Thursday, January 31, 2013

Will China's development destroy the world?

Um, maybe?

I'm not an expert on global warming, but I do think that of all the fossil fuels, burning coal is the worst for our environment, and China is burning a buttload of coal!

While coal consumption in the rest of the world grew somewhat slowly over the last 12 years, consumption in China more than doubled. China now burns almost as much coal as the rest of the world combined:

(clic the pic for an even more smoky image)

China is both the biggest coal producer AND the biggest coal importer.

Can it be that the biggest single problem facing the world is the need to find a much cleaner energy source for the developing world?

One thing is for sure: a rich world carbon tax is not going to do much, if anything at all, for the environment. Unlike acid rain, carbon dioxide emission is a global externality, not a local one.

Darned Cheap Milk!

Price regulations to "protect" consumers are generally floors, not ceilings. 

In which case it's hard to say how it's consumers being protected.  Because regulators actually don't care at all about consumers.

A case in point.  

The upscale Fresh Market was selling gallons of milk for $2.99 as part of a weekly promotional deal. Louisiana requires that retailer price markups be at least six percent above the invoice and shipping costs of the product.
“Because milk is a commodity product with regulated costs that are subject to change, at the current cost, due to Louisiana state law, we are unable to honor the $2.99 Tuesday deal for (Fresh Market) milk,” according to a statement from Drewry Sackett of BRAVE Public Relations, who represents the Fresh Market. “Because the cost of milk fluctuates, it is possible that we will be able to offer the $2.99 deal on milk again in the future.”
“They can sell it six percent over cost all day long. It’s when they sell it below cost that it becomes a problem,” State Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain told The Advocate.

With a nod to WH

Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Had a great time working the green screen to get this done for the Jack Miller Center.

It's kind of long, 20 minutes, but there is a lot of good content there.  My worry is that you have to be pretty interested in the subject to stick it out.  So our political theory friends might use it.  But it's going to take some fireworks to reach the high school kids.

This is our competition, I'm afraid.  Pretty darned fun to watch...

Still, the Miller Center vid holds up pretty well, in SPITE of giving me the narrator role.  Next time:  music.  And, an EPIC VIOLIN SOLO!  

Video Contest: Awesomeness From My Boy Stringham

This is so, so great.  Last year's contest was tremendous. And I got to be a judge.  We are doing it again!   This was last year's winner.  Extremely catchy.  You'll be humming it.  "We can make whatever you LIIIIIIKE!"

I'll admit that in addition to working as a professor, working as a music/rap video star can be stressful, but it's worth it. John Papola is clearly the master.  

But in my own small way, I am glad to be one of the judge's of the Economics Music Video Contest sponsored by Edward Stringham at Fayetteville State University. Last year's contest on "Supply and Demand" was a blast and we'll have a new contest "Economic Value is Subjective" this year.

Stringham writes: The goal is to encourage students to make videos that convey economic concepts in an interesting way. The first year’s contest asked students to make videos on Supply and Demand and the theme of this year’s contest is: “Economic Value is Subjective.”

Watch (seriously, watch!) the growing list of current entries at:

"Karl Menger had an idea long ago.  That value's different to people, therefore subjective, yo!"  Now, THAT is poetry, economics fans!

The contest is open to all students and entries are due May 15, 2013. The winners gets $2,500 and the professor of the winner gets $500.

To see past entries and more details about how to enter visit:

Voters Are Ignorant, Not Dumb

The lovely Dr. Diana Thomas makes a nice point.  Voters aren't ignorant because they are dumb.  In fact, voters are ignorant because they are SMART.

Raising the question of whether, as Angus has suggested, the ethical choice is actually NOT to vote, especially if you are uninformed.  Think how great it would be if anyone who knew s/he didn't know much decided, "The moral choice is to stay home!"  What a wonderful world that would be!

We Fear Unlikely Things, But Constantly Do Dangerous Things

The chances of a school being a target of gun violence are negligible, but we have marches and mass pestering about a non-existent threat.

