Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
This just gets worse and worse
Labels: those wacky sub-continent folks
Abolish Inflation Tax
Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money and distorts some income tax liabilities upward, which in turn discourages savings and investment. When inflation is caused by the central bank “printing” money to fund deficit spending, it results in a transfer of real wealth from the holders of dollars or assets denominated in dollars to the government and, in normative terms, may be conceptualized as a tax. The effect of the so-called inflation tax is regressive, because low-income taxpayers often lack the sophistication or liquidity to invest in hedges against inflation.
Following the double-digit inflation of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the U.S. Treasury Department and a host of legal scholars proposed sweeping reforms to comprehensively index the Internal Revenue Code for inflation. However, their proposals were never enacted into law. Instead, Congress chose to respond to inflation on a case-by-case basis. Many of those responses, such as the preferential rate for capital gains, afford relief to the wealthy, but do little to help the poor and middle class. To counter the pernicious effects of inflation and make the Code more equitable, this article proposes an inflation tax credit. Under the proposal, low-income taxpayers may elect between (i) substantiating the average balance of their bank deposits and treasury bills to receive a credit based on that balance, and (ii) taking a standard credit based on their gross income.
Daughter of Cuddles Wins Rhodes!
Congrats to Kate! That is very cool. I met Kate when dad Dr. Greg Niehaus and she came to visit Duke. She "settled" for Stanford, I guess...
Anyway, Kate should know that Angus had an important role in her past. Because Angus used to sing this song, loudly, when "House" was around. I should note, we called Dr. Niehaus "Cuddles," because he was captain of the 1979 Kenyon football team in college. (His teammates called him "House." He's still tied for the Kenyon record for most interceptions in a single game: 3 against Grove City College in 1979) . Just LOOK at the guy: clearly he should be called "Cuddles."
He's the only math-uh-matt-ish-uhn we adore!
By the luh-light of
A silvery slide rule
He'll be differentiating on the floor!
I am 100% serious, by the way. We really did sing this. And Angus really did make it up. Congrats to Greg and Liz, and of course to Kate.
Nod to Chateau
Journal of Public Economics, February 2012, Pages 151-162
Abstract: Labor supply theory makes strong predictions about how the introduction or expansion of a social welfare program impacts work effort. Although there is a large literature on the work incentive effects of AFDC and the EITC, relatively little is known about the work incentive effects of the Food Stamp Program and none of the existing literature is based on quasi-experimental methods. We use the cross-county introduction of the program in the 1960s and 1970s to estimate the impact of the program on the extensive and intensive margins of labor supply, earnings, and family cash income. Consistent with theory, we find reductions in employment and hours worked when food stamps are introduced. The reductions are concentrated among families headed by single women.
Nod to Kevin Lewis
This IS What Democracy Looks Like!
Dan D'Amico: The "Occupy" movement is what democracy looks like. Interesting.
Monday, November 21, 2011
On the Road: Excerpt
How times have changed. Jack Kerouac's description of a hip NY party in the late 1940s in On the Road:
The party was enormous; there was something going on in every corner...There was even a Chinese girl.
Apparently some guy went upstairs with her. But then he was horny again in three hours.
(Nod to Raoul)
Lefties: Ron Paul should be your man
The Thrill is GONE, Baby
Chris Matthews breathlessly comes to the conclusion most of us came to two years ago.
Still, let's be fair: Mr. Matthews gets it right. Our President has zero interest in policy, or change, or addressing any serious problem. He likes to play golf, and he likes to speak to cheering crowds. Obama makes Carter look like Lyndon Johnson, when it comes to effectiveness. As Mr. Matthews put it, and he put it well: "When was the last time a member of Congress heard from him? ...He does not enjoy their COMPANY."
It was not always thus. Mr. Matthews, at one point not so long ago, had a good feeling in his tingly parts, and all the way down his leg, at the mere THOUGHT of putting the words "President" and "Obama" in the same sentence.
There was NEVER any reason to expect BHO to be an effective, or even engaged President. I admit, given the choice between Obama and McCain, again, I'd pick Obama, still. But it would be nice to have some better choices.
(Nod to the Blonde; BHO never sent a thrill up HER leg, either)
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Inequality, take II
So what I was saying yesterday is that graphs like this don't intrinsically bother me:
CBO finds that, between 1979 and 2007, income grew by:
275 percent for the top 1 percent of households,
65 percent for the next 19 percent,
Just under 40 percent for the next 60 percent, and
18 percent for the bottom 20 percent.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
To me, whether inequality is a problem/evil/worthy target of policy depends on how we reached that inequality.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Room Assignment Puzzle
Question: Should Duke allow side payments in room assignment process?
Answer: why not?
Real answer: Nope, they do not allow it. And they are threateing "referrals." I don't know what that means, but it frightens me.
Big Day Tomorrow!
People, tomorrow is World Toilet Day (for realz)!
From the WTO (world toilet organization) website we are encouraged to:
"Join in the celebrations! Click around and find out how you can be part of World Toilet Day celebrations!"
How will you celebrate WTD?
Here is my fondest memory from WTD 2010.
So enjoy tomorrow, but don't be a turd burglar!
Hard Balls Banned In Toronto
State = Violence
I'm always surprised, and a little amazed, when my lefty bed-wetter friends say that there is no violence inherent in the state. People pay their taxes because they WANT to, don't you know. They keep quiet out of respect, not fear. In your mind, friends, that may be true.
