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Introducing research desk

I'm lucky this summer to have ace intern Dylan Matthews working with me at The Post. But I don't have quite as much for him to do as I'd like. So I'm opening it up to you fine folks.

Longtime readers will remember an old feature of mine called "assignment desk" where I'd let you throw out topics and I'd write a post on them, and this will work along the same lines, with one twist: Questions have to have an empirical answer. So, "Do you think Barack Obama should try to price carbon?" is out. Too subjective. "Has the CBO evaluated a price on carbon, and what did they say about it?" is in, as that's something Dylan can actually find out about and report back on.

Beyond that, it'll work pretty simply: Leave questions in comments, and Dylan will grab one, look into it, and I'll post the answer. So: Who wants to start?

By Ezra Klein  |  June 15, 2010; 4:00 PM ET
 
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Next: Alvin Greene

Comments

"But I don't have quite as much for him to do as I'd like. So I'm opening it up to you fine folks."

It's really sad that we have to help you with this. First, all gifts, cards, important anniversaries, any other dates you have to keep track of, or things that need to be sent. Your dry cleaning. One trip through the grocery store and he should be able to read your shopping list. Is the tile grout in your shower all dirty?

Think outside the box.

Oh, research topics. That's different.

How about this: isn't it true that during the 70s, when there was talk of an incipient ice age and global cooling, there was no consensus regarding global cooling? And that some of the popular literature that tried to make the case for an incipient ice age misused scientific data that was suggesting global warming?

Ergo, the oft used argument that "everybody thought the next ice age was around the corner in the 70s" is not really an effective argument, because, in fact, the scientific community did not think that.

There's more to it than that. That's my idea right now.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | June 15, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

When World Cup players exchange jerseys at the end of a match, what happens to them? Are there any players who have impressive galleries of opposing jerseys in their trophy rooms?

Posted by: wovenstrap | June 15, 2010 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Do you think the CBO's projections of how many companies will drop health insurance coverage and instead pay the penalty too conservative considering the disparity between the amount of the penalty and the cost of subsidizing employee insurance. Additional question for extra credit, are the revenues from the premiums and additional tax revenue (corporate, individual, or cap gains--wherever the premium subsidy money ends up after the subsidies are canceled) sufficient to cover the cost of the federal subsidies of premiums in the exchanges?

Posted by: StokeyWan | June 15, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I am old enough to remember the 1973 oil embargo- barely and the 1979 oil embargo better. What I would like to see is a history of energy policy in the US following great disruptions and public outcries. These disruptions should include oil spills, embargoes, nuclear accidents, black outs/brown outs, etc... Does our history give us any indication of why we cannot move forward? Or any positive steps we have taken as a result of these disruptions e.g. energy star ratings, heat pumps, other conservation successes and failures.

I realize this might be too big and too subjective.

Posted by: punchaxverulam | June 15, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

I am old enough to remember the 1973 oil embargo- barely and the 1979 oil embargo better. What I would like to see is a history of energy policy in the US following great disruptions and public outcries. These disruptions should include oil spills, embargoes, nuclear accidents, black outs/brown outs, etc... Does our history give us any indication of why we cannot move forward? Or any positive steps we have taken as a result of these disruptions e.g. energy star ratings, heat pumps, other conservation successes and failures.

I realize this might be too big and too subjective.

Posted by: punchaxverulam | June 15, 2010 4:26 PM | Report abuse

I am old enough to remember the 1973 oil embargo- barely and the 1979 oil embargo better. What I would like to see is a history of energy policy in the US following great disruptions and public outcries. These disruptions should include oil spills, embargoes, nuclear accidents, black outs/brown outs, etc... Does our history give us any indication of why we cannot move forward? Or any positive steps we have taken as a result of these disruptions e.g. energy star ratings, heat pumps, other conservation successes and failures.

I realize this might be too big and too subjective.

Posted by: punchaxverulam | June 15, 2010 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Whatever happened to the "infrastructure bank" idea of the late campaign?
Ezra, this is a great idea!!

Posted by: ostrogoth | June 15, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

Information and history on how carbon/gas taxes were passed in other countries, public outcry, impact, etc.

Posted by: pemlewis | June 15, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

In light of the new movie on Gerrymandering (http://www.gerrymanderingmovie.com/), what does political science have to say about the effect of legislative redistricting on political and policy outcomes?