But people take showers and drive cars every day.  Now, THOSE things are dangerous.

And Jared Diamond, to his credit, recognizes this.

It's fun to yammer about guns, precisely because it is a trivial risk.  We can show how much we care by being irrational.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Woman's Place

When Are Women More Effective Lawmakers Than Men?

Craig Volden, Alan Wiseman & Dana Wittmer
American Journal of Political Science, forthcoming

Previous scholarship has demonstrated that female lawmakers differ from their male counterparts by engaging more fully in consensus-building activities. We argue that this behavioral difference does not serve women equally well in all institutional settings. Contentious and partisan activities of male lawmakers may help them outperform women when in a polarized majority party. However, in the minority party, while men may choose to obstruct and delay, women continue to strive to build coalitions and bring about new policies. We find strong evidence that minority party women in the U.S. House of Representatives are better able to keep their sponsored bills alive through later stages of the legislative process than are minority party men, across the 93rd–110th Congresses (1973–2008). The opposite is true for majority party women, however, who counterbalance this lack of later success by introducing more legislation. Moreover, while the legislative style of minority party women has served them well consistently across the past four decades, majority party women have become less effective as Congress has become more polarized.


Successful Female Leaders Empower Women's Behavior in Leadership Tasks

Ioana Latu et al.
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, forthcoming

Women are less likely than men to be associated with leadership, and the awareness of this stereotype may undermine women's performance in leadership tasks. One way to circumvent this stereotype threat is to expose women to highly successful female role models. Although such exposures are known to decrease women's leadership aspirations and self-evaluations, it is currently unknown what the effects of role models are on actual behavior during a challenging leadership task. We investigated whether highly successful female role models empower women's behavior in a leadership task. In a virtual reality environment, 149 male and female students gave a public speech, while being subtly exposed to either a picture of Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Bill Clinton, or no picture. We recorded the length of speeches as an objective measure of empowered behavior in a stressful leadership task. Perceived speech quality was also coded by independent raters. Women spoke less than men when a Bill Clinton picture or no picture was presented. This gender difference disappeared when a picture of Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel was presented, with women showing a significant increase when exposed to a female role model compared to a male role model or no role models. Longer speaking times also translated into higher perceived speech quality for female participants. Empowered behavior also mediated the effects of female role models on women's self-evaluated performance. In sum, subtle exposures to highly successful female leaders inspired women's behavior and self-evaluations in stressful leadership tasks.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

"Not For Long"

Super Bowl week is in full gear, but I wonder how many more there will be, or at least how many more will still have the same level of coverage and attraction.

Did you hear about the UCLA researchers who believe they've found a way to test for the presence of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) in living people? They rounded up 5 former NFL football players and applied the test, which was positive in all 5 instances.  As I understand it, the test scans brains to look for tau, a protein that attacks brain cells, which is a strong marker for CTE.

You might think Baltimore's Bernard Pollard agrees with me, given his publicized quote that football won't be here in 30 years. But Bernard is focussed on a different "danger" to the game. He claims to fear that rules to lessen the violence will make fans stop watching and kill the sport!


"I think with the direction things are going -- where they [NFL rules makers] want to lighten up, and they're throwing flags and everything else -- there's going to come a point where fans are going to get fed up with it. Guys are getting fined, and they're talking about, 'Let's take away the strike zone' and 'Take the pads off' or 'Take the helmets off.' It's going to be a thing where fans aren't going to want to watch it anymore."

As far as I know, every ex-nfl player who had their brain autopsied showed CTE, and now all the ex-players who were scanned tested positive. I know it's a small and quite non-random sample but YIKES!

Even if lawsuits and liability issues don't choke off the game, I think the possibility of the other avenue Tyler and I mentioned in our "End of Football" piece, government intervention, is becoming more and more likely (check out our footnote #1).


I don't think I understand this enough to know if it's a bad thing, or a really bad thing.


