Friday, July 31, 2009

The House Health Care Bill fully explained in a single picture

"Phone call for Nancy Pelosi!!"

Handicapping the field

Willem Buiter breaks down the plusses and minuses of three potential candidates to be the new Fed Chair:

"The race for the top job at the Fed thus far appears to have three runners: the incumbent, Ben Bernanke, Larry Summers, the current director of the NEC and Janet Yellen, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco . Both Bernanke and Yellen are qualified for the job. Summers is not.

There are several reasons why Summers would be an inappropriate choice as chairman of the Fed. Let’s start with Fed-relevant knowledge and expertise. Summers is not a monetary economist or macroeconomist. He has never shown any serious interest in researching and understanding the workings of the kind of complex, interdependent dynamic systems that represent the environment a central bank operates in. He is the arch-typical quick and dirty partial equilibrium man, full of clever isolated micro-insights, but incapable of grasping the whole. His macroeconomics stalled at the Keynesian cross. As a monetary economist he has never seen a Federal Funds rate target so low he did not want it just a bit lower.....

Summers remains cognitively captured by old Wall Street and a prisoner of its culture and views....

Once the immediate crisis is over, the highest priority should be attached to designing and creating institutional arrangements and incentive structures that will minimize the likelihood and severity of future systemic crises. Summers has never shown any interest in creating institutions that enable policy makers (in the Fed, in the Treasury and in the regulatory agencies) to make credible, long-term commitments. He invariable favours opportunistic discretion over rule-bound flexibility. The last thing the US needs today is a chairman of the Fed with the long-term perspective and attention span of a fruit fly.

Janet Yellen is an outstanding monetary and macroeconomist. I have known this for a long time, because when I came to Yale as a PhD student in 1971, we all passed our Comprehensive Examinations (Comps) in macroeconomics thanks to the ‘Yellen notes’, the wonderful collection of ‘augmented’ lecture notes from James Tobin’s lectures, created by Janet Yellen as Tobin’s teaching assistant. She was a professor at Berkeley for many years, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1994 to 1997 and chair of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors from 1997 till 1999. Her abilities as a regulator and supervisor have not, as far as I know, been tested. These are, of course, at least as important for a chairman of the Fed as his or her command of the conventional monetary policy tools. Her ability to stand up to the populists in the Congress and the relentless lobbying efforts of Wall Street and the rest of the financial establishment are also unknown. But at least we can hope.

With Ben Bernanke we know what we would get. An eminent monetary economist with a pretty good record managing interest rates, quantitative easing and credit easing from the perspective of mitigating the immediate financial crisis and the contraction that followed it; a dreadful regulator/supervisor who ‘did not see it coming’ at all; a fully-signed up contributor to the biggest explosion of moral hazard in US financial history; and the man who allowed the Fed to be turned into an off-budget, off-balance sheet subsidiary of the US Treasury.

In the field of regulation and supervision, I prefer untried and untested to tried, tested and failed."

Holy Crap! "The attention span of a fruit fly?" That was a good 'un! Maybe President O should invite Willem and Larry over for some beers and sponsor a good old fashioned hug-it-out.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ending racism, one drink at a time

Wow, I didn't think that President O was really serious about his "lets talk about it over a few beers" offer to Gates & Crowley, but apparently that is actually happening today.

People, I am pretty sure that, over the course of history, beer has caused a lot more racial incidents than it has defused. I am also pretty sure that President O is not really a beer man.

As always, the Wall St. Journal gets right to the heart of the issue with a hard-hitting piece on what beers are going to be served. President O is opting for Bud Light (thus proving my conjecture from the previous paragraph).

The scandal here is that none of the beers being served are truly "American" (Anseuser Busch is now "foreign owned"):

"We would hope they would pick a family-owned, American beer to lubricate the conversation," said Bill Manley, a spokesman for the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., a California-based brewer that happens to be family-owned.

Jim Koch, founder of Boston Beer Co., which brews Samuel Adams, decried "the foreign domination of something so basic and important to our culture as beer."

Genesee Brewery, Rochester, N.Y., released a statement congratulating the president for having beer at the meeting but adding: "We just hope the next time the President has a beer, he chooses an American beer, made by American workers, and an American-owned brewery like Genesee."

Holy Crap!!

Goodbye to Erlangen

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

Leaving Erlangen today, on the Odzucks' express. (It is not an express; Sebastian drives 140 km/hr on the Autobahn, in the far right lane. Ducks flash their beaks at us, and pass on the left, scornfully). But I am headed for Berlin, and am grateful for the chance to visit with Eva and Sebastian, and argue about the "American Dream" (our selected topic for car trip) today.

A final note about Erlangen: the weather. People have been saying that now that I am leaving, summer is finally here. Here is the forecast:

Thursday Partly Cloudy Rain
High: 22°C / 72°F. Winds: W 16-24 kph (10-15 mph)

Thursday Night Mostly Cloudy Rain
Low: 10°C / 50°F. Winds: Calm

Friday Overcast Rain
High: 21°C / 69°F. Winds: Calm

Friday Night Partly Cloudy Chance of Rain
Low: 11°C / 52°F. Winds: E 8 kph (5 mph)

Goodbye, Erlangen!
I'll miss the bread, the beer, and most of all the good friends. Even thinking of the friends I made here, and how much I will miss them, makes me start to cry a little bit. But the weather....I will NOT miss the weather.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I want you, 'cause I'm Mr. Wayne

So, fairly often you can watch a "Chart Show" on German TV.

They count down the best songs in some category.

They did one on "Disco Classics" music. The top 3?

3. Daddy Cool (1976)
2. What is Love? (1993)
1. Lady Bump (1975)

Then, as a lagniappe, a special performance of "Mr. Vain."

I had never heard of #3 or #1. And the "Mr. Vain" performance was explicitly "Mr. Wayne," so I didn't recognize it at first. Who is Mr. Wayne? Probably there is a whole series of these, including the Carly Simon hit, "You're So Wayne." On the other hand, Germans call the Mike Myers/Dana Carvey movie, "Vain's World," so go figure.

If you want to listen to "Lady Bump," I think this site is relatively free of adware. But the song involves screaming, wide open mouth screaming in every chorus. Amazing.

And here is a music video of "Daddy Cool," by Boney M. I have to admit, Daddy Cool is pretty catchy. But so is syphillis. You don't see that making top ten lists.