Posted by: kwcollins | June 15, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

How high would a financial transactions tax have to be to raise 100 billion a year? The tax should target high frequency trades. Retirement accounts under 1,000,000 would be exempt. 10 Trades a day per account would be the floor before the tax kicks in.

Corollary, how high would a derivatives trading tax have to be to raise 100 billion a year? The tax would only apply to naked or synthetic derivatives. Principals like farmers, airlines etc are exempt.

Posted by: srw3 | June 15, 2010 4:36 PM | Report abuse


The individual mandate and employer mandate had Republican supporters in the 90's when crafted as policy alternatives to Clinton's health care reform. Which republicans supported those solutions then, but subsequently opposed HCR?

Posted by: ThomasEN | June 15, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

The basic theroy of "climate changs" is that as more CO2 enters the atmosphere it will trap heat, the temperature will rise, icebergs will melt, and polar bears will die. Historical temperature readings are unreliable because as cities are built around measuring stations it distorts the readings higher. So, could you plot the measured rise of CO2 over the last 30 years along with the numbers of polar bears in the world over the same time period?

Posted by: cummije5 | June 15, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I second srw3's question about financial transactions taxes.

Posted by: csdiego | June 15, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I've got one for you...

Has the CBO scored the impact of EFCA on the fed budget?

Specifically, have they (or do any other good sources exist) measured the resulting impact on tax revenues (income, SS, medicare...) that EFCA would have -- as labor was able to organize more workers and increase the wages of workers (for both union workers and non-union workers, as firms acted to prevent organizing)?

I'd be really interested to know what that would look like, and what assumptions they'd make about it (resulting wage hikes, union density projections, ect).

Thanks!

Posted by: rat-raceparent | June 15, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Hey Ezra - Nice Idea! Can we get an empirical comparison of how the various Senate energy proposals stackup against each other in terms of estimated CO2 reduction. Obviously these bills are all different in terms of scale and I'd be particularly interested in seeing this comparison in terms of cost to evaluate each bill's relatively efficiency (even though we can't stop at picking the low hanging fruit). Perhaps a graph displaying a line for each bill summarizing the diminishing returns in cO2 reduction for our investment?
Those are my first thoughts, but I would be happy to entertain other methods of empirically comparing them!

Posted by: MSPMatt | June 15, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

First question: What is the current, average, after-tax income of people in the top 0.1% of incomes? How much revenue could be generated by taxing an additional 50% of that income, which would have the effect of still leaving multi-millionaires being multi-millionaires?

Second question: Who leads to higher personal incomes among corporate executives: Democratic or Republican administrations? Who leads to higher corporate and small-business revenues: Democratic or Republican administrations? Is it true that the answer is the Republicans for the former, and the Democrats for the latter?

Final question: For all the talk about needing to attract more students into the sciences, isn't it true that the American scientific sector actually has an overabundance of newly-minted PhDs chasing too few job openings, and that this is the reason for the increase in postdocs and the fall in tenure success rates?

Posted by: matt297 | June 15, 2010 4:54 PM | Report abuse

I third srw3's question on Financial transaction tax, I read an article in the Atlantic that talks about the millisecond trades that algorithms are making and would love to understand the tax, policy, economic impact of such a transaction tax.

Posted by: ChicagoIndependant | June 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

rat-raceparent,

I'd be interested also to see the corresponding businesses that go out of business because of EFCA and the lesser tax revenues that are generated from that.


More to the point I'd like a 3 months into PPACA to see the pluses, minuses and where the administration hit a home run and where they struck out.

Posted by: visionbrkr | June 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

What kind of shape would the Social Security Trust Fund be in if funds from the 1983 reform amendments were not raided
Thanks

Posted by: cfsteak | June 15, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

How would the economy be affected if the national savings rate increased to the point individuals had savings worth six months of their bills? It seems to me this typical recommendation by many financial planners is in direct conflict with our consumer driven economy.

Posted by: RoundGoby | June 15, 2010 5:00 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone analyzed the long-term unemployed by age? If so, has there been any change in this recession - are l-t unemployed older now than previous recessions, for example?

Posted by: RZ100 | June 15, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

In light of today's NRA news, how about a question about gun laws in America?

