Friday, September 30, 2011

der Dukatenscheisser, and other things

We often comment, here at KPC, about two things:

1. The strangeness that is Deutschland
2. Poop

It turns out that one of the strange things about Germany is the many linguistic uses Germans have for poop.

And if you don't believe, here's the straight poop on it.

Published in 1984 by a distinguished anthropologist named Alan Dundes, Life Is Like a Chicken Coop Ladder set out to describe the German character through the stories that ordinary Germans liked to tell one another. Dundes specialized in folklore, and in German folklore, as he put it, “one finds an inordinate number of texts concerned with anality. Scheisse (shit), Dreck (dirt), Mist (manure), Arsch (ass).… Folksongs, folktales, proverbs, riddles, folk speech—all attest to the Germans’ longstanding special interest in this area of human activity.”

He then proceeded to pile up a shockingly high stack of evidence to support his theory. There’s a popular German folk character called der Dukatenscheisser (“The Money Shitter”), who is commonly depicted crapping coins from his rear end. Europe’s only museum devoted exclusively to toilets was built in Munich. The German word for “shit” performs a vast number of bizarre linguistic duties—for instance, a common German term of endearment was once “my little shit bag.” The first thing Gutenberg sought to publish, after the Bible, was a laxative timetable he called a “Purgation-Calendar.” Then there are the astonishing number of anal German folk sayings: “As the fish lives in water, so does the shit stick to the asshole!,” to select but one of the seemingly endless examples.

That one about the fish is my new favorite saying. Anytime somebody complains about anything in a faculty meeting, they are going to hear that one. Inspired.

Nod to Anonyman; I bet you knew that, without looking. Anonyman has his sh*t together.

A Short Quiz: Does Plagiarism Pay?

What do you do with someone who clearly, and unquestionably, plagiarized large portions of his thesis?

Well, if you are the CSIS, you make a "Distinguished Statesman" position for Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.

To be fair, the ability to say "I stole a bunch of stuff and pretended it was mine" is a reasonable prerequisite for being a statesman, distinguished or otherwise.

Lagniappe: Germany's Foreign Minister is Guido Westerwelle. Yes, Guido. And he is openly gay, a brave man to come out and still serve in public office. I do admire him for that.

Now, you might think that being Foreign Minister for Deutschland would be pretty easy. All you have to do is say "no" whenever someone suggests that you should have a military, or any role in any foreign country. After all, having the Foreign Minister of Germany start muttering about "lebensraum" makes everybody jittery. So Herr Westerwelle should be able just to take naps and have a nice Kaffee mit Sahne at the Balzac on Friedrichstrasse, just a short walk from Ministry building.

But when Weserwelle supported the government decision to stay out of Libya (a decision the US should have taken also, btw!) he actually gets in trouble.

The moral of this story is: if you want to be promoted and revered as a statesman, steal stuff. If you want to be abused and criticized, do the right thing.

Punctuation is everything

(clic the pic for a more glorious image)

In-bred Cat

From the LMM

By Jove, I Think She's GOT it!

A friend who has been teaching about "euvoluntary exchange" got this from a student.

When he first explained the concept of BATNA and the situations in which BATNA is too low, I was all for changing those situations. However, we need to remember that if we're going to take away somebody's best option (even if it is a crappy one) then we're also going to have to give them a better alternative.

That is as good a concise summary as I could possibly imagine. Telling a poor guy in India who needs medicine for his daughter that he cannot sell his kidney is a rotten thing to do, unless you can also help him somehow. If you aren't going to help, give him access to the market!

And, we can't help everyone. But the market can.

Why Economists are Paid a LOT more than Philosophers

David Deerson sends this link. I laughed. An excerpt, though you need to look at the whole thing. Heh.

It's funny 'cause it's true.

UPDATE: Wow! My philosopher friend Kevin Vallier thinks that this cartoon, above, is making fun of ECONOMISTS! And I have to admit he may be right! To me, this cartoon illustrates why philosophers are useless low-paid parasites, and economists are collossi, bestride the world of academics! Okay, THAT's not right. But seriously, who is this cartoon mocking? To me, it is clearly mocking the philosopher. Since economists can actually answer the ridiculous koans that philosophers think are impossibly deep and unanswerable, the economists don't get to play!

Kevin's response: I think the critique of the economist is that he [the economist] is exceedingly perverse because his model of moral decision-making ignores a whole host of important considerations that any normally functioning human being recognizes. Now, I think the normally functioning human needs a good dose of economic thinking, but I do think that the sort of instrumental, consequentialist reasoning of most economists is woefully inadequate as a complete model of moral reasoning. I *think* lots of economists believe this too, even if they often ignore it, at least stereotypically.

Wow! that is 100% different from my reading of that cartoon. The fact is that an old woman is worth only a small fraction of the Mona Lisa. And I can prove it: the society spends a LOT of money to protect the Mona Lisa, with security and climate control. The old woman has to pay for her own locks on her door, and her own HVAC.

Jobs: The Good, the Bad, and the Texas

The Blonde sends a very interesting map of job changes in the U.S. Here is my county, Wake County, NC. (Do click for a more glorious image; this is a screen shot, so no interactivity. To get the interactive map, go back to here)

Notice that we are back where we were in 2007, for total jobs. (Unemp rate is up, though, becuase we have had in-migration and growth from births)

The big hammer down was construction jobs. Biggest employment sector, professional services, has just about tread water, though it is moving up slowly.

You can do it by state, also. Here is Oklahoma.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

If we only had that ram, John, we could mate and have fun.

So, yes, I defended Bev "Governor Dumplin'" Perdue.

Because at another appearance, she saw some sheep and told the co-founder of SAS, "If we only had that ram, John, we could mate and have fun." How can you not enjoy that?

Look, folks: she is not quick and witty. You don't have to be smart to be an elected official.

But she was clearly joking.

Maybe I'm just defensive because I often say things like that, and people can never tell if I am joking. They can tell it's not funny, of course. But they can't tell if it was supposed to be funny.

UPDATE: From the Blonde, who is not entirely convinced Bev was joking, comes this "separated at birth" photo...

Toilets exploding in DC

Perhaps we should just start over and build a new capital.

Because even the toilets are blowing up in Washington.

(Nod to Anonyman)

I'm Sure I Think I'm Sure This is a Joke

Dutch Boy sends this, from the Kinston paper.

Not sure how to describe it. I'm sure I think it is a joke, I think.

But this may be the first time an article has engaged in self-grandgame. Impressive. I think.

“I’m no prude,” says Paulette Burroughs, 39, of La Grange. “But something I saw in that store was way over the line.”

Burroughs said she made the discovery Monday afternoon while planning a “Dancing with the Stars” viewing party at her home.

“We had a real good time, except for when old Nancy Grace decided to turn one of her sweater puppies loose,” Burroughs said. “That thing looked like it’d been eatin’ lemons all day.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Martin comes to class!

