Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I'll see your civit dung coffee and raise you one.....
Monday, April 19, 2010
Interesting. P-Kroog's address to the American Association of Geographers.
Many economic geographers proper were furious at the rise of the new geographical economics. That was predictable: near the end of that 1990 monograph I foretold the reaction, and also explained why I was doing what I was doing:
“The geographers themselves probably won’t like this: the economics profession’s simultaneous love for rigor and contempt for realism will surely prove infuriating. I do not come here, however, to fight against the sociology of my profession, but to exploit it: by demonstrating that models of economic geography can be cute and fun, I hope to attract other people into tilling this nearly virgin soil.”
Actually, the reaction was even worse than I expected. As it happens, starting in the 1980s many geographers were moving even further from mainstream economics -- there was a widespread rejection not just of the assumptions of rational behavior and equilibrium, but of the whole notion of mathematical modeling and even the use of quantitative methods
(Nod to Neanderbill)
The 10,000 Minutes, and Bon Jovi....
If I have this right (and I may not!), then the Chairity Counter at right will go below the magic 10,000 minute mark just after noon (12:43 pm) on Thursday, April 22.
Of course, the LMM and I will be in the car, headed to Charlotte to get ready for the Bon Jovi concert. (Did you hear that? I think it was one gun shot, the sound of Angus killing himself in anguish...) Yes, Bon Jovi. The LMM likes to pretend that I am John BJ, and I like to encourage this. WHOA! WE'RE HALF WAY THERE! WHOA-OH! LIVIN' ON A PRAY-ER!
She loves it.
Podcastrians! Love, Money, Profits, and Gifts
Careful with that ash, Kazem
"Many women who dress inappropriately ... cause youths to go astray, taint their chastity and incite extramarital sex in society, which increases earthquakes," Ayatollah Kazem Sedighi told worshippers at Friday prayers in Tehran.
"Calamities are the result of people's deeds," he was quoted as saying by reformist Aftab-e Yazd newspaper. "We have no way but conform to Islam to ward off dangers.""
Here's to Homicide!
This weekend, Mrs. Angus and I were invited to dinner at the Snow household. Clyde is a national treasure and Norman institution and the title of the post was his pre-meal toast.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Well, the Lakers had their way with my Thunder this afternoon. OKC was totally unprepared for the defensive intensity of LA and for how rough and tumble playoff basketball can be and got way behind early.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
New Jersey Fan So Gross He Even Disgusts Phillys Fans
How gross and disgusting do you have to be to disgust Phillys fans?
I'm not sure where the line is, but this crosses it.
“It was the most vile, disgusting thing I’ve ever seen,” Vangelo said Friday. “He has two fingers down his throat, he lunges forward and vomits on myself and my 11-year-old daughter.”
Vangelo said he tried to push his children safely behind him, and Clemmens punched him in the face. Four or five fans in the next section rushed to help, Vangelo said. They held him until police arrived — someone punching Clemmens in the face as he tried to break free — and an officer was also hit with vomit, Vanore said.
Eeeeeew. New Jersey: So gross it makes Philadelphia look cultured and sophisticated.
MM on WAMC, With Allan Chartock
A (let's call it) "wide-ranging" interview with the very nice and interesting Allan Chartock, on WAMC's Northeast Public Radio. A huge audience, by my standards, on dozens of stations in MA, NY, and etc in New England.
My Cuomo bashing had started here....
And then used this way....
I was glad to get to clear this up in the interview. Andrew Cuomo did NOT cause the financial crisis. George Bush, Barney Frank, and Chris Dodd caused the financial crisis. Andrew Cuomo only helped. (Listen to see why I think so!)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Thoroughly Modern Macro
One popular innovation in macro and financial is the use of Epstein-Zin-Weil preferences. Roughly speaking these recursive preferences separate the risk aversion parameter from the elasticity of intertemporal substitution parameter, and they also allow people to care about the timing of when uncertainty is resolved.
However, working with these preferences in a general model is pretty tough.
In a new NBER working paper (ungated version here), Binsbergen, Fernandez-Villaverde, Koijen, & Rubio-Ramirez, show how to use second or third order perterbation methods to solve a fairly general DSGE model with EZW preferences and how to use the particle filter to build a likelihood function for directly estimating (instead of calibrating) the structural parameters of interest (or at least a subset of them).
This is not a simple paper, but it is an excellent one.
Labels: modern macro
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Medical Exec Discovers Rent-Seeking
Public Choice scholars have talked about rent-seeking, and the problem of "Tullock auctions," since the 1970s.
But it is nice to have our wisdom reconfirmed! An interesting example....
All pay auctions (Also called Tullock auctions, of course)
My podcast with Russ Roberts on this bidding problem
Labels: behavioral economics
The Grand Game: Tax Day Edition
Oh, man, was I spitting tea all over the op-ed page this morning. Check this article out. Now, the author is Chris Fitzsimon, a man I both like personally, and respect as an analyst. And he's a Carolina fan, so it's all good.
But this article....well, time for the Grand Game! Readers, please point out the most jaw-dropping logical or evidentiary indignity!
I was so excited I went all Boudreaux on Chris, and sent the following letter to the Raleigh News and Observer:
To the Editor: On Thursday, April 15 you published a most curious op-ed by Chris Fitzsimon (“Civil Services Supported By Taxes”). He lists government services, and implies we should be grateful. It was curious for three reasons.
First, some of the items are not services at all, but are mandated by silly laws.
Second, many of these services are financed by additional direct fees, not taxes.
Finally, his recitation of how ungrateful we are reminded me of letters I have come across in my academic research on slavery. Slave owners in the old South were genuinely surprised, and hurt, when their ungrateful slaves ran off after the Civil War. After all, the slave-owners had fed, clothed, housed, and in some cases educated the slave in blacksmithing or other trades. The point is that the slave-owners came up with elaborate lists that said “Look at all the things Master does for you. Why aren’t you grateful?” And those lists looked… well, pretty much exactly like the Fitzsimon article. I say you keep your services, I’ll keep my taxes, and we’ll just call it even.
