(Family Features) When cool winds are blowing and the temperatures outside take a dive, even a well-insulated house may feel the chill. Simply kicking up the thermostat can be expensive and depending on your home’s circulation, you may still have areas that need an extra blast of warmth. Cozy up with these tips for heating up your living space.
Check for gaps and cracks. Poorly sealed windows and doors are among the biggest sources of heat loss in a home. Not only do those imperfections let heat escape, they also let in the cold. If you can see daylight, there’s definitely a problem, but even less visible gaps and cracks can be problematic. Clear plastic sheeting is one temporary DIY solution for windows. It’s also easy to replace the weather stripping around doors.
Rely on supplemental heat. When it’s impractical to completely eliminate drafts, or other measures aren’t fully correcting the problem, you might consider a home upgrade to your cooling and heating system. One of the most efficient products on the market is a floor-mounted indoor heating system from Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating. The M-Series KJ model has built-in heating technology, which is designed to ensure the whole room warms up evenly and quickly. The cooler months are notorious for a spike in energy bills because of heating needs, but the KJ model is more efficient than its competitors, can help you stay comfortable and save money too. The flexible system also allows homeowners to adjust up to five fan speeds and set a weekly timer.
Layer up. Especially when cooler weather first appears or makes a comeback, many homeowners forget to dress for the weather, even indoors. Trading in your t-shirt and shorts for long sleeves and pants can help push your comfort several degrees warmer, and even a couple of degrees can result in big savings on your heating bill. If extra clothes aren’t enough, invest in a few plush throw blankets and a cozy robe and slippers for more comfortable lounging.
Enjoy a crackling fire. If your home has a fireplace, use it. These features are often treated as ornamental, but they serve a true function. When paired with blowers, the heat from a fireplace can warm a significant portion of the house, well beyond the room where the fireplace is located. Before your first fire, take proper safety precautions, including checking that the flue is clean and open. Also be sure you have protective features such as glass or mesh covering to prevent popping embers, and be sure to create a barrier that keeps small children safely out of reach.
Decorate your way to warmth. Subtle changes to your decor can make a big impact on a room’s climate and comfort level. Two areas that can make a big impact: the floor and windows. An area rug is an addition that not only takes the physical chill out of a wood or tile floor, but adds visual warmth, as well. Although windows can be a major source of energy loss and drafts, they can also let in a natural heat source: sunlight. Use heavy draperies at night to block the chill and provide privacy, but during daylight hours, throw those curtains open and let the warm light shine.
Find more ideas to help warm your home at mitsubishicomfort.com.
So if transaction costs are too high, resources remain at their lower-valued usage. I keep my money in my pocket rather than getting a new phone, the lawyer’s investment in his skills goes without a return, and planes fly with empty inventory. It is in all our interests to get transaction costs down. Technology has been a great enabler of this in the decades since Coase wrote that first paper. Yet there are other aspects to reducing transaction costs – such as the institution of the rule of law reducing the transaction costs of corruption.
Indeed, the vast wealth of America can be explained by how we have lowered transaction costs. The invention and adoption of the automobile, for example, lowered the transaction cost of distance. All those commercial vehicles flying by my bus were engaged in economic transactions that would not have been possible a hundred years ago.
Keeping Costs Low
That’s not all lowering transaction costs can do. In his second great article, Coase looked at “The Problem of Social Cost.” Coase’s insight here was that so-called economic “externalities” were not just a question of one party inflicting harm on another, but a conflict of interests that could be resolved by an economic transaction if transaction costs were low enough.
We now live in a world where Venmo makes settling debts for shared pizza purchases easy. Is it too hard to believe that environmental nuisance problems cannot be solved quickly and easily by appropriate cost-sharing mechanisms? While we may not be there yet, we are much closer than we were just a few years ago. As I have written about at length here, homesharing and ridesharing technologies have created new markets simply by lowering the transaction costs of putting people in touch with one another. It is plausible that new environmental markets could be created in similar ways.
Want to save the spotted owl? Using a crowdfunding platform, you could contribute to compensating the owner of the woodland who won’t be able to harvest lumber.
Unfortunately, while many transaction costs are trending down, some are veering up. That’s often because of regulation. Payment regulations could make apps like Venmo too expensive to use. Occupational licensing regulations could make trading your skills illegal unless you gain licenses requiring thousands of hours of study – and costing hundreds of dollars. Environmental regulations crowd out the possibility of running a crowdfunding campaign to save the spotted owl (the money goes instead to environmental pressure groups who simply lobby for more regulation).
That’s a problem because all that regulation is getting in the way of yet more wealth creation. It’s no coincidence that the much-ballyhooed income stagnation in America began at about the same time as regulation started to take off. Technology has kept us a few steps in front of some of the regulation, but we’d still benefit from much of that $1.9 trillion annual burden being lifted.
