Friday, October 14, 2011

James Madison on Property: Your Dog Does Not Own Your House

(A piece I wrote for the Miller Center) "A Scholar’s View: James Madison’s View on Property"

     Americans believe that property is necessary for liberty. But how can my liberty be enhanced by an institution that excludes me from so many things? In his article for the National Gazette in 1792, James Madison addressed this paradox squarely. The quaint thing about his resolution of the paradox, almost pathetic in retrospect, is the completely assured way in which Madison describes how property, far from being a threat to liberty, is its very foundation. In our modern age, property seems to mean nothing more than that portion of the fruits of our labor that government deigns let us keep. How did things change so much?
      Madison, of course, was a primary architect of the Constitution. He defined property, in that 1792 article, as “that dominion which one man claims and exercises over the external things of the world, in exclusion of every other individual. In its larger and juster meaning, it embraces every thing to which a man may attach a value and have a right, and which leaves to every one else the like advantage.”
      Madison continues: “In the former sense, a man’s land, or merchandise, or money is called his property. In the latter sense, a man has a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.” His conclusion? “As a man is said to have a right to his property, he may equally be said to have a property in his rights.” This is no Buddhist koan, a semantic paradox like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” What Madison meant, and what the U.S. Constitution should mean, is that rights of conscience and rights of property are of a piece, mutually reinforcing. Each American owns his or her rights, and our right to own property is what affords autonomy and independence from the collective will.
      Our freedoms are not guaranteed by majority rule, or by “rights” of political representation. Those things are threats to our true rights. Otherwise there would be no 1st Amendment protection for the press, for speech, or for rights of conscience. Likewise, and on the same level (because the same essential thing), there would be no 5th Amendment protection against the taking of property without due process and without just compensation.
     Madison drives home the point later in the piece, when he describes a “just” government, presumably the kind of government the Founders hoped the Constitution might create. His words ring true, but hollow, for us today, for many of Madison’s premonitions of injustice have come to pass if fact. “A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species; where arbitrary taxes invade the domestic sanctuaries of the rich, and excessive taxes grind the faces of the poor; where the keenness and competitions of want are deemed an insufficient spur to labor, and taxes are again applied, by an unfeeling policy, as another spur; in violation of that sacred property, which Heaven, in decreeing man to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, kindly reserved to him, in the small repose that could be spared from the supply of his necessities.”
       The American Constitution creates a powerful institution, government, to protect our rights to property, and to defend our property in our rights. The core of those liberties are those properties, of both industry and of conscience, that we have fairly obtained for ourselves by work and reflection. Yet our industry is now yoked to a “partnership” with government for the rich, who are told that corporations and equal protection under the law are privileges, granted by the good graces of government and by no essential right. And the consciences of the poor are to be shaped by dependence on public viands to sustain the body, the mind, and the soul. Relieved of all responsibility, they are robbed of all rights.
        Our government, because it protects my rights and my property, has come to claim that my rights are a privilege, and my property is not my own. I would answer, and I suspect that Madison would agree, that such claims are akin to believing that your dog owns your house.

Remy on Occupy Wall Street

UPDATE: The camera woman is crying, the guy is crying, and they are bizarrely, defending some conception of property rights. This is OURS, you can't take it. "We" can take yachts, and money, and property, from OTHER people, but not from this snotty kid.

Vladette the Impaler?

So, Raleigh women are getting war chests? Does that look like this?

Aaaaieee! Run for lives! She will stick you with her war chest!

(Nod to the Blonde)

In the Navy...

This is disturbing. Or it would be, if it were not so predictable.

that's nacho cheese

I love Mexico but MAN oh MAN are things messed up there. Check this gem from the WSJ:

Days after the Casino Royale fire, Monterrey's leading newspaper published a video showing the brother of the PAN mayor of Monterrey, Fernando Larrazabal, receiving wads of money at one Monterrey casino. The paper suggested that many of the city's casinos, which lack legal permits, were paying off city officials—and drug gangs—to stay open.