On Monday, the World Trade Organization granted the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda the ability to suspend “certain concessions and obligations it has under international law to the United States in respect of intellectual property rights,” as the result of an ongoing dispute between Washington and Saint John’s. In other words, Antigua and Barbuda will now be allowed to open up its own, internationally-blessed, “pirate” site, undoubtedly full of American films, TV shows, music, and software.

The roots of this disagreement, like many feuds, center on money. The 81,000-person nation has long argued it should be allowed to compete, through its offshore gambling sites, in the United States, where gambling is highly regulated. In a statement released Monday, the tiny country’s finance minister said Antigua and Barbuda’s economy has been “devastated” as a result of American action.

The country claims the sector once employed more than 4,000 people (around five percent of the entire country) and has since fallen to 500. And proceeds from the industry “helped fund public education, healthcare, and the country’s infrastructure, and the income boosted consumer spending and other economic activity associated with a vibrant, high-tech industry.”

“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Harold Lovell, Antigua’s Finance Minister, said in a statement.

I'm a fan of property rights.  But the U.S. has asserted rights over the internet that are restrictive and imperialistic. But....well, you tell me.

With a nod to Tim C.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  You'll be wanting one of these, I expect.

2.  My new favorite thing about Canadians:  Bear-counting.  So cute and funny.

3.  Amgen gift:  So NOW the NYTimes gets it.  A little late.

4.  KPC friend David Leblang gets a nice write-up in Slate, on licensing cartels.

5.  Good news, bad news:  You must use flex fuels, except that they void your warrantee.  Wait, that's both bad news.  Never mind.

6.  Young man with quite a nice body decides to expose chest with 4th Amendment written in magic marker at TSA security.  Was it a protected protest?  New decision says maybe.  The bonus is that both Tommy and the LMM can enjoy the visual (don't worry, he's over 18, so it's not creepy or anything).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Moneyball for Academic Hiring

The University of Oklahoma is kind of like the Oakland As. In the "major leagues" as a flagship state university, but not really in the the big time. A lot of schools or departments are in this situation and I've been on the faculty of many of them! So here are some Moneyball type strategies to find talent that's undervalued in the marketplace (our problem is not payroll, we can pay competitive starting salaries to junior faculty. It's more about getting highly talented people to come to Oklahoma):

1. Look outside the big name programs. Many schools or departments are fixated on narrow credentialism. But there are very good people working at lesser known schools and they occasionally produce very good students. Those students are automatically at a disadvantage in the overall market and their disadvantage is your opportunity.

2.  Consider couples. In the new world of academics, many job candidates have academic partners. Getting two good jobs in the same city is hard, so schools or departments with the financial flexibility and vision to make joint offers can gain an advantage.

3. Take a look at the "second student" or the "orphaned student".  Professors often have more than one student on the market. The top schools are often competing for the advisor's top student and often ignore the second student. But sometimes the second student is actually very good. "Orphaned" students are ones whose advisor changes jobs (or dies) before the student finishes. These students can get lost in the shuffle with no one making calls or strongly promoting them and sometimes these can be excellent candidates.

4. Sell your school or department to the candidate. Many of the people we've hired tell us, "you were the only group that actually read my paper and gave me useful feedback on it". Running a search is a big chore and a public good that frequently inspires free-riding. I always try to make sure that we can engage the prospective hire right away and show that we take their work seriously and that research is very important in our department. This is also an excellent way to uncover students who are not as good as they look on paper. If you move a job market candidate off their pre-packaged spiel and there's nothing there, that is a very bad sign.

5. Move quickly. The academic job market is a very uncertain and tense time for most candidates. Getting an offer out quickly means that a good candidate may have to decide between taking your financially competitive offer or rolling the dice to see if a better school does not hire any of its first choices and brings more people out in a second round of flyouts. Consider making offers early in the season and putting fairly tight clocks on them.

New Meme

Okay, so maybe it's becoming a meme.  The "Story where the headline tells the whole story, but you still want to read the story" meme.

