William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

How’d We Do On Our 2013 Predictions?

The Farmer’s Almanac is tied with GCMs for accuracy of their predictions.

We have proved yet again that the future is that undiscovered country with our predictions for 2013. See the original guesses here.

Don’t make new predictions here. Tomorrow I’ll start the thread, open for 10 days, where you can make predictions for 2014.

The winner was chosen for accuracy and difficulty. No use predicting, for instance, “The New York Times will continue to apologize for President Obama even should he be exposed as an ax murderer” because anybody could have guessed that.

We all missed predicting the big events, such as the election of a new Pope and his (temporary?) triumph over the media. The events in the Middle East went in directions not anticipated. The Boston Marathon bombing wasn’t forecasted. Neither were the recent happenings in Russia. Tornadoes were at their nadir. George Zimmerman was acquitted. The Supreme Court told half of Americans that they were hate-filled bigots. NSA announced they were spying on everybody for their own good—and the populace yawned. And so forth.

In the end, it was a close. Though none of us sparkled, the person who best captured the spirit and direction of the world was Sheri (bottom of page). I award her the crown based on one prediction that wasn’t even fully correct: “Pedophilia will be ‘normalized’.”

It wasn’t, not fully, not yet. But the reason it will be, equality, is the driving force of Western Civilization. Equality is the most destructive force known to man. You know I am right if you felt even a small cringe at the word “man” in the previous sentence. All will be, must be, equal. None can be unique, none can be superior, and how dare you think otherwise.

———————————————

Here are the individual predictions. I’m only quoting the serious forecasts.

Briggs

(1) “More human beings will die from cold than from heat in 2013”. Nailed it. In the running for this year’s Irony of the Year Award: “Global warming scientists forced to admit defeat… because of too much ice.

(2) “[Obamacare] mandate will be relaxed for employers and corporations.” Yes!

(3) “Low-hanging-fruit economic prediction: the debt of the USA will soar to new heights.” Raise the debt ceiling, anybody?

(4) We’d become sheeple. “Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd.” Almost there.

Kevin B

(1) “The long awaited break up of the euro, (and the EU), will still not occur.” It did not.

(2) “The US and European economies will continue their anaemic ‘growth’, but all of this ‘growth’ will be in the public sector.” Long live the government!

(3) “A row will break out among scientists over whether the obesity epidemic is caused by a bacterium or by a poor lifestyle.” Missed this one, but barely, I think.

(4) “The great global warming/climate change/climate extremes/whatever debate will rumble on.” It did, but no points for such an easy guess.

Don B

(1) “Highway accidents will kill more people than assault weapons, yet, unbelievably, automobiles will not be outlawed.” Right on the money, but easy!

(2) “While scientific evidence grows that global warming, if it resumes, will not be catastrophic, the Summary for Policy Makers will be as alarmist as ever.” Indeed, it was more alarmist: 95% confidence!

(3) “Republicans will allow tax rates to automatically rise, as we go over the fiscal cliff, so that they can vote to lower those higher rates to a level which is greater than they are presently.” Not quite there, although Republicans proved once more that they are nothing but Democrats with frowns.

Big Mike

(1) “Evil will continue to sow the seeds of its own destruction, and the brilliant rays of truth, beauty and goodness, visible to all those who dare open their eyes, will continue to perforate the gloom and act as shining beacons to those brave enough to use them as their guides.” Got it, but talk about low-hanging fruit.

Jim Atkinson

(1) “Bill McKibben will be discovered to be eating Meat Pizza’s cooked in a Coal fired oven he has installed in an old diesel powered Yellow School Bus that he uses to commune with the trees in remote Vermont valleys that never get any snowfall.” McKibben still thinks it’s worse than we thought.

Vinny Burgoo

(1) “Floods in Pakistan will again be tied to global warming.” Yep.

(2) “The floods will kill about a tenth of the number of people killed by terrorism in Pakistan.” Right (as near as I can tell).

(3) “A young man will attack a school in the US, killing about ten people, mostly women and children.” I don’t think we had any this year.

(4) “Young men will blow up about 100 schools in Pakistan, killing about ten people, mostly women and children.” Missed.

(5) “Towards the end of the year, John Vidal will visit a farm in Herefordshire.” I Googled this but could not find confirmation.