The mayor has denied wrongdoing. His brother, Jonas Larrazabal, says the money was payment for selling cheese to the casinos.

There is a grand Mexican tradition of the politician's brother as bagman (Raul Salinas, you KNOW I'm talking about you), and apparently the PAN is not immune to it.

The whole article is interesting and depressing. A thriving illegal casino industry operates with impunity across the nation.

Good Grief: What does Obama have against Lee Myung-bak?

The South Korean president is here to celebrate the US-Korea FTA signing. Here is what our President has planned for him:

"Obama on Friday will then take Lee for a road trip to Detroit, home of the U.S. auto industry."

Let's break this sentence down, Tosh.O style:

1. A "road trip"? Are they DRIVING FROM DC to DETROIT? Who's paying for gas? If they use an electric car, how many days will that take?

2. Where, upon arrival, UAW officials will bury Lee under a parking lot, Jimmy Hoffa style?

3. Maybe President Lee has a thing for vacant lots or $11,000 houses?

4. Umm, Mr. President, I don't think Detroit is actually the Home of the US Auto industry anymore. Are you going to use a time machine and take him to Detroit in 1966?

Plenty of room in the comments for more!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Clever, Clever Satire

This was a comment on a post about a computer game, HOMM VI.

Do me a favor and ask Robert Paul Wolff and Brian Leiter this question: why are they spared the wrath of the 99%? Tenured professors, raised in privilege, products of Princeton and Michigan law school, living lives of luxury and leisure in comparison to the steel worker, the coal miner, the day laborer.

How does the the spoiled privileged Leiter respond to the following: Fairness is considered over the course of a lifetime. This does not exempt the privileged lives of professors, the beneficiaries of capitalism living lives of relative luxury and greed in comparison to steel workers and coal miners. We do not take current distributions as the baseline and simply move on from here. As a matter of fact, this is exactly the objection made against most utilitarian property theorists. Therefore, the unjust distributions that you have benefited from, the skills you have developed because of your privileged position within the capitalist regime, all these resources you have enjoyed will not be forgotten by We the 99%. And here we are. It is time to pay the piper, and this includes the professors as well as the bankers, CEOs and corporate attorneys. It is time for Brian Leiter, Robert Paul Wolff, Paul G. Allen, Warren Buffett, and the rest of the privileged few to make good on their debts. They must now give up their comfortable positions at Univ. of Chicago, etc. and pick up a shovel. It is our time to bask in the sun.

Not sure how Robert Paul Wolff or Brian Leiter would respond, sir. Don't know either, never met them, had to look them up on Google. I can say this: Here is the distribution of income in the U.S.:

You'll notice that 99th %ile is $506k, 95th %ile is $200k. There would be very few college professors above the 96th %ile, I would think.

As for Robert Paul Wolff....he is a Marxist Anarchist who was briefly at U of Chicago, 1961-1964. He never went to Princeton, either as a student or instructor, though of course he likely gave talks there. You may be talking about Brian Leiter, of course, but since I found looking up Robert P. Wolff (he's one of YOURS, fercrissakes!) to be utterly uninteresting I stopped my research, exhausted, and went back to my couch where nubile grad students could fan me and feed me delicious fresh fruit.

In short, what you have written simply must be a moderately clever satire. Because otherwise you are confirming that you "99 percenters" are just as loony as I believe you are.

What kind of country are we living in?

In 2005 Albert Florence, driving in his car with his family was improperly arrested on a bogus warrant. He was held for 6 days in a county jail in New Jersey and, during that time was "repeatedly strip searched".

And by strip search I mean, "strip naked for inspection, lift his genitals, squat and cough."

Albert sued and the case has reached the Supreme Court. The lawyer for the jail says automatic strip searches are necessary. "It's impossible to determine whether or not a minor offender is a risk or not," he said. "You could be a minor offender because you've just been stopped for a speeding violation" or "you could be a murderer."


People, in what world do even murderers routinely drive around in their cars with their families with dangerous weapons in their rectums or taped to the back of their testicles?