In Portland, some cops just straight up pepper sprayed a girl in the face. (if this picture is real; can never know, of course).
(photo credit), click for a more burning image.
This video happened to be taken at about the same time. You can see some people trying to help the girl, on the right side of the view, as she screams and vomits.
The state IS violence. The state does not USE violence, it IS violence. Sure, maybe you think this girl had it coming. Or perhaps, to paraphrase Burke, you fall out with the abuses. The THING! The thing ITSELF is the abuses.
Thomas Hobbes had it right, and nothing has changed. It is not wisdom but authority that makes a political "law." Authority is power, backed by violence. And the reason the state exists is to be able to wield overwhelming, irresistible power, enough to "overawe" even the thought of resistance.
Now, mind you, I don't fault the police. This is dangerous work, the kids are breaking the law, and the kids are screaming vile things at the cops. The point is that all you lefties want a police state. How do you like it now?
Dems love welfare, Reps love corporations. Result?
"The Occupy Wall Street protesters aren't good at articulating what they want, but one of their demands is 'end corporate welfare.' Well, welcome aboard... Republicans, for their part, favor handouts to the nuclear industry. Over the years the feds have provided billions of dollars in loan guarantees and cut-rate insurance to nuclear plants, though even nuclear-utility executives say new plants may not make economic sense in a world of cheap and abundant natural gas. Last month House Speaker John Boehner backed a $2 billion Energy Department loan guarantee sought by USEC Inc. for a uranium-enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio...Yet the parade of subsidies gets longer each year, perhaps, as the old joke goes, because in Washington Republicans love corporations and Democrats love welfare. As House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan puts it: 'How can we save billions of dollars from unjustified subsidy and entitlement programs, if we can't get corporate America off the dole?'" (gated link to whole WSJ article)
(nod to Kevin Lewis)
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Your Euro Death Watch update
Spanish 10 year bond yields hit 6.975% today.
With no growth in sight for Greece Italy and Spain, high re-financing costs like this will make their debt ratios grow even if they manage to balance their budgets. Only large surpluses will stabilize those debt ratios if their cost of funds is 7% or above and economic growth is weak.
Good news, but will it last?
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Things my Provost wants me to know
Apropos of absolutely nothing, the Provost's office emailed me this today:
Markets in everything: Dali Lama doody edition
Aaron King: FInal Note
I got several "Why are you so mean to Aaron King?" emails.
1. Aaron is one of our very best grad students. Hard-working, smart, lots of different projects started. He is going to be famous.
2. Aaron is irrepressible, one of those people who has to make a comment, start a conversation, create a controversy. I would never pick on most grad students this way. But you have to realize that Aaron needs to be the center of attention. (No, not as much as I need to be the center of attention. But NO ONE is as needy as I am.)
3. Aaron graduated from MSU years ago. Yet every day (EVERY. DAY.) he wears an MSU shirt, hoodie, and baseball cap. MSU is all he talks about (when he is not talking about work, which is what he mostly talks about).
4. Aaron does (as we say in the south) "favor" me. Except that he is better looking and more athletic, by a lot. So I think everyone understands that me comparing our looks is ridiculous. But Aaron's style of basketball play is quite similar to mine: neither of us really go around people, but rather we go through them.
5. Aaron's "rants" are famous, and about as sensitive as mine. An example. The Duke Parking office is a disgrace to pencil pushers everywhere. They are incompetent and a waste of a paycheck (that is larger than mine). I want to go to Subway for lunch, just so I can see some better service. Doesn't that sound like me?
My bottom line point is that, if you knew him, you would smack him, too.
Labels: We get letters
Angus sends this picture, outrageous on several grounds. Check it out:
And then shoot the person who did this: Aaron King. Years after leaving his undergraduate institution (MSU), he is still obsessed.
Okay, now the second outrage....Compare to THIS pic, of Angus and I watching the Cards get beat at Rangers park in Arlington.
Aaron and I have played basketball a few times, with him being "skins" and me... just being sweaty. The slapping and thwopping of wet skin, it sounded like a hippo wedding night. Oy.
To test the "look alike" thesis, Angus posed this question to Ms. Angus, showing her Aaron's picture: "Who is this?" Her answer, unequivocally: "That's Munger, when younger. But why would he humiliate that poor dog?"
Lagniappe: This all started when Aaron posted THIS on facebook: How long can I wander Duke's campus in an MSU shooting shirt without being heckled? Show some pride people! MSU would riot if a dookie was walking down Grand River....
To which I responded, in my measured, tempered way: For Aaron King: two things. No Duke student would think of making fun of an MSU fan. It's like making fun of Special Olympics kids, except that some Special Olympics kids can read. Second, good teams win. But a team need not be good to beat MSU. So, it's no offense to see an MSU logo, and no particular sense of accomplishment to beat MSU. The reverse? Where an MSU kid would be mad if he saw a Duke logo (assuming there was someone around to read it aloud to the MSU kid, so he would know what it said)? it's because Duke is something that's worth being upset about. Glad I could clear this up for you. It's the LACK of pride, and the presence of a justifiable inferiority complex, that would make it dangerous to wear Duke gear on Grand River.
The only negotiations more screwed up than Hunter-Stern are those between the Dems and Reps on the (not so) Supercommittee on deficit reduction.
With Congress's deficit-reduction supercommittee barreling toward a deadline for striking a big budget deal, both parties are reaching for accounting gimmicks to help reach their target of $1.2 trillion in savings over 10 years.