If we lift that burden, transaction costs will go down, and there will be even more commercial vehicles speeding down the highway. If you’re worried about the cost of congestion, well, autonomous vehicle technology and ridesharing could take care of that, as long as the transaction costs are low enough. Because, in the end, it’s all about transaction costs.
Murray has published several acclaimed books, including Stealing You Blind: How Government Fatcats Are Getting Rich Off of You and The Really Inconvenient Truths: Seven Environmental Catastrophes Liberals Won’t Tell You About – Because They Helped Cause Them. His op-eds have appeared in The National Review, The Providence Journal and Fox News. He has appeared on Fox News, CNN Headline News, the BBC and Al-Jazeera, among other broadcast networks.
In addition to his work at CEI, Murray is the visiting fellow at the Adam Smith Institute and board members of the Cherish Freedom Trust and American Friends of the Taxpayers Alliance and advisory board members of Global Britain and Young Britons Foundation.
Prior to coming to CEI in 2003, Murray was the Director of Research for the Statistical Assessment Service and an Executive Officer in HM Department of Transport. He received his MBA from the University of London and his MA from the University of Oxford.
argues in Politico that, contrary to what we may think, America’s role as global policeman, defender of more than 50 different countries, buyer of more than a third of worldwide military spending, etc. is not a costly burden compared to the benefits it yields. All this talk about how allies free ride off our security commitments and how the promiscuous use of U.S. military power imposes significant economic and geopolitical costs on the homeland are off base, according to Cambanis. Being the policeman of the world makes us richer, he says.
Since the United States is so extravagantly rich in relative international terms but also historically speaking, identifying even major costs can be difficult. But Cambanis misses the mark with some selective accounting. He makes his case with three main points. First:
[M]ost of America’s defense spending functions as a massive, job creating subsidy for the U.S. defense industry. According to a Deloitte study, the aerospace and defense sector directly employed 1.2 million workers in 2014, and another 3.2 million indirectly. Obama’s 2017 budget calls for $619 billion in defense spending, which is a direct giveback to the American economy…Of course, a “giveback” to the American economy implies the real truth: that in order to create jobs by massively subsidizing the military industrial complex, the government has to first extract resources from the more productive sectors of the private economy. If the U.S. pared back its global role and initiated serious restraint-oriented cuts to the defense budget, it could produce something on the order of $150 billion in annual savings. That could serve as quite a stimulus if left in taxpayers’ pockets.
America’s steering role in numerous regions – NATO, Latin America, and the Arabian peninsula – gives it leverage to call the shots on matters of great important to American security and the bottom line. For all the friction with Saudi Arabia, for instance, the Gulf monarchy has propped up the American economy with massive Treasury bill purchases, and by adjusting oil production at America’s request to cushion the effect of policy priorities like the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003.Active international engagement certainly gives a peerless superpower like the United States more leverage to secure its interests more efficiently, but Cambanis inadvertently draws attention to the benefit-outweighing costs of that “steering role” we’ve played in the world. The Iraq War is not synonymous with Liberal Hegemony, but if America had not been playing the role of global policeman, it’s hard to imagine the invasion of Iraq having happened in the first place. It served mostly as an achievable item on a pre-existing laundry list of errands that the Bush administration thought would serve as a useful show of force following the 9/11 attacks. It cost trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives and it destabilized the region in a way that continues to eat up lives and resources to this very day. And the U.S. relationship with the Saudi regime has hardly been a net positive for U.S. interests.
America’s “global cop” role means that shipping lanes, free trade agreements, oil exploration deals, ad hoc military coalitions, and so on are maintained to the benefit of the U.S. government or U.S. corporations. The truth is that America puts its thumb on the scale to tilt the world’s not-entirely free markets to America’s benefit. Nobody would be more thrilled for America to pull back than its economic rivals, like China.
It’s not clear to me that America secures better oil exploration deals as a result of its expansive grand strategy. Nor am I convinced that the ability to organize ad hoc military coalitions always serves U.S. interests; too often they have been used as a veneer of international legitimacy for reckless interventions. It seems a good thing, for example, that the U.K. parliament refused to go along with Obama’s plan to bomb the Assad regime in 2013. According to Secretary of State John Kerry, that was the pivotal moment in derailing a war that was deeply unpopular with the American public and that Congress wouldn’t even formally approve.
