Bruce Momjian


Russia Cheaper to Purchase than Invade

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

After Ukrainians overthrew their pro-Russian president in 2014, Russia invaded and occupied Crimea and supported rebels in eastern Ukraine. The sanctions implemented soon after crippled the Russian economy and caused the value of the Ruble to be cut in half, and it has still not recovered. Assuming halving of the exchange rate represents a reduction of half of the Russian gross domestic product (gdp) over five years, that represents a loss of 800 billion U.S. dollars.

If we compute the acreage of Crimea and the 7% of Ukraine occupied by the rebels, it is a total of 26,316 square miles. Taking the loss of Russian gdp computed above, that represents usd $237,495 per acre. There are very few places in this world where an acre of land is worth that much, and especially not in that area of the world.

In hindsight, it might have been better for Russia to have purchased the land. The U.S. purchased Alaska in 1867 for 0.03 USD per acre. That is roughly 700,000 times cheaper than the impact of the Russian incursions. Though it is probably too late for Russia to try the payment option, it might open a way for them to eventually eliminate the sanctions.

Update: This article explores some possible Russian motivations. 2022-01-12

Update: This video from 2015 has a more pro-Russia analysis. 2022-02-16

Update: Useful analysis of Putin. 2022-02-28

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Government Frustrating Lack of Representation

Monday, July 2, 2018

The past few years have seen some unusual protests, from football players, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, "Hate Has No Home Here" lawn signs, and more recently protests of Trump administration officials in public spaces.

Why are there so many unusual protest behaviors, and why has it accelerated since Trump's election? Well, it kind of makes sense. In a balanced political climate, people from both political persuasions have representatives they can pressure to implement their desires. However, for years now, Republicans have controlled so much that liberals have little control outside of major cities. Republicans have controlled both houses of congress since 2015, and then won the presidency. Republicans control 33 governorships and have complete legislative and governorship control of 26 states. This level of control hasn't been not seen by Republicans since 1928. With few liberal politicians with power, were do liberals go who want to campaign for change? Well, the answer — protest.

Ironically, the protests don't seem to be having any practical effect, except for making liberals feel they have done something. In fact, it seems to be having the undesired effect of solidifying President Trump's approval among sympathetic voters. His approval rating is a dramatic 90% among Republicans.

Eventually, things balance out. Political parties usually overplay their advantage and alienate enough people that the other party regains power. When I was a child, Democrats controlled most legislatures, including at the federal level, and the presidency regularly — that changed with Ronald Reagan. In fact, the Reagan Era has continued through the Obama administration, and it seems to have gone into overdrive with President Trump.

It looked like a progressive era was nearing after Trump's rocky early months as president, but he has hit his stride and has a string of economic, diplomatic, regulatory, and judicial accomplishments that make Obama look like he was standing still. So, it doesn't seem like there is any major realignment on the horizon, so expect many "creative" protests to come.

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