Some tools are familiar to old Washington hands, such as massaging budget assumptions and painting rosy economic scenarios. Others include taking credit for "saving" money on wars that are ending and putting off until next year what lawmakers don't want to deal with now.
All told, none of these efforts make the fundamental policy changes needed for a long-term budget fix. "Suddenly everyone is talking not about deficit reduction but deficit-reduction gimmicks," said Stanley Collender, a budget expert and former congressional aide.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I am often impressed by Keynes.
"the political problem of mankind: how to combine three things: economic efficiency, social justice and individual liberty" (Keynes, "Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren")
Much less often am I impressed by Keynesians.
(Nod to Neanderbill)
Something Wrong With Any Man Who Wants to Work with Children?
David K writes:
Over the last week, I have heard a number of talking heads and sports radio types call for parents to be wary of men who want to be around boys. They say that we should err on the side of caution and question men who come into contact with youth. One lunatic in particular said there is "Something Wrong" with any older man who desired to commit his time and energy to being around youth.
I immediately recalled your article on this, and wondered what your thoughts were...
It seems to me that this kind of behavior could drive more men away from daycare and elementary school jobs as well as volunteer and charity related positions where they are sorely needed as role models for all children.
David, I don't have much to add. You said it better than I could have.
What We Have Here....Is a Failure....to ComMUNicate.
Henry Olsen speaks a bitter truth.
I have been saying that BHO can't possibly lose in 2012, because he will be running against the idiot Republicans. Not the one chosen as Prez candidate, but the US House.
Repubs insist on making the same mistake over and over again. When the voters see what the Dems are actually like, the voters go "ewwwwww!" But that is NOT an endorsement of the bunch of whack jobs that the Repubs trot out, or the ideas they have for running our wars, our bedrooms, our borders, or our trade policies.
Anyway, I think O, Henry has this right.
The big question
Over at MR, Tyler pops it: "to what extent can a boost in nominal flow make up for a shortfall in wealth?"
Monday, November 14, 2011
Go Home! Beat It!
Penn State Football v. Duke Lacrosse
Okay, so I was gritting my teeth not to write this because ... well, because why make trouble, right?
But it has to be said.
In the late spring and summer of 2006, the New York Times and other media half-wits went looney tunes over the fact that the Duke administration did not do enough to punish, horsewhip, castrate, etc. the young men of the lacrosse team. Selena Roberts and Nancy Grace stand as having behaved in ways that were especially intemperate. (No really, just take a minute and watch the Nancy Grace thing. It's worth it).
But... our President said "whatever they did do, it was bad enough." Our coach was fired, and the season was ended. The team was humiliated, and subjected to a variety of threats and psychological harassment.
AND THEY HADN'T DONE ANYTHING! There is no evidence that they did anything at all, other than foster under-age drinking. (Hiring strippers is legal, no matter how much you might disapprove on hypocritical moral grounds.) (There may have been racial epithets, according to the woman who said she was raped but wasn't.)
No assault, even. More people died at Chappaquidick than at that house on Buchanan Ave. in Durham. More sexual assaults occurred in the Arkansas Gov's mansion in 1988 than at that house on Buchanan Ave. in Durham.
And now... well, now we are all hearing a little, pretty late, pretty little, outrage about Penn State. At Penn State there WAS a rape... of a child, by an adult. And the administrators did nothing. When finally Joe Pa was fired (unbelievably, his compromise was to finish out the season. nice.), the students actually rioted to protect him. No "castrate" signs.
So, if it's football, there is no race element, and the offender is a pedophile, we'll remain calm? Because it's okay to protect football coaches, because they are more important?
Okay, yes, I understand there has been no trial, no admission of guilt. But there appears to be an eyewitness, Mike McQueary. And he TOLD THE ADMINS, INCLUDING JOE PA, WHAT HE SAW! There was an obligation to go public immediately, and given what was known the coach had to be fired and turned over to the police. The defense "there has been no trial" is only true because Penn State systematically suppressed evidence and kept back information. We'd know by now, if the trial had gone forward, about guilt or innocence. I mean, even the devil was appalled.
Joe Pa, we hardly knew ye. How could you possibly have allowed this to go on? All you haters who were mad at Duke... are you proud, now? This is one hundred times worse on every dimension. Except on the guilt of the "bad guys" dimension, where it's infinitely worse, because there are actual bad guys.
Labels: economics is hard
We Get Letters! Euro-zone inflation...
Will C writes: I recently listened to a Russ Roberts podcast interview where you discussed inflation, among other things. I thought of your interview when I recently read that Italy was suffering from inflation. I wonder if you could answer a question - on your blog or whenever time permits - about Italy, the Euro, and inflation.
I figured that inflation would be about the same in all of the Euro countries since they have a common currency. If inflation is a monetary phenomenon how could Italy have inflation but Germany does not? Perhaps what I read is incorrect and Italy is not experiencing inflation.
The answer is not very interesting. Inflation rates do NOT differ much in the Eurozone. Maybe from a low in Germany of 1.4% to a high of 5% or 5.5% in Estonia. As for Italy? Not so much: Italian inflation is up to 3.5%, from 2.2%, but that's not really inflation.
The differences are changed in measured relative prices in the index calculated from a survey. The biggest components are housing, food, and clothing. These change at different rates (though not MUCH different) in different countries. Some of it depends on barriers to external trade, since there are no formal trade barriers within the EU.
