Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Will politicians ever stop lying to the public?
People, maybe we should extend unemployment benefits yet again. The job outlook is bleak, unemployment is high, and lots of people are hurting bad. Maybe it's the civilized thing to do.
Monday, August 08, 2011
From the personals
GM Volt Fail
Wow. This is pretty devastating.
Look, we have a pretty good way of finding out whether a company is succeeding: stock price. Plenty of folks are saying that the auto bailout was a big success. Well, let's see! Now, sure, there is a recession. But is the recession WORSE than it was a year ago? So that can't be the reason that stock price is falling. The stock price is an evaluation of future profitability. And it does not look good...
And yet, we get idiots like this guy saying what a success it all was. There are plenty of other examples of half-wits saying auto bailout was a success because the administration SAYS it was a succes. (GAO says maybe not, but what do THEY know, bunch of sharp pencil idiots?)
1. MSM says bailout success, because Prez Obama SAYS it was a success, and why would he lie?
2. But no one wants to buy crappy cars now, just like they didn't want to buy crappy cars three years ago, or ten years ago
3. GM is tanking and is going to "need" another bailout.
We'd be MUCH better off directly paying all those workers their full salaries to stay home. The success of the auto bailout is a myth.
Sunday, August 07, 2011
Sun, Wind, Sprinkler Heads: No Excuses
Letter from Dutch Boy (Reds fan) on Yonder Alonso.
This is too funny. quote from yonder alonso, reds rookie left fielder, just recently called up. the upshot is that he hits like mother, but can't field worth shit. he's a trade chip. first start in left yesterday, he made an error, as expected. same today against the cubs, one error, and one homer. and then this funny after-game quote:
"I definitely should have caught that ball. Again, you have to live with it. First time in this stadium. I’ve never been here, it’s a little tough to play with the wind and the sun and all that. No excuses, really.”
(first time at wrigley, tough to play with wind. tough to play with sun. earlier in the statement he said he ran over a sprinkler head in the outfield before missing the catch. no excuses. really.) he needs crash davis to sit him down and review what to say in an interview. but boy can he hit.
Of course, since the guy is a terrible fielder, the Reds decided to move him to... third base! I love the Reds, they make me so happy.
Worst fielder in baseball history? According to KPC (and Dutch Boy) friend Jim Bouton, it was Dick "Slip me some steel" Stuart (I believe that is what Jim said, in BALL FOUR. Is that right?)
Labels: el beisbol
Some links where I said things, and other people wrote them down and put them on the internet.
1. Politico: On the President's 50th birthday.
2. Duke News Tip: WWE Smackdown!
3. Chinese news magazine San Lian Lifeweek: (Specific article here, on the budget deal) Entire mag
4. The Hill, about the debt ceiling vote.
UPDATE: A commenter notes that there have been other such instances in the past, and my poor record as a predictor of future events should impeach the value of future such predictions. An example, here, in Time. I actually said, "BHO is unelectable!"
Good one....and a fair point. No way you should make trades based on my predictions, and in fact you can likely make money by doing the opposite of what I suggest. I'd thank that brave commenter, but s/he showed the courage of her/his convictions by remaining anonymous. Not so brave after all...
Bruno's Idiocy Comes Home to Roost
Bruno Latour (who should have been a porn star, with that name. Far better than the intellectual pornography he sold as scholarship!) is surprised anyone took him seriously.
Okay, he's got a point. No one should have taken him seriously. He claimed that planes don't fly, that color tvs don't really work, and that nothing really is real. It's all socially constructed.
And somehow he got this from misreading Kuhn. (Don't just read on, that link is cool!). Latour wrote drivel like this. (Feel FREE to skip that link).
I have long been amused at how many people whose bizarre minds give them no hope of understanding science use Kuhn as a shield, saying there is no SUCH THING as science. Yeah, I hope that works out for you, pumpkin. Read some more French philosophers, by all means. And get hilariously hoodwinked by Dr. Sokol, of course.
Anyway, having sown the wind, now they can reap the climate change denier whirlwind. Far and away most Americans believe that climate science is fabricated, at least in part. Socially constructed, indeed.
And the response by Bruno Latour? Two parts, both delightful.
1. I never really meant that. Never meant what I said I meant, it was all just an intellectual exercise. Lighten up!
2. Besides, in spite of everything I said about science being socially constructed and unreliable, and measurement being impossible, we ALL KNOW that global warming is real, a fact, an undeniable truth.
Golly, Bruno, and you know that...how?
The answer, as always with the left, is that their feelings, their group-think intuitions, generally anything they happen to believe? THOSE are facts.
Actual facts? Things like prices, scarcity, logic, evidence? THOSE are socially constructed. Nice.
Saturday, August 06, 2011
Honey Badger don't care
Euvoluntary Exchange: Kidney Sales
I have been working on the idea of "euvoluntary" (ie, truly voluntary) exchange for some time.
Take five minutes, and watch this video, and read this article.
On the "for" side:
"We are allowing young people to undertake £20,000 to £30,000 of university fee payments. "We allow them to burden themselves with these debts. Why can't we allow them to do a very kind and generous thing but also meet their own needs?"
However, Robin Parker, president of NUS Scotland, said: "Although the lack of available kidneys for transplant is truly tragic given the need, it's ludicrous to suggest that selling body parts is a viable solution to alleviating student poverty.
"Young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds, are already being asked to take on huge debt to afford an education. They shouldn't be expected to remove a body part as well."
Now, in both of these cases, our outrage is likely due to a sense that people should not have to sell their kidney. But then we skip to a non sequitur: People will not BE ALLOWED to sell their kidney. So, the inexplicable Ms. Parker above says people should not be expected to remove a body part as well. Well...no. But what about remove a body part INSTEAD, ma'am?
I don't know what the right policy is. But I am quite certain that the fact that I should not have to do it does not imply that I should be prevented from doing it. Non sequitur. It does not follow.
Especially since I am allowed to DONATE the kidney. If kidney donation were illegal, then outlawing a black market is at least logically consistent. But allowing donation, but not sale...WTF?
The interesting thing is that this happens a lot. If a man buys a woman a nice dinner, they go to a show, have a drink afterward, AND THE MAN PAYS FOR EVERYTHING, there is no problem if the woman goes home with him and they have sex. She can "donate" without a problem. (As the old joke goes, the woman says, "Well, that was great! Now, the rest of your evening is on me.")