Oh Norman, so sweet, but so cruel.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
A match made in heaven
Theory of the second best: health care edition
I am a "small l" libertarian. Live and let live and all that jazz. But now, unless Mrs. Angus divorces me, I am gonna be helping to foot the bill for the extension of heavily subsidized health insurance that does little to actually reform the problems of our crappy health care system.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Just another band from Jackson Heights
Ladies and Gentlemen, without further ado, I give you The Beets!
Labels: The Arts
The culture that is Oklahoma
bulls make money, bears make money,
but SOE's apparently do NOT make money.
Monday, April 12, 2010
40-LL. Double L? As in what the HE-Double L? "One of my boyfriends?" She suffocated the poor man.
I think Dave Brown would just suggest that you make that "wubbawubbawubba" motorboat sound, to make some airspace.
And the ladies on the "The View" talk about upgrades. But not Double L. My lord.
(Nod to Tommy tWBB)
Labels: England is screwed
Quite an editorial, from Chi-Trib, about the state of the Illinois economy. Check it here.
Excerpt: Few of us, or our ancestors, gravitated to this state for its prairie scenery or bipolar climate. Illinois instead promised near-unrivaled opportunity: its rich soil, its wealth of industries, its human hustle frenetic to make a buck.
Today, though, we are losing employers. Nearly half a million of our jobs are gone. We export many of our educated young people to futures out of state.
We can wait, paralyzed, and hope that economic recovery eventually means full employment recovery. Or we can make structural changes now that would welcome the makers of jobs.
We need to lower costs. Our governance infrastructure has become overgrown and overpriced. We have 7,000 often redundant governments, far more than any other state. We populate those governments with armies of employees, and give them duties — some essential, some make-work. Many politicians of both parties enlist these workers as their allies in a cozy paradigm: If you help us win re-election, we will reward you with adequate salaries today — and fabulous retirement benefits tomorrow.
Those pols treat the public sector with fawning reverence while ignoring, or even scorning, a private sector that supplies their lifeblood revenues. Why so? Because the pols and their allies have a good thing going, and no incentive to disrupt it. So, unlike in scrappier states, there is precious little talk in Illinois of curtailing teacher tenure, or reducing benefits for current public employees, or capping government expenditures, or exterminating townships and other costly relics, or demolishing obsolete institutions, or ...
Recession, though, has forced a reckoning: Our shrinking and salary-squeezed private sector work force cannot adequately support many of our state's households — let alone sustain our antiquated overlays of taxing bodies.
This should be a time of tremendous opportunity for leaders who, rather than hiding from recession, exploit it to reinvent Illinois. To radically reshape the state's present and its future. To capitalize on employers' problems in other high-cost states by making Illinois their low-cost place to do business. To grow jobs.
Instead, our Statehouse brims with defensive, small-think pols hoping to survive another election.
(Nod to the NCM)
Double Down, KFC Style!
Double Down! Even *I* think this is disgusting. It's a "sandwich" where the buns are replaced by two fried chicken breasts. The filling is two big dollops of cheese product (one with yellow dye, and one left white), and some bacon.
An amusing review, when the thing was being test-marketed. (And source of photo above)
To be fair, though, this review made me think. After all:
...as far as caloric intake goes, the Double Down isn't even half as bad as most fast-food burgers.The original-recipe fried Double Down with two strips of fried chicken breast clocks in at 540 calories and 32g of fat. The grilled Double Down has 460 calories and 23g of fat. Both have an outrageous amount of sodium, however, 1,380mg and 1,430 mg, respectively.
1.4 GRAMS of sodium? That's impressive. The recommended daily limit for sodium (for a person, for an entire DAY) is 2.3 grams. Hypertensive people should have half that. Less than one Double Death.
Let's compare a burger, though, just for fun. Let's go all the way, to Hardee's Monster 2/3 pound Thickburger.
Fat: 95 grams, for 860 calories
Sodium: 3020 mg
Carbs: 46 grams
By comparison, the Double Down is girl food!
Governors Call For New Bureaucracy to Improve Efficiency
Here is the actual press release.
Let me know how that works out, okay?
(nod to JS)
Sunday, April 11, 2010
What Is A Libertarian? Stossel, Munger Give Thoughts
Robert Shiller: "I burst the housing bubble"
Yes, people, as we sit and wait for the next bubble to arrive and save us, we finally can figure out who to blame for the untimely bursting of the last one: Robert Shiller!
"In May 2005, I included in the second edition of my book, “Irrational Exuberance,” a new data series of real United States home prices that I constructed, going back to 1890. I was amazed to discover that no one had published such a long-term series before.
This data revealed that the home price boom was anomalous, by historical standards. It looked very much like a bubble, and a big one. The chart was reproduced many times in newspapers and magazines, starting with an article by David Leonhardt in The New York Times in August 2005.
In short, a public case began to be built that we really were experiencing a housing bubble. By 2006 a variety of narratives, taken together, appear to have produced a different mind-set for many people — creating a tipping point that stopped the growth in demand for homes in its tracks."
LPNC meets in Burlington
Local paper, Burlington Times-News, covers the sensational story!
Here is the schedule.... And Neanderbill showed up! It was fun.
Labels: Libertarian Party
Saturday, April 10, 2010
A new third (fourth) party in North Carolina?
Seriously? This report strains credulity....
But here is the newspaper story right here.... so it must be true, right?
In a shot across the bow of Dems, the labor powerhouse SEIU is starting a new third party in North Carolina that hopes to field its own slate of candidates, part of an effort to make the Democratic Party more reliable on issues important to labor, I’m told.
