Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
If Your College Major Contains the Word "Studies," You are Part of the Problem!
(Nod to Kevin Lewis)
KPC Summit: Angus on Monetary Policy
The course has been very fun to teach. Just started it up (this is the second time around), and it has 80 students in the second semester. (That's a pretty big class for Duke....) The "real" sciences all have courses for non-majors, and I have noticed that a lot of students duck Econ because it has too much math. But it's REALLY important (or so Angus insists).
I'll post the four podcasts (John Lewis, Classics; William Gradison, US House and PCAOB; Timur Kuran, Economics; and Kevin Grier, Economics) next week. They were all REALLY good, and I'm sure Angus will be the cherry on top of my sundae of life, as always.
(Angus is flying in tonight. A little trouble, though, because Ms. Angus screwed up his reservations. Okay, no she didn't: Angus got a little confused about the admittedly complex concepts of "before" and "after." But it's all good. The LMM has made a lovely gluten-free chocolate cake in anticipation of arrival d'Angus)
Monday, November 28, 2011
Smart or Stoopid
They keep burying these deeper and deeper
but I keep finding them! Bob Shiller continues his relentless march deeper and deeper into the NY Times Sunday Business Section, but I ferreted his column out on page 8!
No government intervention? Dude!
Labels: economics is harder than that
Speaking of "cute boots"
Sunday, November 27, 2011
I don't Fault the Police....
The passage in yellow is the one I think is interesting. Presumably the Morristown Health Gestapo has potlucks, or during the "holiday season" someone brings in some homemade goodies. And I bet the folks at the MHG do NOT throw the stuff out.
One could say that the food brought to the office is informal, and is not for sale. Right. That's the correct distinction: since the food at the Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center is NOT FOR SALE, it should have a separate category. Not exempt, perhaps (though, why not? The Morristown Health Stasi is exempt, apparently!), but a different category. If you don't sell food, or anything else, you can accept donations of cooked food.
If it turns out there are health problems, ex post, the shut them down. But the idea that you are going to protect poor people by denying them something to eat is pretty strange.
As Mr. McGurn notes in closing (since the piece is gated, you may not have read it): Hillary Clinton visited an orphanage run by Mother Teresa's nuns. She came away impressed by the great love and care she found there. With no small irony, she noted it was a place that "would not have passed inspection in the U.S."
Look, folks, we can't blame the food police. It's the LAW. Get rid of the law. I don't fault the police, cause the people that run 'em got 'em on a short leash.
Al Sharpton and "THE PIE" video
Okay, I enjoy the video and all. But why the "MSNBC" label at the end? Are they making campaign videos now? Turns out that yes, that is exactly what "Lean Forward" is all about.
Fine with me if they are. But the bald abandonment of any pretense of objectivity (MSNBC long ago abandoned objectivity, but they have maintained the pretense) is impressive. As the NYTimes (a pretender of great talent!) says that MSNBC has "embraced a political identity" I guess they know what they are talking about.
Have to wonder about the title they picked. "Lean Forward, America!" sounds a lot like "Bend Over, America!" And that's pretty much what the MSNBC campaign to reelect the President sounds like: bend over, America, and yes you CAN have another.
That's Old, and Authentic! I'll buy it and put it in my bathroom...
Drugs, Arms, and Arrowheads: Theft From Archaeological Sites and the Dangers of Fieldwork
Blythe Bowman Proulx
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, November 2011, Pages 500-522
This article presents findings from a recent worldwide study of archaeological site looting, which largely fuels the international trade in illicitly obtained antiquities. Focused on practicing archaeologists’ opinions about and personal experiences with site looting, the study surveyed 2,358 archaeologists excavating throughout the world in 118 countries. Key findings presented here include archaeologists’ reports of connections between archaeological site looting and the production of and trade in methamphetamine across the United States. American archaeologists report run-ins with “meth heads” on their sites with increasing frequency. Other archaeologists working throughout the world report violent encounters with looters on site, some of whom even report being shot at and assaulted by looters. Overall findings suggest that archaeological fieldwork has become an increasingly dangerous occupation around the world.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
It looks like a 66 game season starting Christmas day. I'll be happy to see my Thunder hooping again.
Reihan Salam on Majors and Pay
Reihan Salam is one of my favorite bloggers.