But if she asks for, or the man offers, $500 for the sex, then it is illegal. So, again, we don't mind the act, it is only the sale that creates problems.
Why? We think prostitution is demeaning, a loss of human dignity. No woman should have to sell herself like that.
Okay, but does that mean she is NOT ALLOWED to sell herself?
What about surrogate motherhood? We are renting the same part of the body as a prostitute wants to rent out, but for a longer period. Why is voluntary sex, and also surrogate motherhood, legal but prostitution is not? Who would you ratherhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif be, the woman who got paid that 3k dollar to make E. Spitzer holler, or the woman who got $7 per hour to clean up the room afterward? Is it THAT obvious that the $1k/hour prostitute should be "protected," but not the chambermaid allowedwho has to hose down the walls of the love nest? (Of course, that was before DSK decided that the chambermaid could just be taken for the not-asking. If you are French, apparently you believe that "voluntary" sex means that the man wants it.)
My answer is that we have the intuition that these transactions, kidney sale or sex for sale, are not "euvoluntary." Voluntary, perhaps, but not euvoluntary. Gated version of the article here. If you want a copy, send me an email: munger at duke dot edu.
(UPDATE: The most worthy Worstall has written on the specific subject of organ sales. Worth looking at, as always. Among other things, Tim points out that in fact, in the UK, prostitution is essentially legal, though with some quirks. Surrogate motherhood, on the other hand, is for all practical purposes NOT legal as a straight up rental transaction, except for the ability to pay for expenses.)
Friday, August 05, 2011
Trust, but Verify Through Disclosure?
An email from Lucian Bebchuk:
...a group of ten corporate and securities law experts submitted a rulemaking petition to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The petition urges the Commission to develop rules to require public companies to disclose to shareholders the use of corporate resources for political activities. The petition was submitted by the Committee on Disclosure of Corporate Political Spending, co-chaired by Robert Jackson Jr. and myself and composed of ten academics whose teaching and research focus on corporate and securities law.
The petition presents data indicating that public investors have become increasingly interested in receiving information about corporate political spending. It observes that many public companies have voluntarily adopted policies requiring disclosure of the company’s spending on politics, and these disclosure practices can provide a useful starting point for the SEC in designing disclosure rules in this area. The petition then suggests that disclosure of information on corporate political spending is important for the operation of corporate accountability mechanisms, including those that the Supreme Court has relied upon in its analysis of corporate political speech. Finally, the petition explains that the design of disclosure rules concerning political spending would involve choices similar to those presented by the disclosure rules previously developed by the Commission, and thus that the Commission has ample experience and expertise to make these choices .
The full petition is available on the SEC’s website here.
Interesting. What say you?
Your post is full of fail
Over at "Democracy in America", M.S. appears to be a bit confused about what the words "rival" and "excludable" mean, as well as over whether a picture proves or disproves his point.
So, then we have the second claim, that with public goods, adding extra people to the mix with no spending boost is compatible with those additional people getting more or less the same services as the previous consumers. I think my objection to this is best illustrated with a few pictures.
Grand Game, Part II: We Need Another Bubble!
The problem is that I think this level of economic thinking is quite representative of the administration's brain trust.
Eugene Robinson, a pretty sensible guy (at least by WAPO standards) asserts that the only way out of our mess is for housing prices to go back to 2007 levels.
E-Rob! That was a BUBBLE. Those prices had no relation to scarcity values, production costs, or demand. And here's the thing: production values and demand are the things that determine price (except in a bubble, of course).
So, anyway, GG time, folks. Let's do this in comments.
I'll go first: For 30 years, the limo-left has been whining about affordable housing. But now that housing IS affordable, their main concern is to jack housing prices (of THEIR houses!) back up again. Have you noticed that all the places where housing prices fell MOST (NY, Boston, Northern Cal) are the places where lefties cluster like ticks? When it comes to blind self-interest for erstwhile do-gooders, all that compassion goes out the window. It's time get out the air pump, Jasper, and reinflate that bubble right away! The poor can just go screw themselves, because the left needs to keep stizacking that pizaper!
Labels: The Grand Game
Grand Game, Part I: Foot Soldiers For Capitalism
Gosh, why would there be a problem if our "educators" actually hasten to reassure an interviewer, who earnestly writes it down, that the job of colleges is NOT to make "foot soldiers for capitalism"?
Plenty of other delightfully idiotic stuff in this article, tho. Have fun.
My own favorite: The conclusion of article appears to that there is a surprise in the world. If you have no education, you may have an income nonetheless. But if you have no job, it will be much harder for you.
Um...yes. The problem is that so many people in academics have never actually worked that they can't imagine anyone wanting to. Having had several jobs where one showers after work, instead of before like our lefty elites live their lives, I can vouch for the fact that working and producing things is not an affront to human dignity.
Labels: The Grand Game
Thursday, August 04, 2011
Innie or Outie test goes to Court
Stephen Choi, Mitu Gulati, Mirya Holman & Eric Posner
Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, September 2011, Pages 504–532
Abstract: Justice Sonia Sotomayor's assertion that female judges might be better than male judges has generated accusations of sexism and potential bias. An equally controversial claim is that male judges are better than female judges because the latter have benefited from affirmative action. These claims are susceptible to empirical analysis. Using a data set of all the state high court judges in 1998–2000, we estimate three measures of judicial output: opinion production, outside state citations, and co-partisan disagreements. For many of our tests, we fail to find significant gender effects on judicial performance. Where we do find significant gender effects for our state high court judges, female judges perform better than male judges. An analysis of data from the U.S. Court of Appeals and the federal district courts produces roughly similar findings.
"Quality"? Number of opinions...maybe. Outside citations? Okay. But "co-partisan disagreements"? That means when the judge disagrees with people with the same philosophy. So, quality is "incoherent and arbitrary judicial philosophy"? Yes, that is what Judge Sotomayor said, I realize, that women were better because they just make stuff up instead of having core beliefs. And they never do that silly stuff like read the law, or refer to actual opinions, segun la senora. Female judges go with what they feel (again, according to Judge Sotomayor; don't hate me). There are examples of this, of course. Judge SD O'Connor was a random number generator.