Secondarily, even in New Jersey, police certainly can look up a person via computer and quickly determine their criminal record. So yes, you could be a speeder or a murderer, but we can find out in 5 minutes or less!

Needless to say, the geriatric recluses that populate our Supreme Court did not exactly cover themselves in glory during oral arguments in this case:

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked if "showering in the presence of officers" violated the Constitution's ban on unreasonable searches. Goldstein (lawyer for Mr. Florence) said no, but that a close inspection at an "arm's length" would be a violation.

That answer didn't sit well with Justice Sonia Sotomayor. "It's OK to stand five feet away, but not two? That doesn't make much sense to me."

What about a visual body cavity search, she asked.

"There's a material difference," replied Goldstein, between a "visual body cavity inspection ... where you require someone to bend over, and cough" to expose the anus, and a visual inspection of a naked prisoner at arm's length. But he contended neither should be permissible without some individualized suspicion.

Justice Samuel Alito asked whether it would be permissible for jail authorities to require every prisoner to shower with anti-lice soap in front of an officer 10 feet away. Goldstein said that would be permissible. So "your only concern is searches that go farther than that?" asked Alito. Goldstein said that was "exactly right."

Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that, at least when he was in private practice, county jails were much more dangerous than penitentiaries because "you don't know who these people are"; you "arrest them for traffic [offenses] and they may be some serial killer."

What is so hard for these morons to understand. You don't "repeatedly strip search" someone for a freaking traffic violation.

Full stop.

The august justices seem to have all watched the entire set of "Porky's" movies before donning their robes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Tomorrow, HOMM VI. Finally.

I played the demo.
It's okay. Not nearly as annoying slow as V, or bizarrely not funny as IV.

HOMM II is my favorite game
, all time, any genre. But part of that must have been the timing. There just wasn't much like it then.

Illegal Advising

A Jewish professor was advising a student. He told her she might not like the course taught by famously anti-Semitic Columbia Prof. Massad. And Prof. Massad is, indeed, pretty famous.

And, now, the professor who gave advice is under investigation, by the U.S. Government! for "steering," like when a real estate agent tells an ethnic couple they might be more comfortable in their own ethnic neighborhood.

An actual investigation by the DofEd Office for Civil Rights. Because he gave her ADVICE. I give students advice all the time. Am I going to be recorded, and have my advice checked by the Feds? Like when I say, "Don't take ____'s course, he's not very good, I will run afoul of the anti-mediocritism laws? "You are a mediocritist! You discriminate against mediocre people! Bad! Bad!"

All Hail R. K. Gaddie

There's a protest in his kitchen and he's telling the world:

Solar Fail: Chicago

The problem with solar energy is that it is much more expensive than purchasing energy from power companies.

Much, much more expensive.

It is true that this difference can be reduced by subsidies. But people underestimate how much of a subsidy is required. With installation, batteries, and disposal of toxic waste (batteries are much more poisonous than the exhaust of power plants!), solar panels are almost never cost effective.

And so, we see, yet again, that grandiose claims run afoul of economic reality.
"Green" energy is a huge net waste of resources. Far from making things better, solar panels and solar subsidies are increasing unemployment and causing enormous damage to the environment.

(nod to the Blonde)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Rule of Law...of Nature Red in Tooth and Claw

Paul is a "rule of law" scholar, and a smart guy.

But I don't understand this lament. I agree with the sentiment, but not the contradiction.

Abuse of power is not a perversion of government. Abuse of power is the ESSENCE of government. We trade off abuse of private power, theft, and foreign aggression against the certain knowledge that our own government will abuse the powers we give it to protect us against the bad things in the first part of this sentence.

Or, as the young Edmund Burke put it:

Parties in Religion and Politics make sufficient Discoveries concerning each other, to give a sober Man a proper Caution against them all. The Monarchic, Aristocratical, and Popular Partizans have been jointly laying their Axes to the Root of all Government, and have in their Turns proved each other absurd and inconvenient.