(6) “Bo Derek will visit Ecuador again.” Doesn’t look it. She made it to Portugal.

(7) “Chile’s Mount Melimoyu will erupt.” It didn’t.

Doug M

(1) “We fall off the fiscal cliff on 1/1 and no one notices.” Half right. Over the cliff we went, but some of us went screaming.

(2) “GDP growth for the year will be positive.” Final numbers aren’t in, but this is a solid.

JJD

(1) “Iran will perform a nuclear test shot in North Korea.” A miss, but not too far off in spirit.

(2) “Syria will end up under the control of radical Islamists of a sort favored by the Saudis.” Russia stopped this.

(3) “Nothing of substance will be revealed about the Benghazi incident.” Hillary: what difference does it make?

(4) “Unemployment in the USA will spike savagely, although the government will do what it can to camouflage the problem with BS as the economy.” Half right. Unemployment didn’t spike, but the government did play with the numbers.

(5) “Civil unrest of a kind and degree not seen since the Depression will appear in the USA and increase.” Didn’t happen, thank goodness.

(6) “Texas, Louisiana, and perhaps other states will take strong measures to counteract federal influence and protect themselves.” Call this a partial hit. Some states ran as fast as they could from Obamacare, for instance.

(7) “Obama will sieze the moment and attempt to ram through gun control and various extreme leftist measures, sidestepping Congress and ignoring the Constitution.” Call this 90% right. Obama repeatedly expressed exasperation that he could rule dictatorially.

Heltau (A non-native English writer, I think; I corrected his spelling.)

(1) “2 cities will be attacked by Islams.” More than two.

(2) “Tens of thousands of people will be slaughtered by the ‘peace and light religion of Islam’.” Depends on how you count (do we total the bodies in Syria?), but it’s close.

(3) “Sharia law will be applied throughout America as a helping hand in killing the ‘living Constitution’.” If this was England, it would be a partial hit.

(4) “Christian churches will be attacked and set afire by Islams and the church’s leaders will forgive Islam for their acts.” Half right. Many churches attacked and Christians killed. No word on forgiveness yet.

(5) “And tomatoes will be 5 dollars a pound.” Not in the States, anyway.

equinox

(1) “The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2013 will be awarded to a US citizen.” Is Canada still considered a foreign country? Alice Munro won.

(2) “The Nobel Peace Prize for 2013 will be awarded to a non-US citizen or organization.” Nailed it. The Nobel committee previously gave the award to a building in Brussels. This time to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

(3) “The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2013 will be awarded to a person from Europe.” Peter Higgs is, somehow, not an American.

obiwankenobi

(1) “Wiggins will win the Giro d’italia.” Nope.

(2) “Froome will win the Tour de France.” Yep.

(3) “ANTIFRAGILE: THINGS THAT GAIN FROM DISORDER by Taleb won’t make #1 on the NYT.” I think was right.

(4) “Fewer fatalities will occur on Mt. Everest than last year.” Yes, but apparently this was an easy one.

max

(1) “The Great Recession will deepen and continue.” It didn’t deepen, but much malaise yet.

(2) “Turkey will start to position itself as a counter to Iran.” No, but strange things happening there. Keep an eye out.

(3) “Patriots will lose Superbowl.” Did they even play?

(4) “Red Sox will lose in post season on a wildcard. Yankees will not make it into post-season.” Half right. Dammit, says this Tigers fan.

(5) “China will have violent protests against variously communism and capitalism, not enough to be called a revolt or uprising but too much to be ignored by the international community.” Yes. But not too violent.

(6) “Chile will emerge as the hot new SA economy predicted to become the USA of South America.” A prediction of a prediction?

(7) “Municipal bankruptcies in the US will take off, expect over 20 significant ones by the end of the year.” Right in spirit, but I think the number a tad high. California in particular saw a few.

tckev

(1) “Winter in the Northern Hemisphere will not end till mid June.” Nope. But stick around for this winter.

(2) “First week of September will be the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest for 200 years.” Nope.

(3) “Winter will start early in N. Hemisphere on September 28 2013.” Too vague, but it was early.

(4) “A volcanic eruption off the coast of Antarctica will cause some public unrest at the end of the year.” Nope.

(5) “China and Japan will come to arms over some insignificant South China Sea islands.” Very close. Maybe this year the fireworks begin.

(6) “Someone shoots at the US President — FBI hugely criticized.” Now, now.