Uber-reader Martin came to class and gave a very nice lecture on democracy. Worked well, and I appreciate the good lecture.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Separated at birth

People if you put a porn 'stache and a $200 haircut on Tyler Cowen, HE'D BE MOHAMED EL-ERIAN!

See for your selves:

Don't cry for me Argentina

In my international econ class, we just finished reading and discussing Bluestein's excellent book: "And the Money kept rolling in" about the Argentine financial crisis.

It's distressing to see Greece following the same path and the international community making the same mistakes today.

In class today, we are going to act out the crisis, PTI roleplay style, with heads on sticks! From Rogoff to Cavallo to Mulford to Menem to O'Neil to El-Erian.

Here are some of the heads waiting to receive their sticks:

Monday, September 26, 2011


Here's Cleveland Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, one of the leading hardline owners in the current NBA lockout singing a very different tune in 2005:

"To me, NBA franchises are like pieces of art. There are only 30 of them. They aren't always on the market, especially a franchise that would have been such a natural fit ... If you just looked at the Cavaliers in terms of revenues, profits and balance sheets -- and you paid this amount for it -- people would say "You're insane! You're nuts." But if you look at all the tentacles, the impact on our other venues, it makes tremendous sense. We have now opened a Cleveland office [of Quicken Loans] and that's tremendously successful. Our employees love it that we're associated with the Cavs and can come to games -- that helps us attract and keep better people. There are a lot of non-profit things that can be done with pro sports. It brings an unbelievable amount of excitement."

Quote is from here.

Two interesting Malcolm Gladwell NBA posts are here and here.

Double Fail

We all know that the Middle East is full of fail, but sometimes the fail is too good to pass up.

Consider first the "Palestinian Spring" story.

So here's an entrenched calling for his own ouster? After all the Arab spring involved deposing existing leaders.

Next up is that well known reformer King Abdullah giving women the right to vote.

Not in the upcoming election of course, but later. This will make a big difference in Saudi policies I'm sure as votes mean so much in the Kingdom.

PS: If you are wondering where I get off calling a geriatric despot a "reformer", it's right in the AP story linked to above:

"The right to vote is by far the biggest change introduced by Abdullah, considered a reformer, since he became the country's de facto ruler in 1995 during the illness of King Fahd."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vegan Strip Club

This review (sent by Raoul) is...I suppose "serious" is not quite the right word. But it is not a hoax, it seems.

The reviews are the best part. For example: "if you like naked ladies and chili cheese fries, come check it out."

UPDATE: (Yes, cheese is not vegan. However, "cheese" could be. Soy "cheese," that sort of thing).

And Kindred points us to this, to be filed, as he notes, in...whatever category it is already. (No fur jokes, please)

Are markets like the honey badger?

Jerry Evensky says yes:

In my introductory economics class I explain that markets are amoral – not moral, not immoral ... amoral. In that sense they are like computers ... incredibly powerful at processing immense amounts of information in useful ways, but totally agnostic as to the use. Computers can be used to educate, to elucidate, to heal ... or to develop weapons of mass destruction. They don’t give a damn, nor do markets ... nor does homo economicus.

(that's the full quote, the "... " parts are in the original. I have enlarged the money part)

Saturday, September 24, 2011


I have no idea what this study purports to show.

Positive emotion word use and longevity in famous deceased psychologists

Sarah Pressman & Sheldon Cohen
Health Psychology, forthcoming

Objective: This study examined whether specific types of positive and negative emotional words used in the autobiographies of well-known deceased psychologists were associated with longevity.

Methods: For each of the 88 psychologists, the percent of emotional words used in writing was calculated and categorized by valence (positive or negative) and arousal (activated [e.g., lively, anxious] or not activated [e.g., calm, drowsy]) based on existing emotion scales and models of emotion categorization.

Results: After controlling for sex, year of publication, health (based on disclosed illness in autobiography), native language, and year of birth, the use of more activated positive emotional words (e.g., lively, vigorous, attentive, humorous) was associated with increased longevity. Negative terms (e.g., angry, afraid, drowsy, sluggish) and unactivated positive terms (e.g., peaceful, calm) were not related to longevity. The association of activated positive emotions with longevity was also independent of words indicative of social integration, optimism, and the other affect/activation categories.

Conclusions: Results indicate that in writing, not every type of emotion correlates with longevity and that there may be value to considering different categories beyond emotional valence in health relevant outcomes.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is never drowsy, afraid, sluggish)

Back in Black

Records are back. They are so back that even The Economist has taken note:

One innovation that has helped vinyl sales is that albums often now come with codes that let you download a MP3 version of the music (occasionally, they come with FLAC downloads, but not often enough for nuts like me who sometimes buy both the LP and the CD(to get a high quality download)).

Apparently at lot of the young 'uns buy LPs and never play them.

Here's Dom from one of my new favorite bands (Dom):

“The reason we sell vinyl is that there will always be a market for it...people probably already downloaded the music anyway, and they’ll buy the record because of the big artwork and because it’s something you can hold on to.”

At Chez Angus, we have ditched the CD player. We have 800+ albums stored in lossless files and a cabinet full of LPs.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Government by waiver

The Obama administration has really gotten into a groove with selective non-enforcement of unpopular laws. First Ms. Sebelius got the ball rolling with hundreds of waivers from the provisions of Obamacare. Now Arne Duncan gets his chance with the announcement that the Dept. of Education will selectively grant waivers from the consequences of not hitting the educational targets in NCLB.


They are giving waivers now for targets that come due in 2014!

Of course, "comply or face the consequences" is totally out of the question. Just ask Matt Yglesias:

"Simply refusing to grant waivers would be an unworkable non-starter. The issue is whether to just hand the waivers out, or to impose conditionality."

Anybody still think we can pass a bill now that actually would lock in long-term deficit reduction?



The laws of health care

1. Everyone Dies!

2. No amount of taxation can reverse #1.

3. Much of our health care spending is wasteful

1 and 2 are golden. need more good ones though.

Thanks and apologies (but no blame) to Dan Diamond, Austin Frakt, & Don Taylor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I don't even need to make any remarks about this any more.

Just read the WaPo about Sol-Gate. That's WaPo, not WaTimes, btw.

Solyndra was not Teapot Dome, but it's heading that way. Really, really bad stuff for Obamanoids.

(Nod to Anonyman)

My Dog Owns My House? I don't think so...

If I need security, I get a dog. If a group of us need security, we might sign a contract and get a really big, strong dog. Let's call it...I don't know... GOVERNMENT. It's big, stupid, poops in places it shouldn't and wastes a lot of time sleeping and licking its "Representative Wiener", because it can.

But, suppose that big smelly dog also does a reasonably good job protecting my house, and yours. We build factories, we create wealth, we do a lot of useful things.

And it's true that we needed the dog, for security, so we could concentrate on things that idiotic, lazy dogs can't do.