He comes up big, again, discussing the correlation between majors and incomes.
To be fair, Mr. Salam makes use of KPC friend Code and Culture, which is always a good idea. Code and Culture is one of the most consistently interesting and yet serious blogs out there.
Fair Trade Kerfuffle
I am on record as being a Fair Trade Skeptic. (I admit that Fair Trade is human- caused, but I am not sure that is melting the polar ice caps).
Interesting article from NYTimes, normally a big Fair Trade cheerleader ("If you want to get laid, support Free Trade! Yay, team!")
Critics accuse Fair Trade USA of watering down standards, perhaps motivated by the bigger fees to be earned from certifying a higher volume of products. Some sellers of fair trade products fear that small coffee farmers will lose market share to the big plantations and that companies will have an incentive to include only the minimum amount of fair trade ingredients in their products.
“It’s a betrayal,” said Rink Dickinson, president of Equal Exchange, a pioneer importer of fair trade coffee, chocolate, tea and bananas, based in Massachusetts. “They’ve lost their integrity.”
Paul Rice, chief executive of Fair Trade USA, said the fair trade movement was dominated by hard-liners who resisted needed changes. “We’re all debating what do we want fair trade to be as it grows up,” Mr. Rice said. “Do we want it to be small and pure or do we want it to be fair trade for all?”
He dismissed criticism that his group was seeking to increase revenue for its own sake. “The more we grow volume, the more we can increase the impact” of fair trade, he said. In 2010, companies that sell fair trade products paid the group $6.7 million in licensing fees, which are meant to pay the cost of auditing a company’s production to make sure its fair trade claims are accurate.
As part of his efforts to expand the fair trade designation, Mr. Rice is cutting ties between his group and an umbrella organization, Fairtrade International, which coordinates fair trade marketing activities in close to two dozen countries. He said his group paid outsize fees to Fairtrade International — about $1.5 million last year — and received little in return. The international group has also rejected the changes put forth by Mr. Rice.
“The best thing we can do is make sure we’re staying true to the principles that got us to where we are,” said Rob S. Cameron, the chief executive of Fairtrade International. “I’m not going to water those principles down.”
The brouhaha has surprised many companies that sell fair trade products and will soon be forced to take sides. For consumers who pay attention to where their food comes from and how it is produced, the result could be confusion as they try to sort through a proliferation of competing fair trade labels with differing claims.
Heh, heh heh. He said "brew-ha-ah." About Fair Trade coffee. That's funny.
Things I'm thankful for: Belated edition
Friday, November 25, 2011
LeBron on Black Friday. He doesn't say it, so I will: Robert Frank is a clown.
The LMM just came home with three pairs of "cute boots." I like it very much when the LMM feels attractive (which she always is, objectively), and happy (which she is sometimes not). I love Black Friday.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Airline Travel: If the person beside you is fat, you have to stand?
Happy T-Giving From Seattle!
Raoul sends this from Seattle. I think he actually lives in coffee shops, though he does have a nice place to stay, with a deck. Problem is that the weather.... well, check his glasses.
Labels: We get letters
Sure, They Voted for Buchanan, But They Meant "Gore"!
Typo leads to wrong candidates election...
DERBY, Conn. (CBS Connecticut/AP) — A typo has led to the election of the wrong man to a finance board in Derby.
James J. Butler was the highest vote-getter, winning 1,526 votes for the 10-member Board of Apportionment and Taxation, which oversees the town’s finances.
However, his father, 72-year-old James R. Butler, was nominated by the Democratic Town Committee for a second, two-year term.
The News Times of Danbury and New Haven Register report that James R. Butler says his 46-year-old son is not interested in politics or serving in public office.
A reader asks: "Key, Converse, or Downs? Is this evidence in favor of any one of the above theorists? It probably speaks best of Downs considering the line, "'The error was made in the caucus back in July and nobody picked up on it,' she said." I wonder how elite ignorance fits into Downs' theory? Game theoretic irrationality?!"
(Nod to RWP)
Happy Thanksgiving from Angus & Mungowitz!
Labels: weird holidays
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Renewable Energy is cheaper than coal (?)