DAV

(1) “In 2013, with the city Detroit finding it has no support of a winning MLB team, has announced it will be relocating. Current choice is San Francisco.” This isn’t too far off.

JH

(1) “Detroit will make a comeback, so is American economy partly due to the increasing number of rich people in China who prefer products made in USA.” Should have listened to DAV.

(2) “The debt-to-GDP ratio will decrease.” If by “decrease” you meant “increase”, you’re exactly right.

joeclark77

(1) “The drought will continue in the Midwest.” In the summer it did.

(2) “The government and the Fed will continue to maintain a zero-interest-rate policy by printing money.” Too easy.

(3) “Inflation in food prices will be even worse in the coming year. By the end of the year, $200/week or more will be considered normal for groceries for a small family.” From this accurate prediction, we guess Joe does not work in academia.

(4) “At least one U.S. state will declare bankruptcy.” Nope.

(5) “At least one state will vote to ‘nullify’ major provisions of the Obamacare law.” Not quite, but close.

(6) “The Israelis will re-elect Netanyahu.” Yep.

(7) “Israel will find itself at war with one or more of Egypt, Turkey, or Iran.” Not yet, anyway.

(8) “Bing will start to get more search traffic than Google.” Let me tell you about the dangers of drinking and predicting…

(9) “Facebook will not go out of business in 2013, but it will be in serious trouble by the end of the year and at least one major publication will be predicting its imminent eclipsing by some rapidly-growing rival.” Snapchat is at its heels.

(10) “New Jersey and Virginia will elect Democrat governors.” That depends on how you classify Chris Christie.

(11) “Rush Limbaugh will retire. Mark Steyn will become a full-time talk radio host.” Two solid misses.

(12) “There will be a terrorist incident somewhere involving a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile.” I don’t think so.

(13) “There will be at least one major conservative victory in the Supreme Court, and Obama will talk about it obsessively for months.” Sadly, no. Not even a hint of one. Nothing but bad news all around.

(14) “The E.U. will try to ‘legally’ ‘force’ Ireland to legalize abortion. Ireland will refuse.” A bust, but only because Ireland beat the EU to it.

Chronus

(1) “I foresee the Angels making it to the World Series, and they might even win.” Let me guess which is your favorite team.

(2) “The Jacksonville Jaguars bring Tim Tebow on board as a backup quarterback and have a .500 season.” Nah.

(3) “The brain damaged apes we call Congress and the well meaning lackeys we call the Federal Government will prevent any real recovery.” Yes, but too easy.

(4) “Gasoline will cost more than $4.20 a gallon by the end of the year.” Looks to be lower.

(5) “The Islamic Brotherhood will consolidate power in Egypt, seriously threaten war will Israel or send troops into Gaza but the Egyptian Army will not quite cooperate. This will lead to a power struggle and purge of the military. Israel will not actually be attacked by soldiers.” Glad you were wrong on this one.

(6) “Assad of Syria will flee to Iran. Hamid Karzai will not be running Afghanistan by the end of 2013.” Two misses.

(7) “The media (and the Taliban) will portray the US leaving Afghanistan as another Vietnam. ” Might be true if we actually left.

(8) “The artificial pancreas will be announced and diabetes will be cured.” A cheerfully wrong prediction.

commieBob

(1) “In spite of Obamacare, the infant death rate will not budge much from 6 per 1000 live births.” Correct: 6.14.

(2) “‘Peer progressive’ will join ‘creative class’ in the popular lexicon.” Right, more or less

HarryG

(1) “Julia Gillard will not be Prime Minister of Australia by the end of the year.” Yes, thank God.

(2) “The increasing tension in the South China Sea area will see an increase in US forces based in Australia.” Near hit. Increased US forces in the area, but not in Australia.

(3) “The Australian economy will still be strong with the Aussie dollar still buying more than one US dollar.” Well, the Aussie dollar fell with respect to the US dollar over 2013.

Sheri

(1) “Pedophilia will be ‘normalized’.” Almost. Make the same prediction for 2014 and we’ll see.

(2) “The Congressional Budget will continue to look like a crayon drawing of a 2 year old.” Too high by a year.

(3) “The blurring of political parties will continue, with ‘Republicans’ and ‘Those who vote with Democrats’ being the labels used.” Spot on.