Here is some info: In September 2011, the lowest annual rates were observed in Ireland (1.3%), Sweden (1.5%) and the Czech Republic (2.1%), and the highest in Estonia (5.4%) and Lithuania (4.7%). Compared with August 2011, annual inflation fell in seven Member States, remained stable in five and rose in fourteen.
So the "always and everwhere" bit is a matter of DEFINITION, not CAUSE. The claim is that inflation in the EU cannot be consistently greater than the rate of increase of the money supply (though as we see in the US, it can be less). But there can be changes in relative prices, which will affect measured inflation, sometimes quite sharply. Is that "real" inflation? As far as the people paying the higher prices, sure. But in terms of definition, I'd say no.
In an article about South African led political negotiations in Madagascar, WSJ reporter Peter Wonacutt says a couple surprising things about Madagascar:
"Rich in vanilla, coffee, cocoa and minerals, Madagascar has long been an economic miracle waiting to materialize."
"the first since a military-led coup in 2009 upended one of Africa's most promising economies."
The article also shows a graph of the country's recent growth rates:
What the article doesn't show or discuss is Madagascar's demographics. Almost half of the population is below age 15. Population growth has averaged between 2.5 and 3 percent. Thus, per-capita GDP is not growing anything like what is shown in the graphic.
Mrs. Angus and I were in Madagascar for 3 weeks in 2008, before the coup. There was really only one good road in the entire country (from the Tana airport to the town to the Andasibe-Mantadia national park). Transportation infrastructure in the South and West was non-existent (We didn't visit the north).
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Satire? One hopes
Why would D. Kos give space to this.... writer? Check this out.
Money quote: "While Communists are certainly responsible for more deaths and misery than the Nazis could ever dream of, at least their intentions were good, so I'll give them a pass." Well. Well, well, well.
The Bishop Brings It!
A pleasure to hear the Bishop share so many truths.
He's not just another pretty face.... he's smart!
Labels: free market videos
Economic Freedom Videos
These are well done. The first....
Labels: free market videos
Markets in everything Sustaining the crunch edition
Dan Klein: I am wrong, and so are You
Friday, November 11, 2011
Boys Named Sue: Blown Call, Injunction Sought
Here's the story: high school football team denied chance to kick field goal, on what was clearly a terrible call.
They have a point. But suing? Really? It was 41 yard field goal attempt, in high school. That is not a gimme.
Meme: Koch vs. Soros
How come CG Koch is a bad guy, but G Soros is a good guy? When you look at it objectively, Mr. Koch has done a whole lot of really good things.
Right here in NC, a lot of people have been ugly to Art Pope for supporting right wing think tanks. Like this transparent, ill-informed hack job. (Okay, the picture made me laugh, I liked the picture. But the article is idiotic. Saying Dems have to run against Art Pope? Wow. Hard for Dems to believe the truth, which is most people in NC just don't share their lefty values.)
There are a lot left wing think tanks, you know, supported by public funds. They are called "universities." But again, somehow that's okay, just like Soros gets a pass.
Why do I think that this comparison is a new meme? Two words: Will Wilkinson. King of new memes. Of course, when I looked, I saw this, also. Heee! And then there is this...
Let's put the future behind us
Look, Greece is toast, Italy is toast. The problem is not temporary or caused by the global crisis. Neither austerity or bailouts will solve it.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Time Lapse of BBall Court on Aircraft Carrier
UNC is playing some loser school, I forget which, from the Little Ten.
Cool time lapse of the building of the court where the Little Ten will be humiliated.
The JoePa Faux Pas: Only the Globe
Okay, JoePa is not a good man, as it turns out. He only is out because he was fired. And he was only fired because he got caught. His legacy is forever tarnished.
But....suspend the team? What did those young men do wrong? Fire all the admins, and hate on JoePa, fine. But the young men who are on that team don't deserve the hate they are getting.
The most idiotic, and unintentionally hilarious, suggestion I have heard so far is... I can barely say... well it's in this article.
The scandal should start a national conversation—perhaps including congressional hearings—on how the pursuit of athletic glory has created sports subcultures on campuses in which no one is accountable to anyone.
Did you catch that? CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS! Not even the Onion would have juevos that size. Only the Boston Globe could possibly propose that the collection of perverts and criminals in the US Congress* should investigate the wrong doing of college sports. Maybe the "members" could all stand up and post twitter pictures of their packages? Other members of Congress lined up to support Weiner boy for a long time before they finally gave up. I understand that forced sodomy of a 10 year old is worse then sending out pix of your winkie. But the coverup works the same, in sports and in Congress. Protect our own. Don't admit anything, and maybe it will blow over.
The problems of moral bankruptcy, coverups, and "the rules don't apply to me" are if anything worse in Congress than in NCAA sports.
*There are plenty of good people in the Congress, mind you. Just like JoePa was a good guy. Until he covered up for a friend. Even the good members of Congress do that, too.
UPDATE: I think this article has it exactly right.
Axelrod Tournament: KPC Style!
I run an Axelrod-type tournament among my students each year. (This software is not exactly the same as the tournament we will run, but it is useful for demonstration purposes). And some background on THE EVOLUTION OF COOPERATION.
This year resulted in a particularly strange outcome: one of the student entries thumped the bejeezus out of Tit-for-Tat, and also did well against other strategies. It wins consistently, in various trials and contexts.
Is this an important new discovery? Well, the new strategy is....
HEY, WAIT A MINUTE. A hallmark of science is replicability. So let's throw this open to the smartest folks in the world, the real 1%: THE READERS OF KPC! If the new strategy is really that good, then let's prove it against the first team!