In vain you tell me that Artificial Government is good, but that I fall out only with the Abuse. The Thing! the Thing itself is the Abuse!

Observe, my Lord, I pray you, that grand Error upon which all artificial legislative Power is founded. It was observed, that Men had ungovernable Passions, which made it necessary to guard against the Violence they might offer to each other. They appointed Governors over them for this Reason; but a worse and more perplexing Difficulty arises, how to be defended against the Governors? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

In vain they change from a single Person to a few. These few have the Passions of the one, and they unite to strengthen themselves, and to secure the Gratification of their lawless Passions at the Expence of the general Good. In vain do we fly to the Many. The Case is worse; their Passions are less under the Government of Reason, they are augmented by the Contagion, and defended against all Attacks by their Multitude.
(source link)

So, Paul: I'm with you for being upset at government abuses of power. But how could even your fertile imagination for a moment believe that it could be otherwise?

Be careful what you wish for

In my survey of international economics class today we had an excellent discussion of possible end-games for the current Euro crisis.

One point that really struck home with me was when a student asked "Why did Greece even want to be in a monetary union with Germany in the first place"?


Greece was a serial defaulting, non-tax collecting, relatively corrupt, but seemingly happy country. They were never going to be Germany, and I can't understand why they wanted to be Germany. Yet they moved heaven and earth to meet the Mastricht criteria and get into the Euro. They hired Goldman to swap around their future revenues, and maybe they fibbed a little bit too. At the time, many people were surprised that they made it in.

Short term, they got a ton of cheap (for them) credit and enjoyed a spending binge. But their economy grew ever less competitive and their external position ever weaker. Now they are down and out, humiliated, wracked by social unrest, and pretty much flat broke.

Yet they still want to stay in! People, Greece is never going to be Germany. I don't say that as a negative about Greece but as a statement of history/culture. The values are different, the comparative advantages are different. Thus, German monetary policy is not really ever going to be right for Greece. Unless Germany is willing to adopt them and put them on a perpetual allowance, the Euro is not going to work out for Greece.

It's time for Greece to pull the full Argentina, or as Hillary likes to say, press the reset button.

The greatest threat to the Euro

Excellent German condescension from Der Spiegel: "Do you want to be the man who destroyed the Euro?"

But the Slovakian guy hammers him: The greatest threat to the Euro is the bailout fund itself!

The story....

My man Joel R asks, "Is this the only European leader making sense? Forget about Germans - who on the whole probably benefited from euro policies - why should a relatively poor country - for Europe - bail out the banks?"

A Charter'd Libertine

School Choice, School Quality and Postsecondary Attainment, David Deming et al., NBER Working Paper, September 2011

Abstract: We study the impact of a public school choice lottery in Charlotte- Mecklenburg (CMS) on postsecondary attainment. We match CMS administrative records to the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC), a nationwide database of college enrollment. Among applicants with low-quality neighborhood schools, lottery winners are more likely than lottery losers to graduate from high school, attend a four-year college, and earn a bachelor's degree. They are twice as likely to earn a degree from an elite university. The results suggest that school choice can improve students' longer-term life chances when they gain access to schools that are better on observed dimensions of quality.


Measuring the Effect of Charter Schools on Public School Student Achievement in an Urban Environment: Evidence from New York City, Marcus Winters, Economics of Education Review, forthcoming

Abstract: This paper uses student level data from New York City to study the relationship between a public school losing enrollment to charter school competitors and the academic achievement of students who remain enrolled in it. Geographic measures most often used to study the effect of school choice policies on public school student achievement are not well suited for densely populated urban environments. I adopt a direct approach and measure charter school exposure as the percentage of a public school's students who exited for a charter school at the end of the previous year. Depending on model specification, I find evidence that students in schools losing more students to charter schools either are unaffected by the competitive pressures of the choice option or benefit mildly in both math and English.

