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September 28, 2012

Interesting Reads

This caught the half-vasty eyeballs of the Editorial Staff:

Coyotes living in cities don't ever stray from their mates, and stay with each other till death do them part, according to a new study.

The finding sheds light on why the North American cousin of the dog and wolf, which is originally native to deserts and plains, is thriving today in urban areas.

Scientists with Ohio State University who genetically sampled 236 coyotes in the Chicago area over a six-year period found no evidence of polygamy -- of the animals having more than one mate -- nor of one mate ever leaving another while the other was still alive.
This was even though the coyotes exist in high population densities and have plenty of food to eat, which are conditions that often lead other dog family members, such as some fox species, to stray from their normal monogamy.

To cat around, as it were.

...The loyalty of coyotes to their mates may be a key to their success in urban areas, according to Gehrt.

Not only does a female coyote have the natural ability to produce large litters of young during times of abundance, such as when living in food-rich cities, she has a faithful partner to help raise them all.

"If the female were to try to raise those large litters by herself, she wouldn't be able to do it," said Gehrt, who holds appointments with the university's Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and Ohio State University Extension. "But the male spends just as much time helping to raise those pups as the female does."
Unlike the males of polygamous species, a male coyote "knows that every one of those pups is his offspring" and has a clear genetic stake in helping them survive, Gehrt said.

Hmmm... could monogamy, far from being an artificial, mellow-harshing attempt to strangle the beautiful and natural desire to father as many offspring as possible (even if they starve), be a naturally occurring evolutionary adaptation that delivers significant survival advantages on a species?

Naaaaaaaaah. The other theory's more fun.


This was one of the most thought provoking reads we've seen in ages.

Yes, Virginia, the 47% really are a problem:

Aside from the revenue impact of not having 58 million Americans pay income taxes, economists worry about the social and political effects of having so many people disconnected from the cost of government—a phenomenon known as fiscal illusion.[1] The concern is that when people perceive the cost of government to be cheaper than it really is, they will demand ever more government benefits because they either don’t feel the cost directly or believe that others will be paying those costs. Indeed, when one takes into account those who do not file, about half of all households pay no federal income tax, making the situation particularly worrisome in a majority-rule democracy.

Despite these extensive concerns, there has been surprisingly little investigation of any possible linkage between the growth of nonpayers and the growth of government spending or government benefits. After tracking this trend for more than a decade, Tax Foundation economists set out to explore the fiscal consequences of the growing number of Americans being taken off the income tax rolls.

A review of the data suggests these concerns are not unfounded. Our analysis finds that in the post-WWII era, there is a very strong connection between nonpayers and federal government transfer payments. Transfer payments are programs that give direct assistance to people such as unemployment insurance, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps.

In fact, our model suggests that a 1 percentage point increase in the share of tax filers who are nonpayers (from 40 percent to 41 percent, for example) is associated with a $10.6 billion per year increase in transfer payments. Since the number of nonpayers has increased by 20 percentage points over the last two decades, our model indicates that in 2010 alone, over $213 billion in transfer payments are associated with this two decade increase in nonpayers.

No wonder progressives are so angry. We suspect this is one time they won't want to have Science/Data informing public policy. Wrong answers, doncha know?

More inconvenient truths:

Those who talk glibly about redistribution often act as if people are just inert objects that can be placed here and there, like pieces on a chess board, to carry out some grand design.

But if human beings have their own responses to government policies, then we cannot blithely assume that government policies will have the effect intended.

The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty. The communist nations were a classic example, but by no means the only example.

America, the fearful:

Sixteen days after the death of four Americans in an attack on a United States diplomatic mission here, fears about the near-total lack of security have kept F.B.I. agents from visiting the scene of the killings and forced them to try to piece together the complicated crime from Tripoli, more than 400 miles away.

Investigators are so worried about the tenuous security, people involved in the investigation say, that they have been unwilling to risk taking some potential Libyan witnesses into the American Embassy in Tripoli. Instead, the investigators have resorted to the awkward solution of questioning some witnesses in cars outside the embassy, which is operating under emergency staffing and was evacuated of even more diplomats on Thursday because of a heightened security alert.