But some would say that this puts the "quality" label on judges who write different opinions, and have disagreements, depending on what time of the month it is. *I* would never say that, of course.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis. He wouldn't even THINK that)
Amar Bhide Op-Ed, And M-Yg Hails Need for Better Crises
KPC Pal Amar Bhide has an interesting op-ed with Edmund Phelps.
@mattyglesias tweeted (a double):
1. New political crisis desperately needed to stimulate blog sector during august doldrums.
2. Euro collapse should be crisis enough but US blog audience refuses to follow foreign news.
It's true. Whenever I try to bring up Eurozone, reporters stick fingers in ears and start singing "LALALALALA!"
Labels: articles to read
The Guy's First Name is "Lord"?
The Keynes-Hayek debate was again debated.
George Selgin on the side of the angels. (Really? That's what we've got?) A podcast for background.
And on the other side a guy whose first name is "Lord." Russ Roberts schools "Lord", whose qualifications appear to be a cool accent and a desire to canonize Keynes, in this video.
(Nod to Anonyman)
by the way, FU, we're taking Hong Kong
Wednesday, August 03, 2011
croquet and baked alaskas
Wow. I just got reminded of one of my favorite songs, "Indian Summer". Originally written and performed by Calvin Johnson & Beat Happening, it's been covered by Luna and by Captain America (Eugene Kelly).
Here are all three versions in my order of loving them:
What say you all?
Okies: Behold your Governor
Mary Fallin has a plan for ending Oklahoma's drought:
Wow. Wouldn't you be praying to the same God who SENT THE DROUGHT TO BEGIN WITH? Aren't you asking the Deity to admit his/her mistake and change course? How exactly to you phrase a prayer like that? Do you have to promise to quit doing the bad stuff you did to have the drought come your way? Aren't you just supposed to pray for the strength to deal with the path the Deity in his/her wisdom has put you on? Doesn't Fallin run the risk of getting us all turned into pillars of salt or something for our impudence?
The dog who killed Bin Laden
Are You Kidding?
Ken Rogoff is a very serious man, so I know he is NOT kidding. But what he is proposing is theft, pure and simple.
"...the real problem is that the global economy is badly overleveraged, and there is no quick escape without a scheme to transfer wealth from creditors to debtors, either through defaults, financial repression, or inflation."
So, he proposes that "we" (meaning borrowers; you creditors can go screw!) simply inflate by 4%-6% a year until we have destroyed the value of the outstanding debt.
Remember, there is a huge amount of US sovereign and corporate debt, with fixed coupon rates, in the hands of foreign banks and governments. HUGE. Foreigners "own" nearly $5 trillion in US sovereign debt. I use the scare quotes because if we do the "Full Rogoff" then it turns out they don't own what they thought they owned, after all, which was a promise to pay back the loan.
Let's do an example. Suppose inflation is 2%, the "real cost of funds" is 2% (just say, okay, for simplicity) and has been for a while.
A bond with a par value of $1,000, a coupon rate of 4% (about what US Treasuries are going for) with a maturity 20 years from now, would then be worth its par value of $1,000 (inflation 2% plus cost of funds 2% = 4% current market rate = 4% coupon rate, and again just let me simplify it this way). (A calculator, if you want to try this at home)
Now...we go to 6% inflation, not anticipated but introduced overnight and everyone knows it, it's intentional and it is not going away anytime soon. And say real cost of funds is still 2%.
What is the bond worth now?
That would be $601.49.* $400 of the bondholder's wealth has been destroyed. Well, not destroyed, exactly: stolen. Because the debtors are now paying back in inflated, less valuable dollars.
That is Rogoff's solution? Kill the rich? Abuse the idiots who loaned us money? It's impressive how soon the rule of law dies when the wealthy elites of a nation find it to be in their interest.
To be fair, Dr. Rogoff does recognize the problem: "Of course, inflation is an unfair and arbitrary transfer of income from savers to debtors. But, at the end of the day, such a transfer is the most direct approach to faster recovery. Eventually, it will take place one way or another, anyway, as Europe is painfully learning."
That's a truly remarkable statement. This action, if consciously taken by the monetary authorities, would have the effect of saying that all debtors, ALL DEBTORS regardless of size, are "too big to fail."
Wow. Remember, Dr. Rogoff is the former chief econo-shaman at the IMF. The same IMF that tells poor countries they have to pay back 100% of THEIR debts.
*Yes, that's assuming that the 2% cost of funds, 6% inflation are the new steady values. Rogoff wants 6% inflation to be temporary. But it would change expectations in a way that would make it hard to readjust very quickly. When the inflation (QE3? QE7?) ends, it would not work to say, "Okay, now we want to borrow at 4% again! We promise never to do that whole inflation thing again. That was only a one time thing."
Tuesday, August 02, 2011
Recognize the Author?
Ever seen this?
Of the tendencies that are harmful to sound economics, the most seductive, and in my opinion the most poisonous, is to focus on questions of distribution. In this very minute, a child is being born to an American family and another child, equally valued by God, is being born to a family in India. The resources of all kinds that will be at the disposal of this new American will be on the order of 15 times the resources available to his Indian brother. This seems to us a terrible wrong, justifying direct corrective action, and perhaps some actions of this kind can and should be taken. But of the vast increase in the well-being of hundreds of millions of people that has occurred in the 200-year course of the industrial revolution to date, virtually none of it can be attributed to the direct redistribution of resources from rich to poor. The potential for improving the lives of poor people by finding different ways of distributing current production is nothing compared to the apparently limitless potential of increasing production.
That would be Robert Lucas, The Industrial Revolution: Past and Future, 2004. (Nod to Neanderbill for the cite).
I just finished reading Joyce Appleby's The Relentless Revolution, a history of capitalism. After the first 100 pages, I thought it was one of the best books I had ever seen on the subject. After 150 pages, and from then on, I wanted to through it against the wall. Prof. Appleby has some overt Marxist assumptions, with some stubborn libertarianism underneath them. So she firmly believes that capitalism is necessary for wealth to develop. But then she favors statism and powerful labor unions.
She really makes an effort to be "fair" to statist regimes. For example, on p. 267, Prof. Appleby says, "The USSR startled the world [in the Revolution]. During the seventy-two years, of its existence, the USSR repeatedly affronted the Western world with its flaunting of its indifference to property rights and free enterprise."