SEIU officials setting up the new party, called North Carolina First, are currently on the ground collecting signatures to qualify as a state party, SEIU officials tell me, adding that there are around 100 canvassers on the ground right now. The goal: To have the party up and running so candidates can run in this fall’s elections.
Law Suits: Can the States Win?
Kevin L sends this syllabus for you law clones out there. Get reading! And, goodONya, K-Rad!
Legal Constraints on Supreme Court Decision Making: Do Jurisprudential
Jeffrey Lax & Kelly Rader
Journal of Politics, April 2010, Pages 273-284
Abstract: The founding debate of judicial politics - is Supreme Court decision making driven by law or politics? - remains at center stage. One influential line of attack involves the identification of jurisprudential regimes, stable patterns of case decisions based on the influence of case factors. The key test is whether the regime changes after a major precedent-setting decision, that is, whether the case factors are subsequently treated differently by the Supreme Court justices themselves so that they vote as though constrained by precedent. We analyze whether binding jurisprudential regime change actually exists. The standard test assumes votes are independent observations, even though they are clustered by case and by term. We argue that a (nonparametric) “randomization test” is more appropriate. We find little evidence that precedents affect voting.
Solicitor General Influence and Agenda Setting on the United States Supreme
Ryan Black & Ryan Owens, Harvard Working Paper, March 2010
Abstract: Do Solicitors General influence Supreme Court justices to behave differently than they would like? If so, are there limits on such influence? Using archival data, we find strong evidence of Solicitor General influence. In a substantial number of cases at the Supreme Court's agenda-setting stage, justices follow Solicitor General recommendations even when they are completely opposed to them. At the same time, we observe that law exerts strong influence. Justices are significantly less likely to follow Solicitor General recommendations that contravene important legal factors.
Friends of the Circuits: Interest Group Influence on Decision Making in the
U.S. Courts of Appeals
Paul Collins & Wendy Martinek, Social Science Quarterly, June 2010, Pages 397-414
Objective: Though there is an extensive literature focused on the participation and efficacy of interest group amici curiae in the U.S. Supreme Court, there is little rigorous analysis of amici curiae in the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Here, we systematically analyze the influence of amicus curiae briefs on U.S. Court of Appeals decision making to provide insights regarding both judicial decision making and the efficacy of interest groups.
Methods: We use a probit model to capture influences on appellant success in the courts of appeals from 1997-2002.
Results: We find that amicus briefs filed in support of the appellant enhance the likelihood of that litigant's probability of success, but that amicus briefs filed in support of the appellee have no effect on litigation outcomes.
Conclusion: Amici can help level the playing field between appellants and appellees by serving to counter the propensity to affirm in the U.S. Courts of Appeals.
Congressional Constraints and Tactical Supreme Court Maneuvers: Calling for
the Views of the United States Solicitor General
Ryan Black & Ryan Owens
Harvard Working Paper, January 2010
Abstract: Do United States Supreme Court justices invoke the aid of executive branch
officials to help them overcome congressional constraints? We examine archival data collected from the private papers of former Justice Harry A. Blackmun to analyze the conditions under which Supreme Court justices force the Solicitor General to participate in cases. We find that in addition to legal considerations, justices invite the SG to participate in cases so as to gain information that will aid them in determining whether the president will use his veto to protect the Court's decision against congressional override attempts. Justices are between 44% and 56% more likely to invite the SG when they require the president's veto to protect their decisions. These results hold across a host of alternative models of legislative
decision making and other various modeling specifications.
In Search of Judicial Activism in the Same-Sex Marriage Cases: Sorting the
Evidence from Courts, Legislatures, Initiatives and Amendments
Scott Barclay, Perspectives on Politics, March 2010, Pages 111-126
Abstract: In 2006, President Bush publicly stated that, in relation to the same-sex
marriage issue, “activist judges” were thwarting the preferred policy of the elected representatives and the expression of popular will embodied in popular initiatives and constitutional amendments. Notwithstanding the philosophical discussion of the constitutionally assigned role of courts in the political system and the idea of judicial independence, President Bush's statement raises an interesting empirical question: In the case of same-sex marriage, have state and federal courts really acted in direct opposition to the expressed policy preferences of current or recent legislative majorities or overturned popular initiatives and constitutional amendments? Using evidence from state and federal legislative and judicial action around same-sex marriage primarily from the fifteen years preceding President
Bush's 2006 statement, I argue that, with some rare exceptions, judges can not easily be identified as “activist” on the issue of same-sex marriage even if we assess their actions according to President Bush's criteria.
A Theory of Loopholes
Journal of Legal Studies, January 2010, Pages 1-31
Laws are known to be replete with loopholes. The reason is generally thought to lie in the divergence between the text and the purpose of a law. Practical constraints supposedly make laws unavoidably over‐ or underinclusive. Lawyers who exploit loopholes are thought to be taking advantage of that over‐ and underinclusiveness. This essay offers a different perspective. Most loopholes have nothing to do with the over‐ or underinclusiveness of rules. This is best seen by exploring a particular subset of rules that reveal most clearly what is going on: the rules of voting. Arrow’s famous theorem teaches us that all halfway decent voting rules are vulnerable to agenda manipulation. Fundamentally, it will turn out, all legal rules are analogous to voting rules and all loophole exploitation analogous to agenda manipulation. The loophole‐exploiting lawyer no more deserves to be criticized, sanctioned, or otherwise frustrated in his efforts than does the shrewd parliamentarian.
The Separation of Powers and Supreme Court Agenda Setting
Ryan Owens, Harvard Working Paper, September 2009
This study employs the first systematic, empirical analysis that relies on archival data to examine whether the separation of powers influences justices' agenda votes. It spatially models how justices set the Court's agenda under a sincere approach as well as an SOP approach and compares the competing expectations derived therefrom. The results suggest that legislative and executive preferences fail to influence justices' votes. Across every model tested, the data show justices uninfluenced by the separation of powers. These results provide a strong rejoinder to SOP models, since the Court's agenda stage is the most likely stage of the decision making process to show signs of an SOP effect.