32 Comments

  1. “(2) “The US and European economies will continue their anaemic ‘growth’, but all of this ‘growth’ will be in the public sector.” Long live the government!”

    Actually in the US none of the growth came from the public sector.

  2. Sylvain,

    What is your definition of “economic growth”?

    The government (int the U.S., anyway) produces no goods, products or resources. It consists entirely of services which consume goods, products and resources. If economic growth means increasing goods, products or resources then the government might encourage economic growth but can’t produce it.

  3. Dav,

    Sorry I meant private sector.

    Though the economic is anemic because the public sector has been so restricted. The rich who are supposed to create wealth don’t create much by simply investing in the different exchanges.

    In normal countries the rich pay more taxes because they are the one benefitting the most from those paid taxes. How much car would be built if it were not for the road built by the government?

    Road are very expensive commodities in our societies. Yet they facilitate exchanges of good and companies want to establish themselves near roads (before that the Railroad) that will help them ship there good easily to their costumer.

  4. JH is undoubtedly the biggest loser. Hahahahaha!

  5. Sylvain Allard,

    “In normal countries the rich pay more taxes”

    In the US, the top 30% of earners pay something like 80% of all income taxes.

    “How much car would be built if it were not for the road built by the government?”

    Cars were built before there were roads built by the government, in fact cars were becoming popular before government roads and the first paved roads in the US were built by auto clubs without government money.

    Cars would look very different in the absence of government built paved roads, but it’s hard to say whether or not there would be fewer of them.

  6. My prediction for 2014: More predictions will fail than not.

  7. In the US, the top 30% of earners pay something like 80% of all income taxes.

    Which is a brake on the economy. The idea that earning more money automatically carries an obligation to support those who are not so inclined is a disincentive. The economy would be better off if taxes were a simple percentage.

    Cars were built before there were roads built by the government … Cars would look very different in the absence of government built paved roads …

    I presume you mean Macadam roads. The Romans had paved roads. Yes, without them cars would continue to resemble horseless carriages which traveled preexisting roads. The roads existed long before cars.

    So I take back a bit of what I said before: the government does provide some resources (albeit with OPM) but still manages to spend more than it produces making it a net consumer. HHS provides no resources.

    Sylvain,

    Sorry I meant private sector

    And the differences between private sector, public sector and government sector are …. ?

  8. MattS,

    You say that the top 30% pay 80% of the total income tax. Yet total income tax in the US represented only 42% of all government income (see first link). So according to the second link the top 25% earned 66% of all the money made in a year and paid only about 31.5% of all the government income (see second link).

    Are you claiming that this is unfair to them. The top 1% saw their revenue grow by 32% while the bottom 80% saw their revenue rise by 1%, which is really a lost of income since it is lower than the inflation. It would be normal that the people who collect 66% of all income pay 66% of all the taxes.

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/briefing-book/background/numbers/images/The-Numbers-Jan-2012-Fig1_1.gif

    http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/top10-percent-income-earners

    About the cars:

    Why do you think that car sell boomed when the first road were built. It is estimated that the car industries received the biggest subsidies in the form of road building, even bigger than the subsidies offered to the development of the train which took the form of land given by government to railroad companies.

    The building attract the development of companies that can sell and transport their product more easily to people that do not live close to where the product is made.

    Most of third world countries don’t develop because they don’t develop their infrastructure making it easier to transport goods from on place to the other.

  9. BTW Matts, would high be wrong to assume that your income is not amongst the top 30% in the US.

  10. DAV,

    “Which is a brake on the economy. The idea that earning more money automatically carries an obligation to support those who are not so inclined is a disincentive. The economy would be better off if taxes were a simple percentage.”

    It must be nice to live in a simple minded world. We have experience such a world where income tax were the same for everyone, until economist learned that it was a drag on the economy and unfair to people who actually worked hard but received misery pay.

    Ask yourself, why are WalMart, Mcdo, so against a rise in the minimum salary. Here they have to pay the minimum of $10.10/hour + RRQ + unemployment + parental leave + employment medical insurance + 3.5%/hour in medical insurance. I have access to something like 10 Walmarts and 15 McDo within a 25 min drive.

    There is a point when you get enough money that you don’t frigging care about it and just play it safe and don’t bother to create more wealth. This is what is happening in the US the rich don’t care to develop new product they only want to play it safe and enjoy their wealth.

