Saturday, July 10, 2010

Dan Gilbert: this one's for you!

The Grand Game

Time for the Grand Game!

That's where we propose an article, and readers point out their favorite passage.

This one is a little more titillating ... or I should say salacious, then the usual fare.

I'll go first, and go easy:

"The teachers were cited... for drinking an undetermined amount."

Wow! I drink an undetermined amount pretty often. Sometimes it's a positive amount, sometimes zero, but rarely is it determined. That's a pretty vague charge, don't you think?

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Markets in everything: Derriere edition

Friday, July 09, 2010

nowadays, this would be even funnier in reverse!

Click the pic for a more glorious image.

Buy me a ticket for an air-o-plane

or, LeBron's decision gets instant validation.

or, Alex Chilton in reverse.

"lonely days are gone, I'm a heading out, my owner, he wrote me a letter"

The full text of Danny Gilbert's Lebron letter is here. Seldom has such vituperation been written in such an inappropriate for the occasion font!

People, LeBron has every right to go wherever he wants. He was drafted by Cleveland and they had his services for 7 years, during which time, the management totally failed to build a cohesive or reasonable team around him.

LeBron to Miami is a lot of things but it IN NO WAY is a "cowardly betrayal". Gilbert is now pushing into Don Sterling and Dan Snider territory as the worst franchise owner in sports.

The mistake by the lake

Wow. LBJ wanted out of Cleveland so bad that he left over $30 million on the table to join Wade and Bosh in Miami.

I give a lot of credit to Pat Riley and Wade for making this happen. Riley for the dealing and salesmanship and Wade for unselfishness, pushing for guys that are going to lower his own stats.

At least with this move, I think LeBron has improved his chances to get to the conference finals!

It remains to be seen who else will come to Miami and play for peanuts to try and win with the new "big 3".

Thursday, July 08, 2010


This is how computer graphics should be used. Interesting, concise, memorable, instructive.

(Nod to Russ Roberts)

Letter to the Editor

A letter to the Editor, shared by KPC friend Douglas Coate:

The roots of Rand Paul's opposition to the 1964 Civil Rights Act as applied to private employers run deep. In English history, back to the Anglos and the Saxons, the Magna Carta, and the common law. In Western civilization the roots run longer, through Roman law, the Babylonian codes, and to the early traders in Mesopotamia. There has always been tension between citizen traders on the one hand and the
state on the other. Merchants have tried to enhance and preserve their wealth by gaining rights to property, contract, and trade, while states have too often tried to expropriate it by denying these rights. The great accomplishments of Western civilization, and now Eastern civilization, have resulted from the spread of these rights and the flowering of trade, cooperation, and specialization.

Fair employment laws or anti discrimination laws are the latest attempt by the state to take wealth from those that create it. By changing the hiring, firing, pay, and promotion decisions of private firms from their profit maximizing levels the state can redistribute wealth to favored groups. But not without consequences. Targeted
firms will have higher costs, some will be driven from business, and all will try to sell their goods at higher prices. Trade, cooperation, specialization, and wages and living standards will suffer.

Private firms if left alone do not discriminate. They hire the best workers they can at prevailing wages. Not to do so would increase their costs, lower their profits, and threaten their existence. Workers themselves become the ultimate arbiters of employer fairness in a market economy, for they can leave one employer for another without notice.

So, what did Rand Paul do wrong? He caved! If he had stuck to his position, he would have at least made people think.

The Onion Has to Stop Publishing

This story is hilarious satire, until it turns out not to be satire at all.

The NYTimes Story

Hold out for a "corporate job", instead of a "dead-end job"?

Angus worked as a welder! I laid sod, worked as a night manager at a Burger Chef (like a Hardees, but not so upscale and fancy) (!) and unloaded boxcars of lumber by hand, in Florida, in the summer. GET OVER YOURSELF, BOY, and get a FREAKIN' JOB!

(Nod to Anonyman)

UPDATE: Les Cargill rightly suggests that I was about 3 seconds from the Four Yorkshiremen skit. And here it is...

Unemployment Benefits

A somewhat dated, but quite interesting, piece on unemployment benefits by KPC friend George Leef. It was published in Regulation, in 1998.

Dang, was Larry Bird really in Boogie Nights?

Apparently so!

KPC Classics

Haven't posted on the "Classics" meme for a while.