Labels: articles to read
Thursday, April 08, 2010
I don't put magazine articles on my c.v., though I do write some now and again.
Some readers have asked for links; here is a list of my articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education, for what that's worth.
April 2010: 10 Suggestions for a New Department Chair
Jan 2010: THE RIGHT KIND OF NOTHING
Nov 2009: SORRY I'M LATE
June 2009: FACULTY TURTLES
Aug 2008: "A" HIRE VS "THE" HIRE
Laver, de Marchi, and Mutlu article: NOT BFFs for BF
I have been very proud of several articles published in PUBLIC CHOICE during my editorship.
But I am proudest of this. This is an important paper, because it exposes the grave weaknesses in the "bargaining model" cottage industry.
Reference: Michael Laver · Scott de Marchi · Hande Mutlu, "Negotiation in legislatures over government formation," PUBLIC CHOICE, 2010
Abstract: We question results claiming to extend non-cooperative models of legislative bargaining to the theoretically general and substantively typical case with an arbitrary number of disciplined parties. We identify problems with both the derivation of formal results and empirical evaluation of these. No empirically robust formateur advantage is observed in field data on bargaining over government formation. Given this theoretical and empirical impasse, we reconsider the substantive premises that should form the foundation for any new attempt to model this fundamental political process, arguing that models should be grounded in binding constitutional constraints on the government formation process in parliamentary democracies.
Labels: articles to read
Smokin' In The Boys Room: The Grand Game
Mr., I am fully....aware of the rules....'cause everybody knows that...smokin' ain't allowed on planes!
But Mr. Diplomatic Impunity tried it anyway.
So, let's play the Grand Game. What is your favorite part of this story?
My favorite part: TWO F-16s. TWO F-16s! "Stop trying to blow up the plane, or we will blow up the plane!" I understand they have to worry about a hijacking, but...wow. Imagine looking out the window of the plane, and thinking, "Now, what could THOSE things do? What is their sole purpose for tailing us?"
UPDATE: Okay, my NEW favorite part is that Smoke Boy was heading to visit a convicted Al Qaeda terrorist. "Better lay low, this is controversial. I sure am nervous. Tell you what....I'll just duck into this restroom for a quick smoke!"
What could possibly go wrong with that plan?
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Appalling. And Hypocritical.
I'm sorry. But this is an unbelievably bad video.
First, for a rock video, you need a MUCH prettier girl on the treadmill. That girl is more attractive than I am, but less attractive than Angus. And I don't think "prettier than Angus" is too high a standard for rock videos.
Second, the lyrics don't explain enough about what the "fight" is about. It's cryptic. If you are willing to fight, the video should be pretty obvious. Presumably "mortgaged youth" is about the deficit.
Finally, "Ambassador Tom" is a drug warrior. The irony of someone's puritanical, nanny-state-loving, bald, pencil-necked uncle yammering about "freedom" while yanking at a guitar is too much for me.
"You think you're so smart, you can run my life, I don't need your help, neither does my wife." Hey, Tommy, how many thousands of people are having their lives run by you and your insane "war on drugs" boys, IN PRISON?
(Nod to Angry Alex)
Labels: tell me about your drugs
I'm On a Plane. I Can't Complain.
Brit Law Prof Snoozes, Air Canada Loses!
"The last thing I remember was taking off from Calgary," Mr. Lines, who was en route from London, told Canada's National Post. "I knew I was safely on board and there was no further destinations and it was all good. ... Somebody would wake me up at the end."
That the "somebody" would be a plane mechanic in an otherwise empty aircraft came as a shock to Mr. Lines.
"If I'd been a vulnerable passenger, a young girl or elderly, it could have been a lot worse," he said. "The other implication is that if I was a terrorist, then I've got an hour-and-a-half after the plane's landed, all by myself, in a secure area on a plane."
After complaining to Air Canada, he was told that the flight attendant who should have checked the plane was instead assisting passengers in wheelchairs. By way of apology, the airline offered Mr. Lines 20 percent off the cost of four future flights.
I laughed, at first. But he's right. You can't just leave a guy on the plane, in a secure area. Even if he is asleep.
C-section: strike one
C-section performed on woman who was not pregnant, in Fayetteville, NC.
No, not from the Onion. The Onion has real news, about an archeologist who is tired of unearthing unspeakable ancient evils.
Labels: health care
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Why Don't Academics Have Real Jobs?
The question might be, why do lefties seek jobs in academics?
But another question, answered adroitly by Robert Nozick, is why do intellectuals hate captialism? Perhaps THAT is the reason they gather in self-protecting academic ghettoes to congratulate one another on how clever each is.
My basketball team's name is Gay Human Bones!
Harlem's debut album "Free Drugs" was one of my top picks for 2008. Now they are in the big leagues, on Matador, and have another album, "Hippies", out.
Monday, April 05, 2010
The "Fear the Boom and Bust" video, now with well over 1 million views, wins a Sammy!
Also, I have to point out this extremely balanced and informative review / exposition of the video on the Daily Kos.
Like, The Valley Girl
Tom Campbell, candidate for Cal Gov, goes on the Valley Girl show.