Are there any gun laws, state or federal, passed in the last ten years that have demonstrably decreased crime? (Microstamping in California, Bloomberg's increased penalties on illegal gun ownership,etc)

The Anti Gun lobby has been walking with their tail between their legs since the Assault Weapons ban. Is there reason for hope or is all lost?

Posted by: world_dictator | June 15, 2010 5:01 PM | Report abuse

He's from Harvard, right? If I give him the details about when and where she got on and off, and what she was wearing, can he find out the name of that tall blonde who sat next to me on the subway this morning?

Posted by: ostap666 | June 15, 2010 5:12 PM | Report abuse

In early 2009, the President, Secretary LaHood, and Amtrak were actively exploring the expansion high speed rail in a number of designated corridors around the country.

It looks like NYS, despite Albany's dysfunction, is also studying the matter.

Which corridors are currently under study, which states are involved at the local level, what will DOT's role be now and in the future?

More importantly, are there any stages where Amtrak will become involved in the process?

Posted by: parisgardos | June 15, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

You've talked recently about long-term vs short-term deficit spending, and mentioned various measures that would increase short-term spending while doing something to counter the long-term deficit. Has the CBO, OMB, or other institutions studied the effect of any of these potential proposals?

Posted by: maxf1 | June 15, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

There seems to be this idea that current taxes are at an all time high and need to be cut significantly. My question is:

1. What are the historical trends for the effective tax rates on businesses and individuals? (income taxes)

2. Has this attributed to the growing inequality of wealth in this country? If so how?

3. How much return does the United States typically get when it cuts taxes on businesses? (Every dollar a business doesn't pay in taxes, produces X amount of dollars in the economy.) How does that compare to the economic impact of taxing

4. Conservatives always say that cutting taxes on businesses is important because they reinvest it into their business and create more jobs.

Is there any research that examines the relationship between tax cuts and job creation?

Posted by: world_dictator | June 15, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Is there a correspondence between energy prices and elections?

Since 1970, how many US oil refineries were closed during each presidential admin, and how much refining capacity existed at the beginning and end of each admin? How much US gas is refined inside and outside the US?

How much, and what percentage of domestic sourced oil/gas is exported from the US anually?

Why are foreign oil companies drilling within US territory?

Why are oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico built in places like South Korea instead of the US?

Why did BP get a large tax refund from the US last year? How much taxes did they and other oil companies pay last year to the US?

How many deep ocean wells exist in US waters?

Is it true that when my home was built, it was inspected more by local gvmt than the typical Gulf oil rig is inspected by the fed gvmt?

Posted by: Lomillialor | June 15, 2010 5:15 PM | Report abuse

Including all federal taxes (Medicare, Social Secuirty, income, capitol gains, etc...) what percentage of all their income do Americans pay, on average, in each quintile?

Posted by: bswainbank | June 15, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

This is not a hot topic at present, but next time you do a roundup on abortion issues, I'd love to know the answer to how many states specifically exempt pregnancy care (other than abortion) from parental consent requirements for the underage pregnant mother. I found several in quick research last summer when this was getting talked about but haven't had a chance to push it all the way.

Posted by: charisseny | June 15, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

The CBO doesn't put a dollar figure behind the benefits of avoiding climate disasters. What is a good ballpark for this figure? Bonus points for a "risk-adjusted" figure.

Posted by: NicholasBeaudrot | June 15, 2010 5:32 PM | Report abuse

From 10,000 feet, what are the parallels and differences in government involvement or noninvolvement in insurance in different areas:
heath
life
flood
crop
vehicle
homeowners

Posted by: bharshaw | June 15, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse


oh, looking at the impact of removing the upper wage limit ($106K) on social security tax. That'd be interesting. How many pay checks till we fix social security after we get rid of that and make it progressive?

You at least take your intern out to happy hour once in awhile right? I find happy hour and the occasional lunch keeps morale up...

Posted by: ThomasEN | June 15, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

What are the actuarial estimates of the viability of the new long-term care insurance program included in PPACA?

Posted by: ab_13 | June 15, 2010 5:54 PM | Report abuse

It really seems that citizens are outnumbered and outmanuevered by professional lobbyists on almost every issue.

How do US rules on influence and lobbying stack up against those of other industrialized countries?

Has any country ever tried to ban direct lobbying?

Posted by: uniqueIDpost | June 15, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Have kurzarbeit-style programs been tried in America (I think they have in Washington State) and how well have they worked?