“It’s a cavalcade of obstacles right now,” said a senior American law enforcement official who is receiving regular updates on the Benghazi investigation and who described the crime scene, which has been trampled on, looted and burned, as so badly “degraded” that even once F.B.I. agents do eventually gain access “it’ll be very difficult to see what evidence can be attributed to the bad guys.”

Either Libya needs to guarantee the security of this site, allow us to do so, or we need to close our embassy there and break off diplomatic relations with them. Projecting weakness... nay, impotence is not a good tactic in that part of the world.

Posted by Cassandra at September 28, 2012 04:57 AM

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Comments

Cassandra, that is "The Ohio State University". Always remember "The" prefaces that. Those louts on the Olentangy River obsess about that. :)

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 28, 2012 01:57 PM

[T]hat is "The Ohio State University".

What is that--Thomas Hewitt Edward Ohio State University?

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at September 28, 2012 03:35 PM

Not only does a female coyote have the natural ability to produce large litters of young...

Not to derail your point entirely, but there's an intrinsic difference between species with large litters, and those that produce only a single child (or usually at most rare twins). The question of optimal reproductive strategy is significantly influenced by this factor; for example, grizzly bears feature no male commitment at all, as one or at most two young can be cared for by a single adult.

Of course, grizzly bears don't have to educate their young -- another significant factor absent from both of these cases.

Posted by: Grim at September 28, 2012 04:36 PM

I don't know, Grim.

You get near a Momma Bear around her cubs, and everyone involved gets an edumacation pretty quickly.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at September 28, 2012 04:53 PM

A good point.

I was once between a black bear mother and her cub. It's not the same thing, not by far, but it was an experience all the same.

Posted by: Grim at September 28, 2012 05:46 PM

"Despite these extensive concerns, there has been surprisingly little investigation of any possible linkage between the growth of nonpayers and the growth of government spending or government benefits."

I feel as though I've been shrieking about this necessary, obvious linkage for years.

Posted by: Texan99 at September 28, 2012 06:54 PM

A wonderful blog about the adventures of an adopted coyote:

http://www.dailycoyote.net/

Posted by: david foster at September 28, 2012 10:02 PM

"I feel as though I've been shrieking about this necessary, obvious linkage for years."

So that's been your voice bouncing around inside my skull all these years...

"The concern is that when people perceive the cost of government to be cheaper than it really is, they will demand ever more government benefits because they either don’t feel the cost directly or believe that others will be paying those costs."
//Wonders when the matter of who has versus who merits a voice, much less a vote, and why, in selecting a representative government will boil?

It is hard to argue against the notion that the system currently favors those who make no contribution other than their vote. Some say that's ≈47%, give or take.

Much like public unions who do not have to contend with negotiators working from an adversarial position, the 47% are well represented by those who depend upon their votes, just as long as the cost is deducted from taxpayer provided, public funds.

The other 50%-53% footing the bill? Hmmm. Time will tell. Right now, it's not looking so good.//

Posted by: Chomi DaMoni at September 29, 2012 07:53 PM

What a lovely site, David. Thank you so much for the link :)

Posted by: Cassandra at September 30, 2012 11:49 AM

I'm part of the 47%. The first example/chart showing a married w/ 2 children family getting a few hundred dollars back--having put in nothing--is pretty close to our situation, largely because BAH is not considered income. We receive extra money from the federal gummint because we "don't make enough," but somehow I am able to buy a house and ammunition and Blue's Clues DVDs and whatnot.


The tax code definitely isn't fair, but not in the way that many think. Everyone should pay something.

Posted by: Sig at September 30, 2012 10:29 PM

I truly think that there large sets of people who think it is perfectly all right to receive government benefits without having earned them; and who are truly hostile to any attempt to make them exert effort for the benefits. That precise arrangement was the main reason for the demise of the Roman Republic; and later the famous Decline and Fall of the Empire. We ignore history's lessons in human fecklessness at our peril.

BTW: I went to Miami University (confusingly enough from Miami, Fla on a NROTC scholarship), and THE Ohio State University stole all our football coaches!

Posted by: CAPT Mongo at October 1, 2012 09:22 AM

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