In this case, here is the headline: 

Father Hires Virtual Hit Men To Assassinate Son in Online Video Games

Okay, so you pretty much get that, right?  Kid is playing too much online.  You want him to have less fun.  You hire assasins to kill his character, to hunt him down, to make it less fun.  You get it.
But do you still want to read the story?  Yes.  That's what I'm sayin'.
Nod to Angry Alex.

Prices and Equilibrium

Two nice posts by my good friend Pete Boettke on prices, equilibrium, and the functioning of markets.

Prices doing their job

The function of "market agitation"

I have become much more sympathetic to the Austrian view of the value of equilibrium theory.  James Buchanan had this right:  if you ALMOST become a pure subjectiviist, and if you consider the tendency toward a single price rather than simply assume single price, you can have the best of both worlds.  Jim's best writing on this, Cost and Choice, is undervalued.  With subjectivism and "agitation," it is possible to stay in the world of formal economics, and not go out into the kaleidic absurdism of Ludwig Lachmann.  (Though Don B. suggests even LL should be appreciated).

Had coffee with Pete and young Coyne yesterday.  A pleasant time at the Dunkin' Donuts in Fairfax.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

The End of History Illusion

The End of History Illusion

Jordi Quoidbach, Daniel Gilbert & Timothy Wilson
Science, 4 January 2013, Pages 96-98

We measured the personalities, values, and preferences of more than 19,000 people who ranged in age from 18 to 68 and asked them to report how much they had changed in the past decade and/or to predict how much they would change in the next decade. Young people, middle-aged people, and older people all believed they had changed a lot in the past but would change relatively little in the future. People, it seems, regard the present as a watershed moment at which they have finally become the person they will be for the rest of their lives. This "end of history illusion" had practical consequences, leading people to overpay for future opportunities to indulge their current preferences.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Government is Force

One part of government action is non-partisan:  force.  All government officials believe that their efforts to control people, observe people, and force people to bend to their will is justified.

Consequently, the chief problem of government is to protect citizens from government.  But this protection cannot be left to the discretion of government, but must be imposed.

We have lost sight of this fact.  The "administrative subpoena" is replacing the warrant signed by a judge.  'Cause nobody in government thinks they should NEED no stinkin' warrant.  They are the good guys.  Just ask them.  That, in a nutshell, is why government is so terrifying they.  They are convinced they are the good guys, so anything they do, no matter how bad, is justified.

Nod to Angry Alex.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Hey boy get a sweater: Angus on NPR?

Here's the link.

There is much more than just the salary cap (which restricts teams' overall payrolls) involved in the financial hosing of LeBron. It's the whole collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Even if a team chooses to spend over the cap and pay the steep  "luxury tax", there are still provisions in the CBA that limit the maximum salary any player can receive, how fast that salary can rise over the course of the contract, and how long the contract can last.

All of those things work against the LeBrons and in favor of the "median" player. Whatever sized pie is available, these other CBA provisions limit how much of it can go to the superstars, thus leaving more of it for the rank and file.

Kids Prefer Flaming Cheese

The ever-watchful Chateau sends this gem:  Flaming cheese shuts down road tunnel in northern Norway.  WaPo version.  (For some reason, links left out earlier, thanks to Angus for catching it!)

I have a warm spot for stories where, once you have read the title, you are pretty much done, and yet you want to read the story anyway.

And, while we're at it:  What is the deal with Norway and dairy products?  Remember the butter shortage?  And now a river of flaming cheese?  What is going on, Norway?  If you wouldn't take your dairy products and set them on fire in constricted areas, you'd enjoy them more.

An Insult to "Corrupt"

Calling U.S. drug enforcement "corrupt" is an insult.  To the word "corrupt."  Corruption is old, and sort of honorable, a way of smoothing out bad government.  But U.S. drug enforcement is bizarrely hypocritical, with lots of sharp edges.

HSBC settlement:  Appalling.

Outright theft of a family-owned hotel, because some tenants used drugs.

Outright theft of money, for ...well, for no actual reason at all.  Some people thought the guy might, possibly, maybe buy drugs.  Later.