Posted by: chrismealy | June 15, 2010 6:01 PM | Report abuse

What percentage of Ezra Klein's readers think it's moral and proper to spend their days figuring out new ways to steal from their fellow citizens?

Posted by: msoja | June 15, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious to know which current US Representatives and Senators from Gulf (of Mexico) states have voted against bills to tighten regulation of off-shore oil wells (or voted to weaken regulation thereof). Also, any state officials, like governors, who have voiced opposition to efforts by Congress or the Interior Department to tighten regulations. I think it should be mandatory that anybody criticizing Obama's response to the oil spill or blaming his administration should have their own culpability similarly assessed.

Posted by: gdcassidy1 | June 15, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

msoja, if you mean "steal" in the way most people use it, the percentage will likely be extremely small. If by "steal" you mean "pay for government services through broad based revenue generating measures" it's likely to be near universal. Other than you, of course, but then, support for a charity-based government is a pretty novel idea. Maybe once you've laid out your plan for how we'll not be run through by the visigoths once our military is disbanded more people will sign up.

Posted by: MosBen | June 15, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I second MSPMatt's request for a side-by-side comparison of the current Senate energy proposals, but I would like to see it include the House's bill.

Posted by: slag | June 15, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

For the inaugural post, how about something a little meta that looks into the amount of reporting of empirical facts. I don't have a specific question in mind (help me out commentors!), but perhaps a breakdown of a day's or story's news along the lines of

a)reporting on the story
b)reporting the facts of a story and (most rarely, I might guess)
c) objectively analyzing those facts.

Posted by: NickM2 | June 15, 2010 6:59 PM | Report abuse

How about something taking at other models for financing elections / regulating outside political spending around the world. The progressive narrative (that I buy into at this point) is that if you had public financing people would no longer be beholden to money and public policy wouldn't suck any more. But I'm curious if we have anything that actually suggests that would be true. Maine and Arizona are the two models in the US, but how about around the world? And around the world is there anywhere that strictly regulates stuff like 537's so that low-dollar campaigns can't be disabled by outside millionaires?

Along the same lines, would be very interested in the response to uniqueIDpost's question.

My name is Karl, and I'm a process liberal.

Posted by: karlesmn | June 15, 2010 7:46 PM | Report abuse

A "soda tax" that would collect money in New York State on sales of sweetened beverages has been fought sucessfully by lobbyists from grocery stores and beverage distributors.
There's a public health argument to be made for such a tax. So what's the downside, and why do state legislators remain so reluctant to try it?

Posted by: nancycadet | June 15, 2010 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Here are some questions that might leading to interesting posts:

1. How many dams are owned/controlled by the federal government? What is the outstanding debt by farmers/other users of federal water on the various dams? When, if ever, will the debts be repaid?

2. How many US troops are stationed overseas outside of war zones? How many overseas bases does the US military have? What is the marginal cost of keeping those bases open (as opposed to basing those troops in the US)?

3. One of the problems with thermal solar power development in the Western US is a lack of water, but there's a huge lake in Imperial County, California, known as the Salton Sea. Is there a reason why thermal solar developers are not using Salton Sea water for their power plants?

4. What is the status of EPA's attempts to regulate agricultural runoff in the mid-West and Eastern US that is creating dead zones in the Gulf and off the Atlantic Coast? Why has the TMDL program failed?

5. Many federal forests are choked with low quality, dying and dead trees. Are there any programs that link up creating healthy federal forests through thinning with the production of ethanol from the woodchips?

6. How many different missions does the Coast Guard have under current law? What is the status of reviewing (in both the White House and Congress) the CG's force structure compared to its obligations, given the Deepwater blowout?

That should keep you two busy for a while.

Posted by: Francis_L | June 15, 2010 8:02 PM | Report abuse

--"Maybe once you've laid out your plan for how we'll not be run through by the visigoths once our military is disbanded more people will sign up."--

You're assuming a free people would disband their entire national defense system? I suppose it could be done, though, alá the Swiss, but without country-wide mandates involving military service and the like. And Americans are fairly well armed, as it is.

But while the legacy system served us for two hundred years, the creeping collectivism is putting the whole ball of wax at risk. Who's going to fund defense, education, health care, etc., etc., etc., after the government has confiscated and wasted the nation's treasure? It's going to be the unholiest mess anyone's ever seen, and the Visigoths are the least of worries.