(Nod to Kevin L)
Lead, Nudge, or Get Out of the Way
KPC Pal and Most Excellent Fellow Will Wilkinson writes:
Perhaps you can set aside your ridiculous Duke boosterism for a moment and consider sharing the lead essay of Cato Unbound's new issue on "Slippery Slopes and the New Paternalism." The multi-talented Glen Whitman, economist extraordinaire and writer for TV's Fringe,kicks us off with an essay on "The Rise of the New Paternalism." Call it "soft paternalism," "asymmetric paternalism," or "libertarian paternalism"... with Cass Sunstein as Obama's regulatory czar, we all may be feeling the tender nudge of the new paternalism soon enough. Whitman puts us on guard, arguing that the logic of the new paternalism puts us on a slippery to not-so-tender plain old-fashioned paternalism.
Consider it shared, punkin'! And, I predict lots of fire on Duke's campus tonight ....and celebration.
Labels: We get letters
I Can't Be the Only One....
I can't be the only one to think that Senator Mitch McConnell and Steve Forbes are becoming the same person, right?
Reader: Which one is which?
(The middle one is McConnell, top and bottom are Forbes)
Labels: separated at birth
Hamid Karzai has a very good idea
Here is change we can believe in:
"Afghan President Hamid Karzai threatened over the weekend to quit the political process and join the Taliban if he continued to come under outside pressure to reform, several members of parliament said Monday."
Labels: Now yer talkin'
The Main Thing We Stand For is Reelection
The Nets? THE NETS?
I am getting (as Cheech Marin used to say) a little sick up and fed with the dominant story of mighty Duke versus tiny Butler.
...on the verge of another improbable David-vs.-Goliath story, with tiny Butler in the NCAA national championship game against mighty Duke, you have to understand that the impact of this historic confrontation can't be contained within Indiana's boundaries.
It's so much bigger than that. Butler's presence in the national championship game is a true American sports success story.
"This," said Butler guard Ronald Nored, "could never happen in major-college football."
Sure, Butler has 4,500 students.
But Duke has only 6,250 undergrad students.
Michigan State, by contrast, has 47,000 students. West Virginia U has 30,000. U of NC, Duke's arch-rival (and my own favorite team) has 25,000 students.
Duke is also "tiny." But Duke kicked WVU's ass, and nobody talked about "David" winning that game. Duke beat UNC like a drum this year, and nobody raved about the tiny school winning.
The reason that Butler is not favored to win tonight is NOT that they are tiny. The reason is that Butler is not very good.
The real story (and frequent readers here know I am no Duke fan) is that Duke, in spite of being 1/4 the size of its most frequent rivals, consistently wins, doesn't cheat, and graduates all of its players with actual college degrees in actual college subjects. Why isn't THAT the story here:
Duke University provides education to students who otherwise could never afford it, and manages to win while doing it!
Mungowitz Gets Adam Smith Pin Factory Wrong!
Fred Stahl writes:
I enjoy your podcasts with Russ Roberts. You two always sound like you are having more fun than you deserve. ( MM NOTE: Russ is certainly having more fun than HE deserves!)
Yesterday I was searching for the hunters and sandwich shop story—you know, the one showing how economies of scale make specialization more efficient even if everybody is equally skilled. I was a student in Dr. Roberts’ microeconomics class last semester when he presented the story, attributing it to Buchanan. I found a transcript of you and Roberts talking about it in an April 2007 podcast. I also came across your 2007 article on division of labor in the Library of Economics and Liberty: FEATURED ARTICLE | APRIL 2, 2007
I'll Stick With These: Some Sharp Observations on the Division of Labor
On reading the article, I saw that it might leave misconceptions about Adam Smith’s analysis of the pin factory. Here is the relevant part: And this is the period where Smith formed his impression: he saw pins being made by 3-6 men, in a small shop, each of whom performed several tasks at different points in the production process. Smith's widely quoted conclusion, which was actually just a quick estimate, was that there 18 different steps in the pin-making process.
The best research I have seen says that Smith never actually visited the pin factory he wrote about. Consequently, he would not have been able to make a estimate of the number of operations, quick or otherwise. Smith used data on a French pin factory published decades earlier. As Rothbard tells it, Smith accused his friend Adam Ferguson of plagiarizing his bit about the pin factory. Ferguson fired back that they both got the story from a French source. The facts fit Ferguson’s charge. The French factories had 18 fabrication operations, as Smith mentions, whereas an English factory typically had 25. Edwin Cannan attributes the source of Smith’s production information to an article on pins that appeared in a mid-17th century French encyclopedia, thirty years before Smith wrote Wealth.
One other small point, Wealth has 10 workers in the pin factory. By the way, apparently few if any economic historians know that in his 1832 On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, Charles Babbage re-analyzed Smith’s pin factory. In contrast to Smith’s arm waving, Babbage used detailed cost and time data and concluded that Smith missed an important source of productivity. Smith wrote about division of labor by task. Babbage pointed out that the manager who divides labor by skill can hire cheap children and women for the unskilled work and expensive men for the bundles of skilled tasks. The productivity gain is a factor of 3 to 4, as measured in cost per pin.
Rothbard comments about Smith:
Much of his analysis was wrong, and many of the facts he did include in the Wealth of Nations were obsolete and gathered from books 30 years old
 Rothbard, Murray. An Austrian Perspective on the History of Economic Thought, Vol. I and II, Edward Elgar Pub. 1995. Chapter 16. Excerpt available from Mises Institute, March 31, 2010 from http://mises.org/daily/2012 under title “The Adam Smith Myth.”
 Edwin Cannan edited the 1976 edition of The Wealth of Nations published by The University of Chicago Press. The attribution appears in Footnote 4 on page 8 as Vol. 5 of Encyclopédie.
 Babbage, Charles. 1835. On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures. 4th ed. London: Charles Knight. Reprint: New York: Augustus M. Kelly, 1963. Babbage presents his detailed cost and time study data along with his analysis of the pin factory in Chapter 19.
Very interesting, Fred, and thanks! I haven't seen footnotes in an email in a while; many people have gone in the direction of the thing called "links." Still, I'm sure you are right, and that I am wrong about the story. Lots of good info there, Fred!
