Friday, May 14, 2010

How Cool Is This?

Electoral reform? You mean it is not impossible?


Consider the sequence of events.

1. Third party candidate allowed to participate in debates. Does well. Polls show third party might matter, might have good ideas.

2. Election takes place, where third party gets hammered, because of crooked election laws.

3. But because neither of major state-sponsored parties has a majority, third party is able to extract promise to make election law more open and less crooked.

If it happened in England, could it happen in the US? Answer: Probably not, because in the US we can't even get to step 1. Voters can't like what they can't see.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Darned Profits! They must DIE!

Heh. Heh heh. Heh.

He said "Sackodonuts."

Why loopholes are good things, segun yo.

#2 with a WTF

Here is yet another list of the top 10 most profitable college majors.

Economics is #2 (so appropriate,no?). But oh my Lord, the description!

"A pretty ubiquitous myth is that economics is all statistics and math. The fact is, while economics majors do a lot of statistics and math, they also study a wide range of topics, including social science, psychology, political science and history. Alan Metzer, even said: "economics is a social science." There are plenty of humanitarian efforts you can make in this line of work, as economists are needed to create public policy -- domestically and internationally.

Average first year salary: $50,200. Average mid-career salary: $101,000."

I am pretty sure it was NOT Alan Metzer they are trying to quote, more likely it's Alan Meltzer. However I am also pretty sure neither one of those gentlemen were the first to label economics as a social science.

But the best is the equation of "creating public policy" with "humanitarian efforts". Sweet Fancy Moses, people.

Look, econ is a good major and the pay is not bad. But we are not known for our "humanitarian efforts", and, as a rule, we don't study much history or political science.

Globalization Kills Local Culture

Pop Internationalism: Has A Half Century of World Music Trade Displaced
Local Culture?

Fernando Ferreira & Joel Waldfogel, NBER Working Paper, May 2010

Abstract: Advances in communication technologies over the past half century have made the cultural goods of one country more readily available to consumers in another, raising concerns that cultural products from large economies – in particular the US – will displace the indigenous cultural products of smaller economies. In this paper we provide stylized facts about the global music consumption and trade since 1960, using a unique data on popular music charts from 22 countries, corresponding to over 98% of the global music market. We find that trade volumes are higher between countries that are geographically closer and between those that share a language. Contrary to growing fears about large- country dominance, trade shares are roughly proportional to country GDP shares; and relative to GDP, the US music share is substantially below the shares of other smaller countries. We find a substantial bias toward domestic music which has, perhaps surprisingly, increased sharply in the past decade. We find no evidence that new communications channels – such as the growth of country-specific MTV channels and Internet penetration – reduce the consumption of domestic music. National policies aimed at preventing the death of local culture, such as radio airplay quotas, may explain part of the increasing consumption of local music.

Wow, Canada: How much BNLs, Shania, Alanis, and Neil Young can you play in a day?

(Nod to Kevin L)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

give us Barabbas

for we will not have this man rule over us!

And here's why:

by the way, Bryan Caplan is totally wrong, at least about the Japanese electorate. Dude wore that shirt in public and his approval rating dropped 9 points. That, people, is what we call hyper-rational politics.

note: more fun photos at the first link!

That Darned Media

So, South Carolina's budget is in the toidy, the Gov of SC is trying to rekindle his affair with his Argentine "soul mate," and the House of Reps in SC has already given the largest sanctioning fine in its history to Gov. "Gotta get my boy wet" Sanford.

And the villain? The MEDIA. Because they got the name of the hotel wrong. Really.

(Nod to Anonyman, whose soul mate likes Loco Pops)

The 4 chord song....s

Axis of Awesome? Yes, they are pretty awesome. The 4 chord song.
Nod to Angry Alex

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

you wouldn't even know a diamond if you held it in your hand

I know that I am treading on thin ice here, after all, the US of A re-elected George F. Bush!

Nonetheless, I am amazed at how political pariahs can somehow rehabilitate themselves.

Consider Alan Garcia in Peru. From hyper inflation (7,649% in 1990), rampant terrorism and disgrace to, less than 20 years later being again elected President.

Of course that was perhaps a bit of an Edwards v. Dukes (vote for the crook, it's important) situation.

I was amazed to see today that Imelda Marcos and two of her children won elections in the Philippines. Imelda in the House, a Governorship for the daughter and Senator for the son.

After winning, Imelda had this to say:

"The Filipino people can be assured of our selfless and endless service and love to all."


Leadership Deficit

As Dr. Newmark notes, t'ain't often that REASON and NEW REPUBLIC agree. But they do.

Yikes (NBA edition)

“I spoil a lot of people with my play. When you have three bad games in seven years, it’s easy to point them out.

--LeBron James

Wow, people. As Wojo points out, that is not exactly what you want to hear from the league MVP after he's thrown away home court advantage and possibly his team's season in the second round of the playoffs.

Hey Moneybags!

This website shows your own personalized place in the world income distribution.

It's simultaneously fun and unsettling.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Immigration Truths

I keep thinking I'm going to write about immigration.

But I have nothing to add to what Don B. says, and links, here.