Um...Ma'am, excuse me, but the USSR also affronted the Western world with its murder of millions of its citizens and the denial of basic human rights and political freedoms to the wretched population of an area that was nearly 1/5 of the entire habitable land surface of the world.
Still, an interesting book. Her discussion of the direction of China and India are both detailed and insightful, though again she shies away from any kind of critique of the repressive anti-labor policies of the Chinese, after having bludgeoned (with some cause, of course) the repressive anti-union thuggery of the US in the first half of the 20th century.
Labels: books to read
Lithuanian Mayor Deals With Illegal Parking
Mr. Gov: Do you mind if I work, please?
Only one in 20 workers needed the government's permission to pursue their chosen occupation in the 1950s, notes University of Minnesota Prof. Morris Kleiner. Today that figure is nearly one in three...To work as a manicurist requires only about 12 hours worth of training in Alaska and 40 in Iowa, but 600 hours in Oregon and 700 in Alabama. Does anyone believe consumers in Oregon and Alabama are in need of that much more protection from unsafe manicurists? Or that there is much difference as far as consumer complaints are concerned? Mr. Kleiner compared consumer complaints between Minnesota and Wisconsin in certain health-care occupations and found no differences in the number of complaints between tightly regulated Wisconsin and less-regulated Minnesota. [Chip Mellor & Dick Carpenter, WSJ op-ed]
Damon Root elaborates...
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Some Thoughts on the Deal
LeBron on the Euro. Interesting.
Euro has been rising against the dollar, in the "who can be a bigger fiscal idiot?" contest.
Reminds me of the story about the bear.
LAGNIAPPE, courtesy of Amar Bhide: Egypt turns down IMF loans, calling them "tainted." I had an old Econ prof at Davidson who said, at least once a week, that "The only taint in money is the kind t'aint in your pocket." And then he would chuckle, all alone.
Labels: the eurozone is a failure
Environmental Preferences: An Innie or an Outie?
So, it turns out that your views on the environment depend on whether you have an innie or an outie.
Sex and Environmental Policy in the U.S. House of Representatives; Per Fredriksson & Le Wang, Economics Letters, forthcoming
Abstract: Using LCV score data, we find that female legislators favor stricter environmental policies than do their male counterparts. Moreover, gender- corrected estimates suggest that voters do not push environmental policy towards the middle, but rather select the ideologically closest candidate.
"Gender corrected?" Is that one of those operations they do in Sweden?
Cool dudes: The denial of climate change among conservative white males in the United States; Aaron McCright & Riley Dunlap, Global Environmental Change, forthcoming
Abstract: We examine whether conservative white males are more likely than are other
adults in the U.S. general public to endorse climate change denial. We draw theoretical and analytical guidance from the identity-protective cognition thesis explaining the white male effect and from recent political psychology scholarship documenting the heightened system-justification tendencies of political conservatives. We utilize public opinion data from ten Gallup surveys from 2001 to 2010, focusing specifically on five indicators of climate change denial. We find that conservative white males are significantly more likely than are other Americans to endorse denialist views on all five items, and that these differences are even greater for those conservative white males who self-report understanding global warming very well. Furthermore, the results of our multivariate logistic regression models reveal that the conservative white male effect remains significant when controlling for the direct effects of political ideology, race, and gender as well as the effects of nine control variables. We thus conclude that the unique views of conservative white males contribute significantly to the high level of climate change denial in the United States.
In other words, conservatives are more likely to be conservative? Since the only conservatives who are NOT male are presumably female (unless they have been "gender corrected?"), not clear how you separate out the effects of political ideology from gender. These bozos just ran regressions with some fuzzy, general proxies for overall ideology, and then found that a dummy variable for gender (I bet they used 1 for male and 0 for female, to symbolize the outie and the innie, respectively) was still significant. This article is a truly remarkable "magic bullet" study: conservative white males are evil. I know all you lefties THOUGHT that, but is it really worth running fake regressions to "prove" it?
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
PS: I thought I was going to be able to resist this, but I'm much too juvenile. The second author of the first paper... "Le Wang" ... is that French for the reason half our population is stupid on environmental policy? Parce qu'ils possèdent "le wang"?
Snake on a Car
It's just a snake. I have picked up copperheads in our yard, put them in a bucket, and taken them down the hill to a swamp and let them go. This was just a non-poisonous snake. I would have pulled over, taken it off, and let it go. Why kill the poor thing?
Sure, I'd be startled at first. But it's dangerous to drive if you are that distracted, and the driver behind you would likely swerve.
(Nod to the Blonde, who would probably have been firing her sidearm through the windshield)
Rhetoric vs. Reality
Or, the progressives who cried wolf.
For the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.
Let me reserve judgment until the surrender-and-visit-to-the-cleaners is actually set out, but I suspect that come Tuesday I will be forecasting a double-dip. Horrible for the economy. Horrible for America. Horrible for the world. And horrible for Obama's aspirations for a second term as well.
That is a graph of discretionary Federal spending after the "cuts". Yes, it's going up (though note that the data are not inflation adjusted). Doesn't seem much like a disaster, does it?
The “cuts” in the deal are only cuts from the CBO “baseline,” which is a Washington construct of ever-rising spending. And even these “cuts” from the baseline include $156 billion of interest savings, which are imaginary because the underlying cuts are imaginary.
No program or agency terminations are identified in the deal. None of the vast armada of federal subsidies are targeted for elimination. Old folks will continue to gorge themselves on inflated benefits paid for by young families and future generations. None of Senator Tom Coburn’s or Senator Rand Paul’s specific cuts were included.
The federal government will still run a deficit of $1 trillion next year. This deal will “cut” the 2012 budget of $3.6 trillion by just $22 billion, or less than 1 percent.
Bam! The Tea Party just hit America with a steel garbage can! Sproing! America is bleeding profusly. Zoink! the EMTs are coming to take America out on a stretcher. Oh the humanity.
Somewhere, Killer Grease Mungowitz is smiling.
Was Schumpeter a Marxist?
Was Schumpeter a Marxihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifst?