I'd be interested to know what ASLL thinks of my errors. Sufficiently corrected now?
Sunday, April 04, 2010
Saturday, April 03, 2010
A delightful piece
A delightful little article, on one man's travels among the strange and mysterious "Econ" tribe.
One of the chief priests, a "Dr. Romer," once appears to have worshipped different dieties, but now worships the god called "Porkulus." Angus had pointed this out at the time, of course, but it is worth remembering.
(Nod to the NCM)
Labels: economic theory
Some Days, You Learn Things.
There some days when you learn things. I have been looking at transit data and saying that transit only covers 15% to 30% of operating expense from their fare boxes except in top 5 markets where it can up to 30% to 48%. Well after reading Sam Staley’s blog at the Reason Foundation, I now have to rethink this since it now appears that there has been some fare box stuffing. It turns out “Some 120,000 federal workers in the Washington region receive up to $230 a month for transit, which amounts to taxpayer-funded free rides or at least a hefty bite out of even the most expensive trips.” according to the Washington Examiner. Amazingly that could add up to $331 million a year for a transit agency that collects $683 million a year in fares with a $1.9 billion operating budget.
The examiner later states that “For years, federal employees received free and subsidized parking. Taking away the perk hasn't been a viable option: When President Carter tried it in 1979, federal employees protested and started a boycott of U.S. savings bonds”.
So what can be done? May be the Feds can apply a little Ricardian comparative advantage. Find the price point that Federal employees think the dough that they will get is equal to the transit or parking and get out of the “Green Washing” with the transit and the diametrically opposed “Brown” parking subsidy at the same time. There are markets in everything and I for one would be happier to be paid in dollars than in subway tokens or parking passes. I think it would be worth seeing if federal employees felt the same way.
Nor is it gloom and doom for the transit agency. There are plenty of consumers who would be willing to pay to avoid DC traffic. Now, they just would be a little more like choice riders.
Labels: We get letters
Tell the Truth?
Interesting concept. Get politicians to promise to tell the truth.
"I, as an elected official, make a personal pledge to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth while representing my constituents and conducting the business of the office to which elected."
Only about their public acts and duties, mind you. If Bill wants to lie to Hillary about Monica, that's between them.
I should note that I met Miles when we both had kids at RCHS.
Friday, April 02, 2010
Michael Tofias Plays PIR, Bids $X420 on EVERYTHING
Labels: There's Yer Trouble
Idiot Trap Catches an Idiot
Labels: tell me about your drugs
Economies of Scope: a continuing series
Necessity is the mother of stupidity
Thursday, April 01, 2010
The Problem is NOT That Women Don't Know What They Want....
England = Scary
The EYM Lays Down Some Smack
A letter in the Deadly Tar Ball. The letter:
TO THE EDITOR:
Though I’m thrilled to learn that our University is attempting to provide sustainable dining, Tuesday’s article, “Local Food, Big Business,” failed to explain what that actually means.
I’m inclined to think that “sustainable food” is food produced, transported, prepared and consumed without consuming finite natural resources or damaging the environment.
The article implies that subsumed under the term “sustainable” are the terms “local,” “organic,” “smaller farms,” “grass-fed beef” and “free-range eggs.”
The first two agree with my understanding of the term, but they get increasingly ridiculous.
Eggs produced by caged chickens are no more or less sustainable than free range eggs; they are more humane, but not more sustainable.
So by using the word “sustainable” to mean so many different things, the article robs itself of any actual weight or significance.
In my eyes, “sustainable” now means “any of a variety of liberal buzzwords designed and propagated to make people feel better about themselves.”
Oh, where, WHERE did I go wrong? Clearly, I failed as a father. A kid who doesn't realize that "sustainable" is something we worship.... well, I blame the LMM. She's a lawyer, and tends to think that words have meanings, rather than emotions.
"The Entire Island Will Tip Over and Capsize"
I just keep watching this. WTF?
Watch the question asked at 1:20.
This should be on the Onion. Is he kidding? He must be kidding.
If he is NOT kidding, then is he perhaps worried about underpopulation? I mean, the island might well float up into the sky and block out the sun if there are too FEW people on the island. Has anyone thought about that? I mean, no one worried about global warming, right?
(Nod to Angry Alex)
And these are our allies?
"The lawyer of a Lebanese TV psychic who was convicted in for witchcraft said Thursday her client could be beheaded this week and urged Lebanese and Saudi leaders to help spare his life.
Attorney May al-Khansa said she learned from a judicial source that Ali Sibat is to be beheaded on Friday. She added that she does not have any official confirmation of this. Saudi judicial officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
A Lebanese official said Beirut has received no word from its embassy in about Sibat's possible execution. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
The Saudi justice system, which is based on Islamic law, does not clearly define the charge of witchcraft.
Sibat is one of scores of people reported arrested every year in the kingdom for practicing sorcery, witchcraft, black magic and fortunetelling. These practices are considered polytheism by the government in Saudi Arabia, a deeply religious Muslim country.
Al-Khansa said she has called uponto pardon Sibat, a 49-year-old father of five. She also says she is in contact with Lebanese officials about the case.
She added that Sibat did not make predictions in Saudi Arabia and was neither a Saudi citizen nor a resident in Saudi and therefore should have been deported rather than tried there.
Sibat made predictions on an Arab satellite TV channel from his home in Beirut. He was arrested by the Saudi religious police during his pilgrimage to the holy city of Medina in May 2008 and sentenced to death last November."
The full story is here.
I guess I just can't stomach the "realist" school of international relations because our propping up of heinous regimes like this disgust me.
Pirate To-Do List
Pirate to-do list:
1. Remember to get parrot and AK-47, and other "effects"
2. Make sure that ship you attack at night is not extremely heavily armed US warship
They forgot #2, it appears.