"What is Love?" I'll give you. It was irrestible, and you hate yourself for doing that head shake thing from SNL, but you can't help it. I don't know if "What is Love?" is top 5 without this video...but with the video, yes.

So, a question: Lady Bump? Really? #1 Dance Song of all time? I say no.

UPDATE: Martin questions whether the show is "German." I leave it to you to decide. Here is the show; now, click on "Disco Classics," and you will see the line-up, with "Daddy Cool" listed at the top, out of order.

A final note: It is sad to say I am leaving Erlangen this morning, early. But it is great to note that it is 6:30 in the morning, and I am in my office fussing with Martin about which 40 year old American disco songs Germans like (or hate, or have never heard.) Martin is my man. This is how it ought to be.

Rainy Day Vienna

Fortunately, even on rainy days, there are one or two things to do in Vienna.

We visited the Cafe Central; beautiful. (Not me, the Cafe Central).

Spent a lot of time, and yet not nearly enough time, at art museums. GameBill and I posed with Franz Josef (Berin....worship us, now)

We walked outside a bit, but it was rough. It was 12 degrees C, windy, and torrents of rain. We did visit the graveyard of dead umbrellas, turned inside out by the wind. And, as this picture was taken, otherwise gentle Claire was saying, "If you take my picture, I am GOING TO KICK YOUR ASS!" Turns out women don't like to have their pictures taken outside on rainy, windy days. Who knew?

Then, walked over by the University of Vienna (founded 1365). Really, really impressive. Lots of luminary busts. My two favorites were the two Karls, Popper....

And of course Carl Menger. I subjectively think he and I are marginally related.

The Rain in Vienna Falls Mainly on the Food

When I visited GameBill in Vienna, on the first night we feasted on pork. Schweizerhaus Stelze, in fact. Grilled pig leg. A big hit. To your arteries.

On the second day, it rained. But we feasted on Sacher Torte, and later a giant 2 meter long wurst at Centimeter, along of course with a maß bier. (Even I was full, after biting THAT big one.)

On the third day, it was beautiful, and we rode bikes, rented at these "Citybike" kiosks. We had a nice break for a bottle of Grüner Veltliner. (Note the label. I just can't IMAGINE where the whole "Bruno" stereotype comes from. Not that that is BAD thing, anyway. Vienna is just a free-thinking sort of place....)

Blame it on the National Health

In his vapid and wandering editorial, "Is There a Right to Health Care?", "Theodore Dalrymple" pens an amazing paragraph:

"Not coincidentally, the U.K. is by far the most unpleasant country in which to be ill in the Western world. Even Greeks living in Britain return home for medical treatment if they are physically able to do so."

So, for no good reason, my boy throws an entire country under the bus! People, things are so bad in the UK that even the wretched GREEKS crawl back to their ancient hovels and witchdoctors rather than face the horror of the National Health.

I can't think of a more convincing way to argue that there is no such thing as a right to health care, can you?

The author makes another stab at the argument here:

"Whenever I deny the existence of a right to health care to a Briton who asserts it, he replies, “So you think it is all right for people to be left to die in the street?”

When I then ask my interlocutor whether he can think of any reason why people should not be left to die in the street, other than that they have a right to health care, he is generally reduced to silence. He cannot think of one."

So every single Brit gives exactly the same answer? And my oh my "Theodore", what a devastating reply you have. Except that IT DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE OR HAVE ANY RELEVANCE TO YOUR ALLEGED POINT!!

Let me put this in terms simple enough that even a pretentious British physician with a ridiculous pen name might be able to understand:

Anecdotes about failures (or successes) of socialize medicine can never prove anything, one way or the other, about the existence of a right to health care.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Holy Crap! Pity my poor ears

This is so cool. Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr. are on tour together and THEY ARE COMING TO OKC!

Wow! I'm in there like swimwear!

By the way Dinosaur Jr. has a new album out and it is really quite good. If you liked "Bug" or "Living All Over Me" (and who doesn't?), you will definitely like the new one.

They Both Got Their Irish Up....And it was the SAME IRISH

"Henry Louis Gates Jr., the black professor at the center of the racial story involving his arrest outside his Harvard house, has spoken proudly of his Irish roots. Bizarrely, he and the Cambridge, MA, officer who arrested him, James Crowley, both trace their ancestry back to the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages, a famous Irish chieftain." []

Interested in Niall?

"Ruthless" "Cunning" "Brilliant" "Prolific"....All these words are used when describing one of the first great High Kings of Ireland, Niall Noigíallach. Born around 342A.D., Niall was "the son of the Irish High King Eochaid Mugmedon and his second wife, Cairenn. Some wicked-stepmothering from Eochaid's first wife, Mongfind, led to Niall having to overcome his half-brothers - who bore the evocative names of Fergus, Ailill, Fiachrae and, er, Brian - in the battle to be their father's successor."

"The epithet "Nine Hostages" derives from Niall's habit of borrowing people from other kingdoms and refusing to give them back. Different accounts have them coming from a variety of places, but in the best-known version there is one each from the five provinces of Ireland, and one each from the Scots, Saxons, Britons and French. Legend has it that another famous hostage of Niall's was Succat - you'd know him as Saint Patrick.

"Irish sources describe Niall's successful raids on Britain and France, and he was probably involved in establishing a Gaelic kingdom in north Wales. At home, Niall consolidated power in the northern region of Ireland, creating the Uí Néill dynasty that would provide the High Kings of Ireland for centuries. As well as the O'Neills, the Scottish clans MacNeil and MacLachlan can also claim descent from Niall.

"Tradition has it that he died in 405 - though some historians argue for a later date - at sea in the Channel (or in France, or in the Alps, or possibly in Scotland). And despite his rampant and academically proven promiscuity, he was actually succeeded by one of the (presumably rare) young men in Ireland whom he hadn't sired himself - his nephew, Dathi."

You mean this guy Niall STOLE ST. PATRICK, and wouldn't give him back? Now THAT is cold.

(Nod to Kevin L, who only takes hostages when he has to. And he always gives them back)

This just in: Water is wet

Who would have thought so many idiots banded together could be wrong?

"State officials in Hawaii on Monday said they have once again checked and confirmed that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen, and therefore meets a key constitutional requirement for being president.