Industrial and Corporate Change, August 2011, Pages 1215-1222
Abstract: This article explores the degree to which Joseph Schumpeter may be regarded as a follower of Karl Marx. It argues that Schumpeter and Marx shared a common vision, including agreement on the growth in the size of the firm and in industrial concentration, the inherent instability of capitalism and the inevitability of "crises", and the eventual destruction of capitalist institutions and the arrival of a socialist form of economic organization as a result of the working out of the internal logic of capitalist evolution. Schumpeter's main qualification is his insistence upon the importance of temporal lags, i.e., social forms that persist after they have lost their economic rationale, and he suggests that the essence of capitalism lies in the inevitable tendency of that system to depart from equilibrium. The article emphasizes the continuing importance of economic history for economics.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
The Hobbesian State of Weddings in Kabul
"The Law on Prevention of Extravagance in Wedding Ceremonies [in Afghanistan] would limit the number of wedding guests to 300 and the amount spent to around $7 per guest...'Why should the government tell people how to spend their money?' said Mohammed Salam Baraki, the owner of Uranuse. 'If they pass this law, it will only facilitate corruption. I’ll have to pay off the inspector to allow more guests in.'" [WaPo]
Interesting prisoner's dilemma. Everyone wants to spend less, AND wants to have the nicest wedding in town.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Monday, August 01, 2011
What in the world?
Let's do a visual version of the Grand Game. Write a caption for this photo:
I'll take a shot: "Boca! Mouth! Boca! Now you say it..."
I also very much like the background, with subliminal messages. Unless that's the teleprompter, and it's just turned around.
It's the final countdown!
CFLs and CAFE
PREFACE: COOL! I'M AN IDIOT. HOW HARD IS IT TO READ BY-LINES? I'LL LEAVE THIS AS I WROTE IT, BUT OF COURSE WILL W DID NOT EVEN WRITE THE POST I AM REFERRING TO....
Will Wilkinson is a bit like Andrew Sullivan. No, not THAT way (not that there is anything wrong with that).
What I mean is that if you know Will is writing on an issue, you have to read him to figure out what he thinks is the right answer. His views are complex, and tend to be derived from specific principles rather than broad ideological doctrines.
About 75% of the time, I think he is spot on. And the rest... well, here is an example. (NO! NOT AN EXAMPLE. WILL W DID NOT WRITE THAT POST. I ALWAYS WONDER HOW PEOPLE CAN GET ANGUS AND ME CONFUSED. BUT...ANYWAY, NOT WILL!)
He seems to take the libertarian paternalist line on CFLs. He appears to support "the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which if allowed to go into effect next year would force Americans to pay less for the same amount of illumination, while starving the atmosphere of greenhouse gases. Patriots like Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry have stood up for the same principles."
Um...isn't it true that if CFLs really cost less for the same amount of illumination, no law would be necessary? (Full disclosure: I think CFLs actually DO cost less for the same amount of illumination, taking into account electricity, and buying and changing bulbs frequently. So every bulb in our house is a CFL or LED. The LEDs especially are great, 1.5 watts and cool to the touch, but the same light as a 25 watt incandescent). The point is that people must disagree about this. And to be fair we have NOT solved the CFL disposal problem, with a lot hazardous waste in the form of mercury. So it is not clear to me that adding light bulbs to the list along with crystal meth as banned substances is really in the service of any principle of liberty.
But then Will goes off on CAFE. (Again, full disclosure: I worked on CAFE for the Federal Trade Commission in the Reagan Administration, and have kept track of it since). I just don't see any principled defense of CAFE, on ANY grounds whatsoever. If you want European size cars and fuel efficiency, then you need a big tax on gas, and then let consumers make their own choices. Since the price of petrol is 1.5 Euros / liter in much of Europe, we are talking prices that are $8/gallon or more in US terms, double our current prices. We can agree or disagree that this would be a good thing, but if you want fuel efficiency that is what you would have to do.
Instead, we have CAFE. CAFE requires that each manufacturer calculate the harmonic mean, weighted by sales of different models, for everything it sells.
EXCEPT....except that there is a dispensation for trucks, including "light" trucks. We now call those SUVs. CAFE is their daddy.
So, to oversimplify only slightly, US car companies did not stop producing small cars in spite of CAFE; they did it BECAUSE of CAFE. CAFE, with its bizarre Jesuitical list of requirements and exemptions, made it impossible to sell full sized station wagons, but actually subsidized giant SUVs that got much worse gas mileage. The best selling American "car" has been the Ford F-150 pickup, for a long time.
And if you think that Americans, in 2006, say, actually wanted little tiny cars but were forced by creepy manufacturers to buy big ass urban assault vehicles, you are just wrong. US automakers conceded the small car market to foreign companies, but the reason is that those companies could take advantage of economies of scale in their home markets because of much, much higher fuel prices.
You really only have to know one thing: Toyota (TOYOTA!) makes a truck (originally the T150, a feckless ploy to copy the F150) that has a 282 hp engine, is five inches longer than a Ford F-150 double cab, and gets 18 miles per gallon. This truck is not sold in Europe or Japan, but the Tundra has been very successful in the US. It's huge!
There are two reasons. 1. Our gas prices are 1/2, or less, those of Japan or Europe. 2. CAFE creates a huge benefit to producing large, fuel-inefficient trucks and truck-like vehicles. It is possible that American consumers actually want station wagons or something in between, but CAFE effectively outlaws them.
So, when Will W says:
Mandatory energy-efficiency standards are a bit of a conundrum for a liberal outfit like The Economist. On the one hand, they clearly are an intrusion into the workings of the free market. On the other, they work. No one beyond the libertarian fringe seems to mind very much, they save us money that we would otherwise be too lazy or short-sighted to save for ourselves, and they’re normally designed in such a way that manufacturers manage to meet them without too much grief.
then he is just mistaken. CAFE has not worked. CAFE has made the problem much, much worse, in effect LOWERING the fuel economy of fleet of vehicles on American roads by forcing manufacturers to make heavy, inefficient trucks instead of station wagons and the cars that would have been purchased without CAFE.
Now, Will might well respond, "But you admit it is the EXEMPTION from CAFE that was the problem that distorted toward trucks!"
Isn't that always the way? When you try to restrict private choices, given incentives (in this case, artificially low gas prices), it takes a proliferating series of new, improved regulations because the problem keeps evolving.
We need a $4 per gallon tax on gas. We are paying huge costs, in terms of wars and hamstrung foreign policy, for our dependence on the Middle East. But we are in effect subsidizing the cost of gas to keep it low. As a result, people want cars that are inappropriately large. And then Will wants to use CAFE to solve the problem created by the subsidy. Then Will wants to extend CAFE to solve the problems created by CAFE.