I haven't read either of these papers. But I wonder if selection isn't driving both. In the first case, parents who care enough to get their kids to switch are the sort of parents who are more likely to encourage college. And in the second case, the parents of kids who are doing poorly in math and English are the ones who switch to charters, perhaps because (again) they want to ensure their kids succeed. That may well be wrong in one or both cases, of course. But selection is so tough in studies where you are measuring consequences of choices that are endogenous.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Do you believe in magic? Ryan Avent does!

Avent joins the crew attributing untapped magical powers to the Federal Reserve:

"Losing its credibility as an inflation-fighter, some of it anyway, is precisely what the Fed needs to accomplish. As Paul Krugman has put it, the Fed needs to promise to be irresponsible at some future point, thereby raising expectations of future inflation. That, in turn, will boost current inflation. Consumers will want to spend their money in the period before its value erodes, and through that mechanism future inflation becomes current inflation.

So the question then becomes: can the Fed convince markets that it will be irresponsible in the future? The answer, quite obviously, is yes. The Onion helpfully suggested one way in which this might be accomplished. At a recent dinner, colleagues of mine joked about other ways to solve the problem. One suggested that Ben Bernanke might ask to have his salary indexed to gold or the Swiss franc. Another said the chairman should take to the podium to tell Americans they'd better start spending their dough soon before it's worthless, lighting a cigar with a $100 bill all the while. More practically, Mr Bernanke could raise his desired inflation target or simply declare that the Fed won't touch rates for a certain period, no matter what happens in the broader economy."

People, if the Fed has credibility as an inflation fighter it is for the Rogoffian reason that we have appointed inflation adverse central bankers. That is, people whose preference is for low inflation.

Please repeat after me:


Promises to act against one's preferences in the future that are made without any commitment mechanism are simply cheap talk and are extremely unlikely to shape agent's expectations or actions.

We could appoint a central banker whose preference was for high inflation. In that case any promises to create low inflation or deflation in the future would be incredible and ineffective for exactly the same reason today's conservative central bankers' promises to create future inflation would be incredible and ineffective.

This is not a Tinkerbell situation folks; believing in magic is not going to get us through the crisis.

Equality or Income? I'll Take Markets for BOTH, Please!

Interesting article. The relation between growth and inequality is complex.

Excerpt: The late Yale University and Brookings Institution economist said that not only can more equal distribution of incomes reduce incentives to work and invest, but the efforts to redistribute—through such mechanisms as the tax code and minimum wages—can themselves be costly. Okun likened these mechanisms to a “leaky bucket.” Some of the resources transferred from rich to poor “will simply disappear in transit, so the poor will not receive all the money that is taken from the rich”—the result of administrative costs and disincentives to work for both those who pay taxes and those who receive transfers.

Do societies inevitably face an invidious choice between efficient production and equitable wealth and income distribution? Are social justice and social product at war with one another?

In a word, no.

Monday, October 10, 2011

45 czars!

The Ruriks (rulers of Moscow)
Ivan I 1325-1340
Simon 1340-1353
Ivan II 1353-1359
Dimitrij Ivanovich 1359-1389
Vasilij I 1398-1425
Vasilij II 1425-1462
Ivan III 1462-1505
Vasilij III 1505-1533
Ivan IV, the terrible 1533-1584
Feodor I 1584-1598
Boris Godunov 1598-1605
Feodor II 1605
Dimitrij, the false 1605-1606
Vasilij IV Sjujsky 1606-1610

The House of Romanov
Michail III 1613-1645
Alexej Michailovich 1645-1676
Feodor III 1676-1682
Ivan V 1682-1696
Peter I, the great 1682-1725
Catherine I 1725-1727
Peter II 1727-1730
Anna Ivanova 1730-1740
Ivan VI and grand duchess Anna Leopoldovna 1740-1741
Elizabeth 1741-1762

The House of Holstein-Gottorp-Romanov
Peter III 1762
Catherine II, the great 1762-1796
Paul I 1796-1801
Alexander I 1801-1825
Nicholas I 1825-1855
Alexander II 1855-1881
Alexander III 1881-1894
Nicholas II 1894-1917

Just over 30. Compare that to the....czars of Obama! There are 45 of them.... all at once!