They hoped to stem a recent surge in the number of inquiries about Obama's birthplace.

"I ... have seen the original vital records maintained on file by theHawaii State Department of Health verifying Barack Hussein Obama was born in Hawaii and is a natural-born American citizen," Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said in a brief statement. "I have nothing further to add to this statement or my original statement issued in October 2008 over eight months ago."

So-called "birthers" — who claim Obama is ineligible to be president because, they argue, he was actually born outside the United States — have grown more vocal recently on blogs and television news shows.

Fukino issued a similar press release Oct. 31, but was prompted to speak out again because of the renewed attention on Obama's beginnings. Hawaii's Health Department has been flooded in recent weeks with questions from individuals and several national TV news networks asking for proof that Obama was indeed born in Hawaii.

"They just keep asking over and over and over again," Health Department spokeswoman Janice Okubo said.

The Constitution states that a person must be a "natural-born citizen" to be eligible for the presidency. Birthers contend that Obama's birth certificate is a fake, and many say he was actually born in Kenya, his father's homeland. They've challenged his citizenship in court."

Granted that this whole flapdoodle is more about President O's ethnicity than his place of birth, it still provides an interesting challenge to those who unquestioningly revere our founding fathers and our constitution, viz. WTF is up with this "born in the USA" requirement to be president?

It makes no sense. If people wanted Neil Young to be prez and Neil would lower himself enough to accept, what possible relevance could his place of birth have on this contract?

Are we afraid that a foreign born president would immediately "sell us out" to his/her country of origin? Would Neil make us all start eating circles of ham and forcing us to call it bacon?

Our founding fathers had a lot on the ball, but this is one of the places where they screwed up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Angus solves the world's problems, part I

The constitution of Honduras has a bullet proof no reelection clause.  Its president, Mel Zelaya, wanted to be re-elected, so he commenced trying to get around the obstacle. Honduras' Congress and Judiciary rejected Mel's moves, but Mel just kept on keeping on, and in the end, the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant. 

The military, in executing that warrant, also decided to deport Mel, which I don't think was in the warrant, is itself unconstitutional, and basically turned the situation into a military coup (or at least a situation with severe coup-like symptoms).

Now, the question is, and has been for several weeks now, what to do? 

To me, this is easy. 

1. Mel agrees to drop any efforts to change the constitution / run a referendum and in return comes back to T-town and finishes out his term as president (the next election is November 29th for Pete's sake).

2. The military personnel who deported him are charged and tried for a mediumly serious crime but Mel pardons them if they are convicted.

3. If Mel reneges on any of this, the military can do what it do and the international community will stfu.

Thats it. Pan comido.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Culture that is Academia

All the way from Naples FL comes this heartwarming tale:

"The same FGCU associate professor suspended for touching a mannequin in a sexual manner has been fired for depositing university checks into his personal bank account.

David Lounsbury, 56, was terminated July 14 after an internal audit found he collected cash and checks worth $15,210.

Lounsbury is accused of asking students to issue checks directly to him, or pay in cash, instead of FGCU for an interview and interrogation course.

Auditors handed their investigation to the university police department, although no criminal charges have been filed.

The department did not return calls about the investigation.

On Thursday, FGCU assigned Lounsbury’s fall courses to other faculty members while stripping his biography from the criminal justice department’s Web site.

In documents obtained by The News-Press through a public-records request, Lounsbury argues he simply was expediting the reimbursement process for supplies he purchased for the criminal justice department, along with his share of fees due to come his way for teaching the class.

“The only one out any money, a small amount, is me, not the university,” Lounsbury wrote in a July 6 memo, dismissing the allegation as a “technical violation.”

Lounsbury, a former Army criminal investigator, initially was suspended with pay Nov. 4 after students reported he touched anatomically correct mannequins in a sexual manner during their death investigation class. FGCU changed his suspension to unpaid leave Jan. 26, but Toll [the provost] allowed him to return this August, instead of firing him, so Lounsbury could “contribute in a supportive way to our learning community.

WOW!! Suddenly I feel a lot better about myself. I have made students cry, made other faculty members yell at me after getting under their skin in a seminar or faculty meeting, posted insensitive remarks on a political science listserver, and take up to 3 months to write a referee report, but hey, I am practically in line for sainthood if this is any guide to what the rest of my colleagues are up to.

ummmm, gravy!!

I have been trying and trying to wrap my head around PK's blog post on why markets can't do health care. Tyler has already discussed some aspects of this in his very gentlemanly way, but I want to focus on something different. In the middle of the post, PK says:

"insurers try to deny as many claims as possible, and that they try to avoid covering people who are actually likely to need care. Both of these strategies use a lot of resources, which is why private insurance has much higher administrative costs than single-payer systems. And since there’s a widespread sense that our fellow citizens should get the care we need — not everyone agrees, but most do — this means that private insurance basically spends a lot of money on socially destructive activities."

I really don't understand parts of this. Look beyond the emotionally loaded "deny claims" and "avoid coverage" phrases. How does denying coverage to high risk people use a lot of resources? Does the case for the government plan really turn on eliminating the insurance physical?

I also can't understand what "our fellow citizens should get the care we need" means. Should the "we" simply be a "they" or is it that everyone should get the same care I want for myself?

Then there is the claim that "private insurance basically spends a lot of money on socially destructive activities".

I assume this last bit refers to reviewing claims for their validity and screening applicants. Would a different approach not review claims for their validity? And if applicants are not screened and price discrimination based on risk is not employed, doesn't that simply mean that the low risk people will have to subsidize the high risk people?

Where is the free lunch here?

Are we really considering providing the same policy to everyone at the same "cost"? So a 45 year old overweight male smoker, drinker and couch potato "pays" the same price as a 30 year old female non-smoker, non-drinker yoga instructor? If so, then the scheme is just plain "stupid" (if I can be permitted an Obama quote here).

If rich people really have lower risks than poor people and the insurance is being funded through progressive taxation, then it's kind of a double whammy for them.

But maybe that's just gravy?

Jackie Robinson? Really?

This is a truly brilliant little piece, from the Daily Show.

It starts out lame enough, just give some dope a chance to make a fool of himself. He actually tries to trade mark the phrase "pull my finger." If anyone owns this phrase, it is Mr. Perko, my Scoutmaster from Windermere, Florida. It was certainly his favorite joke.