Suck it up, charge the tax, and let people make their own choices. I'm pretty sure we'll see a lot more Ford Fiestas and fewer F-150s. Even in Iowa.
A GREAT New Idea! Get 'Em at Their Wedding!
So....an idea that our own Homerland Securitation folks can use.
Just "receive" (or fabricate) a totally baseless anonymous tip that a wedding is a "sham." You can easily tell a sham wedding, I suppose, because there will be no large gathering of friends and family from around the world; too expensive.
Of course, when it turns out that there IS a large gathering of friends and family from around the world...no biggie! It means you can strip search all the guests and demand "yo papiss, plis!" If there are 100 or so of those nasty, dusky slant-eyed furriners there, surely a few won't have the proper documentation. Hand-cuff 'em, hold them indefinitely, and then deport them! It's fun, and your prison-industrial complex can hire up those surplus unemployed union members as guards. Everybody wins.
And then the police can go back to their nice white guy houses, secure in the knowledge that they have put the hammer down on some brown/yellow/who-knows-what-if- you-don't-strip-search-them, aliens.
(Nod to Anonyman)
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Jumping the Krugman
P-kroog wants to avoid the mistakes of 1937-8... by making the same mistakes the government made in 1937-8. In a lesser man, I would say he is just wrong, or suffering from epistemic closure in his world view.
But in the case of P-kroog, it's just his way of asserting the fact that he is no longer bound by earthly conventions of logic or evidence. He has, after all, evolved by now into pure energy, and has no corporeal form at all.
Waiting For It To Drop
A couple of folks sent the link to Jon Stewart's bit on the motivating tactics of the Repubs. Pretty funny. And a solid bashing of Chuckie Schumer at the end.
The culture that is China: Ip Man edition
or MAN!, the Chinese still really hate the Japanese.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Has Government Grown?
So, I had a little fuss with my good friend, the ever reasonable and painfully earnest Dr. Brendan Nyhan, @brendannyhan
Brendan tweeted: Big government! "the number of govt. jobs has fallen 2.2 percent" since 6/09. never happened in postwar recovery before (LINK)
I responded: Um...right. The number of gov't jobs NEVER falls, always grows. Why is that inconsistent with "big gov"?
Brendan responded: People think Obama had presided over massive government expansion and it's just not true.
I responded: Check gov as % of GDP! Massive spending increase equals bigger gov, no matter how much u love it
Brendan responded: most of that is denominator shrinking due to recession plus automatic spending in recession
I responded: most but not all. Gov has grown; there may be good reasons...
So, here's the question: NOT is bigger government better, that is a matter of ideological taste. The question is: Has government grown? What measure of "government" should we pick?
Employment: Here is total government employment, from 1960 to the most recent available, June 2011, by five year increments until recently (in millions of workers):
1960 8.7 1965 10.2
1970 12.7 1975 14.8
1980 16.4 1985 16.5
1990 18.4 1995 19.4
2000 20.8 2005 21.8
2008 22.509 2009 22.505
2010 22.730 2011 22.064 (June)
(From Census and BLS data)
I should note that the apparent Obama increase 2009-2010 was at least in part due to 225,000 or more temporary census workers. But then the decline in 2010-2011 has the same cause. Thus, the number of government employees, total is basically flat since 2008. Still these are totals; what about federal government employees?
2009: Total gov workers--22.505 Fed gov workers--2.820 State gov workers--5.330
2011: Total gov workers--22.064 Fed gov workers--2.830 State gov workers--5.091
In other words, federal employees have stayed level, and the states have gotten rid of 250,000 workers. The residual, local governments, must have gotten rid of about 200,000 workers.
Growth of Government? Not really. Government employment has been essentially flat since 2005. In spite of the rhetoric about "an army of new IRS agents," and other fears, government employment grew faster under GW Bush than under Obama, at least so far.
Budget: Has government spending increased? I computed the numbers and summarized them in this table.
Wow. If there was a spending increase, it was the last year of Bush, 2008-9. On the other hand, that was supposed to be one time emergency stuff, TARP and Porkulus.
The table shows that the size of federal spending has increased, controlling for inflation, by fully 25% since 2008. And it is not going back down. The "emergency" is permanent, I guess.
Government Growth? Yes, but less than I expected, and much of it in the 2008-2009 budget year, for which only Bush can be blamed. I guess it depends what your baseline is. If spending should have gone back down, and it hasn't, we can blame Pres. Obama. But the war and the recession... Obama didn't start the fire. Not sure why he would claim credit for throwing gas on it, though.
Scope and Intrusiveness of Regulation: This is mostly perception, I suppose. Not sure that the ranting about big business and the health care rules are really worse than the Patriot Act, Gitmo, and National Security Letters.
Deficit: Fuggettaboutit. Huge increase, much of it under Obama.
So, okay Brendan. Pres. Obama is no worse than GW Bush on making government grow. But Bush was the WORST PRESIDENT in 100 years or more. Is that all you've got for a slogan?
BH Obama: He is STILL not GW Bush.
Dr. Newmark: Incentives
KPC pal Craig Newmark notes that jail, or rather the threat of it, might improve the process of budgeting and governing.
Actually, he cites two interesting sources that make that argument. But they have his endorsement.
(Yes! The inventor of "Craig's List." Not.)
Spent some time with Tofe and Koopa this week, in Brew-town. (Koopa's eyes don't always stick out of his head like that. I blame the Red Bull, honestly. Of course, I'm the idiot with the blue pencil in his hand, taking the picture; nice photography).
Went to the ballpark, and I had a man-salad in the Stadium Club (major props to Koopa, there). Yes, that is spinach, beets, green beans, a half pound of cheese, and a half pound of spicy sausage. MAN salad, my friends.
Got to sit in the dugout, before the game, and walk aroung on the field.
Later, stopped in at Hayek's Drug for some homage.
And, the Brew Crew stomped the stinkin' Cubbies three games, sweeping them back to the next games they will lose, down at Busch Stadium. I have the score cards and beer receipts to prove it! (Sure, yes, as a Cards fan I should root against the Brew Crew. But they are so cute and furry; we saw Braun hit a homer, and Fielder hit an opposite field, 450 foot shot to the upper deck!!! I bet HE eats man salads, though I guess he is now a vegetarian, right?)
