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On Broken Windows

The Broken Window is both a fallacy and a truth. In economics, it refers the Parable of the Broken Window, also called the Broken Window Fallacy, and it deals with hidden opportunity costs.

The basic idea is that it is temping to think that a hoodlum breaking a baker’s window stimulates the economy because the baker must go buy a window from the glazier, who then can go buy additional things from others in the community and so on.

However, the fallacy part of it is that forcing the baker to buy a window has the hidden cost of the baker not buying whatever it was that the baker might have wanted to buy in the first place — perhaps a suit. So the extra money to the glazier actually comes at the expense of the tailor, and on top of it, the baker is out a window. So when hidden opportunity costs are accounted, the net effect of a broken window is negative, not positive.

There is also the broken window theory of crime, which basically states that criminal activity tends to congregate towards lesser-maintained areas of a city, perhaps because the look of dereliction makes a criminal feel less likely to be caught. A recent article that I picked up of via Bruce Schneier’s Security Blog discusses a recent student on the broken window theory. The conclusions are interesting:

The results, just now circulating in law enforcement circles, are striking: A 20 percent plunge in calls to police from the parts of town that received extra attention. It is seen as strong scientific evidence that the long-debated “broken windows” theory really works—that disorderly conditions breed bad behavior, and that fixing them can help prevent crime.


Many police departments across the country already use elements of the broken windows theory, or focus on crime hot spots. The Lowell experiment offers guidance on what seems to work best. Cleaning up the physical environment was very effective; misdemeanor arrests less so, and boosting social services had no apparent impact.

Nevertheless, I still wonder whether the broken window theory is actually a type of fallacy. For example, it is true that a single person can stand up at a sporting event to get a better view, but this does not generalize well: if everyone stands up, it is decidedly not true that everyone gets a better view. Does the same apply to broken windows? In other words, does fixing broken windows in one area correspond to a single person standing up at the sporting event? If all broken windows were fixed, would crime actually diminish or would it sustain at current levels?

Regardless of the answer to that question, I think the last sentence — and especially the last clause — is worth repeating:

Cleaning up the physical environment was very effective; misdemeanor arrests less so, and boosting social services had no apparent impact.

Sorry social scientists.

A Necessary Resolution — A Necessary Revolution

Despite constant setbacks to freedom, it it reassuring to see that there is still the occasional freedom-loving person in a place of political power in this country. Personally, I would like to see something similar to this resolution enacted in every state in the union. It is well worth the read.


1st Session of the 52nd Legislature (2009)



A Joint Resolution claiming sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over certain powers; serving notice to the federal government to cease and desist certain mandates; providing that certain federal legislation be prohibited or repealed; and directing distribution.

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads as follows:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment defines the total scope of federal power as being that specifically granted by the Constitution of the United States and no more; and

WHEREAS, the scope of power defined by the Tenth Amendment means that the federal government was created by the states specifically to be an agent of the states; and

WHEREAS, today, in 2009, the states are demonstrably treated as agents of the federal government; and

WHEREAS, many federal laws are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the Tenth Amendment assures that we, the people of the United States of America and each sovereign state in the Union of States, now have, and have always had, rights the federal government may not usurp; and

WHEREAS, Article IV, Section 4 says, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government”, and the Ninth Amendment states that ”The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people”; and

WHEREAS, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in New York v. United States, 112 S. Ct. 2408 (1992), that Congress may not simply commandeer the legislative and regulatory processes of the states; and

WHEREAS, a number of proposals from previous administrations and some now pending from the present administration and from Congress may further violate the Constitution of the United States.


THAT the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.

THAT this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

THAT all compulsory federal legislation which directs states to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or requires states to pass legislation or lose federal funding be prohibited or repealed.

THAT a copy of this resolution be distributed to the President of the United States, the President of the United States Senate, the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate of each state’s legislature of the United States of America, and each member of the Oklahoma Congressional Delegation.

I Oppose the Economic Stimulus Plan

I received an email today encouraging me to voice my opinion about the proposed economic stimulus plan. Although I do expect the plan to pass, I agree that it helps to voice opposition. Just as I opposed the boondoggle that was once called “The Bailout”, I want to be totally clear that I am firmly opposed to the idea and the implementation of the current economic stimulus plan.