    It is not a coincidence that the 2 biggest economic crisis happened at time were the income inequality was at its highest.

    About your question:

    private sector = private domain, company, individual

    public sector= government sector = government domain, operated by employee paid by the government. (School, police, army, IRS, etc)

  11. It must be nice to live in a simple minded world.

    The simpleminded world is where what’s yours is mine is the basic idea.

    <iWe have experience such a world where income tax were the same for everyone, until economist learned that it was a drag on the economy and unfair to people who actually worked hard but received misery pay.

    Yeah? Not having people who don’t pull their weight in funding government policies (essentially free riders) is a drag on the economy? And you don’t at all see progressive taxes as a disincentive that punish attempts to gain more?

    The only reason we still have a progressive tax is because Congress is addicted to the income.

    You feel that the rich benefit the most from government yet at every opportunity you seem to promote more government control which is nothing more than advocating bigger government. It sounds as though you are for those with riches. Right?

  12. Hah! The last post of the year and the first! I need to get a life.

  13. Sylvain Allard,

    “You say that the top 30% pay 80% of the total income tax. Yet total income tax in the US represented only 42% of all government income (see first link). So according to the second link the top 25% earned 66% of all the money made in a year and paid only about 31.5% of all the government income (see second link).”

    Actually, I think it is grossly unfair to include taxes not based on income (or wealth such as property taxes) in determining if the rich are paying their fair share or not.

    “It is estimated that the car industries received the biggest subsidies in the form of road building,”

    Bull. The roads were not and are not just restricted to just cars so it is ridiculous to count road building as a subsidy to the car industry.

    “BTW Matts, would high be wrong to assume that your income is not amongst the top 30% in the US.”

    Yes, but just barely.

  14. Dav,

    “The Romans had paved roads. Yes, without them cars would continue to resemble horseless carriages which traveled preexisting roads. The roads existed long before cars.”

    The Roman empire built roads to move it’s armies. That they were useful for civilian commerce / travel was a side effect. Prior to the introduction of the car the only paved roads in the US were cobblestone roads mostly confined to major metropolitan areas. There were no inter urban paved roads built by states or the federal government prior to that point.

  15. Dav,

    “The Romans had paved roads. Yes, without them cars would continue to resemble horseless carriages which traveled preexisting roads. The roads existed long before cars.”

    You are too pessimistic about the invention of technology. Without roads, we would still be at least up to dune buggies and monster trucks by now. 🙂

  16. Sylvain Allard,

    For got to add:

    “Why do you think that car sell boomed when the first road were built.”

    Car sales were booming BEFORE the first government built inter-urban roads. How the hell do you think auto-clubs were able to raise the money to build the first inter-urban paved roads without the government. A very large number of private individuals who already owned cars chipped in money, land and / or labor to get it done.

    In fact, the neither the old US highway system nor the newer interstate system were built primarily for cars. They were primarily built to benefit long distance commercial shipping by truck. The benefits for cars were largely a side effect and we have no way of knowing what the impact to the car industry would have been had the US highway system not been built.

  17. MattS,

    The Roman empire built roads to move it’s armies. That they were useful for civilian commerce / travel was a side effect.

    The Roman expansion was primarily to increase the wealth of Rome. The army was the means, so, in one sense, the roads were built to increase their economy.

    . Prior to the introduction of the car the only paved roads in the US were cobblestone roads mostly confined to major metropolitan areas.

    Not entirely true.

    In that epitome of information store (Wikipedia) there is this jpeg
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Makadam.jpg

    Under which is the caption:

    Construction of the first macadamized road in the United States (1823). In the foreground, workers are breaking stones “so as not to exceed 6 ounces in weight or to pass a two-inch ring”.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_road_transport

    McAdam developed what could be considered the modern road near the beginning of the 19th century although the use of tar grouting wasn’t popular until 1920’s. “Macadam roads were being built widely in the United States and Australia in the 1820s and in Europe in the 1830s and 1840s.”

  18. I might add that, unsurprisingly, a railroad is also a road. These were developed in the U.S and elsewhere by private industry with little government subsidy.

  19. Dav,

    “McAdam developed what could be considered the modern road near the beginning of the 19th century although the use of tar grouting wasn’t popular until 1920′s. “Macadam roads were being built widely in the United States and Australia in the 1820s and in Europe in the 1830s and 1840s.””