KPC Classics

I have been trying to repost what I though were some of the best of the past of KPC, on Mondays. But didn't make it in time yesterday. So, a day late, here is another classic from the Jurassic.... blogging from St Louis the day after the 2004 prez debate. I found the whole experience to be surreal, and it still seems that way, reading it nearly six years later.

Your KPC classic....

Truth in Advertising

I often make my lefty friends angry, when I say that force and coercion are the distinguishing features of government. Ultimately, both good laws bad laws are enforced by men with guns, and we are forced to obey. The men, and the guns, don't care whether the laws are good or not.

My friends deny this, and say that in fact obedience is something we all WANT to do, because it makes us happy. And all laws must be good, because government wants what is good for us.

The state of Pennsylvania has abandoned the pretense. Well done, PA.

(Nod to my man John P, at BWtHDIK)

and a mighty slow line it is....

(click on image to enlarge, hat tip to Art C.)

God hates Oklahoma

Wow people, that was a close one! Mrs. Angus, Mr. Tooty, and myself spent late yesterday afternoon and early evening hanging out in our bedroom closet listening to the tornado sirens (which was ok til the power went out), while all hell broke loose outside.

One of my favorite quotes from the National Weather Service yesterday was: "This storm likely to contain damaging hail of baseball size or greater"

I wondered if there was a such thing as baseball sized hail that was UN-damaging, and also doubted that hail could get that big.

Regarding my doubt, here is a photo posted by a local Facebook friend (thanks JPP!)


Monday, May 10, 2010

Article by the McCubbi!

Proposition 13 and the California Fiscal Shell Game

Colin McCubbins & Mathew McCubbins
Stanford Working Paper, December 2009

Abstract: We study the effects of California's Tax and Expenditure Limitations, especially Proposition 13. We find that Proposition 13 was indeed effective at reducing both ad valorem property taxes per capita and total state and local taxes per capita, at least in the short run. We further argue that there have been unintended secondary effects that have resulted in an increased tax burden, undermining the aims of Proposition 13. To circumvent the limits imposed by Proposition 13, the state has drastically increased nonguaranteed debt, has privatized the public fisc, and has devolved the authority to lay and collect taxes and to spend the proceeds so gained. The devolution of authority has been among the swiftest growing aspects of government finance in California, to a far greater extent than in other states. Lastly, we argue that the new tax and spending authorities that have been created to circumvent Proposition 13 have led to a reduction in government transparency and accountability and pose an increasing threat to our democracy.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Germany Blinks


I admit I am shocked (but not awed). The Euro Nations have put together a large ($1 trillion or so) contingency fund to defend their common currency and stock markets are so far rejoicing.

But what shocks me is the fact that the ECB (European Central Bank) is now going to be directly buying government debt.

In other words, goodbye Central Bank Independence, hello Weimar 2.0???

I would call this Wow and Yikes, not Shock and Awe.

Judging Gender

Since we are likely soon to have a new female associate Justice on the SC....

Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging

Christina Boyd, Lee Epstein & Andrew Martin
American Journal of Political Science, April 2010, Pages 389-411

We explore the role of sex in judging by addressing two questions of long-standing interest to political scientists: whether and in what ways male and female judges decide cases distinctly — "individual effects" — and whether and in what ways serving with a female judge causes males to behave differently — "panel effects." While we attend to the dominant theoretical accounts of why we might expect to observe either or both effects, we do not use the predominant statistical tools to assess them. Instead, we deploy a more appropriate methodology: semiparametric matching, which follows from a formal framework for causal inference. Applying matching methods to 13 areas of law, we observe consistent gender effects in only one — sex discrimination. For these disputes, the probability of a judge deciding in favor of the party alleging discrimination decreases by about 10 percentage points when the judge is a male. Likewise, when a woman serves on a panel with men, the men are significantly more likely to rule in favor of the rights litigant. These results are consistent with an informational account of gendered judging and are inconsistent with several others.

Several questions occur.

1. "Panel effects"? That is not the way I would have talked about panel effects. What is meant here is the presence or absence of at least one woman on the "panel" deciding. Makes sense, but panel data is an established term.

2. The rap on SDO'C on the court was that she was erratic. (She wrote McConnell v. FEC, which was bizarre, for example). So the difference (and there may not be one) between men and women may be in the variance, not the means. And in spite of the anecdote about Sandra D., it may well be men who have higher variance. I have no idea. Just saying that the difference in the second moment would be an interesting thing to measure...

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The wisdom of Tyler Cowen

He tweets:

"Some people hate me for this view, but TARP is looking better all the time."

I agree. Maybe it worsened moral hazard issues down the road, maybe some of the money has been spent beyond the intent of the program (GM anyone?), maybe it was bigger than it needed to be, but TARP and quantitative easing by the FED pretty clearly worked and worked well.

As a lagniappe, most of the money is actually getting paid back.

What do you think I am, a cuttlefish?

I am very late to this party, and for that I apologize, but have y'all seen the "green porn" and "seduce me" videos by Isabella F. Rossellini on the Sundance Channel?

Freaky-deaky to say the least.

Here is the homepage, where you can learn about the genitalia of ducks and the lack of genitalia of female bedbugs courtesy of a deranged Italio-Swede actress.

As Tyler would say, it's self-recommending!