More interesting is Cambanis’s argument that America’s “global cop” role keeps shipping lanes open and facilitates free trade agreements. I think America’s post-war and early Cold War role in setting up international institutions that liberalized economies and encouraged the lowering of trade barriers was important, but the notion that global free trade today depends on U.S. hegemony is dubious. Most countries have learned the lesson that freer trade and globalization is a net economic benefit; they don’t need U.S. military bases to continue to be convinced. And certainly America’s frequent “global cop” military interventions don’t help. Moreover, as Joshua Shifrinson and Sameer Lalwani write in a chapter for a Cato Institute book on threat perception and U.S. national security, “Although more actors are increasingly capable of disrupting American command [of the seas], none are capable of systematically undermining the maritime status quo.” Indeed, any state interested in gaining global power and influence will strive to keep shipping lanes open and engage in free trade. Just ask China.
And as for the argument that China would be “thrilled for America to pull back,” I seriously doubt it. China certainly prefers an American withdrawal from the South and East China Seas, but, as a recent RAND Corporation study found, China is all too eager to let the U.S. carry the burden for Middle East energy security, believing (erroneously) that American military presence there helps secure the free flow of oil out of the Persian Gulf, incidentally a region that China relies on for oil imports far more than the U.S. does.
Much of this debate boils down to whether or not U.S. primacy deserves credit for the decline of interstate war, and thus for the increase in global economic productivity, since 1945. Many argue that it does, but there are competing arguments. Nuclear weapons and the destructive power of modern conventional militaries have created an environment of “defense dominance” in which war and conquest are either prohibitively costly or just plain infeasible. Economic interdependence, which developed long before America’s rise to superpower status, also creates incentives to keep the peace and get rich instead – so the cause-effect variable could very well be the reverse of what Cambanis and others claim. Cato’s own John Mueller has long argued that a normative shift in the way most societies see war, from a glorified practice to an abhorrent last resort, is the real reason for the decline of international conflict.
Cambanis predicts that, contrary to the prognostications of some fearful commentators, Trump will not reduce America’s role in the world because he will soon realize that it is a net benefit to the country’s interests and its bottom line. I agree Trump is unlikely to pare back U.S. predominance, but I think it will have more to do with his predilection for exercising immense power than anything else.
Our World of Scarcity
One important aspect of reality that sound economics highlights and clarifies is the unavoidability and ubiquity of scarcity. “The economic problem” (as it is commonly called) exists only because not all human wants can be satisfied with the means – resources, tools, time, knowledge – available to us. Some – indeed, most – of our desires will forever go unsatisfied in order that we might use the scarce resources, tools, time, and knowledge that we have to satisfy those relatively few desires that we judge to be the most important.
We – as individuals and as society – never act perfectly. We make lots of mistakes. But if we keep our mistakes to some achievable minimum, we’ll prosper. So we must beware – again, both as individuals and as society – of our proneness to error. The successful amongst us learn from our mistakes; those amongst us who do not learn from mistakes fail.
One of the gravest economic mistakes that humans can make is to forget that ours is unavoidably a world of scarcity. In a world of superabundance – an almost-unimaginable world of no scarcity – human beings who mistake their world as being one of scarcity will pay no price. It would be a costless error. But in the real world – in our world of scarcity – human beings who mistake their world as being one of superabundance will pay a high price. It is a very costly error.
If you think me here to be stating what is not only obvious, but so obvious as to be irrelevant, because no one would dare to suppose otherwise, think again. A great deal of government policies are premised on the supposition that the biggest ‘problem’ humanity faces isn’t scarcity, but superabundance.
Protectionism and the Fear of Prosperity
A stellar example of such a policy – a policy premised on the fear of superabundance – is protectionism.
By far, the single most powerful ideological force buoying and promoting protectionism is the fear that, with free trade, there will be too few jobs for workers in the domestic economy. Yet what is this fear if not, at bottom, a fear that free trade will create superabundance? What is this fear if not one that is premised on the notion that, with free trade, the desires of humanity (or at least of fellow citizens) will be so fully satisfied that there will be too few opportunities for us to be of useful service to each other?
The primal man-in-the-street fear of free trade – and fear of other labor-saving innovations – is a fear rooted in a completely mistaken understanding of reality. It is a fear that we humans (or at least we in our country) are on the verge of conquering scarcity and of transforming the world (or at least our country) into one of superabundance. This fear is truly irrational.
This fear is irrational not only because no matter how materially prosperous we become, scarcity will always exist. The ‘economic problem’ ain’t going away, ever. This fear is irrational also because its expression is invariably internally inconsistent. Those many people who fear that free(r) trade or labor-saving innovations will lead to ever-higher and everlasting involuntary unemployment fail to understand that such remarkable success in overcoming scarcity would mean that being without a job would not mean destitution. In a world of superabundance, no one needs to work in order to survive or even to live lavishly. In contrast, a world in which people need to work in order to survive, and certainly to live lavishly, is a world of scarcity – which means that it is a world filled with opportunities for all who wish to do so to serve each other productively and profitably (that is, to work gainfully).