For some reason, Elizabeth Warren concludes from all this that our dog...OWNS OUR HOUSE! That is just a non sequitur. It's a DOG. But here is what she says.

“There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own — nobody! You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police-forces and fire-forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory — and hire someone to protect against this — because of the work the rest of us did.

Actually, you didn't pay for them, ma'am, the factory owner did. Why would my dog own my house?

The full, surprisingly idiotic video...

(Not sure where I first heard the "why should your dog own your house?" formulation, but my good friend Tony de Jasay is a likely source)

Why Lie?

As Mr. Overwater aptly asks, in a comment on a different post, "Why lie?"

My question, specifically, is "Why would Al Gore tell an obvious, easily disconfirmed lie about the number of people who watched his public masturbation on the environment?" Because he did lie, egregiously. The only way you can get to Al's numbers is if you count people who watched for five seconds, and then replicate them so that each five seconds counts as a new viewer, over the whole period. If you don't do that, you get this.

The answer, I'm afraid, is not very complicated. Al Gore has become the Jimmy Swaggart, the Pat Robertson, and the Billy Sunday of the Enviro Movement. Of course, quite a few people in the Enviro movement are too smart to fall for this Al A-Gorey.

"Oh, HELP me, Jeebus! Send money right away, to save the world from global warming! Send money! We accept all major credit cards. And I accept $100,000* per speaking engagement so I can maintain my 20,000** square foot home with gaslight lanterns on the driveway! Carbon offsets for you, massive hypocrisy for me!"

For video fans: A feast for the eyes...24 hours of ManBearPig.

NOTES: *--not an exaggeration. **--an exaggeration, or a "lie" if you will. This whole post is a satire, not a documentary. I don't think Al Gore says "Jeebus;" he says "Gaia," the Earth Mother. Oh, and I should note that Al Gore never claimed to invent the internet. He also didn't invent the religious scam. But he used the internet to make money off his enviro-religion scam very effectively.

(Nod to the Blonde)

Sentiments entirely appropriate to these troubled times

Hat tip to David C.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Why Did Al Gore Invent the Interwebs?

I can answer the question "why did Al Gore invent the interwebs?" pretty easily.

It is so we can share with you this cri de couer from Ryan Theriot. Money quote: "When I was playing shortstop," he said, serving as his era's tragic spokesman, "we were in first place. I know that. It is what it is."

The point is that Netflix collapsed, and waterparks are empty, and in many cases closed, because of that little f**k Furcal. It is, indeed, what it is. And nothing less.

A giant appreciation to Kindred. This is pure comedy gold.

A pic of Ryan in happier days, at Wrigley.

Something Funny This Way Comes

Notice anything odd about this "restaurant review"? Check it out.

That's right.... they never mention food, service, those things.

Apparently they think that many people will make their dining choices based on how many wasteful public subsidies for inefficient alternative energy technologies the owners have sucked down.

"Oooooh, look, honey, solar panels on the roof! I can see them by the moonlight! Let's stop and have a romantic candlelight dinner, since there is no electricity."

"I don't know; what kind of food do they have?"

"Who cares? All that matters is that we are seen entering such a politically correct establishment. Make sure you leave the lights on from the car. No one will recognize me in those 1.5 watt LEDs."

(Nod to the Blonde)

Mr. Green Jobs

This sensitive person is yowling about green jobs. That's fine, that's what sensitive people do.

But in this context asking the question, "Why is the US losing the Green Race?" is a strange thing to say. If ol' A-Mad means, "Why are we losing the wasteful pointless spending race to two countries with much more centralized governments?" then I think the answer is easy. The real question is why do you think you want to WIN a race that goes not to the swift, but to the dumb.

What I enjoyed, and what is hard to convey with links to individual articles, is that this cry for massive subsidies is on the same page, the SAME PHYSICAL PAGE, as this article that describes what happens when you pour money down Solyndrical rat holes.

(Nod to Anonyman)

Raleigh: America's Best City?

Raleigh is America's best city?

I happen to agree, mind you. Considering all the factors, I can't imagine a better place to live.

Neither Here Nor There

The Blonde sends this link to a story about maps of underwater internet connections.

I had never thought about this. Interesting.

Corollary to Sutton's Law

Willie Sutton is reputed to have answered the question, "Why do you rob banks?" with a dismissive, "That's where they keep the money."

The new corollary is "Why send the police to state legislatures?", with the answer being "that's where the criminals are!" An example from Rhode Island....

This is hardly isolated, though. All too often, lawmakers are lawbreakers, because they think they are above the law.

(Nod to Kindred)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lawson EFW

Bob Lawson does a "teaser video."

And some other good info, also.

What If the Professor Died, and Nobody Noticed?

In my opinion, the University of Pennsylvania has the widest disparity in the country between the Econ Dept (one of ten best in the world) and the Poli Sci Dept (not one of the ten best in the Philadelphia SMSA).

But....don't you think that if a professor DIES, someone would notice? The UPenn Poli Sci Dept is so badly run they never even bothered to cancel the class.

Dorothy Parker, when told in analogous situation some dreary boor had died, asked, "How could they tell?" I guess they could NOT tell, since ol' HT is still listed as being alive on the web site.

(UPDATE: I have it on good authority that Prof. Teune was in fact a fine man, and a good man. So, the above is clearly unfair to him. My Prof. Teune. The DoPS can screw.)


Here at KPC we sometimes go a little overboard on being critical. So how about some stuff I actually admire? Extremely quirky but in a really good way?

1. Anticlimacus, especially for picking up this.

2. Liquidity Preference, and this.

3. Token Libertarian Girl clears up some misconceptions.

4. Kindred Winecoff on why the problem with economics is economists.

Meesa lyka dees.

James Surowiecki has occupational dyslexia

In his latest column in the New Yorker, he calls me a political scientist and Doug Hibbs an economist!


Here is the article that I believe he's referencing, from the Journal of Law & Economics. We show that if you define electoral performance by incumbent return rates instead of party vote share, a wide range of economic conditions (inflation, unemployment, and income growth) affect House elections, and at least some of the effects are independent of whether or not the incumbent is of the same political party as the president.

It's one of my favorite papers (I mean of ones I've written or co-written). My co-author, Joe McGarrity did a ton of work on it, as we got a very daunting R&R offer from the journal and Joe really did the job on making the referees and Editor happy.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Flip The Bird

Libertarian bird movement growing!

No Banking Crisis, Eh?

Why Didn't Canada Have A Banking Crisis in 2008 (or in 1930, or 1907, or ...)?