Thanks to Tofe and Koopa. Major good time.
Friday, July 29, 2011
We are through the looking glass.
Fears of a default have caused the prices of US Treasury bills to skyrocket.
No, wait, you are not paying attention, look at that again: P*R*I*C*E*S*. Not yields. If prices go way up, yields go way down (though not below zero, really).
So, the market is still predicting zero chance of a default on t-bonds. All the market is predicting is that there will be a shortage of new t-bonds after we hit the debt ceiling. The anticipated shortage is driving prices up.
If we expected a default, or inflation there would be a sharply rising term structure in t-bonds. But if anything the terms structure is falling and getting flatter.
Check this out:
What kind of world do we live in? Nobody in the financial world is worried that the US will not pay its t-bonds. They are only worried that, if we hit the debt ceiling, there won't be enough new debt manufactured by our government to meet demand. Debt is our chief export, the only thing that balances our trade balance with China.
Professional wrestling, by comparison, has some elements of realism. NO ONE BELIEVES DEFAULT IS POSSIBLE.
(nod to @tylercowen , who tweeted the link)
Grand Game, Judge Judy Edition
Got My Hands on Everything, Like Dominique Strauss-Kahn
Show me your O face!
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Dang those danglers!
Will Wilkinson: Democracy in America
Will Wilkinson from his blog at The Economist. He substantially improves the argument about indulgences that I made a few days ago. (Link to my op ed)
What we need to recognize is that prosperity needs stability, predictability, and optimism. But political success requires chaos, confusion, and fear.
Right now, the Republicans seem to be winning parts of the "You should be afraid! Very, very afraid!" race.
But BOTH sides win from telling you, "We can save you! Send money!"
Bricks in St Loo Taken By the Truckload
"Outlandishly Subsidized" Is Not the Same as Cheap
There is an old claim that cookie crumbs have no calories. Furthermore, dessert bites a woman takes off her date's/husband's plate are not fattening. That's why so often women say, "I don't want any dessert," and then will eat more than half of yours. (Plus, I *pity* the fool man who doesn't order dessert. Your woman does not want to be the sort of woman who orders dessert, so you have to do it. Just STFU and order...)
Okay, that's funny and all. But the Germans think of solar power the same way. They have these enormous, utterly irrational subsidies for solar everything, and houses all over that dark, cloudy country have hugely expensive solar panels. (Interesting, and surprisingly harsh, story in Spiegel).
But they say "it's cheap!" because the cost is subsidized by a fictional entity called, "The State." It doesn't actually exist, and the cost is being picked up taxpayers, which of course are the very people touching themselves and squealing with joy at how "cheap" the subsidized solar panels are.
Germans: if you want dessert, just order it. Don't pick off taxpayers' plates.
(nod to the Blonde)
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Church! Congress Must Stop Selling Indulgences
Usefulness of Dismissing and Changing the Coach in Professional Soccer
Andreas Heuer et al.
PLoS ONE, March 2011, e17664
Abstract: Whether a coach dismissal during the mid-season has an impact on the
subsequent team performance has long been a subject of controversial scientific discussion. Here we find a clear-cut answer to this question by using a recently developed statistical framework for the team fitness and by analyzing the first two moments of the effect of a coach dismissal. We can show with an unprecedented small statistical error for the German soccer league that dismissing the coach within the season has basically no effect on the subsequent performance of a team. Changing the coach between two seasons has no effect either. Furthermore, an upper bound for the actual influence of the coach on the team fitness can be estimated. Beyond the immediate relevance of this result, this study may lead the way to analogous studies for exploring the effect of managerial changes, e.g., in economic terms.
Wow. I'm not sure I have ever seen quite so many endogeneity problems in one study. If changing the coach mattered, teams would do it, and keep doing it, until it doesn't matter.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
The (tea) party's over
The head tea-partier in charge, Mark Meckler, is a scary dude. Check out this snippet from a Q&A with him:
Is there any scenario where you think it would be OK to raise the debt ceiling?
Hot Dogs: As Dangerous As Cigarettes?
Here we are told that hot dogs are as dangerous as cigarettes.
Well, maybe, if you have a two pack a day hot dog habit...
Here's my question: There are two different information campaigns going on here. One is the campaign to put pictures and warning labels on cigarettes....and now hot dogs.
And there is a campaign to ensure women who are going to have abortions have to see the ultrasound of their fetus. Other people are trying to display photos of aborted fetuses.
The question: why is that all the bed wetters who want to force us to see cigarette- damaged lungs fiercely oppose the idea of displaying abortion-damaged fetuses?
I'm a libertarian; I think people can get their own info. But you lefties, who think everyone (except you) is an idiot....why no on the fetus thing? Why aren't you consistent?
(nod to the Blonde)
Educated Leaders, More Growth?
Do Educated Leaders Matter?
Timothy Besley, Jose Montalvo & Marta Reynal-Querol
Economic Journal, August 2011, Pages F205–227
Abstract: This article uses data on more than 1,000 political leaders between 1875 and
2004 to investigate whether having a more educated leader affects the rate of economic growth. We use an expanded set of random leadership transitions because of natural death or terminal illness to show, following an earlier paper by Jones and Olken (2005), that leaders matter for growth. We then provide evidence supporting the view that heterogeneity among leaders’ educational attainment is important with growth being higher by having leaders who are more highly educated.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at
Betsy Sparrow, Jenny Liu & Daniel Wegner
Abstract: The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic search engines,
has made accessing information as easy as lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly efforts to find the things we want. We can "Google" the old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions, people are primed to think about computers and that when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory, where information is stored collectively outside ourselves.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
1. Organic food is okay, but it's not that great.
2. Boogity, boogity, Amen.
3. We are just not that into him. And yet we are still getting screwed.
4. Sell, baby, sell!
5. Will the Greens be on the ballot in NC? If the NC Senate, controlled by the Repubs, has any sense they will. If this passes, I will personally be out on the street corner, hawking signatures to get our Green bros and sisters onto their rightful place.
(Nod to the Blonde)
Monday, July 25, 2011
Who killed Col. Mustard?