    There is nothing at your Wikipedia link that even implies that those roads were being built by the state governments or by the federal government.

  20. MattS,

    Didn’t say there was. Look here, though. If the governments didn’t build them they certainly took ownership.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transportation_in_the_United_States#Ownership_and_jurisdiction

  21. Matts,

    “Actually, I think it is grossly unfair to include taxes not based on income (or wealth such as property taxes) in determining if the rich are paying their fair share or not.”

    Why would it be unfair the rich don’t pay payroll taxes, it is those who are below the top 20-30% line that pay these taxes. Taxes in Québec are very much higher than what is seen in the US, at about 51%, yet we still have billionaires and millionaires. Walmart McDo Target etc still invest in our province and are still making profit, and pay taxes on them.

    DAV pointed out that railroad received very little subsidies. The reality is that railroad received a lot of subsidies in receiving millions of acres of land that they were then authorized to develop and sell. They were even able to expatriate peoples that had built houses that got on there way. some of these land are now worth millions of dollars.

    From the book of William Leuchtemburg “The Peril of Prosperity” p.184:

    “The federal Aid Road Act of 1916… prompted by this initiative, every section of the country launched ambitious road-building programs in the postwar years. in 1906, local governments appropriated 96% of all highway funds; by 1927, they were providing 53%, state 37%, federal 10%. Road building gave the auto industry a larger government subsidy than the railroad ever received. in their entire history.”

    This statement by Leuchtemburg is not controversial.

    From:

    http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Roads.aspx

    “The United States had the world’s most extensive railroad network in 1900—and some of the world’s worst roads. Through the twentieth century, road construction and motor-vehicle ownership reinforced each other. As motor-vehicle sales grew rapidly—exceeding 1,000 for the first time in 1899, 100,000 in 1909, and 1 million in 1916—Americans demanded and got good roads. At the same time, road construction stimulated increased usage of motor vehicles and, ultimately, dependence on them.

    When the Office of Public Roads Inquiries undertook the first inventory of all U.S. roads in 1904, the country had 2,151,570 miles of rural public roads, but 1,997,908 miles, or 93 percent, were dirt. Of the 153,662 miles with any kind of surfacing, only 38,622 miles were stone or macadam, while the remainder included 108,232 miles of gravel and 6,810 of shell, sand, clay, brick, or other materials. Only a few hundred miles of roads in the entire country were suitable for motor vehicles.”

  22. “Why would it be unfair the rich don’t pay payroll taxes, it is those who are below the top 20-30% line that pay these taxes.”

    I think you meant why wouldn’t it be unfair. You are right, it would be unfair, but it isn’t the case. so it’s not relevant.

    I am above the 30% line and next year will make it over the 20% line. I still pay payroll taxes. If you want to argue for taking off the upper end caps from the payroll taxes you won’t get an argument from me on that one. Everyone in the US who has any paycheck income pays some payroll tax. Technically even the self employed are required to pay payroll taxes. Only those whose income is entirely from interest and / or capital gains are exempt from payroll taxes.

    “Taxes in Québec are very much higher than what is seen in the US, at about 51%, yet we still have billionaires and millionaires.”

    So what, this is not a valid argument that the rich in the US are under taxed on a relative basis.

    “This statement by Leuchtemburg is not controversial.”

    Yes, it is. There are plenty of economists that argue that calling that a subsidy at all is nonsense. Infrastructure open to all can not rationally be called a subside to any subset. That would be like calling government run water utilities a subsidy to the beverage industry.

  23. “When the Office of Public Roads Inquiries undertook the first inventory of all U.S. roads in 1904, the country had 2,151,570 miles of rural public roads, but 1,997,908 miles, or 93 percent, were dirt. Of the 153,662 miles with any kind of surfacing, only 38,622 miles were stone or macadam, while the remainder included 108,232 miles of gravel and 6,810 of shell, sand, clay, brick, or other materials. Only a few hundred miles of roads in the entire country were suitable for motor vehicles.””

    And yet motor vehicles were routinely using those roads the government deemed unsuitable. This is just another example of bureaucrats making uninformed judgements.

  24. In what way was “Pedophilia will be ‘normalized’” even partially correct? Only the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th Century came even close to doing that.