Mr. Overwater sends this link (without, I should note, making any claims it is right or wrong. Just thought KPC would be interested, and KPC is interested. KPC is clearly trying to be like Herman Cain, and refer to KPC in the third person. Or maybe Herman Cain wants to achieve the deserved obscurity that KPC achieved long ago? Either way, here is an excerpt from the Google site):
In 2007 we launched our Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal (RE lt C) initiative through Google.org as an effort to drive down the cost of renewable energy. We’ve retired this initiative and continue to support renewable energy in a variety of other ways.
Our approach to RE cheaper than C
Through RE lt C, we made several investments in companies working on potentially breakthrough technologies. For instance, we invested in companies like Brightsource Energy and eSolar to help expand their work on concentrating solar power technology, and in Potter Drilling to advance its innovative geothermal drilling technology. We also sponsored research to develop the first Geothermal Map of the US, helping better understand the potential for geothermal energy to provide renewable power that’s always available. And we’ve had an engineering team working to improve a type of concentrating solar power technology called the solar power tower.
Being a broken record is repetitive, by definition. But the fact is that facts have shown over and over that it is a fact that RE gt C, in fact. Wishing it weren't so is just a giant waste of resources.
As proved by the fact that all of the enormous amount money wasted on wind power has gotten us nothing but a bunch of big towers, sort of an exercise machine for giants to hang dirty clothes on.
Overall, there is one simple truth: if it requires a subsidy to compete, it's NOT CHEAPER! Conversely if it IS cheaper, then it does not require a subsidy to compete.
And the wind cries.....wasteful! Here is some background, for you nuke-haters. In the US, perhaps 100 workers, and more than 30 citizen/bystanders, have been KILLED by wind turbines breaking or malfunctioning.
At Chappaquidick, one innocent person died.
At Three Mile Island, and in fact the total for all US nuclear power operations, cumulatively? That would be zero.
So, a lot more people are killed every year by wind turbines than have died, total, from nuclear power.
Boston Globe Article
Did a fun interview with Donovan Slack (yes, a woman named Donovan) for the B-Globe. Here is the article...
Today’s visit is the latest in a string of presidential trips to battleground states since he introduced his jobs bill in September. The White House has said the forays are designed to take the president’s case for passage of the legislation directly to the public with hopes of pressuring Congress to pass it.
Congress has so far passed only one small piece of his bill, a measure signed by Obama yesterday that will provide tax credits to businesses that hire veterans. The rest appears mired in partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, a logjam the president hopes to loosen by pushing his case directly to the public.
“We’re hopeful that the pressure from the American people is ultimately going to prevail,’’ one of the president’s top economic advisers, Brian Deese, said in an interview yesterday.
But some analysts say the destinations the White House has chosen for the trips appear to target electoral votes in the 2012 election rather than congressional votes to pass the jobs bill.
Shortly after unveiling the legislation, Obama held an event on a bridge that connects Ohio and Kentucky, the home turfs of House Speaker John Boehner and Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, both Republicans. But his itinerary since then has included Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, which do not have similar connections to GOP leadership on Capitol Hill but are all critical battleground states in next year’s presidential election.
It appears that he has “completely abandoned the idea of legislative accomplishments and switched to electoral accomplishments,’’ said Michael Munger, a Duke University political science professor who was a Libertarian candidate for governor of North Carolina in 2008.
Some analysts say it is a necessary tactic for the president.
“Taking his case to the folks in swing states makes obvious sense looking forward to 2012,’’ said Christopher Parker, a political science professor at the University of Washington.
Parker and others believe the logjam in Washington will not ease until the 2012 election is decided and the public gives a mandate to one side or the other to take action. Right now Republicans will not approve large amounts of new spending without an equal amount of cuts, and they are vehemently opposed to tax hikes. Democrats want new spending to accelerate economic recovery, including what is in the president’s jobs bill, but will not make deep spending cuts without new tax revenue.
"Makes obvious sense looking forward to 2012"? Prof. Parker, it's 2011. He is Prez NOW. There has never been a President, in my memory, so utterly indifferent to legislative accomplishment, or to the state of the nation. He does not enjoy working on legislation, doesn't care about policy, and doesn't like having people disagree with him. Much more fun giving campaign speeches to hand-picked audiences, 'cause they will stay say "Yay! You are the MAN!" Even though Prez O is NOT the man. Even Chris Matthews recognizes that Prez O is a nebbish.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Shatners Frying Club
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.