But....then.....the interview goes over into something else, pure comedy gold. The Jackie Robinson comparison, and the interviewer's response. I had to go outside for a few minutes.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorJoke of the Day
(Nod to Anonyman, who will let ANYONE pull his finger)

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Culture that is Germany VII

Reuters Berlin, how I love you. You give me what I need:

"German tourists can now reserve their poolside recliners before they have even left home.

The German arm of Thomas Cook, Europe's second largest travel company, has been deluged with inquiries since announcing that holidaymakers at nine hotels in Turkey, Egypt and the Canary Islands can book recliners in advance for a fee.

Germans are famous around Europe for rising early to reserve recliners near the pool with their towels, and then going back to bed or eating a lengthy breakfast.

This often annoys tourists from other nations, but they will be unable to take advantage of the new service -- it is valid only for tourists booking their trips from Germany, Mathias Brandes, head of communications at Thomas Cook in Germany, said."

To quote Mungowitz's students: "ooh, nein!"

I guess I lead a sheltered life but, who in the world goes on holiday to camp out at the hotel pool all day? That said, given that one really wanted to camp out at the hotel pool, who in the world would let an obviously unattended towel deter them from doing so? People, just take Franz's towel, put it in the towel hamper, move "his" chair to a different area of the pool and enjoy the good life!!

Friday, July 24, 2009


1. Hillary Clinton, by North Korea: “We cannot but regard Mrs. Clinton as a funny lady, as she likes to utter such rhetoric, unaware of the elementary etiquette in the international community,” the North Korean statement said. “Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.”

2. Lance Armstrong by Alberto Contador: First he smoked Lance in the mountains, then he dusted him in the individual time trial. Alberto has the tour locked up and Lance is struggling to get onto the podium. Alberto also has the great advantage that he could be doping like crazy but the Frenchies had Lance so much they'd never bust him for it.

3. The Tampa Bay Rays by Mark Buehrle: A perfect game!

4. President O by his party's congressional delegations: No health care bill vote before the recess. Don't you all think "recess" is a perfect term for Congressional breaks?

Party, and the Fußball Jersey

So, we finally had the "American BBQ" party, tuesday night. Weather was great, we cooked a ton of hot dogs and chicken, had potato salad, some really first rate salsa (thanks to der Geist!), and two big and quite tasty wassermelon. Oh, and we had 30 liters of Steinbachbrau in a big wooden keg, and a lot of bottles. Plenty to do. Party lasted until 1:15 am, and then I had to set my alarm for 5:00 am to come back and clean up, before the owners of the property saw all the cigarette butts and beer bottles. On the way home at 1:15 am, I realized that one does not know how much beer one has had until one tries to ride home in total darkness at 1:15 am. (I had torn off my bike generator somehow, trying to set it against the wheel).

The kids in my classes had put in (thanks, especially, to Tim G and Sebastian F) for an official German jersey. It is quite a nice jersey, and personalized, as you see.
I noticed the guys were giggling and punching each other, in that, "You tell him." "No, YOU tell him!" way that guys have.

Then, they told me: The number on the jersey has special significance. It is "09" in honor of the year I taught at Erlangen. But it is also what they imagined was the usual answer I got when *I* was in college, when I asked a girl to dance at a party. That is, she said, "OHHHH....nein."

What ever happened to respect for the professoriate?

(Credit to Robert U for the fotos)

Thursday, July 23, 2009


1. Best.Meal.Ever.

2. Happy days are here again?

3. Bears are better than beards!

4. When did Tyler become a behavioral economist?

What I've been reading

1. American Shaolin. I really enjoyed this book, as did Mrs. Angus. A first person account of a skinny Princeton religion major going to China and training with the Monks of Shaolin Temple. Funny and insightful.

2. 1491. Terrific book about revisionist history of the Americas pre - "contact". This is a must read if you've not yet done so. Dense but way good.

3. The Book of Dave. I have to admit that despite his many faults, I am in the tank for Will Self. Parts of this novel are excellent, and parts really bite the big one. All in all I'm glad I read it, but I can't say "drop everything and read this book" like I can about #s 1 and 2 (However I can say that about "The Quantity Theory of Insanity" and "My Idea of Fun" by Self).

Hurry up and wait

I have been avoiding posting on anything serious lately because I promised Mrs. A after seeing all the jaguars we did in Brazil that I would be in a good mood for 6 months!

One thing that I do find interesting is the clash between the supposed urgency of political action and the implementation of policy that is contained inside the action plan.

Consider first the stimulus bill. President O insisted in fast action using semi-apocalyptic rhetoric to help insure very quick passage. Later, as unemployment rose faster than original no-stimulus projections, and people were either labeling the bill a failure or calling for a second stimulus, President O pointed out, correctly, that it was way too early to judge the bill, because the main chunk of spending wouldn't hit the economy until the second quarter of 2010!

Does anyone beside me think that is funny? By then, according to most forecasts, we should be into a recovery. Hey, maybe that's why fiscal policy is often pro-cyclical? So it will seem like it's working?

It seems like the same course is being taken with health care reform. The cause is urgent, action must be taken now, but I am pretty sure that many of the proposals in the bills under consideration do not take effect until years after passage!

It will be interesting to see if "hurry up and wait" works again.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Robert DeNiro's waiting

One great new trend this summer is the celebrity life coach.

1. Consider how Denzel Washington has apparently convinced Chad Johnson to turn his frown upside down!

2. I believe supermodel Joanna Krupa was so effective at motivating TO that the Buffalo Bills are thinking of hiring her as their receivers coach .

Trade That Americans Want

Wow. This guy is either a crazed, protectionist demagogue,or an idiot.

And I don't think he is an idiot.

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The United States wants a robust trade policy that is in the interest of its people and the "Buy American" campaign will not violate World Trade Organization commitments, Trade Representative Ron Kirk said on Wednesday.

Kirk was speaking after Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) countries agreed in a two-day trade discussion in Singapore to shun protectionist measures, saying it would be a setback for the global economy.

"We would like a robust trade policy that is one that American people believe operates fairly in their favor as opposed to just the interest of one well as protecting the rights of workers that helps us to implement the president's number one objective that is to put Americans back to work," he said.


