and opportunities in feeding an ever increasing population. Assessment of world food production, poverty, businesses and cultures; ways of increasing production

Master of Science in Agriculture: Emphasis in Agricultural and AppliedEconomics

Statistics (6 hrs)

AGRI 491G DATA ANALYSIS/INTERPRET  Statistical models and use of samples, variation, statistical measures, distributions, tests of significance, analysis of variance, regression, correlation and chi-square as related to interpretation and use of scientific data.

AGRI 590 EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN Statistical consideration in experimental design; covariance, multiple regression, factorial design, and incomplete block designs.

Economic Theory Core (12 hrs)

ECO 590 INTRO QUANTITATIVE ECO I An introduction to mathematical approaches to economic theory. Emphasis on linear models, constrained optimization, and techniques used in comparative statics.

ECO 601 ADV MICROECONOMIC THEORY An intensive course covering microeconomic theory and its various methodological and analytical techniques.

ECO 602 MACROECONOMIC THEORY An analysis of a market clearing, general equilibrium macroeconomic model. Emphasis on theoretical foundations of relevant behavioral functions and comparative statics.

ECO 603 RES METHDS PROCEDURE ECON A course in mathematical statistics with an emphasis on applications for empirical work in economics and related subjects.

Directed Studies and Electives in Agricultural and Applied Economics (15 hrs)

AGRI 597 IND SPEC PROB/AGRIC: APPLIED ECONOMETRICS Statistical tools needed to understand and execute empirical economic research projects. Estimation and inference. Ordinary least squares, generalized least squares, and maximum likelihood estimation; Limited dependent variable models. Micro-econometric applications.

AGRI 598 SEMINAR Problems and research in agriculture. Modeling Perceptions of Genetically Modified Organisms, Externalities and Pollution in Agricultural Production, Rent Seeking and Public Choice

AGRI 597 IND SPEC PROB/AGRIC: MICROECONOMIC MODELS AND APPLICATIONS Utility theory, preference relations, and decision making under uncertainty. Equilibrium concepts of game theory with application to a range of policy issues.


AGEC 463G AGRICULTURAL FINANCE Farm finance problems including capital requirements, investment decisions, budgeting techniques, etc. Lending agencies and alternative means of acquiring capital. 

AGEC 468G WORLD FOOD DEVELOPMENT Problems and opportunities in feeding an ever increasing population. Assessment of world food production, poverty, businesses and cultures; ways of increasing production

MBA Course Work in Applied Economics and Finance 

ECON 502 APPLIED MICROECON THEORY Crosslisted BA 511.Prerequisite: BA 501 or the equivalent. Fundamental concepts useful for analysis of firm, public policy, and individual decisions. Topics include demand and supply, revenue and costs, pricing, and information and uncertainty

BA 519 ADVANCED MANAGERIAL FINANCE Prerequisite: BA 509 or the equivalent. Financing policies of corporate entities with emphasis on planning the capital structure, measuring and controlling costs of alternate sources of funds, dividend policy, and capital budgeting.