So, to review:  if you are a large corporation, and can pay off the government, you are free to participate in the wholesale distribution of drugs.  If you try to run a legitimate business, however, that entire business can be taken from you.  And if the cops find any sort of asset they can steal, they will just take the money, like Mexcan Federales in some bad movie.  You have to sue to get the money back, and the burden of proof is on YOU to show you were NOT going to spend the money on drugs.

Here's the interesting thing:  in the late stages of Prohibition, corruption took the form of payoffs to crooked cops.  With the civil forfeiture rules now in place, corruption takes the form of simple, direct theft:  the authorities simply take anything of value that that they want, unless you are a large corporation and can afford lots of lawyers.

I keep calling it "corrupt."  But I don't think that word means what I think it means.  I need a knew word.

Nod to MK

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Profoundly Disturbing

Here is a pre-release of a VW SuperBowl commercial.  Starring Jimmy Cliff.

Okay, now Jimmy Cliff is legitimately a legend.  His song "Trapped" is a dark, wonderful, interesting thing.  I even liked Bruce Springsteen's cover.  And "The Harder They Come."  Jimmy Cliff is great.

And VW is a perfectly fine car company.

But there is something deeply creepy about the way all of these badly deranged folks are allowing themselves to be exploited for...well, for what?  What is the commercial supposed to show about VWs, exactly?  And I'm glad Jimmy Cliff is gettin' paid.  But this had to hurt.  I hope he at least got high first.  I mean, a rock/reggae legend had to a roll call of the most damaged people on the internet:  "Crazy cat lady!  Irate baseball coach!  Angry politician! Supermarket tantrum girl! (etc)."   Ouch.  I'm a big fan of euvoluntary exchange, but did Jimmy need the cash THIS bad?

Farewell, From La Mar

Had dinner our last night in Chile at La Mar. (Nice review, with good pictures, here).  It's over-priced, okay, but wow is the cebiche fantastico.

Juan Pablo had the grilled pulpo (yum!), the EYM a fantastic sopa de mariscos, and I (pig!) had the four-way cebiche platter.  I "shared" (the EYM had a few bites) but mostly it was MINE, precious, all MINE.  Oh, and Eugenio is on the phone.  Of course.  Eugenio is ALWAYS on the phone.

The LMM had, as always, something not on the menu.  Sometimes the waiter tries to hold firm, but LMM is remorseless.  She wants a particular thing, no restaurant has it, ever, and that is the thing she wants.  In this case, a  salad of lettuce, carrots, and tomatoes, and a side of lightly grilled mushrooms and zucchini.  No meat, no cheese, no onions, no sauce, no peppers, no (I could go on).  The waiter almost cried, but he brought it, exactly as requested.

Do we have a spending problem?

The usual suspects have been passing around a chart they claim shows that we don't:

(clic the pic for an even more bigger image!)

Well, I have to say that it sure looks like a spending problem to me (N.B. I am not a Republican or a "conservative").

Remember that the graph is in per capita terms. Population growth has averaged right around 1% a year over this period, so there's a lot more spending than it seems.

Often it's appropriate to express things in per-capita terms, but government spending is *not* an obvious candidate. First off, much government spending is on public goods, which by virtual of their being non-rival (or partly non-rival) in consumption means that per-captia is a very poor way to express their spending levels. Defense spending per-capita is kind of a weird and meaningless concept. Infrastructure falls in the middle. Eventually population growth would require greater infrastructure spending due to crowding or faster depreciation, but per-capita is just not a completely appropriate way to express it. Entitlement spending might be best expressed per-recipient rather than per-captia.

Another strange thing about the graph is it attributes total spending to the president in office. This is just weird. Yes Bush was a terrible president. Yes we spent like crazy and ran up deficits with nothing to show for it. I get it. I agree with it. But the president doesn't control Federal spending, he only has the veto threat to try and shape congressional decisions. He doesn't have any real direct lever to affect state and local spending at all.