Hardees Ad: New Breakfast Food

Why, as a child, I dreaded Sundays

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Culture that is Germany VI

I am having a hard time believing that this one is real:

"German police said on Monday that they have arrested one of two British men suspected of selling bags that they said held laptops and mobile phones but which in reality contained potatoes.

Authorities believe the pair tricked around 40 people in two German states driving around in a car with British number plates, convincing them to hand over cash for the electronic hardware but giving them spuds instead.

A shopowner in Hildesheim near Hanover telephoned the police on Friday after becoming suspicious -- he had read in the paper about swindlers in a right-hand-drive car -- but the two men left the scene.

Later the same day in the same town the two men were attempting to sell laptops to a group of people that included, unfortunately for them, someone who had come across them before and who then also rang the police.

"The police were quickly at the scene but the two suspected con men fled ... They sped down Kaiserstrasse in their metallic green Opel, going through several red lights and endangering other road users," police said.

The 32-year-old man was arrested after the chase ended but the second man, aged 20 and whom the police have since identified, was able to flee on foot despite being trailed by a police helicopter. They believe he may be armed."

All this seems impossible but the article says "around 40 people" were tricked. Which leads me to wonder: Do laptops in Germany usually come in bags? Are they ovoid and lumpy? Are German mobile phones 4-5 inches thick and do they smell like dirt? Who buys a "bag of mobile phones" without looking in the bag first? What about a reverse scam, where you sell people "bags of potatoes" that actually only contain mobile phones?

"phone call for Dr. Pangloss!"

Yeah, there's an app for that!

Charges Dropped on "Friend"

The story continues to develop. The one about the prison therapist and the guy that she shot, I mean. Her name is Rider; his is Friend.

Rider shot Friend near his heart on April 21 after an altercation in front of his grandmother's house. She has not been charged.

On May 1, she asked for and received a domestic violence protective order. Friend said the couple soon reunited, however. He was then arrested in June for violating the order.

Carrie Randa, the assistant district attorney handling the case, said Rider had admitted to prosecutors that she invited Friend to live with her, even though she had earlier requested the restraining order.

"He had been staying with her for quite a few weeks before the charges came up," Randa said. "It's a difficult sell to a judge when the victim invites the person into the home to live there and to stay with them."

Yes, it is difficult. Psychiatrist, heal thyself. As I said, my sympathies are with her, but still. The guy may be a manipulative, abusive snake. If so, then stop asking him to come live with you.

On the other hand, she shot him in the back. I think he needs to get away from her.

The Books of Summer

So, I do get some chances to read. Quite a few, in fact. The last five books I have read are kind of a mixed group, no theme I can think of. In alpha order of last name of author:

Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, A MONETARY HISTORY OF THE US, 1867-1960, Princeton. I picked it up just to glance through it again, having read it years ago. But I found myself reading it closely. The history of the Great Depression, as opposed to the crap mythology of the Great Roosevelt pandered by Krugman, et al., is worth looking at again.

Hartmut Kliemt, PHILOSOPHY AND ECONOMICS I: METHODS AND MODELS, Oldenbourg-Verlag. Not a light summer read, but a very fine introduction to a lot of difficult literature. Dr. Kliemt is one of my favorite people, and this is quite a useful book. It is a nice companion, I think to Jerry Gaus's book from two years ago, ON PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS.

Paul Levinson, THE PLOT TO SAVE SOCRATES, Tor Books. A nice premise, one that I have actually always wondered about (and given to undergrads as an assignment): What if Crito had not been a fat drunk bozo? Wasn't there a way to save Socrates? Now, this book is about time travel, and raises some interesting questions about same. But if you are a fan of the classics, this might be a summer sci-fi bon-bon for you. Certainly not a timeless classic, however.

Simon Majumdar, EAT MY GLOBE, Free Press. "One Year to Go Everywhere and Eat Everything." This guy has exactly my sense of humor, and a real desire to eat strange things. And his stories of world travel in search of strange things to eat make mine seem tame and easy. Terrific book.

Mary Roach. BONK: THE CURIOUS COUPLING OF SCIENCE AND SEX. Norton. Mary is a great author, combining sextensive serious research* and the sense of humor of a 17 year old boy in a locker room. The details here are just the best. Consider this footnote, from p. 60:
"In 1998, a woman from Saline, Michigan received a patent for a Decorative Penile Wrap intended to "heighten sexual arousal of a male and female prior to intercourse." The patent includes three pages of drawings, including a penis wearing a ghost outfit, another in the robes of the Grim Reaper, and one dressed up to look like a snowman. I tried to call the examiner listed on the patent, Michael A. Brown, but he has left the US Patent and Trade Office. And who can blame him?"
For days after reading this, I could not stop myself from humming: "Penis, the Snowman, was a jolly happy soul. Thumpety thump thump. Thumpety thump thump." To be fair, there is also a lot of quite serious review of the history and meaning of sex research in the book, some of it remarkable, and some of it bordering on clearly insane.

LAGNIAPPE: I am about 1/3 of the way through rereading Paul Johnson's HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. Opinionated, and pretty tough on a lot of established dear-to-the-left conceptions of the Founding. But full of terrific observations, large and small. One of the great things about being old is that you can reread a book, and it's like it is brand new. 'Cause I do not remember a lot of this, at all.

*This was actually a real typo. I just left it, because it amused me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It just gets people in NC

So, the story gets betters. I mentioned before that the prison psychiatrist, after taking an inmate as a lover, ended up shooting him.

Some new interesting facts:

1. She shot him in the BACK, as he was getting out of the car, at his grandmother's house. Yeah, they were arguing, and he may have threatened her. But she shot him in the back.

2. She had a restraining order against the guy. Fair enough. Except that she decided she liked him, and drove him to the beach for a little swimming and recreation. Ladies, a hint: Restraining orders and little romantic trips to the beach, in the same week, constitute sending mixed signals. We men are just not that bright. So we can't figure out just what it is that you are telling us.

My sympathies pretty much always reside with the woman, in these cases. But how crazy must this woman be?


Two thumbs up, way up, for Wien.

We went on a six hour bike ride yesterday, around the city, on rented bikes. Now, 1 hour and 45 minutes of that time was spent at an outdoor "beach" beside the Danube canal, having a nicely chilled Gruner Weltliner, and soaking up the sun in a nice breeze. So it was not THAT arduous. And since you can turn in the rental bikes at one of many drop-off sites, and then get new bikes when you are ready to continue, that's all good. Very, very good.