NBER Working Paper, August 2011

Abstract: The financial crisis of 2008 engulfed the banking system of the United States and many large European countries. Canada was a notable exception. In this paper we argue that the structure of financial systems is path dependent. The relative stability of the Canadian banks in the recent crisis compared to the United States in our view reflected the original institutional foundations laid in place in the early 19th century in the two countries. The Canadian concentrated banking system that had evolved by the end of the twentieth century had absorbed the key sources of systemic risk—the mortgage market and investment banking—and was tightly regulated by one overarching regulator. In contrast the relatively weak, fragmented, and crisis prone U.S. banking system that had evolved since the early nineteenth century, led to the rise of securities markets, investment banks and money market mutual funds (the shadow banking system) combined with multiple competing regulatory authorities. The consequence was that the systemic risk that led to the crisis of 2008 was not contained.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Fortune cookies entirely appropriate for these troubled times

Economists Answer the Call

Long term research agenda forecasts. Interesting.

Sol-gate: It just gets better!

Anonyman sends this link. It just keeps getting better and better. Robbing Peter and Paul to pay for a pure solar scam.

The problem may not be the bad loans, but rather the fibbing and the covering up, as always.

Brendan Nyhan said it was 'bout time for BHO to have a scandal. Good call, Brendan!

Classical Liberal Reading Group

Okay, CL fans, I need your help.

An extremely earnest and enthusiastic student just wrote to me, and asked about starting a reading group in Classical Liberalism. This student wants the movement to spread, and wants the readings to be good. And s/he also wants Progressive counterpoint.

So, let me ask the smartest people I know, the readers of KPC!

In comments, please give the BEST (most important, but also most readable) books or articles for these categories (these are my correspondent's categories, btw). And NO MORE THAN THREE per category, please. Have at you!

Classical Liberal authors of history: _____

Classical Liberal authors of the contemporary period: ____

And Progressive authors of history: _____

And Progressive authors of the contemporary period: _____


Overseas Trade and the Decline of Privateering

Henning Hillmann & Christina Gathmann
Journal of Economic History, September 2011, Pages 730-761

Abstract: Using a novel data set on 2,483 British privateering cruises, we show that state-licensed raiding of commercial vessels was a popular and flourishing business among merchants that took a serious toll on enemy trade from 1689 to 1815. Why, then, did privateering merchants gradually turn away from these profitable endeavors? We show that the expansion of overseas trade increased the opportunity costs for merchants and resulted in the decline of privateering. Our findings document that the decline of privateering had as much to do with an expanding maritime economy as with the rising naval power of the British state.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Barack Obama comes out of the closet

Wow. President O is planning to ask for $1.5 Trillion in new tax revenues with no changes to Social Security and perhaps no changes to Medicare either.

Finally the bullsh*t is over and the cards are on the table.

You know, if this doesn't kick-start the economy, I don't know what will!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Outside Money With Ideological Strings FINE, if it's lefty!

Southern Methodist University has decided that it will offer space for the ideological vision of a leftist donor. Here is the description of the program of bizarre indoctrination that students will receive as a poor substitute for an education.

Now, I do object to the fraudulent claim that this is a "major." It is an extended year round summer camp for kids who are too ideology-addled and lazy even to enroll in SMU's famously easy disciplinary majors. But, okay, caveat emptor. If you want to offer a crap major like that, and rich kids want to take it so they feel less guilty about their pointless trust-fund guided lives, fair enough.

What twists up my boxers into a slip-knot is the idea that all the media and other colleges are just fine with a "donor" buying a major at a university to serve that donor's own narrow ideological world-view. When the Kochs give money for legitimate courses, with legitimate instructors, it's time to cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of "Whore! You took money from the Kochs!"

But when lefties do it, it's all good. (Shakes head slowly, mystified).

You'll Wonder Where the Green Jobs Went, When You Learn What "Poison River" Meant!

How are those Green Jobs working out for ya, China?

If there is one consistent theme here at KPC, it is that we should be very, very happy to let the Chinese spend themselves into bankruptcy developing alternative energy technology which we will be able either to buy, or to use. Besides, we are doing a lot, more than we should be perhaps, already.

I wish no ill to the Chinese people. But one of the side effects of China's choice to develop "green" technology is that they are killing their environment.

(Nod to Anonyman, who is en fuego, producing lots of carbon)

Jersey Sure

This article is a bit funny. I have never seen the show "Jersey Shore" (or is that the "show" Jersey Shore ?), but I am assured that it is entertaining in a not-very-demanding way.

The disturbing thing is the comments. "Natale," obviously educated in the NJ public school system, thinks she has a smackdown argument.

Sorry NYMag, but this is a shitty article. The tax credit is based on only what the entire production SPENT in New Jersey.. camera rental, lodging, food, transportation.. all during filming that specific season.. the production is entitled to a 20% rebate based on locally hired crew and monies actually spent solely in NJ AND only if reviewed by a qualified CPA and then approved by the NJ Film Office.. they usually use it towards satisfying the NJ corporate business state tax. If the total refund was only $420,000, that means MTV spent $2.1 Million dollars ALONE in NJ (that counts as revenue for local businesses as well as job creation!!) .. do your homework.

So, the reason that it is okay to rebate a large chunk back to this horrible show is that it creates a lot of the tax dollars that are being rebated.

Um...Natale, how about this: lower the taxes in the first place. Then you wouldn't have to tax the companies that create jobs (and that is what ALL companies do, Natale, not just "Jersey Sore), and you would have more jobs.

(Nod to Anonyman, who has started referring to his ass as "The Distribution")

Saturday, September 17, 2011

There's a program for that!

I am very happy to hear that all 1,100 employees of Solyndra have applied en masse for Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance. I really hope they get it. What's another $14 million amount to anyway?

Maybe congress can pass a "Federal Failure of Trade Adjustment Assistance Assistance" act to help these fine folks when their FTAA money runs out.

Hat Tip to Dip!

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Problem of Marginal Value and Surveys

The pursuit of happiness can be lonely

Iris Mauss et al., Emotion, forthcoming

Abstract: Few things seem more natural and functional than wanting to be happy. We suggest that, counter to this intuition, valuing happiness may have some surprising negative consequences. Specifically, because striving for personal gains can damage connections with others and because happiness is usually defined in terms of personal positive feelings (a personal gain) in western contexts, striving for happiness might damage people's connections with others and make them lonely. In 2 studies, we provide support for this hypothesis. Study 1 suggests that the more people value happiness, the lonelier they feel on a daily basis (assessed over 2 weeks with diaries). Study 2 provides an experimental manipulation of valuing happiness and demonstrates that inducing people to value happiness leads to relatively greater loneliness, as measured by self-reports and a hormonal index (progesterone). In each study, key potential confounds, such as positive and negative affect, were ruled out. These findings suggest that wanting to be happy can make people lonely.

Um....if everyone valued "happiness" equally, but if happiness has diminishing marginal utility, among other goals, then the most lonely people would report the greatest marginal utility from increased happiness. People who already have quite a bit of happiness would value it much less, at the margin.

And that's all this survey is getting at: marginal utility of happiness. So, it's not true that people who value happiness are more lonely. Instead, lonely people have little happiness, and so at the margin value it more.


