My friend Tom over at Bizzyblog has a regular feature of questions he would like answers to, here are a few of my own:
1. Global warming: what effect has adding 4 billion people to the planet, each generating heat and CO2 over the last 100 years caused to the average temperatures? Related: cities are huge heat generators, what has been the effect of large heat generators(metro-complexes) over the last 100 years? Note: ignore the issue of buildings burning fuels to heat or cool, all the extra cars, focus just on the fact that all that concrete and steel retains heat that would not be retained by prairie or forest; people generate heat and CO2 just by walking around, we have added 4 billion people to the planet in the last 100 years, a 400% increase.
2. Inflation: a long time ago I wrote an essay about the money supply, inflation and drugs. Now that I have received my Bachelors in Economics (as of July 2005, started in 1987) , I will reiterate the question in the essay: People pay cash for drugs, that cash is pooled and eventually transferred to the source of the drugs - namely other countries - resulting in a separate cash economy denominated in dollars in those countries. Some of the cash gets returned via trade (that is accounted for as a deficit on our books) but a lot stays out of our economy. How much is anyone's guess, but it obviously affects the amount of currency in our economy, affecting velocity/money supply indicators, affecting inflation. What would happen if a consistent amount of currency flows changed? Say, by cutting drug trafficing?
3. Regulation: Congress is thinking about creating a law that says certain companies can not own businesses in the United States. Does anyone think this is a good idea? I am against allowing a company (based in another country or wholely or mostly owned by a foreign country) to take over production or service that is part of our national security - ie, I would not allow the takeover the operation of Oakridge, Las Alamos or Lawrence Livermore Labs (to name a few). Do ports rise to the same level of concern? I don't think so.
Related: Self-regulation: the original issue that started the Cartoon Wars was an author's concern that media outlets were self censoring themselves so as not to insult anyone...some in this country are calling for laws similar to European laws banning some speech, those laws are wrong for the US (they probably are wrong for those European countries but that is their problem, not mine).
4. Transportation: With minor changes, the means by which we move people and goods has remained unchanged for 60 years (ship, plane, train, truck and automobile - all combustion engines). The efficiency of the combustion engine is one of the few things unaffected by technological changed (yes, it has gone up...but certainly not as much as other areas of 'productivity'). How much has fuel economy improved when vehicle weight is considered?