My main man David Sparks and I will run a wide open tourney. You can submit your strategies here. But READ THIS FIRST... Okay, you went to the web site, and had no clue what to do, and now you are back. I TOLD you to read this first. Jeez.
Instructions: Here is a useful planning sheet for writing out your entries before you send them in. You have two options for determining your strategy: You may
(A) choose your first round strategies and responses for each of the 4 second-round and 16 later-round combinations of your and your opponent's two most recent histories, or
(B) choose a play for each of the 25 rounds against each opponent. Choose one (1) method, and plan accordingly. Each play must consist of a number between 0 and 1, inclusive. 0 indicates that you will always defect, 1 indicates that you will always cooperate, and some decimal p between 0 and 1 indicates that you will mix with probability p of selecting cooperate.
In other words, A-type strategies have a maximum memory of two periods. You load the lags in the first two entries, and then after that go forward by specifying your response to any possible combination of your play and opponent's play in the previous two rounds.
B-type strategies allow you to specify a non-contingent stratgey, simply saying here is your play (possibly mixing) for each of the 25 rounds.
Each entry will play a tournament (25 consecutive rounds) against the same opponent, for all opponents who enter, plus a replica of your own strategy, plus 50 doves (All Coop) and 50 hawks (All Def). In other words, the tournament is round-robin, where everyone plays against everyone, plus 100 automatons (50 Doves and 50 Hawks).
The top five winners will get a free "I fought Tit-for-Tat, and I WON!" t-shirts in your chosen size.
And, not least important by any means, you get to name your strategy. Here are the best five name entries from the recent Duke PPE student tourney:
1. "Megan Fox (Great tits, Bad tats)
2. "Remember, kids, ALWAYS use protection!"
3. "Suck on my Rawls"
4. "Munger's Favorite Little French Fry"
5. "Fielder's Tits, Pujols's Tat(ers)"
(And, yes, friends, two of those beauties were submitted by women, so don't get all snooty...)
My own entry: "Hey, Euvolunteer DEEZ!" It did not do very well.
Remember, the actual strategy has to be entered here. If you have questions, post them in comments here and we'll answer them as a kind of ad hoc FAQs section.
Deadline: All entries put into the web site in usable form by Monday November 28 will be eligible for the fabulous prize.
BTW: Check out some of D. Sparks' other good work, which has been featured in KPC before.
Labels: Axelrod Tourney
Two songs about my favorite Hindu God
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
And unfortunately, the lack of serious economic reforms in Italy implies that there is a growing risk that Italy may end up like Argentina. This is not a foregone conclusion but, if Italy does not reform, an exit from EMU within 5 years is not totally unlikely. Indeed, like Argentina, Italy faces a growing competitiveness loss given an increasingly overvalued currency and the risk of falling exports and growing current account deficit. The growth slowdown will make the public deficit and debt worse and potentially unsustainable over time. And if a devaluation cannot be used to reduce real wages, the real exchange rate overvaluation will be undone via a slow and painful process of wage and price deflation. But such deflation will keep real rates high and exacerbate the growth and fiscal crisis. Without necessary reforms, eventually this vicious circle of stagdeflation would force Italy to exit EMU, return to the Lira and default on its Euro debts.
~Nouriel Roubini, January 2006
Labels: and that's the name of that tune
Turn out the lights
Your NBAPA / Eurozone deathwatch updates
1. Wow, players now say they'll take 50/50 revenue split (down from 57% in the last CBA) if the league will negotiate some "systems" issues. The owners are saying that unless they take the 50/50 deal currently offered by today, the new offer will be 47% for the players.
Libertarian Tim Rohr Wins Lenoir City Council Seat
Tuesday, November 08, 2011
This is really, really good
This is interesting, and useful.
Totally nails the problem with the "production v. distribution" mistake that JS Mill made and that so many have repeated since.
And, doesn't it matter that the poorest are much better off? That, unless you want to elevate the sin of envy to the status of virtue ("let's call it 'social justice!', and then it will sound like a good thing!"), should be the main concern.
Labels: I heart capitalism
Update on "Wanker v. Tosser"
A response from a native speaker of the Queen's English, R the Royal, on the earlier "Wanker v. Tosser" question:
This is the kind of question I like having a go at. My views:
Basically, your man Munger is spot on that 'wanker' is stronger. While almost everyone would agree that 'wanker' is full-on swearing, I think some people would place 'tosser' into that grey area (alongside words like 'nob' and 'dickhead' that seem somehow gentler and more like slang even if their sexual connotations are, shall we say, unambiguous). But, although 'tosser' may not be as strong, I think it's almost equally harsh. That is, while it may be more acceptable to use it in company (whatever that means), I'd be careful who I used it about. I'd be readier to use terms like 'twat' or 'cock' to rebuke a friend who was being, well, a twat or a cock. To hiss 'tosser' at him would really sound like I'd lost my rag. Which underlines the key point for me, viz. that it's not what you say but the way you say it, and I think there are few words into which you can inject as much cold contempt as you can into 'tosser'. As such, if anything the Lansley-Bieber example works the other way round for me. While I don't have much complaint about AL, people who do would feel more strongly about him and prefer 'wanker', whereas JB deserves only the disdainful dismissal for which 'tosser' is tailor-made. (Though even that's giving him too much credit. I would favour the description "f*cking non-event".)
And thanks to Tommie the Brit, for the assist.