The spending cuts in the budget deal are a pitiful joke
A trillion dollars sounds like a lot of money, doesn't it? Well when it's (A) over 10 years and (B) from a spending level that is around 3.8 trillion for the current year, it's ez to see that a trillion dollars of cuts is a joke. Pro-rated, that's $100,000,000,000 cut each year from a level of $4,800,000,000,000. Which is 2% and change. Which is pitiful.
Reid’s plan includes $100 billion in savings from so-called “mandatory spending” like Fannie Mae and agricultural subsidies, $1 trillion in savings from winding down the wars, and $400 billion in reduced interest payments from cutting more than $200 billion in spending.
Markets in Everything: Snacks for Zombies Edition
Sunday, July 24, 2011
Maybe This Time
Usually, when I think something is a turning point, it turns out to be a high water mark. Sort of like how Woodstock was not a fundamental step forward in hippie culture, but its never-to-be-repeated apotheosis, after which a lot of boomers starting to go bald (even the women) and get jobs as I-bankers and stockbrokers.
So, with that caveat, let me offer this piece by KPC pal Dave Weigel as a turning point, something we may look back and remember as a start, not an end.
This rant was the start, in some ways, of the organized Tea Party movement. This article by Weigel was basically the end of my campaign, though that wasn't Dave's fault. Beginnings or ends... who can tell, at the time?
Thus it is with the #FuckYouWashington hashtag, and American Elect. The question is whether the idea for a "real" third party (LP is apparently chopped liver?) will catch on. Dave is absolutely right, of course, that electing a President would do very little. Except that it would do a lot. Veto points only work if MCs have the juevos to block stuff. And pretty much none of the MCs have juevos.
(Nod to Brendan Nyhan, or rather @brendannyhan, for the link)
Friday, July 22, 2011
Speech in Indy
My speech in Indianapolis, for the LPIN. (It's long, 52 mins...)
Labels: Libertarian Party
with a Greece-y spoon
Wow. Version N minus k of the Greek bailout has arrived (where k is a positive integer). You can read the full text here.
This is why Lefties say "It's ALL Luck!"
Social Insurance and Income Redistribution in a Laboratory Experiment
Justin Esarey, Timothy Salmon & Charles Barrilleaux
Political Research Quarterly, forthcoming
Abstract: Why do some voters support income redistribution while others do not? Public assistance programs have two entangled effects on society: they equalize wealth, but they also cushion people against random catastrophes (like natural disasters). The authors conduct a laboratory experiment to determine how individuals' responses to the environment are related to their self-expressed political ideology and their self-interest. The findings support the hypothesis that ideology is associated with a person's willingness to use redistribution to reduce income inequality that is caused by luck, but it is not related to preferences for inequality that are not related to luck.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
Thursday, July 21, 2011
This is Why We Need the Interwebs
In several forums I have argued that the contribution of blogs and the interwebs to our knowledge of the "truth" in news is one-sided: We don't so much learn about definitive truth as we get decisive and embarrassing corrections of bullshit masquerading as news reporting. The idea that there is "truth" is shaky; the idea that there is demonstrably false crap is where bloggers come in.
A fine example of this genre is KPC pal M.G.'s piece on shale oil. I'm pretty sure this would embarrass the Times reporter, if the Times reporter were capable of embarrassment (meaning, he couldn't be a Times reporter, I guess). The Times keeps firing its "public editor," who is supposed to be their conscience. I don't think the current public editor is long for this world, if he is going to commit actual journalism like this.
Don't Want Those Third Parties "Spoiling" Elections!
I don't fault the police, 'cause the people that run 'em, got 'em on a short leash
The strange thing is that people want to blame the police for this. Cops shut down a lemonade stand being run by 10 year old girls. Excerpt:
“They told us to shut it down [and we didn't know why],” 10-year-old Skylar Roberts said.
“We had told them, we understand you guys are young, but still, you’re breaking the law, and we can’t let you do it anymore. The law is the law, and we have to be consistent with how we enforce the laws,” Midway Police Chief Kelly Morningstar said.
By a city ordinance, the girls must have a business license, peddler’s permit, and food permit to set up shop, even on residential property. The permits cost $50 a day and a total of $180 per year. City officials said it’s their job to keep everyone safe and healthy, and there can be no exceptions to the rules.
“We were not aware of how the lemonade was made, who made the lemonade, of what the lemonade was made with, so we acted accordingly by city ordinance,” Chief Morningstar said.
“It’s almost like they don’t have anything better to do. I’m going to let it go. I’m trying to teach them good. I don’t think if I keep on, it’ll teach them a good thing,” Amy Roberts said.
So the law wins, and what started out as three girls’ dream of a fun summer business is now just a piece of plywood.
This REALLY makes me mad. All you folks who constantly want more rules, more laws, more government intrusion in our lives are the first say, "Awwww, that's not right!" when the police actually try to enforce the law. In fact, the reporter actually says, "So the law wins..." Um...that's what the law DOES, ma'am. The political law of the U.S. is a set of arbitrary, intrusive rules backed by overwhelming, irresistible physical force. It is the unavoidable implication of the corrupt bargain made by those who think the alternative to coercive law is the Hobbesian state of nature. Letting people make their own choices is just not an option to you folks. So enjoy your police state, and STFU.
Look, as I have written before, Chief Morningstar is right: she can't just suspend the law. The thing, the thing itself is the abuse. People who try, like this goofball, to blame the police are just mistaken. Police do not have, and should not have, discretion. It's a violation of equal protection, and in fact a violation of the very idea of rule of law, for the police to say "The law applies to you, but not to you over there."
Then what IS the solution? Get rid of about 3/4 of the stupid rules on the books. These licenses, fees, and paperwork are an important cause of extended unemployment problems.
Corporate Avenger has this pretty much right, I think. I don't fault the police. 'Cause the people that run 'em got 'em on a short leash. (Definitely NSFW, and extremely harsh. Don't watch it if you are a pussweiler)
The money quote from the video:
A society that incarcerates its own population for any minor infraction where there is 100's upon 1000's of pages and pages of laws and reason for the district attorney and the local jurisdiction and the justice system to put its entire force to removing an individual from his family connection...
Enforce rules made by fools
Violence and fear their tools,
They dress to impress thinking fear is respect
And they leave us powerless.
So don't fault the police, folks.
(Nod to Tommy the Brit)
UPDATE: Don't hate the DA, hate the game.