  25. Matts,

    “And yet motor vehicles were routinely using those roads the government deemed unsuitable. This is just another example of bureaucrats making uninformed judgements.”

    Actually there were strong pressure from people who bought car on the government to built better road and intercity road.

    From the same link above:

    “A majority of Americans still lived in rural areas in the early twentieth century, but operating a motor vehicle there was nearly impossible because of poor-quality—or nonexistent—roads. Consequently, most vehicles were purchased by people living in cities, where streets were paved. Roads in rural areas served primarily as feeders into train stations. A few miles from stations, roads would terminate at streams or county lines or simply disappear into the mud. The cost of hauling grain ten miles from farm to station by road was higher than the cost of hauling it five hundred or one thousand miles by train to big-city markets. It could take an entire day to travel twenty miles in a rural area.”

    Cars were sold to cities who had good paved roads. Although other group requested better road, gravel roads are more than enough for bikes and horses and much less expensive. While car required paved road to travel between cities.

    “Yes, it is. There are plenty of economists that argue that calling that a subsidy at all is nonsense.”

    It would be nice if you could produce a few.

    “Infrastructure open to all can not rationally be called a subside to any subset. That would be like calling government run water utilities a subsidy to the beverage industry”.

    Actually, yes government run water utilities are now considered a subsidy to beverage industry. This is why they are now either required to build their own cleaning facilities or pay higher taxes on the water they consume. Danone, Coke and Pepsi are largely affected by this.

    To some extent the internet could be considered a subsidy to some companies that depend entirely on it like Facebook, google (though they are now diversified),yahoo, amazon.

    The question who made the biggest gain by developing the road infrastructure and it is the car companies.

  26. Sylvain, the specification was “inter-Urban roads”.

    T. Coleman du Pont financed the first major road for cars in Delaware, running from Wilmington to Dover (just drove along it yesterday), beginning in 1908 and completed as the first divided highway in the world in 1933.

    Trucking financed private toll roads and Eisenhower, given the problem by Pershing in the late-20s/early-30s to improve military convoys, designed what became the Federal Interstate Highway system in the 1950s.

    American families’ Interstate travel increased by magnitudes from that time. You have the cart before the horse.

    JJB

  27. I do work in academia, actually. Did you think the $200 estimate was too high, or did you think that estimate was already “normal” in 2012? I guess it all depends on what you consider a “small family” and what part of the country you’re in, but I have seen grocery prices creeping up over the past year. No idea if the inflation rate in 2013 was greater than that in 2012, though… it appeared my prediction was about an acceleration.

  28. andyd, you may have missed the news item that the Governor of California signed into law a bill deeming pedophilia to be a legally-protected sexual orientation.

  29. oh, hehe, I missed that you called my prediction accurate!

  30. Briggs

    January 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    All,

    Here is Isaac Asimov in 1964 writing about what it would be like in 2014. His hit rate no better than ours.

    Link

  31. Briggs.

    Great link.

    I liked this

    All the high-school students will be taught the fundamentals of computer technology will become proficient in binary arithmetic and will be trained to perfection in the use of the computer languages that will have developed out of those like the contemporary “Fortran” (from “formula translation”).

    Just like medical students are trained to perfection by Stats 101. Over the years, I’ve run into many who took an introductory course in programming but think they know all about it. None of them proficient in binary arithmetic.

    The prediction about computer languages was an easy one considering research into compiler development had begun in earnest something like 5 years prior. It rapidly grew to the point that the parser generator developed for Unix in 1970 (just 6 years later) was named “Yet Another Compiler Compiler” (YACC).

    He seemed to nail the state of robotic development on the nose, Whatever happened to Susan Calvin?

  32. My Dearest Mr. Briggs,

    Detroit automakers and Michigan Republican Governor would disagree with you.

    What is the debt-to-GDP at the end of 2013? We probably will find out before the end of January.

    FYI:
    Federal Debt: Total Public Debt as Percent of Gross Domestic Product – 101.4% at the end of 2012
    http://m.research.stlouisfed.org/fred/series.php?sid=GFDEGDQ188S&show=obs&soid=4

    Federal Debt Held by the Public as Percent of Gross Domestic Product – 72.1% at the end of 2012
    http://m.research.stlouisfed.org/fred/series.php?sid=FYGFGDQ188S&show=obs&rid=263

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