(nod to Kevin Lewis)

The Evolution of Overconfidence

The evolution of overconfidence

Dominic Johnson & James Fowler
Nature, 15 September 2011, Pages 317–320

Abstract: Confidence is an essential ingredient of success in a wide range of domains ranging from job performance and mental health to sports, business and combat. Some authors have suggested that not just confidence but overconfidence — believing you are better than you are in reality — is advantageous because it serves to increase ambition, morale, resolve, persistence or the credibility of bluffing, generating a self-fulfilling prophecy in which exaggerated confidence actually increases the probability of success. However, overconfidence also leads to faulty assessments, unrealistic expectations and hazardous decisions, so it remains a puzzle how such a false belief could evolve or remain stable in a population of competing strategies that include accurate, unbiased beliefs. Here we present an evolutionary model showing that, counterintuitively, overconfidence maximizes individual fitness and populations tend to become overconfident, as long as benefits from contested resources are sufficiently large compared with the cost of competition. In contrast, unbiased strategies are only stable under limited conditions. The fact that overconfident populations are evolutionarily stable in a wide range of environments may help to explain why overconfidence remains prevalent today, even if it contributes to hubris, market bubbles, financial collapses, policy failures, disasters and costly wars.

I don't see this as very counterintuitive. Being an alpha male is very stressful, and you die young. (I say "you" because I am an omega male). But you get crazy sex action in the meantime. bouncybouncybouncy. "Fitness" is not the same as "happiness," at all. Mr. Darwin didn't really care if animals were happy; that didn't play much of a role in the whole "nature red in tooth and claw" theory.

The problem is that our last two Presidents, first GWB and now BHO, are freakishly overconfident even by the standards of human males. Neither is capable of imagining that anyone actually disagrees with them, unless the disagreer is evil or a stone idiot.

(Nod to the Kevin Lewis)


There are 4 Fords in the Mungowitz driveway. If you wanted to know.


Nicholas Cage recounts his experience of waking up, and seeing a naked man at the foot of the bed, eating a fudgesicle.

This apropos his new movie Trespass Reviews are mixed. But the fudgesicle story is just fine.

Rugger Hugger

Just months after marrying Queen Elizabeth II’s granddaughter Zara Phillips, the captain of England’s rugby team, Mike Tindall, was allegedly caught kissing and groping another blonde at a dwarf-throwing contest in New Zealand. Tindall and his team were celebrating a victory over Argentina in a World Cup match when the boozy evening apparently turned adulterous. A spokesman for the Rugby Football Union tried to play down the incident, saying that the queen’s in-law was simply “relaxing after a tough match.” The manager of the bar in question defended the players, too: “They were great lads, not throwing the midgets,” he wrote on Facebook.
(News source)

If your standard for "great lads" is "not throwing the midgets," then your standards need some upward revision.

So, I wondered about the spurned wife, Zara Phillips. Here is a picture of her. Unfortunately she seems unaware that a truly enormous Luna moth has landed on her head.
So perhaps she won't learn of her hubby's grope-n-hope down in Kiwiland.

(nod to Gerardo)

(UPDATE: Gerardo notes that in fact "not throwing the midgets" is a good bright line rule, a one way test. He further points out that REAL friends can be counted on to take you out for a jar or two, if you are depressed, or sad, or dead.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Attn: West coast KPC fans

I, Angus will be giving a talk tomorrow at Claremont College.

Title is "Beyond Twin Peaks: Development and Polarization in the World Income Distribution".

The time is 10:30 - 12:00 the place is Kravis 367.

Be sure and say hi if you are a KPC reader.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gumby Fail

You have likely seen the Gumby Fail robbery. The news story.

But there is more. The cops said, "You are Gumby, dammit!" and arrested him.

Madcap Electoral College Hi-Jinks: Remember the Colorado

Them wascawwy Wepubwicans! Gonna take Penn proportional in the Electoral College! And the "fair and balanced" folks at NY Mag had this to say:

Pennsylvania, like every other state, is free to dole out its electoral votes however it wants. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature as well as the governorship, so if the GOP wants to switch over to a congressional-district apportionment system, all the Democrats can really do is whine. As Nick Baumann points out in Mother Jones today, the same thing could be repeated in other blue states across the country.

Democrats, meanwhile, don't have the ability to retaliate by splitting up the electoral votes of traditionally red states.

Democrats, Democrats, whatchagoando, whatchagoando when Cantor comes for you? Poor defenseless little things!

Except that our brave reporters didn't mention that the Dems have tried this same crap several times, most recently in Colorado. That paragon of virtue Kos was all excited, back then, in 2004. It was GREAT news, a brilliant strategy.

How come it's cheating if the Repubs do it? I agree it's a bad idea, but this seems like pretty selective reporting.

Germany's role in the PIIGS bailout in one easy collage

I think I'm in trouble

Here's an unbelievable story from San Francisco. A husband goes missing, the wife never reports it to the cops, then in February, the husband's body turns up buried underneath a new barbeque the wife built in the backyard (Jimmy Hoffa style). Today, it is announced that no charges will be filed against the wife!

I am now viewing Mrs. Angus's proposal for us to rebuild and extend our backyard deck in a whole new light.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Oh Vladdy, is there ANYTHING you can't do?

Awesome photo essay on the Austin Powers of Dictators, Vladimir Putin.

Highly recommended.

A foolproof plan to balance the budget and stimulate the economy

As you may know, one of the ideas tossed around for dealing with the debt limit was to have the Treasury mint a trillion $ coin and then have the Fed "buy" it from them.

It is not well known, but totally true that Congress has already put the Fed on such a path since 2005 with an extra economic stimulus twist.

The Fed is mandated to buy new "presidential" dollar coins every year from the Treasury. It costs $0.30 to make them so Treasury is making bank. Plus, no one wants to use them so the Fed has to find/build storage facilities to house the unwanted coins.

Currently the Fed is holding over a billion of these coins in 28 different storage facilities.

People, all we need to do in these troubled times is double down on this excellent starter program. Make the Fed buy, say a trillion of these coins every year and store them.

That's $700 billion a year in new revenue and lots of construction jobs building new storage facilities. Plus those facilities will need managers, forklift operators, maintenance workers, security guards...

Hey, maybe the Treasury could make the coins even bigger!

I really don't see what could go wrong here.
Hat tip to 7im.

Hugo Chavez: doin' work

People, Hugo is getting it done down in Venezuela. It's only September (and he's taken some sick leave) but he's already "nationalized" 401 companies this year. Plus he's withdrawing from the World Bank's dispute settlement forum used to deal with claims by foreign investors.

He's also working to get Venezuelan assets in friendlier hands, transferring billions of dollars in deposits from US and Euro banks to banks in Russia, China, and Brazil (wow, Brazil, nice work to make Chavez associate you with Russia and China and not the "free world").