On Saturday, it was a special day. It has been very warm here in Austria. So, I arrive, and the temperature drops from 28 to 14 for the high, with 40+ km/hr winds. We hid out in museums. Fortunately, Vienna has one or two museums to choose from, and so this was not unpleasant.

At breakfast yesterday, on Sunday, GameBill and I met the real life Bruno. Or not Bruno, actually. This young man was extremely fit, extremely well dressed (he was a waiter), and had the most beautifully applied eye and face make-up I have ever seen. You know how some women wear too much make-up, and it looks bad? Well, this fellow had on too much make-up, I suppose, except that it was so beautifully applied that it looked really good. I found him very attractive, and I'm not gay. So, Bruno, eat your heart out: The real thing is alive and well in Vienna, and hotter than you are.

I should note, in terms of contrast, that GameBill and I had just come from a mass at the St. Stephans Dom, where a large choir had performed Mozart's Missa Brevis (I think it was Missa Brevis in G, but will have to look it up). It's short, and rather pretty. To hear it as part of a mass at the Dom....a fine way to start your Sonntag.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Culture that is Germany V

I was thinking about callin this post either, "I'm in love with you honey, but not that much!", or "Susanne Klatten is my ATM!". Here is the story from Reuters, and it's a good 'un.

"German police arrested three men suspected of attempting to blackmail Susanne Klatten, the country's wealthiest woman, by claiming they had a secret video of her affair with a Swiss gigolo, prosecutors said Friday.

Munich state prosecutor Thomas Steinkraus-Koch said the trio had been arrested last week by police in the northern town of Duisburg on suspicion of trying to extort 800,000 euros and a BMW luxury SUV from Klatten, heiress to the BMW empire.

"They sent a letter to her threatening to give the sex video they claimed to have to Italian media if she did not give them 800,000 euros and a BMW," Steinkraus-Koch told Reuters, adding that Klatten immediately forwarded the letter to police.

"We assume the story about the video was contrived. At least we have found no evidence of any such video after searching their apartments and computers. There is nothing to suggest they ever were in possession of such a sex video."

The three men aged 33 to 46 -- including one German and one Serb -- were contacted by a police officer posing as an acquaintance of Klatten, he said. They set up a contact phone number for the blackmailers and that led to their arrest.

Klatten, a member of the Quandt family -- the leading shareholders in carmaker BMW -- went public last year with the story of how her Swiss lover secretly shot intimate footage and later demanded tens of million of euros not to reveal it.

Helg Sgarbi, a former Swiss investment banker, was sentenced to six years in jail by a Munich court after he admitted he had seduced Klatten and three other wealthy women. He persuaded them to pay him nearly 10 million euros under various false pretexts.

Sgarbi, a Swiss army lieutenant, won over Klatten, a 46-year-old married mother of three, at a health centre.

She later handed him a cardboard box containing 7 million euros in 500 euro notes, believing he had paralysed a child in a traffic accident in America and was in need of the money.

Klatten ended the relationship after Sgarbi, 44, demanded more money. He responded by threatening to send photos and tapes of their hotel-room rendezvous to colleagues, family and media unless she gave him 49 million euros. She then went to police.

Klatten's wealth is estimated by Forbes magazine at almost $10 billion (6.1 billion pounds), making her the 68th richest person in the world.

The Quandt dynasty had close ties to the Nazi party and built its fortune supplying German army and railway worker uniforms. The first wife of Klatten's grandfather went on to marry Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.

In March, a truck driver from Bochum tried to blackmail Klatten with a similar claim. He was seeking 75,000 euros and is now on trial in Munich for attempted blackmail."

So the actual sex tape dude ends up going to prison for extorting more money from Ms. Klatten and this inspires multiple other people to also try and extort money from her? I think they somehow took the wrong moral from the original story!

Does this oboe make me look fat?

“It’s annoying when people complain about the money,” the Vermont-based counselor Dr. Michele Hernandez, said. “I’m at the top of my field. Do people economize when they have a brain tumor and are looking for a neurosurgeon? If you want to go with someone cheaper, or chance it, don’t hire me.”

And what field is that you ask? Well it's college admissions counseling, for lack of a better term:

"Dr. Hernandez, a former Dartmouth admissions officer, says she counsels as many as 25 students in each high school grade each year. She also offers four-day “boot camps” every August in a Boston hotel, charging 40 incoming high school seniors as much as $14,000 each."

This is from an uproariously funny NYT article on the independent college counselor market, where people can pay "upwards of $40,000" for advice on how to get their kids into the college of their dreams.

There are three things I think are really funny here.

The first is that there is actually a market for this. College admissions involves filling out forms! These people are I guess life coaches (another occupation that astounds me by its existence) for 14 - 17 year olds, telling them exactly what to do so they will be able to write the proper magical things on the admissions forms.

The second thing funny thing to me is how bent out of shape people get about what college their kids go to. While it is true that certain colleges give one a leg up in the "real world", it is actually possible to go to almost any college and do well for oneself. I went to Cedarville College in rural Ohio, ended up at Washington University in St. Louis for grad school (by way of Miami of Ohio, my grandparents could never figure out what state I was actually living in) and have a career and life far beyond anything I'd imagined as a kid. And I am no big deal in any sense of the word.

Mungowitz went to Davidson in rural NC, then Wash U and is now Chair of Duke's polysci dept. John List went to Wisconsin Stevens-Point, got his PhD from the University of Wyoming, took his first job at Central Florida and became a full professor in Chicago's economics department within 10 years of getting his doctorate. Nathan Nunn went to Simon Fraser, then grad school at the University of Toronto, first job at the University of British Columbia and is now an assistant professor at Harvard!

If you raise your kids to think independently and love learning, where they go to college just isn't such a big deal.

The third funny thing to me is people who insist on being called "Doctor". In the opening quote it's always Dr. Hernandez. Angus' law of titles is "the more bogus the degree, the more people insist on being addressed by the title", so I assumed hers was either honorary or in education (which is kind of a distinction without a difference). Sure enough, I looked her up and she has a "doctorate in education from Nova Southeastern University". Sweet!!!!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

What's in a name?

Bill Bonus here:

How I imagine heaven

The Culture that is Germany IV

From Reuters:

"German Police had to rescue a 20-year-old man from a train station suitcase locker after he shut himself in for fun and began to suffocate.

