Saturday, July 19, 2008

Can Ya Digg It?

With apologies to Isaac Hayes.

Can ya digg it? I'd sure appreciate it...

Court to Ohio: Be Serious

Hey, hey, ho, ho!

We're on the ballot in....Oh HI oH!

Stossel on Staddon

I have a good friend here at Duke: John Staddon.

Staddon wrote this extremely cool article for the Atlantic.

And then I guy I admire, John Stossel, picked it up
and wrote this.

Good ON ya!

Batman: Yes

Gosh, that's a good movie.

My son and I, walking out of the theater.

Me: "I don't see how that could have been much better."

Him: "Nope."

Since he's 16, this passes for a conversation. And having him AGREE with
me is a major concession.

So, let me note, without spoilers, the following:

1. The photography and lighting. The night scenes, outside
high up in Hong Kong and New York. Wow.

2. Heath Ledger. Unbelievable. I mean, the role was well-written,
but he inhabited it. Actually moved in and lived there, in the Joker.

3. Separately, the character of the Joker, in the movie. Extremely
disturbing, and integrated into the plot, and the feeling, of the movie.

4. The conception of human nature. "Do you have any idea how alone you are?"

5. The riffs, intentional or not, on Machiavelli's theme that the Prince
must sacrifice his soul to damnation if he is to save the city. Utterly sacrifice
his soul, and break his principles, if the city is to survive. There is
no hypocrisy, no morality. There is only survive, or not survive.

I don't see how it could have been much better. Nope.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Would Pigou join Mankiw's Pigou Club?

A great quote from good old AC himself via Gabriel:

It is not sufficient to contrast the imperfect adjustments of unfettered enterprise with the best adjustment that economists in their studies can imagine. For we cannot expect that any State authority will attain, or will ever wholeheartedly seek, that ideal. Such authorities are liable alike to ignorance, to sectional pressure and to personal corruption by private interest. — Pigou A., Wealth and Welfare 1920, p. 296

This is basically what I told my professors when I was in grad school over and over. Its not fair to compare actual market outcomes with idealized public outcomes. It has to be actual vs. actual. I was considered a right wing nut. Then when I took my first job as an assistant professor at GMU, I found myself having to say things like not all market outcomes are unimprovable by real world governments. I was considered a left wing nut!

On balance, I guess though the right wing nut label is more accurate. It never ceases to amaze me how people look to government for solutions to problems at least partly caused by government. For example, is it really a good idea to expand the Fed's powers given their recent performance? Yet that is pretty much what is happening. Similarly, people are looking to governments to deal with rising food prices which are significantly caused by the self same governments' insane agricultural and alternative fuel polices.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Candidate of Change

That's going to leave a mark

In a stunning development, Argentina's Senate rejected the new export taxes that the Executive branch had imposed on certain agricultural exports back in March. It is stunning because the president's party, the Peronists, also have (had?) a functional majority in the Senate. The vote was tied and the vice president of the country (who used to be a member of the main opposition party, the radicals, but got kicked out when he ran with Kirchner) cast the tiebreaking vote against the tax.

President Kirchner only deigned to put the policy to a vote in the legislature after having first imposed it (and witnessed the sometimes massive demonstrations against it over the last 4 months) in order to try and legitimize the policy, but that has failed (Argentina has been essentially ruled by the executive branch under an emergency decree since the 2001 crisis there, which explains why the tax did not originally come through the legislature).

The voting ended at 4:30 in the morning and all 72 Senators voted. The vice president, Julio Cobos, announced later this morning that he does not plan to resign, and the farmers are jubilant.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Some Pix

No reasons, just pix....

The guy must be having one of his "spells."

The nearest exit may be your behind....

5% and rising

From the BLS news release:

Consumer prices advanced at a seasonally adjusted annualized rate
(SAAR) of 7.9 percent in the second quarter after increasing at a 3.1
percent rate in the first three months of 2008. This brings the year-to-
date annual rate to 5.5 percent and compares with an increase of 4.1
percent in all of 2007.

Wow! So soon after we were told that central bankers had "figured it out", that previous inflations were due to insufficient knowledge or the use of a bad macro-model and that the era of inflation was over, we are heading right back into the soup. Yes I know that unemployment and recession are painful experiences that should be avoided if possible. But I also know that the one thing the Fed actually can control is inflation. I am not so sure they can provide a monetary solution to an adverse real event (or sequence of events).

Monetary policy: yer doin' it wrong!

Karma Kronicles

1. "That's how we roll in Philly". Jose Canseco got the livin' crap knocked out of him in a 97 second "fight" with ex-boxer and NFLer Vai Sikehema.

2. On their way to their ritualized, barbaric senseless slaughter, the bulls of Pamplona at least manage to wound 45 humans.