I recognize that the free market suffers from market failures, and as such I am generally in favor of well-crafted Pigovian taxes. However, it never makes sense to send gobs of someone else’s money towards politically-chosen goals. This always leads to bad situations, as we have seen with the bailout money, and as we will soon see with the stimulus money. Mark my words.

Most Eloquent

John McCain’s concession speech was the most eloquent I have ever heard the man. Strange time to pull that out of the hat.

I will post the text here once I find a good source.

Thank you. Thank you, my friends. Thank you for coming here on this beautiful Arizona evening.


My friends, we have — we have come to the end of a long journey. The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly.

A little while ago, I had the honor of calling Senator Barack Obama to congratulate him.



To congratulate him on being elected the next president of the country that we both love.

In a contest as long and difficult as this campaign has been, his success alone commands my respect for his ability and perseverance. But that he managed to do so by inspiring the hopes of so many millions of Americans who had once wrongly believed that they had little at stake or little influence in the election of an American president is something I deeply admire and commend him for achieving.

This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and for the special pride that must be theirs tonight.

I’ve always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it. Senator Obama believes that, too.

But we both recognize that, though we have come a long way from the old injustices that once stained our nation’s reputation and denied some Americans the full blessings of American citizenship, the memory of them still had the power to wound.

A century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt’s invitation of Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House was taken as an outrage in many quarters.

America today is a world away from the cruel and frightful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African-American to the presidency of the United States.

Let there be no reason now…


Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.


Senator Obama has achieved a great thing for himself and for his country. I applaud him for it, and offer him my sincere sympathy that his beloved grandmother did not live to see this day. Though our faith assures us she is at rest in the presence of her creator and so very proud of the good man she helped raise.

Senator Obama and I have had and argued our differences, and he has prevailed. No doubt many of those differences remain.

These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face.

I urge all Americans…


I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences and help restore our prosperity, defend our security in a dangerous world, and leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.

Whatever our differences, we are fellow Americans. And please believe me when I say no association has ever meant more to me than that.


It is natural. It’s natural, tonight, to feel some disappointment. But tomorrow, we must move beyond it and work together to get our country moving again.


We fought — we fought as hard as we could. And though we feel short, the failure is mine, not yours.


MCCAIN: I am so…


MCCAIN: I am so deeply grateful to all of you for the great honor of your support and for all you have done for me. I wish the outcome had been different, my friends.


MCCAIN: The road was a difficult one from the outset, but your support and friendship never wavered. I cannot adequately express how deeply indebted I am to you.

I’m especially grateful to my wife, Cindy, my children, my dear mother…


… my dear mother and all my family, and to the many old and dear friends who have stood by my side through the many ups and downs of this long campaign.

I have always been a fortunate man, and never more so for the love and encouragement you have given me.

You know, campaigns are often harder on a candidate’s family than on the candidate, and that’s been true in this campaign.

All I can offer in compensation is my love and gratitude and the promise of more peaceful years ahead.

I am also — I am also, of course, very thankful to Governor Sarah Palin, one of the best campaigners I’ve ever seen…


… one of the best campaigners I have ever seen, and an impressive new voice in our party for reform and the principles that have always been our greatest strength…


… her husband Todd and their five beautiful children…


… for their tireless dedication to our cause, and the courage and grace they showed in the rough and tumble of a presidential campaign.

We can all look forward with great interest to her future service to Alaska, the Republican Party and our country.


To all my campaign comrades, from Rick Davis and Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter, to every last volunteer who fought so hard and valiantly, month after month, in what at times seemed to be the most challenged campaign in modern times, thank you so much. A lost election will never mean more to me than the privilege of your faith and friendship.

I don’t know — I don’t know what more we could have done to try to win this election. I’ll leave that to others to determine. Every candidate makes mistakes, and I’m sure I made my share of them. But I won’t spend a moment of the future regretting what might have been.

This campaign was and will remain the great honor of my life, and my heart is filled with nothing but gratitude for the experience and to the American people for giving me a fair hearing before deciding that Senator Obama and my old friend Senator Joe Biden should have the honor of leading us for the next four years.


Please. Please.