Posted by: msoja | June 15, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

I seem to recall that during the health-care debate Bernie Sanders or someone submitted a Single-Payer health care proposal to the CBO for analysis. Was that analysis ever undertaken and if so what were the results?

Posted by: MattMilholland | June 15, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

I think what you guys are particularly good at is taking something highly wonkish, reading it, and synthesizing something succinct, easily understandable, and incredibly useful.

On that note, one of the things I think Dylan could help you to do is to cast a wider net. There are lots of government agencies publishing lots of reports and issuing lots of regulations that get missed by the media and I don't have time to go hunt around for. Case in point: the USGS report about Afghanistan's resources could have been discovered and talked about a lot earlier--if more discerning people with good sounding boards (I'm looking at you and Dylan) had caught it at the time.

If the liberal blogosphere (I hate the term, but it's the only one that works) has one big problem, it's that there's too much echo. You and Matt Yglesias and others talk about much of the same things every day. And a wider net might help to spread the content out and cover more ground.

Posted by: punditpending | June 15, 2010 8:49 PM | Report abuse

Is it possible to get the volume either in trades or in dollars for the stock market either by month or by year? I've been really curious to see how that changed when 401Ks were introduced. And then maybe again when Glass-Steagall was repealed, but mostly the first.

My hypothesis is that the influx of money into the stock market led to the relentless pursuit of profit margins via cost-cutting and the subsequent rise of the management consulting firms in the 80s. It's totally a hunch, but I haven't been able to find the data.

Posted by: notabbott | June 15, 2010 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey Dylan,

My question regards this article:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/06/14/AR2010061402838.html

1. What is the break down of students who join trade-schools by educational attainment (diploma, BA, etc.).

2. Does the jobs bill or the renewal of ESEA include anything related to trade schools?

Posted by: TahitiCTC | June 15, 2010 9:56 PM | Report abuse

I'm curious about the restructuring of the student loan system. The new system is supposed to save the U.S. gov. money by taking private banks out of the process. It also sets a fixed interest rate for loans. Currently, interest rates on student loans are variable (mine are anyway). Seems like in this age of low interest rates this might result in higher interest costs for students than the old system. I'd be interested to see if there is a way to do a cost comparison from the student perspective -- say fixed vs. variable rates over the last 10 years or so -- rather than looking at this from the federal budget perspective.

Posted by: dollarwatcher | June 16, 2010 12:03 AM | Report abuse

--"I'm curious about the restructuring of the student loan system."--

LOL. It's almost completely in the government's hands now. Higher Ed is fast becoming the same joke that the housing industry has become, that General Motors has become, that Amtrak has long been, etc.

But, Hey! Maybe like Cortney Munna, you think a "interdisciplinary degree in religious and women’s studies" is worth $100,000.

Or you could buy a hundred books on the "discipline" for about 2% of that, read 'em, and be about fifty times smarter.

Posted by: msoja | June 16, 2010 1:09 AM | Report abuse

ps. And just as employable.

Posted by: msoja | June 16, 2010 1:13 AM | Report abuse

What is Cass Sunstein's position in the Obama administration? And what has he done?

Posted by: Dan49 | June 16, 2010 3:31 AM | Report abuse

has anyone managed to reverse engineer the CBO accounting method so that smart people could get hypotheticals on things like what the puplic option would have looked like, and if they haven't is there any propriety to there method that would make it so one couldn't just ask them to tell us their secret sause?

Posted by: shadowgunmaninthedark | June 16, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

has anyone managed to reverse engineer the CBO accounting method so that smart people could get hypotheticals on things like what the puplic option would have looked like, and if they haven't is there any propriety to there method that would make it so one couldn't just ask them to tell us their secret sause?

Posted by: shadowgunmaninthedark | June 16, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I'd like to see some analysis of debt levels. Perhaps Dylan could find out what total federal and private sector debt is as a percentage of GDP, and compare the figures for 2010 with those of, say, 1945 (the beginning of a long period of prosperity) and 1929 (the beginning of the The Depression). Might shed some light on where we're headed.

Posted by: Jasper999 | June 16, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I would like to see more of the series you did on the way that politics/government works in other countries...