Here is what USS Nicholas was packin':
One OTO Melara Mk 75 76 mm naval gun
two Mk 32 triple-tube (324 mm) launchers for Mark 46 torpedoes
one Vulcan Phalanx CIWS
four .50-cal (12.7 mm) machine guns.
SM-1MR Standard anti-ship/air missiles (40 round magazine)
What is a Phalanx? It's a 20mm Gatling gun, which fires 4,000 high explosive/incendiary rounds per minute. That is putting quite a bit of lead downrange in a hurry.
Furthermore, the main gun, the Melara Mk 76 mm, gun....it can fire more than 80 rounds per minute, with each shell carrying 15 pounds of high explosive. (Yes, 80 rounds per minute, and that's limited only by the loading device. The rate of fire on the gun is actually more than 100 rounds per minute. So a three second burst is 5 or 6 massive shells.)
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
When Robert met Edmond
Newish NBER working paper by Aghion, Howitt, & Murtin (ungated version here) is titled: "The Relationship Between Health and Growth: When Lucas Meets Nelson-Phelps."
They argue that Lucas, who modeled an effect of improving health on growth and Nelson and Phelps who modeled an effect of the level of health on growth are both correct.
Police Car Chew Toy
(Nod to Angry Alex, who called this "the darnedest thing")
Labels: Dog bites man
New RNC Symbol
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
All Hail Greg Weeks
Greg puts a hammering on Chuck Schumer on Immigration reform.
Here's Schumer on meet the press:
MR. GREGORY: Senator Schumer, is immigration reform dead then?
Now here's Greg on Schumer:
Not Fiction, but a Cartoon Videotape
I believe that this cartoon captures the essence of going to dinner with the Lovely Ms. Mungowitz. It captures the scene so accurately that I think the artist (Mr. Piraro) must have seen us in a restaurant recently.
The link is kind of hinky, so let me just give the dialogue.
Man and woman in restaurant, ordering, waiter is writing down orders.
Man: "I'll have number 7."
Woman: "I'll have a wide assortment of ingredients from your menu, in different combinations than you offer them, but first, this series of probing questions."
But, GOSH, I do love her anyway. Even though in restaurants I generally want to hide.
Monday, March 29, 2010
I wasn't going to touch the whales. I told myself, look, these are wild animals and deserve respect. If they come close to the boat, observe and enjoy, but don't touch.
B PhD has a nice piece on "open marriage."
Best line: If you have slept with n people, then anyone who has slept with n+1 people is a slut. Our own experiences form the outer boundary of what is morally acceptable.
Amazingly perceptive remark. And it transfers to other areas. We are all immigrants, in the U.S. Even the "native Americans came here just 8 or 10 thousand years ago. But somehow, the arrival of one's own particular ancestors seems to have perfected the U.S. Before my people came: America sucked. After they came: America was perfect, and all additional immigration should be outlawed.
The KPC view--on marriage, let people do what they want. Rules=tyranny.
On immigration--let people live where they want. More people=better country.
What if the Coen brothers had written the Old Testament?
Game Theory: A Practitioner's Approach
Economics and Philosophy, March 2010, Pages 27-46
Abstract: To a practitioner in the social sciences, game theory primarily helps to identify situations in which interdependent decisions are somehow problematic; solutions often require venturing into the social sciences. Game theory is usually about anticipating each other's choices; it can also cope with influencing other's choices. To a social scientist the great contribution of game theory is probably the payoff matrix, an accounting device comparable to the equals sign in algebra.
Labels: articles to read
Sunday, March 28, 2010
A Libertarian Protests McCain-Palin, Gets Roughed Up
I can see the point. "Freedom of speech" does NOT mean you get to make an unscheduled presentation at someone else's rally. Video Here. So, holding a sheaf of papers and shrieking "freedom of speech!" doesn't make much sense, when you are on private property reserved and contracted for by someone else.
Still, every time I think of John McCain, I do want to go do something that might get me arrested for saying bad words in public. So I don't blame the "libertarian," either. We don't think much of John McCain.
Oh Hi! Got any Fish?
Mrs. Angus and I were amazed and enchanted by the variety of colors and shapes of the harbor seals along the Monterey coastline.
Congressman Rangel Goes From Avuncular to Homoncular
Look, Angus and I don't hate Democrats. We hate incumbents. So don't hate us.
Good Samaritan arrested in Pennsylvania
Can anybody 'splain me exactly why poor Donald Wolfe is being persecuted by the "man"?
Police say they charged a Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen trying to resuscitate a long-dead opossum along a highway. State police Trooper Jamie Levier says several witnesses saw 55-year-old Donald Wolfe, of Brookville, near the animal Thursday along Route 36 in Oliver Township, about 65 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
The Associated Press could not locate a home telephone number for Wolfe.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
From the Onion: Suicide Prevention on Frozen Dinners
Stouffers To Include Suicide Prevention Tips On Single Serve Microwavable Meals
I do like the Kashi tip, at the end.
We Get Letters: The Divorce....
From a friend who has been married three times....
After being married for 44 years, I took a careful look at my wife one day and said, "Darling, 44 years ago we had a cheap apartment, a cheap car, slept on a sofa bed and watched a 10-inch black and white TV, but I got to sleep every night with a hot 25-year-old girl. Now I have a $500,000.00 home, a $45,000.00 car, nice big bed and plasma screen TV, but I'm sleeping with a 65-year-old woman. It seems to me that you're not holding up your side of things."
My wife is a very reasonable woman. She told me to go out and find a hot 25-year-old gal, and she would make sure that I would once again be living in a cheap apartment, driving a cheap car, sleeping on a sofa bed and watching a 10-inch black and white TV.
Aren't older women great? They really know how to solve your mid-life crisis
Labels: We get letters
Why Did They have to shoot the POPULAR Teacher
This is messed up.