I would not — I would not be an American worthy of the name should I regret a fate that has allowed me the extraordinary privilege of serving this country for a half a century.

half a century.

Today, I was a candidate for the highest office in the country I love so much. And tonight, I remain her servant. That is blessing enough for anyone, and I thank the people of Arizona for it.



Tonight — tonight, more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama — whether they supported me or Senator Obama.

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.

Americans never quit. We never surrender.


We never hide from history. We make history.

Thank you, and God bless you, and God bless America. Thank you all very much.

General Election 2008

I-985: I’m voting Yes, with reservations. This initiative is very far from perfect, but it does have some good ideas. The legislature has shown itself very willing to modify and even overwrite laws passed by initiative, so the doom-and-gloom scenarios of the opponents don’t make any sense to me. Anything terribly wrong with the law will get fixed, and hopefully the things that are right will stick around.

Some of my favorite things about the law:

  • Requires toll funds to be used in the vicinity where the tolls are collected
  • Opens HOV lanes during non-peak hours

Some of my least favorite things:

  • Poorly defined non-peak hours
  • Forces some local jurisdictions to spend money

I-1000: I’m voting Yes. Helping competent adults makes decisions they want to make should not be illegal.

I-1029: I’m voting No. It just adds bureacracy and rules; we already have too much and too many of each.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1: Both sides of this issue have merit. Certainly an elections director needs specific, technical knowledge about running an election, but it also seems ripe for corruption to have an elections director appointed by a partisan elected official, especially in the one-party county we live in. I feel that there is a higher risk that an unqualified person will be elected than appointed, and until corruption becomes more nakedly rampant than it already is, I think that this is a risk not worth taking at this time. Perhaps, as the proponents of the amendment point out, the auditor-less King County should gain an elected auditor rather than an elected director of elections. I am voting No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 2: I think that people should be allowed to discriminate based on whatever they wish; furthermore, I think that you and I should be able to discriminate right back against them. I disagree with legislating this kind of thing, so I am voting No.

King County Charter Amendment No. 3: I’m voting No. Most people will vote yes. Baaah.

King County Charter Amendment No. 4: I’m vehemently voting No. Politicians setting up rules for who can and can not run for elected office is a perfect recipe for government that is not under the control of its people.

King County Charter Amendment No. 5: I’m voting Yes, as will most others. It seems to me that having  economic input to elected officials should help them make their poor decisions in a more informed manner, if nothing else.

King County Charter Amendment No. 6: I’m voting No. Forty-five days is a plenty long time to review the budget for how large King County should be. Instead, the county has up and exploded in scope and size, and now they are crying about not having enough time to review their mamoth budget. Here’s a novell idea: cut the budget down, return money to your constituents, and kill two birds with one stone.

King County Charter Amendment No. 7: I’m voting No. Decreasing initiative access to the ballot doesn’t help anything except entrenched politicians.

King County Charter Amendment No. 8: Again, I see both sides of this issue. More information about candidates is good, but we have become so entrenched in one-party politics in this county that party affiliation doesn’t really give us additional information. I would like to try nonpartisanship on for size, and see where it goes, so I am going to vote Yes.

President and Vice President of the United States: Not that it matter who I vote for in this state, but I have chosen to vote for Libertarians Bob Barr and Wayne Root. If my one vote would have sent McCain to the White House, then I guess maybe he shouldn’t have been so flaming liberal throughout this campaign.

United States Representitives Congressional District No. 8: I’m voting for Dave Reichert. Fiscally conservative, socially laissez-faire, and just green enough to stay elected. His opponent Darcy Burner has impressive credentials but misguided political ideas.

Governor: I’m voting for Dino Rossi. In addition to aligning more closely with my political beliefs than Gregoire, his special interest seems to be the construction lobby, which is a heck of a lot better than the SEIU or WEA, which have the current governor in their pocket. Also, I think it is worthwhile to shake up government once in a while to see what happens. Perhaps Dino is a real leader who really will fix problems like transportation and draconian health care mandates. Certainly Gregoire hasn’t accomplished anything in either regard in her four years.

Lieutenant Governor: Marcia McCraw. A mostly meaningless position, it would still be good to get some fresh ideas and perspective into the office. Think about it: what has Brad Owen done recently?