Labels: separated by a common language
For Those of Us Gearing Up for Deer Season
Don’t Mind Meat? The Denial of Mind to Animals Used for Human Consumption
Brock Bastian et al., Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, forthcoming
Abstract: Many people like eating meat, but most are reluctant to harm things that have minds. The current three studies show that this dissonance motivates people to deny minds to animals. Study 1 demonstrates that animals considered appropriate for human consumption are ascribed diminished mental capacities. Study 2 shows that meat eaters are motivated to deny minds to food animals when they are reminded of the link between meat and animal suffering. Finally, Study 3 provides direct support for our dissonance hypothesis, showing that expectations regarding the immediate consumption of meat increase mind denial. Moreover, this mind denial in turn reduces negative affect associated with dissonance. The findings highlight the role of dissonance reduction in facilitating the practice of meat eating and protecting cultural commitments.
They should probably have controlled for people who were hunters. We don't really think deer are stupid, or have diminished mental capacity. They are, however, delicious. That's why we shoot them, cut them up, cook them, and eat them.
The lead author is Brock Bastian, who has also discovered that violent video games cause violent behavior. (Though, as this article notes, the specifics of the study framework were not "revealed," presumably because they were too disturbing for peer review). I'm not sure we should attribute "mind" Brock Bastian.
Best Abstract Ever
Monday, November 07, 2011
How not to write!
Dutch Boy sends a link, and a viewpoint.
The viewpoint: This 'piece' should be plastered on every school room wall with 'How not to write' written above it. Amazing. She's a PhD candidate at, not surprisingly, Harvard. I thought it might be a satirical piece,
But it's not I'm afraid. Pretty bloated and pretentious stuff, from top to bottom. See if you can read it all the way through. Go ahead, try.
Well, Dutch Boy: I did try. And I sort of did read it, all the way through. But I have no idea what it was trying to say. The impressive thing is that this is likely the third or fourth draft, at least. So it has been cleaned up and clarified considerably.
Fat People are Impatient and Time-Inconsistent
Charles Courtemanche, Garth Heutel & Patrick McAlvanah, NBER Working Paper, October 2011
Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between time preferences, economic incentives, and body mass index (BMI). Using data from the 2006 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, we first show that greater impatience increases BMI and the likelihood of obesity even after controlling for demographic, human capital, occupational, and financial characteristics as well as risk preference. Next, we provide evidence of an interaction effect between time preference and food prices, with cheaper food leading to the largest weight gains among those exhibiting the most impatience. The interaction of changing economic incentives with heterogeneous discounting may help explain why increases in BMI have been concentrated amongst the right tail of the distribution, where the health consequences are especially severe. Lastly, we model time-inconsistent preferences by computing individuals' quasi-hyperbolic discounting parameters (beta and delta). Both long-run patience (delta) and present-bias (beta) predict BMI, suggesting obesity is partly attributable to rational intertemporal tradeoffs but also partly to time inconsistency.
Nod to Kevin Lewis
It was 1979
Sunday, November 06, 2011
Tosser v. Wanker
Okay, so the above sounds like a legal case, perhaps where a sociologist is suing an English prof.
But it is a serious question of "dicktion." (Apologies; couldn't help meself)
Both names are insults, clearly, and both refer to Onanism. (I assume that women are never called tossers / wankers, yes?* I mean, they can technically do the analogous thing, but it's just not the same. Brits, or Tommy the Brit, feel free to join in here...)
My impression is that calling someone a wanker implies total dismissal, not just an insult but saying the person wanking is beneath contempt.
Tosser is in relative terms more jovial, less insulting. The tosser is perhaps a pompous and useless idiot, but a wanker is not serious, someone who is just fooling around. In short, then, Andrew Lansley is arguably a tosser, but Justin Bieber is clearly a wanker.
Of course, I probably have this wrong. Since I am going to London soon to visit Tommy the Brit, I need advice.
Wanker, or Tosser, for the well informed visitor looking for just that right holiday insult? Some other possibilities...
*I found some references that would claim that a female tosser is a "strummer." But that misses the point. The goal is not to find a word for a woman pleasing herself (as the '80s Franklin-Lennox anthem said, "Sisters are doing it for themselves!"). Rather, the question is what is the analogous INSULT. I also found "bean flicker." I wish I hadn't found that, but I did.
I think D-Boo pretty much p'wns this guy. But to be fair the other guy appears to be an idiot.
Still, give credit where credit is due: Donald Boudreaux, we salute you! Grow on, you crazy China! I would like for all of us to be rich, NOT for the US to be dominant.
Main Dog Faces Difficult Choice
Yesterday Hobo faced the kind of difficult choice that only a Wonder Dog could hope to solve successfully. It was quite cold, so I built a nice fire. But the sun coming in the picture window has reached the angle where it is very warm also. Well, you see the problem.
Labels: old dog
Women Drivers: A Political Test
The LMM agrees that all driving, from taxis to bus driving to personal driving, should be done by men. We'd all be safer, and less frustrated.
PROVIDED that in exchange we agree that all political offices above, say, state Senate are held by only women. And in particular those offices where decisions about going to war would be held by women. Again, we'd all be safer. The same impulse that makes men better drivers makes them worse decision makers on the whole war thing.
And Condi Rice and Maggie Thatcher don't count. Give them a driving test. Unless they DRIVE like women, they don't get to make war decisions.
(And, yes, of course we jest. When one controls for other factors, especially for whether the aggressive act is "prosocial," as in the case of war, women are experimentally indistinguishable from men. And they are better drivers. Still it was fun.)