After a night out drinking with friends, squeezing into the locker had seemed like an amusing idea to the man, police in the southwestern city of Ludwigshafen said Friday.

But the laughter faded when he started to run out of oxygen and his companions couldn't open the locker. Police broke open the door and dragged the groggy man to safety."

I guess this just points out the fabulous quality of German public lockers: totally airtight!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Paul Wolfowitz: right on the money, just like always

Try comparing his editorial in today's WSJ here with the facts on the ground today here.

Inductive Bias is Redundant

This exchange, on PSJR, caused me to shoot coffee out my nose.

Dork 1. Apologies to the quants if this is a naive question, but as someone just coming to quantitative methods I was wondering if there is anyone currently using machine learning algorithms to study political data?

Yes, I realize machine learning is going to be over my head by several decades, but I am excited about anything that promises to help manage inductive bias.

Dork 2. Define "inductive bias". How is it different from "bias"?

Comic Genius Quant Type 1.
Define "inductive bias". How is it different from "inductive"?

Wien--Three Nights in the Lights

So...heading over to Wien, to visit with GameBill and enjoy the city. GameBill had suggested that I take the train (it's true you can get a ticket for 39 euro each way, if you get a ticket early. But that seems to mean "two years in advance.")

But Air Berlin has direct flights, Nuremberg -- Vienna, 90 euro, compared to 72 euro for the train. So, I broke my own rule (no planes while I'm in Europe, except going or coming) and got a plane ticket.

I am looking forward to it. Three nights, and no particular plans, except that GameBill and I have to work on our paper for APSA.

UPDATE: Looking at some touristy websites, I found the "Wine Tasting Bike Tour." Does anyone see a possible problem with that? As Lynyrd Skynyrd put it, "Oak tree, you are in my way." Still, tempting.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Oklahoma where the slurs come whistling out the Senator

Sorry for the commercial at the beginning but this is a good 'un!

Hat tip to Norman (who lives in Norman).

Confirm her

No one has come out of the Sotomayor hearing looking like anything but an idiot.

With the exception of Ms. Sotomayor, whom I like more and more, personally. I don't think we agree on much. But she is replacing that doofus David Souter, and I think she has a 25% higher IQ than he did, maybe more (she is surely a lot smarter than I am). And she is no more liberal than Souter, so no change in balance on the court. And she appears to feel obliged to give actual reasons, based on the law.

So, I say, confirm her.

This made me laugh.

But this time it's different??

native americans

Walking Through the Drive-Through at Naugles

All right, KPC fans, who is this fine fellow? He is a senior marketing manager at Avaya.

And he's married, I believe, to Risa P. Gorelick, at Ramapo College.

Finally, as the title suggests, this now-respectable gent is rather famous for insisting on walking through the drive-through line at Naugles, even on nights with heavy snow and wind. See, Naugles closed the main part of the building about 11 pm, but was open LATE at the drive-through. (And also early. It never closed). Just picture it: Snowing, dark, 2:45 am. Lots of cars in line. Car, car, car, guy standing "in line", car, car... Guy inside, running drive-through hears a voice order, thinks nothing of it. "Pull ahead please." Then, walking out of the night, dripping: the guy pictured above. (Except he had shoulder length curly hair then, and a big mustache.) No car, just a heavy coat. Pays for food, and strides into the blackness.

One of my favorite memories of Naugles: If you ordered the nachos, and a Dr. Pepper, the front person would yell back to the kitchen: "Macho Nacho, and a Doctor!" Here is (a picture of) an actual Naugles hat, worn by inmates: We made up a menu item, and tried to order it once, just to see what would happen: "Ort Egg on a Stick." The cashier did not see the humor in this request. (Maybe because she was wearing one of those hats, above). (To be fair, this was Angus's idea, through and through. I just giggled.)

Dick Naugle had two great ideas. One was the motto, which was printed on the napkins. I believe it went like this: "Dick Naugle says: Serve food fast. Keep place clean. Keep customer satisfied." We would sometimes debate if this was a badly failed attempt at a haiku. I still think it was.

The other idea was non-exclusive franchises. Another Naugles might open next door to yours. As was documented here, that turns out to be a bad idea, in terms of selling franchises.

Actually, Dick Naugle had one other idea: commercials many people found flagrantly racist. This is the only example I can find, and it's pretty tame.

Naugles was merged back with Del Taco in 1988. Naugles: RIP.

(A credit for the YouTube ad)

New Anti-Terrorist Weapon: Facebook. And IE 5.1. Oh, and PEANUT BUTTER. Check Your Closets

"[AUDIENCE QUESTION:] Can you please let the staff use an alternative web browser called Firefox? I just - (applause) - I just moved to the State Department from the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency and was surprised that State doesn't use this browser. It was approved for the entire intelligence community, so I don't understand why State can't use it. It's a much safer program. Thank you. (Applause.)

[SECRETARY CLINTON:] Well, apparently, there's a lot of support for this suggestion. (Laughter.) I don't know the answer. Pat, do you know the answer? (Laughter.)

[UNDER SECRETARY KENNEDY:] The answer is at the moment, it's an expense question.
We can --

[AUDIENCE MEMBER:] It's free. (Laughter.)"

[State Department town hall, July 10]

(Nod to Kevin L)

UPDATE: The rest of the conversation, reported in the UK....

"Nothing is free," Kennedy responded. "It’s a question of the resources to manage multiple systems. It is something we’re looking at...It has to be administered. The patches have to be loaded. It may seem small, but when you’re running a worldwide operation and trying to push, as the Secretary rightly said, out FOBs [for remote log-ins] and other devices, you’re caught in the terrible bind of triage of trying to get the most out that you can, but knowing you can’t do everything at once."

Clinton then told her staff to have a look through their closets. "The more money we can save on stuff that is not cutting edge, the more resources we’ll have to shift to do things that will give us more tools," she said.

"[That reminds] me of what I occasionally sometimes do, which I call shopping in my closet, which means opening doors and seeing what I actually already have, which I really suggest to everybody, because it’s quite enlightening. And so when you go to the store and you buy, let’s say, peanut butter and you don’t realize you’ve got two jars already at the back of the shelf – I mean, that sounds simplistic, but help us save money on stuff that we shouldn’t be wasting money on, and give us the chance to manage our resources to do more things like Firefox, okay?"