Secretary of State: I’m a little skeptical of electing a Democrat to replace moderate-as-all-get-out Republican Sam Reed, who has done a mostly competent if forgettable job if we are to ignore the gubernatorial election debacle of four years ago. His opponent, democrat Jason Osgood is untested, but has technincal skills, innovative ideas, and an independent streak, all of which I are worth exploring, so I am voting for him.

State Tresurer: I think it is worth mentioning that the outgoing state tresurer, democrat Mike Murphy, endorsed his assistant, republican Allan Martin. That should raise some eyebrows, as should the fact that his opponent, Jim McIntire, is endorsed only by party-line democrats. Allan Martin already knows what the job requires, is able to do it, and will provide some semblance of counterbalance to the state’s heavy democrat majorities elsewhere.

Attorney General: This is an easy vote for Rob McKenna, who has proven himself extraordinarily competent and fair, avoiding any of the fiascos that plagued Gregoire especially towards the end of her tenure in the office. Rob McKenna is also a leading hope for the Washington Republican Party into the future.

Commissioner of Public Lands: Republican Doug Sutherland has done a good job making the office more efficient while acting as a good steward of Washington’s public lands. He deserves re-election.

Superintendent of Public Instruction: I had the chance to meet incumbant Terry Bergeson at the FIRST Robotics Regional in March this year, where I in my role as a FIRST ambassador escorted her around the competition. While she enthusiastically cheered on the robots, it’s her policies that have failed to significantly improve Washington’s public education system. While her opponent doesn’t really get the full picture either*, Randy Dorn will bring a fresh face to bear on the issues and I think that will help get the ball moving again, for better or for worse.

Insurance Commissioner: Ever wonder why there are so many more options for car insurance than health insurance in Washington State? The insurance commissioner is a big part of the answer. There are a relatively few restrictions on what kind of car insurance plans can be offered in Washington State. The result is a large array of choices, which keeps competition for your dollars high, which keeps costs low. On the other hand, any company wishing to offer health insurance in this state has a long list of criteria they must meet. The result is fewer choices, all of which are more expensive than a more limited plan that covers less could be. The incumbant, Democrat Mike Kreidler has done nothing to improve this situation. His opponent, John Adams, has an independent insurance background and has listed opening up the health insurance market as a top priority. John Adams gets my vote.

Legislative District No. 41 —

State Senator: A traditional limited-government republican, Bob Baker is an easy choice over democrat Fred Jarrett who helped Gregoire get hundreds of millions of new taxes.

Representitive Position No. 1: Centrist republican Steve Lizow is a moderately better choice than Marcie Maxwell.

City of Bellevue Proposition No. 1 Levy for City Parks and Natural Areas: I’m voting Yes.

Sound Transit Proposition No. 1 Mass Transit Expansion: Every time I hear of Sound Transit’s newest initiative, I always think “You’re doing it wrong!” No exception here*. I’m voting No.

* The correct answers are 1) voucher schools and 2) congestion tolls on all roadways.

Seniority Bailout

As originally suggested by Nordsieck, I have compiled a couple of graphs depicting the relationship between voting on the bailout plan and the seniority (time since first elected) of the voter. Check it out below, and feel free to draw your own conclusions. My conclusion? DC corrupts.

For more damning evidence, check out the relationship between campaign donations and voting in the House of Representatives.

Lost By Two Votes

A few months ago, I submitted the paperwork to run for the Republican Precinct Committee Officer in precinct 41-3084. It was sort of my last hurrah in support of Ron Paul after the somewhat disappointing outcome from the Washington State Presidential Caucuses.

Failing to find the results immediately after the election, I forgot about the whole thing for a couple of months. Today, for some reason, I thought about it again, and this time I was able to find the PCO results from the primary election:

In In the closest election I have ever been involved in, I lost by only two votes to the incumbant. I didn’t even run a campaign — my oponent, however, did (he sent out letters). With results like this, perhaps politics is in my future?

The relevant results:

Precinct Winner Name Votes Party
BEL 41-3084   Ryan McElroy 39 Republican Party
BEL 41-3084 winner Ted Jung 41 Republican Party