And of course there's his plan to airlift Venezuela's gold back to Caracas.

The idea is to make Venezuela's financial assets un-freezable.

I feel very sorry for the younger people of Venezuela. But the older ruling elites of the country brought Hurricane Hugo down on themselves and their descendants with their decades of incompetent, corrupt, short-sighted & elitist governance.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Combo Meal! Not the Onion Meets the Grand Game!

This story is tremendous. It's not the Onion, and yet it could be.

Let's go with the Grand Game thing, though.

1. If there is ANY place that should have really big tables, it is White Castle.
2. "I'm not humongous..." Sir, if you weigh 290 lbs and you cannot wedge your giant ass into a table at a fast food restaurant, you are, in fact, humongous.
3. He is outraged because "the cheese was extra!"
4. He is so mad at White Castle that he is boycotting! By which he means... he sends his wife to go get the burgers! Nice boycott.

There's lots more. Enjoy.

(Nod to David Skarbek, who eats like a freakin' girl)

Congo Election Correction

In my earlier post about politics in the Congo, I may have said that there were 32 presidential candidates. That of course is ridiculous; there are only 12! 11 men, 1 woman, and two of the 11 men are the sons of previous dictators, one of which, incumbent Uncle Joe Kabila, is the likely winner.

Here are the 12:

Les candidats à l’élection présidentielle 2011:

Jean Andeka Djamba (ANCC)
Etienne Tshisekedi (UDPS)
François Joseph Nzanga Mobutu (Udemo)
Vital Kamerhe (UNC)
Kengo wa dondo (UFC)
Nicephore Kakese (URDC)
Joseph Kabila (Indépendant)
Oscar Kashala (UREC)
Antipas Mbusa Nyamwisi (RCD-K/ML)
Adam Bombole (Indépendant)
Ngoy Mafuta (Indépendant)
Ismaël Kitenge (MRC-PTF)

Don't call me Shirley!

Unbelievable story out of Malaysia that "authorities" had to rescue an Orang from a provincial zoo at least partly because she'd become a heavy smoker.


Here's part of the AP story:

Government authorities seized the adult ape named Shirley from a state-run zoo in Malaysia's southern Johor state last week after she and several other animals there were deemed to be living in poor conditions.

Shirley is now being quarantined at another zoo in a neighboring state and is expected to be sent to a Malaysian wildlife center on Borneo island within weeks.

Melaka Zoo Director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said Shirley is not being provided with any more cigarettes because "smoking is not normal behavior for orangutans."

Ya think?

I know there are serious arguments in favor of having zoos, but stuff like this really makes me question their existence.

I hope that the wildlife center on Borneo is Sepilok. Mrs. Angus and I have visited, and it's an amazing place.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Wrong Day to Go For "Mile High" Club

Story out of Detroit:

Police detained three passengers at Detroit's Metropolitan Airport on Sunday after the crew of the Frontier Airlines flight from Denver reported suspicious activity on board and NORAD officials sent F-16 jets to shadow the flight until it landed safely, the airline and federal officials said.

Flight 623, with 116 passengers on board, landed without incident in Detroit after the crew reported that two people were spending an unusual amount of time in a bathroom, Frontier spokesman Peter Kowalchuck said.

So, fine that two adults were in the bathroom at once. They were just there "an unusual amount of time." What is the USUAL amount of time for two people to be in an airplane bathroom that, frankly, barely contains one Mungowitz?  Who cares?  Why are you bothering these people?  Leave them alone!

And, THREE people were arrested? That bathroom must have looked like one of those clown cars in the circus: "All right come out, Jeez, pull your pants up. And you, too. Okay...WAIT, another one? Ewwww...."

I sure hope this is not the arrest photo.

Apparently Dilbert agrees with me (and not with my lovely wife)

Well, it's not exactly what I was saying about the future of work, but it's close!

Fixing Social Security: Opposite Day

Had a rather spirited discussion with a friend, with him taking the side that Gov. Perry was out of line calling Soc Sec a "Ponzi scheme." And with me being loudly incredulous that anyone could think Soc Sec is anything OTHER than a Ponzi scheme.

A-Tab is sensible, but confirms the thing is a Ponzi scheme.

Both of the St. Pauls (Samuelson and Krugman), dear to the left, call it a Ponzi scheme.

But, on reflection, I agree with the view here. Soc Sec is not a Ponzi scheme, because it is much, much worse than a Ponzi scheme. Even if you take the Mother Jones view on this (and I rarely quote from Mother Jones, for some reason), it 's pretty clear:

...the real problem with Dalmia's description is the notion that Social Security collects money from new investors and uses it to pay off previous investors. It's easy enough to see why people believe this: it was, basically, the way the program was initially sold. And politicians ever since have found it convenient to continue this fiction. Seniors today are all convinced that the money they paid into the program during their working years was somehow saved up for them and now they're getting it back.

But that's always been a lie. Social Security is actually a much simpler program than that. I'm going to put the rest of this paragraph in bold so you can't possibly miss it. Here's how Social Security works: every month we take in taxes from working people and every month we turn around and distribute those taxes to retirees. That's it. That's how it works, and everyone who actually knows anything about the program knows that's how it works. Taxes come in, benefits go out.
(Emphasis in bright blood letters mine, not in original; bold emphasis was in original)

Did you get that? Soc Sec is a lie, a fraud. And that's Mother Jones, well-known branch of Fox News. Not.

Some definitions: A Ponzi scheme
(1) depends on a constantly increasing membership to pay benefits or validate excessive returns to the older member, and
(2) is unsustainable at some point, in the sense that payments exceed revenues by increasing amounts, meaning that new members are needed, and
(3) those new members have to be recruited either through fraud or force, since informed and autonomous new members know that they have little hope of being paid back.

This could be
(A) because the older members get greedy, and take larger and larger amounts out of the system, or
(B) because the number of new members entering the system is not sufficient to pay the benefits already promised.

Some points:
* Mitchell Zuckoff, quoted here, claims “Ponzi schemes are, by definition, fraud.” He may be wrong about other things, too, but he is clearly wrong about this. First of all, Soc Sec is in fact a fraud, as our Mother Jones correspondent ably exegeted. Second, even if people KNOW that the system is unsustainable, the system is Ponzi, because it is an intentionally created bubble. All that is necessary is conditions (1) and (2), NOT fraud. People trade in bubbles long after they know the underlying assets have no real value, as Charles Plott and Vernon Smith have showed. Third, even if the bubble has burst, fraud is not required as long as force is an option. And force is worse than fraud, unless you are a leftist and think you are just forcing other idiots to be free. I have to ask: Does Mr. Zuckoff seriously believe that young people would voluntarily sign up for Soc Sec, if they had an option? Look, fraud means you get screwed unexpectedly. Force means we all tell you young folks you are going to get screwed, and then we screw you, good and hard. At least it's not fraud, right? (Here, again, Mr. Zuckoff asserts Ponzi schemes have to be fraudulent. My claim is that he's wrong; all they have to be is involuntary. Either fraud or choice under duress, which have equal standing as violation of common law contract agreements, are enough to make a scheme Ponzi.)