Nod to the Blonde.


Always the critic, always with the details...P-kroog objects to this graph.

Some background on the upward sloping aggregate demand argument. Proving once again that P-kroog is just not that good a macro-economist. ("Minsky moment?" Have Angus draw you his famous "Minsky curve" sometime. It's downward drooping.)

Nod to Kevin Lewis


A venn diagram. It pretty much says it all.

Nod to James Sinclair, and thanks to Steve Horwitz.

Will Wilkinson on Ron Paul

Will W gives an analysis of Dr. Ron Paul.

The U.S. could do worse, and almost certainly will do worse, for President.

But I really am confused how people identify RP with "libertarian." It just ain't so. A friend recently told me that RP was "the most libertarian of the major candidates." Okay. But Mussolini* was the most libertarian of the Axis dictators, but that doesn't make him a libertarian.

(*No, I'm not saying RP is Mussolini; I'm saying that the "he's the most XXXX of the YYYYs" doesn't mean the person is actually XXXX).

On the other hand, I was and remain sympathetic to the claim that the main part of the state-sponsored Repub party, and the state-owned media, ignore RP because he is TOO libertarian. That's a fair critique, as Jon Stewart points out.

Are firms acting irrationally by not investing more?

In an amazingly hubristic NY Times opinion piece, Richard Thaler tries to nudge American companies into doing the right thing:

Corporations are hoarding cash at record rates. The Federal Reserve recently reported that nonfinancial companies in the United States were holding more than $2 trillion in cash and other liquid assets — money that is earning next to nothing. A considerable amount of that cash has been accumulated in the last two years — and the totals exclude the substantial sums the companies hold abroad in foreign subsidiaries. Of course, it can be sensible for businesses to have a source of emergency cash, but many appear to be stockpiling so much that it’s hard to imagine what emergency they fear. To cite just one example, Google is holding more than $39 billion in cash...

Yet is such caution rational? As a shareholder, I would worry about a company that says it can’t find investments that can reasonably be expected to earn well above the tiny return of its cash.

Investment does not necessarily have to involve increasing capacity. Are there no plants or equipment that need upgrading? No promising research-and-development opportunities to be explored? Not even any parking lots that need to be repaved and painted?

I also do not buy the idea that companies need all this cash for acquisitions. If they really want to buy another business, they can issue stock to do so.

It's pretty hard to unpack all the errors/hubris in this quote, but let's try.

The biggest error Thaler makes is that he implies that the idea that firms are acting irrationally by delaying investment can be confirmed by the fact that positive NPV projects are not being done.

"Yet is such caution rational? As a shareholder, I would worry about a company that says it can’t find investments that can reasonably be expected to earn well above the tiny return of its cash."

The problem with this "logic" is that it is contradicted by the entire body of modern economic literature on investment. The literature shows that there is an option value to waiting to invest until conditions are favorable.

See for example "The Value of Waiting to Invest" by McDonald & Siegal (QJE 1987 cited over 2000 times according to Google Scholar) or "Waiting to Invest: Investment & Uncertainty", by Ingersoll & Ross (Journal of Business 1992 cited over 350 times according to Google Scholar).

Here's a crucial sentence in the Ingersoll & Ross abstract:

"The ability to delay a project means that almost every project competes with itself postponed"

The second mistake Thaler makes is downright embarrassing. He seems to assume that investment by firms is actually zero!

Are there no plants or equipment that need upgrading? No promising research-and-development opportunities to be explored? Not even any parking lots that need to be repaved and painted?

Umm, what evidence does Thaler show that these routine tasks are not being undertaken? Firms are sitting on a lot of cash, but firms are also currently investing over $1.5 trillion dollars (in 2005 dollars) this year. That should be enough to pave a few parking lots.

Finally, Thaler informs us that: "I also do not buy the idea that companies need all this cash for acquisitions. If they really want to buy another business, they can issue stock to do so."