If the State Department buys less peanut butter, Clinton may even let them use Facebook. During a state department town hall meeting earlier this year, a bigwig at the US embassy in Mexico City told Clinton that the social networking site is a great way to prevent solipsistic stupid people from entering the country.

"Facebook, MySpace, and other web 2.0 social networking technologies will significantly enhance the Department’s diplomacy efforts and business goals," he said. "For example, an astute consular officer in Hermosillo recently used Facebook to determine a visa applicant’s ineligibility based on information contained on the applicant’s Facebook page, proving its value as an anti-fraud tool."

And Clinton seemed to like the idea. "We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to be smarter about using technology. So I think that’s a great example, the Facebook example. And you know, we might want to follow up on that example, checking out Facebook. For everybody who is applying for a visa, you just should know that the State Department is on the watch here for Facebook."

Interview on Health Care

Did an "interview" with old friend, student, and colleague Don Taylor. He posted it on his (relatively) new blog, FREEFORALL (that's a health care joke, get it, Free For All?). Anyway, here is the interview....

An excerpt:

Question 1. What is the biggest problem facing the U.S. health care system?

Sharply rising costs. Two ways to "solve" the costs problem: (a) give everyone insurance, so that they are insulated from cost increases. (b) reduce cost increases, and find ways to make basic health care cheaper.

(a) is the most talked about option, but it is a bad idea. Someone (the taxpayer) still pays for insurance, so we are not really protected from cost increases. The French economist, Frederic Bastiat, said that the state is the fiction that each of us should be supported by all of us. It may be that universal coverage for serious illness would protect people, but "free" health care is too expensive, unless we get a handle on costs.

Option (b) is much better, but harder, because medical lobbies and interest groups will fight it. The problem is that we do not teach, or reward, preventive action by citizens or basic primary care by physicians. NC has a big shortage in primary care, at every level.

Put it this way: I have auto insurance. But it does NOT pay for oil changes. If I don't do the oil changes, then the car will decline in value and break down. Nobody else has to pay for my bad decisions, and insurance won't cover the new engine if I ruined the old one by running without oil or maintenance.

Why should other people have to pay for the fact that I don't exercise, that I smoke, and that I eat a bad diet? "Free" insurance protects me against my own choices.

The answer is to lift restrictions on primary practice by Physicians Assistants and Nurse Practitioners. I'm not saying they should do annual check ups; we need docters, with broad training and experience, for that. But for many complaints, and for advice on diet and exercise, and smoking, even a simple computer based expert system can do a fine job. If I have a minor infection in my finger, or need my blood pressure checked, or want to know about the tingling in my diabetic toes, then I should be able to show up an office, without an appointment, and pay no more than $30 for the visit.

We can do this with oil changes, and it works fine! Why not with basic office visits? Right now, people delay going to primary care, or can't get an appointment. Then they have a REAL infection, or a stroke, or they have to have gangrenous toes removed at the emergency room.

Legalize health care. Allow PAs to practice basic primary care. And reduce the costs and hassle of going to the doctor. There is no reason it should be harder, or more expensive, than an oil change.


UPDATE: Don had this interesting piece recently, in the N&O. It is an interesting question, though I would turn it around. He asks, "Why not tax health care payments?" I ask, "Why not eliminate taxes on everything?" But we agree that the strange disparity should be ended.

Economics of Scalping

I have fooled around a little in print, and on podcast, with ticket re-selling.

So, the Bishop sends a link to this site, which I had not seen before. Very interesting, and good reading.

And, the Bishop notes, "There are some good posts on how to buy from scalpers. It made me feel OK about having paid $30 for $60 face value tickets to Cubs/Cards game last Friday. The game was in the 4th inning by the time I got there from the airport and I missed Albert's home run. I did see them walk him with the bases loaded..."

Preach, Bishop, preach!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Interesting CS Monitor Article

Terrific article in the Christian Science Monitor.

The reactions certainly are interesting, when questions get asked.

Duke did a forum on the question, some years ago. And, I am proud to say that Duke is by FAR the best place I have ever been in terms of openness to other points of view.

I'm not saying people won't argue. But there is a real commitment to diversity, and I credit our provost for that, I have to admit. He is a fine fellow. Personally quite liberal, but actually committed to real diversity.

(Nod to JB for the article reference)

Thomas Schelling speaks

on Waxman-Markey and the implications of climate change for rich and poor countries.

1. On Waxman-Markey:

"my only objection to Waxman-Markey is that it's such a hodgepodge, with all kinds of escape valves. And I don't think it's specific enough on what the cap will be from year to year to year. And also, it's 1,200 pages. And 1,200 pages implies that it's an awfully complicated hodgepodge.

If you were putting a cap on oil at the wellhead -- and a cap on coal at the minehead, a cap on gas at the wellhead, and on oil and gas at the port of importation -- so that it was essentially a cap on the fossil fuels, rather than trying to put a cap on electricity in the middle west versus electricity in the South. Or a cap on various manufacturing industries. Or a cap on refineries, even. That seems to me a not very serious way to tackle the problem where it originates. And my actual feeling is that the best you can hope for with this Waxman-Markey bill is that it'll take a few years to discover that it's a huge nuisance of the problem, and they ought to find a way to simplify it. And the way to simplify it is to put the cap on the fossil fuels, not on different industries."

2. On climate change's effect on the rich vs. the poor:

"If I were to come clean to the American public I would say that, except for a very low probability of a very bad result -- which is the disintegration of the West Antarctic ice sheet, which would put Washington DC under water -- we are probably going to outgrow any vulnerability we have to climate change. And in case we'll be able to afford to buy food or import it is necessary. You know, very little of the US economy is susceptible to climate. All of agriculture is less than 3% of our gross product. Forestry may be endangered. Fisheries may be endangered. But recreation might actually benefit!

So if we can double our GDP in the next 70 or 80 years, even if we lose some of our GDP from climate change -- even if we lose 10% of our GDP from climate change -- we're still ahead so much that the effect of climate change wouldn't be noticed. But it would be pretty disastrous in a lot of the less developed parts of the world. And that's why I think it's crucially important not to demand anything of China, India and so forth that will significantly impede their economic progress".

Hat tip to Mark Thoma!