There is simply no reason to expect that real government spending per capita should constantly rise and there is not reason to impute said spending completely to the president in office when it occurred.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


So, here I am in a hat.  AND there is a little kid in the background, playing "I crush hees HEAD!  Haahahaha!"

Chapeau Showdown

Ok people, it's a good old fashioned hat contest.

First up, me:

(clic the pic for an even more colorful image)

Second is my good friend and co-author Aaron S :

(clic the pic for an even more mixed communist metaphor)

Who is the winner people? Plus, do you have a great shot of Economists Wearing Hats? Show me!

Farewell to Santiago

Heading back to US tonight.  Flight leaves SCL at 22:10.  (Question:  not really a time zone issue.  Why aren't there some day flights?  It's ten hours.  Could leave at 9 am, be in at 7 pm.  That's a lot more civilized than this $%&^! overnight thing, which is awful.  But anyway...)

Had our last lunch with the EYM today, at the "traditional" Chilean restaurant Tip y Tap.  (Check it out).  The EYM and I split an order of crudo, and papas salteados.  Really, really excellent.  The crudo was unusually good, and the papas were outstanding.

You would have to be seriously hungry to eat an entire serving of crudo, that's pure raw ground meat there.  But to split...yum.  Papas salteados are hard to describe.  It's a kind of frying ("jumping," or stir-frying, is the etymology).  But if it is done well it creates a combination of good moist potato with a little crust on the outside.  Definitely not french fries or home fries, but a Peruvian genius move.  Salteado is a fine preparation, generally, but just papas by themselves work well.

Party Competition and Economic Growth

Africa's (Dis)advantage: The Curse of Party Monopoly

Ann Harrison, Justin Yifu Lin & Colin Xu
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Africa’s economic performance has been widely viewed with pessimism. In this paper, we use firm-level data for 89 countries to examine formal firm performance. Without controls, manufacturing African firms do not perform much worse than firms in other regions. But they do have structural problems, exhibiting much lower export intensity and investment rates. Once we control for geography and the political and business environment, formal African firms robustly lead in sales growth, total factor productivity levels and productivity growth. Africa’s conditional advantage is higher in low-tech than in high-tech manufacturing, and exists in manufacturing but not in services. While geography, infrastructure, and access to finance play an important role in explaining Africa’s disadvantage in firm performance, the key factor is party monopoly. The longer a single political party remains in power, the lower are firm productivity levels, growth rates, and sales growth for manufacturing. In contrast, the business environment and firm characteristics (except for foreign investment) do not matter as much. We also find evidence that the effects of the political and business environment are heterogeneous across sectors and firms of various levels of technology.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Why Is the NRA So Powerful?

New video from Learn Liberty:  Why is the NRA so powerful?

Some things of note:

1.  The way the stick men caress the guns like luscious, curvy stick women is a little creepy.   Me gusta!  I'm not sure I would have chosen all the assault rifles, though.  Regular rifles, bolt action, or perhaps shotguns, are much more common interests for NRA members.
2.  I know that because I am an NRA member, and have been for a long time.  Card in my wallet, paid up member.  I am not happy with the recent positions on the NRA, on a variety of things.  But I am still a member.  Because the NRA is first and foremost the largest education and gun safety organization in the world.  And the magazines are awesome.  The NRA members I know, in law enforcement and gun training, are really fine people.  I am proud to be an NRA member, overall.
3.  I was so much fatter than.  I'm thinner than that now.
4.  As always, big ups to Elisabeth McCaffrey for making this all work.