1. It was a "science lesson"? What in the world was the lesson?
2. Why the obsession with school shootings? These are actually extremely rare, even in the U.S. School shootings in the UK are almost unheard of.
3. This did make me want to listen to "I don't like Mondays," by the Boomtown Rats, written by Bob Geldoff before he became a total goofball. So I did.
4. As Anonyman points out, the best part is the claim that the students were only upset because they "shot" one of the popular teachers.
(Nod to Anonyman)
UPDATE: Read Ross's comment. EXCELLENT links.
Labels: England is screwed
Commandeering the State Legislatures
A number of states are considering suing to enjoin, or otherwise block enforcement, of the health care reform bill. The basis of the legal claims are constitutional. Let me review the issues briefly.
SUITS AGAINST: All of the suits I have heard would have to be based on the 10th Amendment. Here it is (since you have probably never heard of it, unless you are a lawyer)...
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Is the power to force individuals to purchase insurance, and to have that power enforced by state police and state courts, expressly delegated to the federal government by the Constitution?
On its face, no, but not so fast. Most of the expansions of federal power have been justified by invoking the "commerce clause" and the "elastic clause" of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.
Congress shall have the power....
Commerce clause: To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
Elastic clause: To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.
So, medical insurance is private commerce, many companies operate in multiple states...you see where this is going. The fact that the Constitution does not specifically mention health insurance means nothing, bubkes. There is plenty of commerce clause and 10th amendment jurisprudence that would make the health care reform bill seem like a slam dunk for being clearly constitutional.
But...once again, not so fast.
There is one line of cases that would suggest that some aspects of the legislation are in fact unconstitutional. And they are recent. The Rehnquist Court did a LOT of work in 10th amendment stuff, and there might be a chance here.
Sandra Day O'Connor wrote a really important decision in the case of New York v. US. ( MORE BACKGROUND, AND THE DECISION). I used to study radioactive waste disposal, and so I know more than I should about this case, and this issue. (Yes, I know, SDO? But, yes. She was clear on 10th amendment issues, with a bias toward protecting the states. She wasn't clear on much else, but on this....clear).
From the decision SDO wrote:
As an initial matter, Congress may not simply "commandee[r] the legislative processes of the States by directly compelling them to enact and enforce a federal regulatory program." Hodel v. Virginia Surface Mining & Reclamation Assn., Inc., 452 U.S. 264, 288 (1981). In Hodel, the Court upheld the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 precisely because it did not "commandeer" the States into regulating mining. The Court found that "the States are not compelled to enforce the steep-slope standards, to expend any state funds, or to participate in the federal regulatory program in any manner whatsoever. If a State does not wish to submit a proposed permanent program that complies with the Act and implementing regulations, the full regulatory burden will be borne by the Federal Government.
So, does the health care reform bill "commandeer" the state legislatures? That is the direction petitioner / plaintiffs will have to go.
DEFENSE: On its face, since the court now seems more conservative than in 1996, given the recent Heller and Citizens United decisions, won't the suits win, and won't HCR be struck down.
Two things. First, Sandra Day O'Connor was against the 2nd Amendment interpretation in Heller, and against the 1st Amendment interpretation in Citizens United. Her departure made way for the new, more conservative, court. But she was VERY conservative on 10th Amendment grounds. Both Alito and Chief Roberts are NATIONALISTS, much weaker on 10th amendment issues than O'Connor. (Imagine that you had taken Patrick Henry off the court, and put on Alexander Hamilton. That's an exaggeration, but you get the idea.) The point is that this new court is actually MORE likely to side with the national government.
It may come down to whether the Alito - Roberts bloc votes its real principles or not.
Sure, OTHER People Can Get Fired, but Not ME!
President Obama is Correct on DADT
Here at KPC, we have been a bit hard on Prez BHO. Not as hard as we were on GWB, who we pretty much agreed was the worst. president. ever.
But, anyway, let's give a shout out: Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a dumb policy. President Obama is quite right to work toward ending it.
Next, we need to government out of the cupid business, deciding who gets to marry whom. But that is on down the road, I suppose.
Friday, March 26, 2010
Strong Arm Tactics
Apparently the "strong arm tactics" of the conservative whackos have unhinged some of our friend in the media.
Consider this story in the Seattle Times:
Protesters have been demonstrating at Driehaus' Ohio home, said Tim Mulvey, a spokesman for the anti-abortion Democrat who joined Stupak in voting for the health bill. A rock was thrown through the window of Driehaus' Cincinnati office Sunday, and a death threat was phoned in to his Washington office a day later, Mulvey said.
"It's getting out of hand," Mulvey said.
Then, read this comment from Prof. Reynolds.... The problem is that the "office window" of Rep. Driehaus is on the 30th floor of the Carew Tower.
That's at least 290 feet. Some people can throw 290 feet in the air.... but horizontally. Nobody can throw 290 feet UP, and have the rock still have sufficient kinetic energy at the top of that trajectory to break a window.
1. Glenn Reynolds has his facts wrong. But he seems right sure.
2. Seattle Times has THEIR facts wrong. And they seem LEFT sure.
(Nod to the NCM)
UPDATE: Turns out a rock was thrown through the county Dem Party office. An understandable mistake, if you think that "truthiness" is the job of the media, and not paying attention to the actual facts....
UPDATE II: Here is the first paragraph of an editorial.
I know how the "tea party" people feel, the anger, venom and bile that many of them showed during the recent House vote on health-care reform. I know because I want to spit on them, take one of their "Obama Plan White Slavery" signs and knock every racist and homophobic tooth out of their Cro-Magnon heads.
That's not from some crazed lefty nut job. That is actually printed as an editorial in the Washington Post. In that piece, Courtland Milloy praises the courage and forbearance of Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver. But Mr. Milloy really doesn't help, by making physical threats of his own.