* And the "It's not a Ponzi, because it can be fixed" argument? It can only be fixed if we kidnap, and then take more money at gunpoint from, "investors." Charles Ponzi's scheme failed because he didn't have tanks. Our President has tanks, and can force new "investors" to pony up. If THAT is your defense of why Soc Sec is not Ponzi, you need to go rethink some basic assumptions about "investement." Being forced to invest at gunpoint is theft. And that's worse than anything Mr. Ponzi could have done. The only reason that Soc Sec is not fraud is that people have no choice about contributing. If it were voluntary, then fraud would be required to get them to sign up. Sure, we can fix this, but only by using force.

* Finally, my friend told me, "Soc Sec is not a Ponzi scheme, because it has served millions of people with income." Dude! Any successful Ponzi scheme, by definition, serves the people who get in early. In fact, most Ponzi schemes serve the first movers much BETTER than Soc Sec has served retirees. The problem with Ponzis is not what happens to the first in, but rather the raping received by the last in. The only reason Soc Sec is working is that Soc Sec REQUIRES young people to become new investors. Again, if Charles Ponzi had been able to recruit by garnishing wages with "payroll taxes," that first Ponzi scheme might still be running along just fine.

Stepping back: I admit that originally, Soc Sec was not a Ponzi scheme, by my definition. But then Congress realized that there was a huge Baby Boom bubble, and created the Trust Fund. And THEN Congress realized that while one could not get reelected by doing the right thing and leaving the Trust Fund alone, one certainly COULD get reelected by looting the Trust Fund now and giving much larger benefits, especially in the Disability and Supplemental categories. (As Coach Duke said, "The pension fund was just sitting there!")

So, when the Baby Boom bulge in retirements happened, Soc Sec became a Ponzi scheme. The benefits were much too large, the Trust Fund was actually debt, not assets, in a period of large deficits. And we don't have nearly enough new people entering the system to keep you fat ass 'Boomers in scones and lattes.

Now, our President, who seems to think every day is "Opposite Day," proposes to solve the Soc Sec problem and the unemployment problem by... by... (I can't say it)... cutting the taxes that finance Soc Sec. Not, mind you, as part of an overall plan with offsetting cuts to make Soc Sec NOT a Ponzi scheme.

Now it will be a Ponzi scheme on stilts, with gold plating.

Except, as SD at Reason notes, this Ponzi scheme will not collapse. Instead, men with guns will find some way to finance it. Deficits are future taxes.

A photo of our plan to fix Soc Sec (it's a metaphor; a "deep" metaphor)

Social Security is WORSE than a Ponzi scheme

Alex T., in a brilliant smackdown, noted that even Paul Samuelson called SS a Ponzi scheme.

But I'm here to say that SS is actually worse than that.

In garden variety Ponzi schemes, if you don't want to put your money in, you don't have to!

You can "opt out" of any private investment scheme that doesn't pass your smell test.

Good luck opting out of SS; it's a Ponzi scheme on steroids where the scammers have guns and judges and jails.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Things I say that exasperate my lovely wife

Caught between globalization and productivity gains, high paying jobs for low skilled American workers are disappearing. The era of mass employment in the USA is coming to an end. The new equilibrium is going to be an employment ratio of well below 50% and a lot more redistribution. This will happen within the next 20 years. In equilibrium, the marginal American will be indifferent between being a "lucky loser" and being at the bottom of the skilled worker distribution.

Friday, September 09, 2011

In Honor of Football Season

Pelsmin shares the baseball - football bit, from George Carlin.

May I point out that in baseball they play six games a week? In football, those pampered candy-asses get so tired with ONE game a week that they have to have a "bye."

There's a WIlliam Tell Joke Here Somewhere

Drunk elk found up in Swedish apple tree.

Yes, really.

Nod to anonyman.

Now It Gets Interesting

At what point do we admit that "green jobs" is just a straight up, out and out scam? A means to plunder the Treasury?

The FBI has already comet to that conclusion, it appears.

(Nod to Anonyman, who is always sunny)

Grand Game: Obama's speech edition

Ok folks the transcript is here, and it's chock full of fun. Get to it!

Here is my absolutely favorite bit of economic illogic:

"Building a world-class transportation system is part of what made us an economic superpower. And now we're going to sit back and watch China build newer airports and faster railroads, at a time when millions of unemployed construction workers could build them right here in America?"

OMG, did you see what he did there? Did debt ceiling budget cuts include laying off professional speechwriters for the President? It's not clear what in the world he's trying to say here but there is no good interpretation.

In an homage to Tosh.0, let's see how many snarky comments I can fit in this blog post.

Mr. President, if China jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?

Mr. President, infrastructure is not a tradeable good.

Mr. President, can our unemployed workers REALLY build China's new airports "right here in America?"

Mr. President, is China really the best comparison country for the US?

Mr. President, do you really think your audience is that dumb?

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Voter is an Ass

Conjuring the Congo

The DRC will have a presidential election this November. After 30 plus years of Mobutu, Laurent Kabila overthrew him and, upon his assassination in 2001, his son Joseph Kabila took over.

Joe is in his 10th year of being president and is the front runner in the current election.

Amazingly, Mobutu's son is also a candidate! His political party has the awesomely oxy-moronic title of "Democratic Union of Mobutuists"! (I am not making this up).

I believe there are 32 total presidential candidates running.

The UN is already decrying pre-election violence in the DRC.

People, this is a country of over 70 million people!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Cheer up America!

I know things are tough right now but you can make it through. Always remember that you survived THIS:

You can lead kids to lunch, but you can't make them eat healthy

This is quite interesting. Two studies say that government subsidies appear to be associated with increased childhood obesity. Of course, one has to be careful of endogeneity, since it is likely that poor kids are more likely to be obese, and poor kids are more likely to receive subsidies. (May I point out that the fact that poverty goes with obesity would have seemed like a bizarre claim just 50 years ago? Things can't be THAT bad if our poor people are fat, right?)

Does the National School Lunch Program Improve Children’s Dietary Outcomes?

Benjamin Campbell et al.
American Journal of Agricultural Economics, July 2011, Pages 1099-1130

Abstract: The National School Lunch Program’s effect on children’s diets has been
extensively studied. Results have tended to be inconclusive regarding the effectiveness of the program. Utilizing more specific treatment groups, we find that participants in the National School Lunch Program do not consume a higher-quality diet at lunch than children choosing not to participate, even though the program is offered — but rather consume a higher quantity of foods while consuming similar amounts at other meals. Furthermore, children attending schools not participating in the National School Lunch Program have dietary outcomes that are not significantly different from program participants.