More Support, Less Effort? Parental Support Crowds Out Student Effort in College

More Is More or More Is Less? Parental Financial Investments during College

Laura Hamilton
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Evidence shows that parental financial investments increase college attendance, but we know little about how these investments shape postsecondary achievement. Two theoretical frameworks suggest diametric conclusions. Some studies operate from a more-is-more perspective in which children use calculated parental allocations to make academic progress. In contrast, a more-is-less perspective, rooted in a different model of rational behavior, suggests that parental investments create a disincentive for student achievement. I adjudicate between these frameworks, using data from nationally representative postsecondary datasets to determine what effect financial parental investments have on student GPA and degree completion. The findings suggest seemingly contradictory processes. Parental aid decreases student GPA, but it increases the odds of graduating — net of explanatory variables and accounting for alternative funding. Rather than strategically using resources in accordance with parental goals, or maximizing on their ability to avoid academic work, students are satisficing: they meet the criteria for adequacy on multiple fronts, rather than optimizing their chances for a particular outcome. As a result, students with parental funding often perform well enough to stay in school but dial down their academic efforts. I conclude by highlighting the importance of life stage and institutional context for parental investment.

Okay, but what about this kind of support, from "Daddy"?  John-O is pretty much a free-market guy, but he has a daughter at college.   He might prefer to pay, rather than have this kind of support.  The list of "Sugar Baby" colleges, for your delectation.  

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Fatherhood Premium

A Reconsideration of the Fatherhood Premium: Marriage, Coresidence, Biology, and Fathers’ Wages

Alexandra Killewald
American Sociological Review, forthcoming

Past research that asserts a fatherhood wage premium often ignores the heterogeneity of fathering contexts. I expect fatherhood to produce wage gains for men if it prompts them to alter their behavior in ways that increase labor-market productivity. Identity theory predicts a larger productivity-based fatherhood premium when ties of biology, coresidence with the child, and marriage to the child’s mother reinforce one another, making fatherhood, and the role of financial provider in particular, salient, high in commitment, and clear. Employer discrimination against fathers in less normative family structures may also contribute to variation in the fatherhood premium. Using fixed-effects models and data from the 1979 cohort of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), I find that married, residential, biological fatherhood is associated with wage gains of about 4 percent, but unmarried residential fathers, nonresidential fathers, and stepfathers do not receive a fatherhood premium. Married residential fathers also receive no statistically significant wage premium when their wives work full-time. About 15 percent of the wage premium for married residential fathers can be explained by changes in human capital and job traits.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday, January 21, 2013

What inaugurations are good for

Pickin' up wimmen, right Bill?


People, you can stream the new Unknown Mortal Orchestra album at NPR.

So good. Check out "opposite of afternoon". Early Shins meets Dukes of the Stratosphere.

They are playing Norman in March and Mrs. A and I will be representing the elder generation at the show.

The Culture that is Hollywood

Here's Leonardo di Caprio on his upcoming plans:

"I am a bit drained. I'm now going to take a long, long break. I've done three films in two years and I'm just worn out.  I would like to improve the world a bit. I will fly around the world doing good for the environment"

1. Three films in two years? We need legislation to stop this kind of worker exploitation.

2. The only way that last sentence works is if Leo can fly just by flapping his arms.

What do you think people? How can LDC best help "improve the world"? Tell me in the comments.

Monday's Chile is Full of Links

1.  The worst journalistic lede of all time.  Even I think this is pretty terrible.

2.  Levantacola.  You think it's a Lebanese soft drink?  Nope, jeans that lift and separate.  Also called "Colombian jeans," or "Sweet fancy Moses, did you see that?"  Apparently a trend that's at least three years old, so I'm "behind" the times (see what I did there?).  Since this is KPC, yes, there is a video.  Ms. Jepsen can sing, "Levant my cola maybe."

3.  Policy matters:  China's "little emperors" and the implications for economics

4.  There was a lot of value.  Now there is less.  What happened to all that money?

5.  If you read this and believe the judge is right, it can only be that you don't understand this.  And that's bad, because honestly it's just not that complicated.

7.  Lance Armstrong getting caught may be a good thing for cycling, but it's a bad thing for the larger world.

8.  Interesting interactive housing chart.  Warning:  if you click on this, you will never get back the next 20 minutes.  Because it is very cool.

With nods to Anonyman, Angry Alex, Chug, and Kevin Lewis.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Lawyers and Prostitutes

Divorce lawyers and prostitutes:  Both charge by the hour.  About the same rate, actually.  Better ones charge more.

