Tag Archives: government

Double Post: Subsidies and the Prisoner’s Dilemma

Again, I’m sorry for missing a day, but I’ll do some related topics in today’s double post: Subsidies and the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

Subsidies are support income provided by the government to certain companies, namely agriculture and energy providers. In the past, these sectors were weak and needed support from their companies otherwise life in general would collapse (no food, no electricity, no fuel, etc.). I’m not going to argue that subsidies are not needed, I’m no expert in economics and it’s not my place to do so, but some subsidies, such as those that pay farmers not to farm (which I’ll get to in a bit because it has a little to do with the next topic) are counter-intuitive.

So what does paying farmers not to farm have to do with the Prisoner’s Dilemma? First we have to know what the Prisoner’s Dilemma is. Say we take two prisoners, Alvin and Bruce, who have together committed a crime (the details aren’t exactly important). If either one sells out the other, and the other confesses, the one who confessed gets one year in prison while the one who betrayed gets off free, if both betray each other, both will get three months in prison, and if both confess, both get only one month in prison. It’s, individually, in both Alvin’s and Bruce’s to betray, but it’s in their collective interest if they both confess. We see something similar in raw food prices. If a farmer produce large amounts of food, that food will be worth less due to inflation, than it would be if they produced less, but if farmer produce less food they are at the whim of the markets and could get in trouble due to other farmers potentially producing more food and driving prices down. That’s the farmer’s dilemma, and that’s where subsidies come in.

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Filed under Culture, Economics, Game Theory, Mathematics, Politics

Richest American Presidents

I’m going to keep this as unbiased as I can. Since the ratification of the Constitution of the United States only nine presidents have had a net worth of less than one million dollars (adjusted for inflation, all figures are in 2010 US Dollars, some presidents who are considered to be millionaires now may not have been when they were alive). The richest American President to date was John F. Kennedy who had a net worth (again, in 2010 dollars) of around one billion dollars. The next richest President was George Washington, with a net worth of 525 million dollars. The current president, Barack Obama, has a net worth of around 5 million dollars, largely from book sales, and is currently the 28th wealthiest. The nine Presidents who were not millionaires are, in order of the dates they were President, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Chester A. Arthur, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge and Harry Truman. Finally, since the 2012 United States Presidential Elections are approaching, Presidential candidate Mitt Romney currently has a net worth of about 200 million dollars and, should he be elected President, he would be the fourth wealthiest, behind Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt.

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Labor Day

Today, September 3rd, is Labor Day in the United States. Labor Day is dedicated to the contributions of workers and and labor unions, and was proposed when labor unions began gaining power. The first Monday in September is set aside as a federal and state holiday during which non-essential government employees are given paid leave from their work duties and federal and state offices are closed. Oregon was, in 1887, the first state of the United States to adopt Labor day as a state holiday, seven years before it became a national holiday. In many American school districts, classes start a day or so after Labor Day, making Labor Day the unofficial last day of summer. Finally, many countries celebrate Labour Day on the First of May, coinciding with International Worker’s Day, but Australia holds Labour Day on the first Monday of October, the second Monday of March, the first Monday in March or the first Monday of May, depending on where in Australia you are.

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Filed under History, Holidays