3. I can finally watch college basketball again (LOL not really, there are still only about 4 or 5 good players in division I)! Billy Packer is OUT! In the words of another overrated basketball announcer, YESSSSSSSS!!!

4. Brett meet pine, pine, Brett. You two will be spending lots of time together! The Packers finally pull the plug on the Hamlet of the NFL with a brutal 1-2 punch consisting of "Aaron Rogers is our starter" and "We will not give you your release".

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

From Aggieland

From my pal Steve Pejovich:

The following is the winning entry from an annual contest at Texas A&M University calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.

This year's term was Political Correctness.

The winner wrote:

"Political Correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end."

English to English translation needed

S. Africa's Amla overcomes England bully-boy tactics

This is a good start. The colonial power picking on the ex-colony. Maybe verbal abuse or a knee to the groin? I can't wait for the details.

LONDON (AFP) - Hashim Amla was a quietly proud man after his unbeaten century helped see South Africa to the safety of a first Test draw against England here at Lord's and in the process erased some painful memories.

He must be an old man too if he's been unbeaten for a century!!

During the 2004/05 series in South Africa, Amla averaged just nine in two Tests against England before being dropped after struggling against the short ball. But the men who got him out back then - Stephen Harmison, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard - weren't in the England side at Lord's where a placid pitch made life tough for fast bowlers.

Come again please? Seriously, what could this possibly mean? "Weren't in the England side"?

That didn't stop England peppering Amla on Monday with a succession of short-pitched deliveries and packing the legside, close-in field.

So they were hitting him with the ball? If not, just exactly how does "throwing the short ball" and "packing the legside" equate to "bully boy tactics"?

"I am satisfied to score a hundred at Lord's," said Amla, who was 104 not out when the match ended prematurely thanks to what South Africa captain Graeme Smith said was a "gentleman's agreement" even though the Proteas were only 47 ahead with a minimum of 19 overs left in the day.


"To score a hundred anywhere is a lovely feeling," Amla added.

Sure, just ask Wilt Chamberlain! That's the only part of the story I understand.

Monday, July 14, 2008

And when I die, I'll be Sooner dead

Holy Crap. Stop the presses! Norman OK is #6 on Money Magazines top 100 places to live? Wow. Who knew?

Actually Norman is OK (sorry). All we need here is a good grocery store (there's a Whole Foods in Tulsa now so who knows, we may get one), a theatre that shows art films (Angelika-Norman anyone?), and a giant bubble to keep the wind and boiling hot weather out (like in the Simpsons Movie!).

Banality, thy name is WALL-E

Wow, what a crappy movie. I just kept looking at the clock and wondering if the running time of the film included the cartoon short (which was way better than the movie) and when I could get out of there. It wasn't quite "Antonement" unwatchable, but it was boring, preachy and PC.

America is Walmart. Walmart is bad. Fat people suck. ok ok I get it. Can I see the rabbit electrocute the magician because he won't feed him again?

is about the same stuff only 1,000 times better. Chunks of WALL-E actually seemed to have been lifted from Mike Judge.

Tyler Cowen cost me 2 hours out of my life and I WANT THE TIME BACK, BRO!!!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Radio Ad....Please Listen, and Comment!

A blog post about the radio ad I'll be running this week.

Comments welcome!

Mike Munger

Greg Mankiw's Platform: I give it a gentleman's C

Professor Mankiw "gives an 8 plank platform designed to attract a majority of economists."

1. Support free trade. Sounds good, but it's just not that simple. Bilateral FTAs run to 1000s of pages and often just inefficiently divert trade rather than create trade. It's ridiculous to call the proposed pacts with Colombia and Korea free trade. If you really are in favor of free trade you should oppose these pacts.

2. Oppose farm subsidies. Agreed.

3. Leave oil companies and speculators alone. Agreed.

4. Tax the use of energy. Huh? The first sentence of plank #2 reads "Economists like free markets" so why increase taxes on energy (which, since we already have substantial energy taxes is what the plank should have said)? To make this argument, one needs, in my opinion, to (a) show the negative externality that is not already being addressed by current taxation and then (b) show that our government's marginal tax policy would reduce said externality more efficiently than simply assigning property rights and letting the free markets that some of us do actually like do their work.

5. Raise the retirement age. I have to give an incomplete here. Raise it for whom? workers already in their 60s? In their 50s? How old do you have to be before it's too unfair to change the rules in the middle of the game? In my view you can only consider doing this for workers under 30 and those who follow them.

6. Invite more skilled immigrants. Again, incomplete. Why be so stingy? Lets go with the inscription on the statue of liberty.

7. Liberalize drug policy. Agreed. Well said, and courageously said.

8. Raise funds for economic research. (to be fair there is a good change that GM is kidding here but) Wow, the NBER raises social welfare? Sorry sir, but I think abolish funds for economic research would be more to the point. The NBER is welfare for the well to do.