Amazing! This is true just because he says so? The horrible condition of the stock market, the problems in the IPO market (which is different but clearly related) are apparently irrelevant; just issue stock, you bungling morons!

This is really one of the worst editorials I've ever seen by a respected economist.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Separated at Birth: Gronke and Grienke

Pretty amazing. Dr. Paul Gronke, of Reed College
....and Zach Grienke, pitcher for Milw. Brewers

I'm just sayin'...

Carnival Fraud: Really?

So...sheriff's deputies run undercover sting operation to pester people at carnivals.

Because we all want to make sure that no one actually wins any prizes.

Anthony Dewayne Ellis, 32, of Locust Grove, and Kenneth Lea McLeod, 50, of Ashland, Va., agreed to change the rules of a game for undercover Tulsa County sheriff’s deputies, according to an arrest report.

The carnival workers were operating a game involving throwing darts into star-shaped holes when they gave a discounted price to the deputies, who later asked “what it would take to win the big prize,” the report says.

The workers awarded the prize — a stuffed character from the game Angry Birds — after letting the deputies play for $20 regardless of the outcome.

The game’s posted rules required paying $5 to throw darts into the holes for prizes of escalating value, the report says.

State law requires that rules for carnival games be posted at all times. Contradicting the posted rules is a misdemeanor.

(Nod to Jackie Blue, who never cheats)

All We Are Saying, Is Give.....

Actually, I have no idea what they are saying.

You have to like the "Information Man!" thing from the highly educated plumber's helper just after 2:10.

But my favorite is the guy who want "the government" to run the banks. When asked, what about, no, not them. The "government."

Patenting Dad

Creativity and the Family Tree: Human Capital Endowments and the Propensity of Entrepreneurs to Patent

Albert Link & Christopher Ruhm, NBER Working Paper, September 2011

Abstract: In this paper we show that the patenting behavior of creative entrepreneurs is correlated with the patenting behavior of their fathers, which we refer to as a source of the entrepreneurs’ human capital endowments. Our argument for this relationship follows from established theories of developmental creativity, and our empirical analysis is based on survey data collected from MIT’s Technology Review winners.

(Nod to Kevin Lewis)

Not Only Not the Onion, But Not Monty Python

This goes well beyond a simple "not the Onion." This crosses well over into "not Monty Python" territory. (If you think I'm wrong, do watch this early planning meeting of "Occupy Wall Street," where they decide on their program, their demands, and who they will follow...)

Protesters at "Self-Absorbed Atlanta" (yes, they call it "Occupy Atlanta," but my title is more accurate) have set up a system where they can solve a bunch of problems that don't actually exist.

1. How to talk when you have a weak megaphone. Normal solution: get a better sound system. Self-Absorbed Atlanta solution: have a simultaneous translation, English to English.

2. How to signal approval. Normal solution: applause. SAA solution: little jazz hands waving, so no ones' voice is drowned out by applause. Of course, nobody is going to see the individual hands in the sea of hands, either. Either way, minority disagreement is going to be overwhelmed. EXCEPT: SAA requires unanimity! So you CAN see the one nut job/racist/star trek fan who wants to block things. Do NOT talk to the jazz hand that says "no!" (If you are not familiar with Jazz Hands, here is a quick guide to SAA hand signals!*)

3. Finally, if you can stand to watch for that long (I skipped after two minutes, I have to admit. SAA can really do some powerful auto-politicism), go to the 8.5 minute mark. Congressman John Lewis stood up to Bull Connor, and crossed the bridge at Selma on Bloody Sunday. But he was no match for the self-righteous idiocy of Self-Absorbed Atlanta.

As Pelsmin, who sent this in, notes: "This is a perfect illustration of how the extreme left's desire to liberate people from oppressive societal conventions like democracy will lead to something like the Soviet bureaucracy." And Soviet civil liberties, too! An invited speaker suffers the heckler's veto, in this video. Wow!

*Okay, no it wasn't. But I made you look. I think that video should replace Rick-rolling with "Tiny-rolling."