Child care subsidies and childhood obesity

Chris Herbst & Erdal Tekin
Review of Economics of the Household, September 2011, Pages 349-378

Abstract: In this paper, we study the impact of child care subsidy receipt on low- income children’s weight outcomes in the fall and spring of kindergarten using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Cohort. Our results suggest that subsidy receipt is associated with increases in BMI and a greater likelihood of being overweight and obese. Using quantile regression methods, we find substantial variation in subsidy effects across the BMI distribution. Specifically, child care subsidies have no effect on BMI at the lower end of the distribution, inconsistent effects in the middle of the distribution, and large effects at the top of the distribution. Our results point to the use of non-parental child care, particularly center-based services, as the key mechanism through which subsidies influence children’s weight outcomes.

I am going to go out on a limb here, and guess that the answer from P-Kroog is "The program needs to be bigger! Much BIGGER!"

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A Surgeons Joke

Five surgeons are talking.

The first says: " I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is
numbered. "

The second responds: " Yeah, but you should try electricians. Everything inside of them is color coded. "

The third says: " No, I really think librarians are the best, everything inside of them is in alphabetical order. "

The fourth chimes in: " You know, I like construction workers.... those guys always understand when you have a few parts left over. "

But, the fifth shut them all up when he observed: " You're all wrong. Politicians are the easiest to operate on. There's no guts, no heart, no balls, no brains, and no spine, -- and the head and the ass are interchangeable."

Separated at Birth: Tennis edition

Alexandr Dolgopolov & Martina Hingis:


(clic the pics for more eerily similarity)

'Nuff said

Headline of the Month

"Nearly 40% of Europeans Suffer Mental Illness"

Lets see, JC Trichet, check; DSK, check; Sarkozy, check; Silvio Berlusconi, check; Joseph Ratzinger, check......

Hmmm, maybe that number is a bit low?

Interestingly, the percentage was only 27% in 2005 (it's 38% now).

That is an excellent rate of return in these troubled financial times, so I feel fully justified in recommending that our readers go LONG IN EUROPEAN MENTAL ILLNESS.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Mea Culpa

FLG has a valid point here.

You can't have just any shirt-tail guy off the street thinking they can do a hit-and-run post on bizarre sex practices.

Sorry, FLG; respect should have been paid.


The problem is not that we spend too little on infrastructure. The problem is that our very large spending on infrastructure gets diverted to pet projects of members of Congress.

Why anyone would think that government wants to do what is right for the average citizen utterly mystifies me.

Sure, a Senator is no more greedy than a financial services CEO. Folks, the problem is that a Senator is NO LESS greedy than a financial services CEO. And the Senator faces none of the checks on behavior. He gets to bribe voters in his state with money taken from people in other states. It's a foolproof system.

And you are the fool. Here's proof, from David Leonhardt.

Munger Road

This is odd.

First, it's odd that there is a movie called, "Munger Road." But there is. Here's the trailer (clearly for folks who live in a trailer park, I might add).

Second, given that I google myself 8-10 times per hour, it's remarkable that I didn't know. It fell to KPC pal (and G*d figure!) Dan Drezner to point out the existence of this offense to reason and cinema. Still, thanks to DD.

UPDATE: Apparently, an actual old fake legend, about a school bus in Illinois. There are even a bunch of YouTube videos, of such high quality as this one, with the car getting "pushed" off the railroad track, uphill.

What's Your PQ?

It turns out MY "pq" is 29, very similar to that of Ron Paul. Doesn't mean all our issue positions are the same, but I would guess that in a 2-dimensional space our issue positions ARE pretty much the same.

Our guy* Tim Groseclose has an interesting web site for his new book. And you can find out what YOUR pq is, though it's a 40 question survey.

*Angus actually owns him. He bought an option, back when it was cheap. At least, he wishes he had.

In Italy, Laziness is NOT a Problem

Does anybody really know what satire is?; does anybody really care?

Abstract: We investigate a phenomenon which we have experienced as common when dealing with an assortment of Italian public and private institutions: people promise to exchange high quality goods and services (H), but then something goes wrong and the quality delivered is lower than promised (L). While this is perceived as ‘cheating’ by outsiders, insiders seem not only to adapt but to rely on this outcome. They do not resent low quality exchanges, in fact they seem to resent high quality ones, and are inclined to ostracise and avoid dealing with agents who deliver high quality. This equilibrium violates the standard preference ranking associated to the prisoner’s dilemma and similar games, whereby self-interested rational agents prefer to dish out low quality in exchange for high quality. While equally ‘lazy’, agents in our L-worlds are nonetheless oddly ‘pro-social’: to the advantage of maximizing their raw self-interest, they prefer to receive low quality provided that they too can in exchange deliver low quality without embarrassment. They develop a set of oblique social norms to sustain their preferred equilibrium when threatened by intrusions of high quality. We argue that cooperation is not always for the better: high quality collective outcomes are not only endangered by self-interested individual defectors, but by ‘cartels’ of mutually satisfied mediocrities.

Either way, fabulous. Really a fine piece of social science. Not least because the phrase "cartels of mutually satisfied mediocrities" sounds a lot like a faculty meeting in the US. Not at Duke, of course. No, really.

(Nod to the Ward Boss, who is never lazy)

Grand Game: So Many Ways

I wish we had never played the Grand Game, and were never to play it again.

Just so we could take it out of its wrapping paper, still crinkly wrapping paper, and play it just one perfect time for this story.

My humble thanks to the lovely and talented @EmilySkarbek for the link.

There is a LOT to love in this story, people. Go!

Do Women Earn Less Than Men?

Well, women get paid less than men. The "earn" thing is considerably more complicated.

KPC uper-pal Steve Horwitz, with a fresh coat of Rain-X on his pate, explains.

They Knew This Was Going to Happen

This is just inexplicable.

“Is fortunetelling a crime? Of course, fortunetelling is not a crime,” prosecutor Laurence Bardfeld said in court recently. But promising to return large sums of money, and failing to do so, constitutes fraud, Bardfeld argued.

Yes, I think the prosecutor is right about that.

And, this: Bestselling romance novelist Jude Deveraux has been identified as one of the Marks’ clients, and she alone paid the family nearly $20 million, according to court documents. Deveraux declined to comment to The Miami Herald, citing the pending case, but in the acknowledgements section of her book Scarlet Nights, in which several characters were based on the Markses, she specifically praised retired Fort Lauderdale Police economics crimes detective Charles Stack, calling him a “true hero.”

Well, Mr. Stack may be a true hero. But Ms. Deveraux is a true moron. $20 million? I want to announce my own psychic services: Angus and I will make up a bunch of stupid sh** about the future (we are ECONOMISTS! IT'S EASY for us!), and we will do it for just $5 million. We'll call the service "Kids Prefer Cash."

Please leave a comment with your contact information. Clerks are on call.

(Nod to the Blonde; I think SHE knew this was going to happen. But then she's psychotic.)