Posted by: gavinleonardohio | June 16, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The Dems say the sweetheart deal for the NRA also covers AARP. Does AARP even endorse political candidates?

Posted by: RebeccaKnox | June 16, 2010 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Surveys consistently show that a large proportion of Americans are ill-informed about what's going on in their government, about policy debates and about the political system in general. Is this true everywhere? Are there other countries where citizens follow the news more closely and are more knowledgable?

Posted by: Merula | June 16, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

What's the real story on the benefits to the US economy and national security from domestic oil drilling? Pols keep regurgitating the same lines about how we need to drill at home to free ourselves from foreign oil and have our own secure source of energy. Huh? As best I can tell we own the oil while it's under our ground (or under our ocean floor) but we then lease that ground to a privately owned oil company (BP, Exxon, etc) and when they bring the oil up it's theirs, not ours.

They then sell it on the open market and the US government buys it there at the same price as everyone else to put in our strategic reserves. If we didn't drill at all in the US it wouldn't effect the price or availability of oil to the US much at all. Such a small % of the world's oil comes out of the US.

Seems to me the only benefit of domestic drilling to the US is whatever lease payments the government collects from the oil companies, possibly some small royalty on each barrel brought up (depending on individual lease terms) and jobs.

Tankers pick up oil in dozens of countries and take it to refineries where it's all mixed together. The gas we pump into our cars is a mixture from basically everywhere. Oil is fungible, one barrel is the same as the next.

So, what's the truth?

Jim

Posted by: jsfry | June 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

What's the real story on the benefits to the US economy and national security from domestic oil drilling? Pols keep regurgitating the same lines about how we need to drill at home to free ourselves from foreign oil and have our own secure source of energy. Huh? As best I can tell we own the oil while it's under our ground (or under our ocean floor) but we then lease that ground to a privately owned oil company (BP, Exxon, etc) and when they bring the oil up it's theirs, not ours.

They then sell it on the open market and the US government buys it there at the same price as everyone else to put in our strategic reserves. If we didn't drill at all in the US it wouldn't effect the price or availability of oil to the US much at all. Such a small % of the world's oil comes out of the US.

Seems to me the only benefit of domestic drilling to the US is whatever lease payments the government collects from the oil companies, possibly some small royalty on each barrel brought up (depending on individual lease terms) and jobs.

Tankers pick up oil in dozens of countries and take it to refineries where it's all mixed together. The gas we pump into our cars is a mixture from basically everywhere. Oil is fungible, one barrel is the same as the next.

So, what's the truth?

Jim

Posted by: jsfry | June 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

What's the real story on the benefits to the US economy and national security from domestic oil drilling? Pols keep regurgitating the same lines about how we need to drill at home to free ourselves from foreign oil and have our own secure source of energy. Huh? As best I can tell we own the oil while it's under our ground (or under our ocean floor) but we then lease that ground to a privately owned oil company (BP, Exxon, etc) and when they bring the oil up it's theirs, not ours.

They then sell it on the open market and the US government buys it there at the same price as everyone else to put in our strategic reserves. If we didn't drill at all in the US it wouldn't effect the price or availability of oil to the US much at all. Such a small % of the world's oil comes out of the US.

Seems to me the only benefit of domestic drilling to the US is whatever lease payments the government collects from the oil companies, possibly some small royalty on each barrel brought up (depending on individual lease terms) and jobs.

Tankers pick up oil in dozens of countries and take it to refineries where it's all mixed together. The gas we pump into our cars is a mixture from basically everywhere. Oil is fungible, one barrel is the same as the next.

So, what's the truth?

Jim

Posted by: jsfry | June 16, 2010 2:14 PM | Report abuse

How much does it cost each year to fight the war on drugs?

What are the statistics on how successful/unsuccesful this war has been?

Number of crimes involving someone under the influence marijuana versus number of crimes involving someone under the influence of alcohol

Posted by: DavidCarlson | June 16, 2010 2:21 PM | Report abuse

What benefits and disadvantages exist for the taxpayer for allowing holding companies to legally exist? For example, almost all banks are organized as bank/financial holding companies. BP is organized as holding companies and enables it to limit liability. There are also various tax advantages holding companies get that simple fully owned corporations do not. At least if you can find a list of papers on this that would be very useful (I am happy to read them an summarize to you).

Posted by: foofoo | June 17, 2010 8:35 AM | Report abuse

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