Full disclosure: I know Adam Kokesh pretty well. It's quite true that he's an extremist. In the sense that he says stuff that is clearly correct that most people have no idea how to respond to.
Paul Krugman: meet a libertarian
One thing that amazed me in Mungo's Krugmanectomy below is Paul saying, "Spend money on some useful goal, like the promotion of new energy sources, and people start screaming, 'Solyndra! Waste!' Spend money on a weapons system we don’t need, and those voices are silent, because nobody expects F-22s to be a good business proposition."
walking through a doorway increases chances of forgetting
P-Kroog's new prescription for growth: Whimsy-Cal!
So, all you lefty bedwetters who wanted to defend Krugman as being "not serious" about the alien invasion thing...what now? I guess you have a new answer: Krugman was NOT serious, but he had overdosed on that new Keynesian diet supplement: "Whimsy-Cal!"
The alternative is that we need GW Bush back in office. Right? Elective wars are good for the U.S. and good for the digestive system. Or was that madcap P-Kroog just being "Whimsy-Cal" again?
UPDATE: Some pretty good reasons why this "Whimsy-Cal" thing is pretty dangerous.
Saturday, November 05, 2011
Stephen Fry on Speech and Being Offended
Since I am all excited about V for Vendetta, let me share some thoughts from Stephen Fry, who played the doomed talk show host.
Labels: let freedom ring
End of Abundance
ODC Food Tent
Anonyman sends this photo with the caption "food tent" from the Self-Obsessed DC protest.
Several of you have asked, "Who is Anonyman?" I can only answer by quoting from V for Vendetta: "I'm merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is..." But, okay, here is a picture of Anonyman, hanging with his peeps in the street at Occupy DC.
The entire V speech, if you want it. And you KNOW you want it.
Hot Chicks of OWS
First they came for the puppeteers.....
Man oh man oh man. Liberals are so funny. Check out this article from The Nation.
"A few years ago, Joe Therrien, a graduate of the NYC Teaching Fellows program, was working as a full-time drama teacher at a public elementary school in New York City. Frustrated by huge class sizes, sparse resources and a disorganized bureaucracy, he set off to the University of Connecticut to get an MFA in his passion—puppetry. Three years and $35,000 in student loans later, he emerged with degree in hand, and because puppeteers aren’t exactly in high demand, he went looking for work at his old school. The intervening years had been brutal to the city’s school budgets—down about 14 percent on average since 2007. A virtual hiring freeze has been in place since 2009 in most subject areas, arts included, and spending on art supplies in elementary schools crashed by 73 percent between 2006 and 2009. So even though Joe’s old principal was excited to have him back, she just couldn’t afford to hire a new full-time teacher. Instead, he’s working at his old school as a full-time “substitute”; he writes his own curriculum, holds regular classes and does everything a normal teacher does. “But sub pay is about 50 percent of a full-time salaried position,” he says, “so I’m working for half as much as I did four years ago, before grad school, and I don’t have health insurance…. It’s the best-paying job I could find.”Like a lot of the young protesters who have flocked to Occupy Wall Street, Joe had thought that hard work and education would bring, if not class mobility, at least a measure of security (indeed, a master’s degree can boost a New York City teacher’s salary by $10,000 or more). But the past decade of stagnant wages for the 99 percent and million-dollar bonuses for the 1 percent has awakened the kids of the middle class to a national nightmare: the dream that coaxed their parents to meet the demands of work, school, mortgage payments and tuition bills is shattered. Down is the new up."
Friday, November 04, 2011
A little knowledge is....the BBC!
This is one of the best stats teachable moments I think I have seen in a long time.
An article was published, listing cancer rates of an admittedly dangerous disease.
The BooBC weighs in, noting that the variation is three times as large for some parts of this nationwide sample.
Dr. Goldacre, perhaps a trifle gleefully, points out that these are SEPARATE local samples, and they have associated variance that comes from the sample size. He writes a nice piece, with a fine funnel graph, and notes that the internet is a groovy, groovy thing, because it enables people like this to check things stated as fact by experts like the BooBC.
The BBC "stands by its story." They failed, utterly, to understand the very basic mistake they had made in looking at the information. (Of course, in journalism indoctrination school, they never had to learn any of those nasty stats stuff!)
As Dr. Goldacre put it in a tweet: "Dear sir, I have completely failed to understand a simple criticism of our work, please tell everyone, yours, BBCnews"
My own favorite bit is that in the BBC rebuttal, there are two parts:
1. We did not make a mistake.
2. Why are you picking on us? Lots of people made the same mistake!
Fantastic stuff. A Lagniappe: they are holding a "Bowel Cancer Comedy Night." No way even the Onion could get away with that.
Best Political Ads in Bizarro Terms
Grand Game: Madison Wisconsin ID Edition
I actually can't believe this is true. Which calls out for the Grand Game.
Bars are not allowed to demand valid ID in deciding whether you are of drinking age in Madision, WI.
This is not like voting rights. Even there, I'm not sure that asking for ID is wrong. But at least that is some kind of fundamental right.
There is NOT a fundamental right to drink in a private bar. And the idea that bars would try to discriminate to keep paying customers out, in WISCONSIN, is pretty nuts.
Nod to the Blonde, who at this point is desperately hoping someone will card her...
Election--Calc U Later!
More on the NBA lockout
First, the owners are losing net revenues, the players their gross revenues. Do we really think operating profits are >= labor costs?