But here is one from early November, 2004, before the election. Who could forget "Votergasm"? (I had, but not anymore) (Parts are not work safe, btw)

Weiner Dog Diver

Using scuba gear and a wet suit!

A weiner dog is even shaped like a submarine. This is pretty cute: look at the tiny legs on the wet suit. The weight of the tank will keep him upright. Go, Boniface!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Today the cap, tomorrow the news

Roll over LeBron, and tell Chris Bosh the news!

LBJ will announce his location decision on a ONE HOUR SPECIAL on ESPN Thursday night!


There are two considerations here that are not necessarily mutually exclusive. First, money. Cleveland can pay him substantially more than any other team. A lot of people (yes, I'm talking to you Tyler) minimize this, but consider that (a) salaries are likely to fall in the future, and (b) endorsement money has already fallen. LeBron is not (nor should he) going to take a low paying job for next year.

The question is, how does he weigh the tradeoff between the loss of money from leaving Cleveland with the increased chance of winning a title?

As currently constituted, none of the teams in the LeBron derby have great title hopes (sorry Chicago). Is Joakim Noah really that much better than Andy Varejao? Plus the Bulls now have a first time head coach and a GM who got physical with the last coach!

New Jersey (which was my initial pick for where he'd go) has hired the Lil General as their coach. The over/under for when Avery would be on LeBron's very last nerve is probably what, 15 minutes?

Miami has a good owner and a high status GM who has also been a high status coach. Playing with another superstar is easier said than done though.

Cleveland stinks. Besides LBJ, the only guys I like on that roster are JJ Hickson and Varejao. Plus, Byron Scott ain't no Red Aurbach!

That leaves the Knicks. They have made one bad move (that's a LOT of $$ for Amar'e, people), and it is far from obvious how LeBron would fit into D'Antoni's vaunted "system" (it only works for people with apostrophes in their name).

Wow, I think I am saying that LeBron is screwed on the championship front!

Ironically, the team that ruined his chances (Cleveland, by not building anything reasonable around him for 7 freaking years) is the team that can pay him the most, and money is all that LeBron can be certain about when making his decision.

Takeaway: In Which I Play Scrooge

I was on "The Takeaway" this morning. National NPR program. You can listen by clicking "listen" here.

They asked me to do a little blog post, so I did. Call me Scrooge-mael.

My Banquet Keynote Speech at Lib Nat Conv

At the Libertarian National Convention in St. Louis this past Memorial Day Weekend, I was privileged to give the Banquet Address. And the LNC was kind enough to put it up in three parts (b/c of the YouTube length restriction).

Part One

Part Deux

The Last Part


Linkulus Maximus

Some links:

Delightful. Obama administration deserves more credit for what they are trying to do in education policy. Not sure there should be a federal education policy, but if there is, "race to the top" at least has some good ideas. (Nod to Anonyman)

Dan Klein: Assist the Everyman! (Nod to @IHSAcademic)

The sky is falling. Or, is the ocean rising? It's so hard to keep track, when the warmists are making up stuff. 'Cause a year later they will deny having ever made a prediction. (Nod to Paul Jacob)

You can get a Utah concealed carry permit without (1) ever visiting Utah, or (2) ever actually firing a gun. Why do so many states have reciprocal arrangements with Utah? (Nod to Anonyman)

Rob Jenkins was kind enough to cite my article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, and make a very nice extension. His idea for a "space" of administrative types is quite interesting.

Complexity and local maxima in the study of economics. (Nod to Neanderbill)

Jeff Miron is well out on the "true dat!" scale, on gun control.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

It Takes A Thief?

To catch cheaters, colleges go to great lengths.

I went to Davidson, here in NC. We had an Honor Code. My impression is that it worked. But does it still work? Could it work elsewhere?

That is, could trust deter cheating better than spying deters cheating?

Good Luck Charms and Hope

Keep Your Fingers Crossed! How Superstition Improves Performance

Lysann Damisch, Barbara Stoberock & Thomas Mussweiler
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Superstitions are typically seen as inconsequential creations of irrational minds. Nevertheless, many people rely on superstitious thoughts and practices in their daily routines in order to gain good luck. To date, little is known about the consequences and potential benefits of such superstitions. The present research closes this gap by demonstrating performance benefits of superstitions and identifying their underlying psychological mechanisms. Specifically, Experiments 1 through 4 show that activating good-luck-related superstitions via a common saying or action (e.g., “break a leg,” keeping one’s fingers crossed) or a lucky charm improves subsequent performance in golfing, motor dexterity, memory, and anagram games. Furthermore, Experiments 3 and 4 demonstrate that these performance benefits are produced by changes in perceived self-efficacy. Activating a superstition boosts participants’ confidence in mastering upcoming tasks, which in turn improves performance. Finally, Experiment 4 shows that increased task persistence constitutes one means by which self-efficacy, enhanced by superstition, improves performance.


Hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement

Liz Day, Katie Hanson, John Maltby, Carmel Proctor & Alex Wood
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming

Abstract: A 3-year longitudinal study explored whether the two-dimensional model of trait hope predicted degree scores after considering intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. A sample of 129 respondents (52 males, 77 females) completed measures of trait hope, general intelligence, the five factor model of personality, divergent thinking, as well as objective measures of their academic performance before university (‘A’ level grades) and final degree scores. The findings suggest that hope uniquely predicts objective academic achievement above intelligence, personality, and previous academic achievement. The findings are discussed within the context of how it may be fruitful for researchers to explore how hope is related to everyday academic practice.

(Nod to Kevin L)

Porn, However, Will Still Be Available.

The TSA is set to block "controversial opinion" from work computers.

(Nod to the NCM)

Stuff My Dad Says

So I follow "S*hit My Dad Says" on Twitter (along with more than a million other people who also follow).

I had heard that there would be a TV show, with William Shatner. But it's actually true...

Some background...

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Monday, July 05, 2010


A classic example of rent-seeking. Because the police can "make money" by distorting their efforts to focus more than is appropriate on marijuana busts. As the Wall Street Journal reported.

In private markets you can only make money if you produce something other people value.

But in the presence of artificial rents like this drug enforcement subsidy, the link between "make money" and "produce something of value" is broken. It is an artificial rent. And the resources devoted to seeking the rent, to the extent that such resources are taken away from other useful purposes (preventing property crimes, protecting citizens) are wasted.

Rent-seeking isn't really about the rent, which is a transfer. The cost of rent-seeking is the wasted resources devoted to capturing the rent.

Here's the bizarre thing to me. You know who IS producing something of value? THE FOLKS WHO GROW AND SELL MARIJUANA! Yikes!

(Nod to Angry Alex)

Pie in the Sky

Or, Robert Frank phones it in yet again. His current NY Times column, which tells us how to stimulate the economy and reduce the deficit at the same time, is interesting to say the least.

His first program is one where the Federal government borrows money at 3%, loans it to consumers at 8%, and the consumers use it to pay off their outstanding credit card debt which charges a higher rate.

Win-win, right?

Well, first of all outstanding credit card debt is around $900 billion so that is a lot of new borrowing. Pretty hard to imagine that would fly.

Second, what is the mechanism to implement this? Would each consumer have to submit a notarized statement of their credit card debt levels? How would the government force the consumer recipients to use the money to pay off their credit card debt?

Third, what does Frank expect these debt ridden consumers to do with their money once they've gotten a break from usurious credit card interest rates? Why, spend it of course!

Fourth, what will the government do when people start defaulting on their payments? Repo their flat screens?

Frank's second program is to implement a carbon tax that will come into force when the economy reaches full employment. He says this will immediately cause a huge surge of new investment.


Because the tax will destroy a lot of our existing capital stock!

People, I am not making this up:

"once a carbon tax was announced, the design of nearly every existing machine or structure that uses or produces energy would be rendered suddenly obsolete."

Holy crap! I am pretty sure this is the definition of the broken window fallacy, innit?

I guess you kind of have to admire the guy for trying to sell cap and trade as a economic stimulus program!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy Birthday, America!

No Brainer

I was home this morning watching my boy Rafa ruin two sets of underpants (his and Berdych's) when I heard John MacEnroe lamenting that "they have to do something" about the state of the Davis Cup.

Hey John: You know what "they" ought to do with that anachronistic, nationalistic, boring, interminable, no-compensation-paying POS?


No one cares about Davis Cup. No one wants to play Davis Cup. Tennis is in the Olympics for the foreseeable future and that particular anachronistic, nationalistic institution crushes the Davis Cup.

You know what else they ought to scrap?

Any shots of Rafa from the waist down. C'mon, dude. You're better than that!

The lives of economists

Great article in the NY Times on Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt.

Rogoff was an international grandmaster in chess (and a "ragged hippy"), while Reinhardt was a Cuban refugee. Both found economics in a roundabout manner.