Policies based upon an error so gigantic as the one that mistakes our world of unremitting scarcity as being a world of – or a world on the verge of -superabundance are destructive. And the more fully these policies are pursued, the more destructive they become. Protectionism is a policy based upon the calamitously mistaken fear that among the main problem that we humans face isn’t scarcity but, rather, superabundance.
Government Limits the Flexibility of Human Capital
It’s true that more sophisticated defenses of protectionism exist. Resources, although scarce, are often specific to certain tasks. If the demand for resource L to perform the task to which it is specific falls, the owner of that particular resource does indeed suffer. Making trade freer – as with any change in the pattern of consumer spending – often reduces the demand for resources to be used in specific ways. The problem here is scarcity: scarcity of human ability to learn quickly how to perform new tasks productively. (Remember: the problem is not unique in any way to international trade, for this problem is triggered with any change in the pattern of consumer spending.)
Often, this problem with resources being unable to move quickly into other, no-less-attractive uses is amplified by artificial restrictions on the abilities of workers and other resource owners to switch occupations. Government policies that dampen entrepreneurs’ abilities to employ currently un- or underemployed resources by launching new firms or by expanding existing firms ensure that changes in patterns of consumer spending will create more, and longer-lasting, unemployment than would exist in the absence of such policies. (Ironically, among such damaging policies are those that artificially make the firing or laying-off of workers more difficult. Workers who are more costly to stop employing are workers who are more costly to start employing.)
So, yes, while there are some (weak) justifications for trade restrictions that are not ultimately rooted in a failure to recognize that our world is one of unavoidable scarcity, the primal justification – the justification believed by the man-in-the-street – for trade restrictions is premised on the strange belief that humanity is on the verge of superabundance. It’s premised on the mistaken notion that we are inconceivably wealthier than we really are or could ever be.
Republished from Cafe Hayek.
In his opening statement, Mulvaney said that the Office of Management and Budget has likely been falling short on its duties to oversee entitlements and regulations.
“I think the law currently requires OMB to do a retrospective analysis of regulations, and it’s probably been falling short on that,” Mulvaney said.
During the hearing, Mulvaney stressed the importance of reforming entitlement programs in order to save them for future generations.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked Mulvaney about his intentions to “save” the Social Security program.
“Would you agree with me that for younger workers, they may have to work longer when they enter the program to save the program?” Graham asked.
Mulvaney said that he has told his children to “prepare for exactly that.”
Graham also questioned Mulvaney about his vision for other entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Mulvaney said that failing to take action on these programs is not an option.
“If we do nothing, then by the time I retire, there will be an across-the-board 22 percent cut to Social Security benefits,” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney said that he would not be advocating cuts to Social Security benefits for the elderly.
“I don’t think that any proposal … that I would take to the president, should I be confirmed, would suggest that we touch folks anywhere who are already—I’m not making my parents go back to work, they’re 74 years old,” Mulvaney said.
If the Social Security program is not reformed, Mulvaney said that individuals will not receive the full benefits of the program.
“Without changing the current Social Security program, a 40-year-old today will receive roughly 77 percent of what they have been promised for their adult life,” Mulvaney said.
Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., questioned Mulvaney about the future of Social Security and its implications on being available to young people.
“To continue to suggest that we do not have to do anything here is just being dishonest to the young people … Is that fair?” Toomey asked.
Mulvaney said that Toomey’s estimation was “correct” and stressed that in order to fix the program, people will have to work more hours in order to close the budget gap in Social Security.
“It would require, I think, one of the proposals would require a need to work an extra couple of months before I retire … ” Mulvaney said.
Mulvaney also stressed the importance of reforming government regulations.
He said that Trump is committed to significantly reign in regulatory programs.
“My very distinct impression, from working with the transition team, is that regulatory reform is going to be an absolute priority for this president,” Mulvaney said. “In fact, I think you saw him mention yesterday that he wants to cut 75 percent of the regulations. He is absolutely dead serious about this.”
Mulvaney expressed confidence in the dedication to reforming regulation, stating that he believes Trump to be “the first person to campaign for president on regulatory reform since Ronald Reagan.”
“I have some plans or ideas of how we could help to [reform regulation], but I absolutely believe that you will see this be a priority for President Trump,” Mulvaney said.
In mid-December, Trump, then-President-elect, announced Mulvaney as his choice to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
Republican leaders have expressed confidence in Mulvaney to lead the Office of Management and Budget.
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., said that Mulvaney would do a “great” job in the leadership role.
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., chairman of the United States Senate Committee on the Budget, said in a statement released Tuesday that he is “pleased that President Trump has nominated a fiscal conservative for this key post” and expressed faith in Mulvaney’s ability to “reform the broken budget process.”
Report by The Daily Signal's Rachel del Guidice. Originally published at The Daily Signal.