Second and more important, owners are sacrificing short run net revenues for long run benefits. If they can shift the cost curve, then the present value of the long run savings should get capitalized into their franchise values. The current owners can capture the long run benefits from "winning".
You're Gonna Have to Face It, You're Addicted to Coke
Hey, I Know You!
Somebody versus nobody: An exploration of the role of celebrity status in an election
Lara Zwarun & Angela Torrey, Social Science Journal, forthcoming
Abstract: This study examines the role celebrity status may play in potential voters’ evaluation of a political candidate presented in a newspaper article. Participants indicated greater intention to vote for a candidate who was a recognizable Hollywood actor than an unknown candidate in a political race, regardless of how substantive the political information provided about the candidate was. This suggests that familiarity with a celebrity can act as a heuristic in peripheral processing. Younger people were more likely to vote for a celebrity candidate than older voters, but how liberal or conservative participants are was not a significant factor in the decision to vote for the celebrity. Nor did participants’ need for cognition or level of political involvement predict intention to vote for the celebrity, suggesting that celebrity status is meaningful to motivated and thoughtful voters as well as those who are less motivated and informed. The possibility is raised that this could be an indication of celebrity status being used as a component of deliberate political decision-making, and future research in this direction is suggested.
Thursday, November 03, 2011
Two Words: MORAL. HAZARD.
As KPC hero Gordon Tullock suggested, if you wanted to increase auto safety, you might do this:
In other words, if players were safer, they would play more aggressively, and the net effect (that's a hockey goal joke!) would be close to zero. People choose their own level of risk. Safer equipment, more risk = no change injuries.
(pic credit to EconoBonus, even though he attributes the idea to Peltzman. EconoBonus's "Fact 2" is not a fact at all, I should say: deaths and injuries per mile have fallen, not risen. It's just an example, though. It's true Peltzman did good research on the subject...)
To be fair, both death rates and injury rates have actually fallen sharply for cars. The effect on pedestrians is ambiguous. I think the most you can say about the Peltzman effect is that the improvements in health that result from improvements in safety may be less than you expect. They do NOT appear to wash out completely. Safer cars and safer roads really do appear to have reduced injuries, by quite a bit.
Your Eurozone deathwatch update
Wednesday, November 02, 2011
"They are hoping that China will want to buy Europe"
I'd do anything for love but I won't do that
KPC friend David Tufte reports that his university (Southern Utah) is looking for faculty members willing to let students stay at their house for the rest of the semester!
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Cheap Sex as a Collective Action Failure
Pileus has a simpler and cleaner explanation.
This downward spiral that women have been caught in—the dwindling supply of available men induces women to make themselves even more sexually available than the next women in order to compete, thereby further dampening the supply of potential mates—seems impossible to break out of. At the heart of the problem is a classic, Olsonian collective action failure. All women would benefit if, collectively, women were to require more of men they had sex with. But every woman knows that her behavior, by itself, will not cause market prices to change, so she cheats—and by “cheats” I mean she cheats the female collective. The problem with this free riding behavior is that everyone faces the same incentives and there is not an effective punishment for cheating. The result: men get more sex and women can’t find mates. Such are the fruits of feminism.
Maybe the old (some would say sexist) adage that “good girls don’t” had something going for it after all.
Did Media Frenzy Contribute to Stock Collapse of Fiancial Institutions?
Tomasz Piotr Wisniewski & Brendan Lambe, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, forthcoming
Abstract: Using a Vector Autoregression framework, this paper investigates the dynamic relationship between the intensity of negative media speculation and the market performance of financial institutions. Evidence is provided that over the sub-prime crisis period pessimistic coverage Granger-caused the returns on banking indices, while causality in the opposite direction proved weaker. These findings may imply that journalists not only report on the state of economic reality, but also play an active role in creating it. Investors acting upon sentiment implicit in media reports would have been able to improve their investment performance, as measured by Sharpe ratios and Jensen's alphas.
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
The Golden Rule
Tyler and I wrote a piece for Grantland.com on the NBA labor situation. The link is here.
Sadly, what ended up appearing in the article was this:
Tyler Cowen and Kevin Grier are both economists. They are also both basketball fans. Here's their take on the NBA lockout.
Monday, October 31, 2011
World Series Thoughts
The trip back last Monday was a little tough. (I had to give, and grade, 180 midterms for two different classes. Just now getting caught up...) Fine to Atlanta. Upgraded to first class, on time. Had a scotch, finished reading BOOMERANG. Nice.
But Flight ATL to RDU delayed, after boarding, because of mechanical difficulties involving wing. No complaints, I want the wings to work. But we sat for 55 mins at gate. I was in middle seat in coach (let me say again: MIDDLE seat in COACH). Guy on my right weighed 450 pounds, at least. His giant ass was almost parted down the middle when he tried to sit down and the armrest was down. Of course he wanted to raise the armrest, which I resisted. If you give a giant fat guy Sudetenland, he always wants the rest of Czechoslovakia.
But the stewardess said we had to raise the armrest. They got him an extender for the seatbelt, a good 12 inches, but the seatbelt still wouldn't buckle. (Seriously, the man was big). They got him an 18 inch extender, and it buckled.
So did I: got to sit under this guy's left butt cheek for 55 mins at the gate, and then for an hour flight. Guy on my left let me scoot over onto his seat a little, but my own ass is none too small (though it does fit between the armrests, and inside a standard seatbelt, without any problem). Pretty miserable.