The difference should be that prostitutes screw their clients, while divorce lawyers try to screw the other side.  But apparently this one guy got confused.

A Minnesota lawyer is suspended indefinitely after having an affair with a client and then billing her for the time spent having sex, reported.

Thomas P. Lowe, 58, of Eagan, Minn., who is married, had an affair with a woman he was representing in a divorce case, according to the website.

Lowe reportedly knew the client for many years, and agreed in August 2011 to represent her in her divorce case. The two began an affair one month later. 

The website reports that at several times, Lowe billed the woman for legal services rendered while the two were having sex -- calling the time spent together a "meeting" or memo draft. 

I would have loved to have heard the conversation when the guy presented the bill.  "Wait, you are married, and have a code of ethics that prevents you from having sex with me.  And now you, a married attorney,  want to charge me, a divorced woman, $400 per hour for legal services during sex.  Excuse me, I have to go make a phone call.  Several phone calls, in fact."

You would  have to be a putz to think of charging in the first place.  But you would have to be an idiot to expect the woman to pay, instead of calling the ethics board.

Nod to Angry Alex

UPDATE:  Ick.  It's worse than that.  The woman tried to commit suicide.  And Lowe took payment on another case in cocaine.

Friday, January 18, 2013

CD, A Treatment, and an Analogy

An email from MK, slightly edited...

I believe that Science will lead us forward through our problems. Clostridium Difficile is a nasty infection that, once it takes root, grows rapidly and weakens the organism; it is difficult to eradicate. The public finance analogy is obvious.

Here is an effective treatment for C Diff reported today in NEJM:  Basically, instead of tidy white antiobiotic pills, they flush the patient's GI tract with a mixture of poop. Donated poop, from other people. And they do it through the nose ("nasoduodenally").

I pray--oh, how I pray--that an equivalent cure could be administered to our overlords.

MK, I'm with you.  I propose that if Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid are unable to agree on a budget that addresses the deficit, that large quantities of other people's poop be flushed through their nostils.  We have a new cure for "Congressional Difficile."

He's not just a RINO anymore

Bravo to the unnamed South African rhino who brutally gored a tourist last week.

A "game park owner", taking the picture of his clients, a city couple, urged them to get "within feet" of a pair of rhinos in order to get a better shot. What the wife got was a collapsed lung and broken ribs.

With apologies to Chris Rock, that rhino didn't go crazy, that rhino went RHINO, and now he's not a RINO anymore.

Picture of RA Radford?

KPC friends.

I need a picture of RA Radford, author of "Economic Organization of a POW Camp," for the new Learn Liberty video on exchange.

Anybody?  He was an economist at the IMF, Richard A. Radford, and died in 2006.  All I can offer is the satisfaction of knowing you served the cause, and a cite on the Learn Liberty web site.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

KPC Readers: The BEST

KPC readers are the best, the very best around.  The sharp-eyed MK saw this, and just knew right away it was KPC-worthy.


Waning infestations of [pubic lice] have been linked by doctors to pubic depilation, especially a technique popularized in the 1990s by a Manhattan salon run by seven Brazilian sisters. More than 80 percent of college students in the U.S. remove all or some of their pubic hair -- part of a trend that’s increasing in western countries. In Australia, Sydney’s main sexual health clinic hasn’t seen a woman with pubic lice since 2008 and male cases have fallen 80 percent from about 100 a decade ago.

“It used to be extremely common; it’s now rarely seen,” said Basil Donovan, head of sexual health at the University of New South Wales’s Kirby Institute and a physician at the Sydney Sexual Health Centre. “Without doubt, it’s better grooming.”

The trend suggests an alternative way of stemming one of the globe’s most contagious sexually transmitted infections. Pubic lice are usually treated with topical insecticides, which once included toxic ones developed before and during World War 2. While they aren’t known to spread disease, itchy skin reactions and subsequent infections make pubic lice a hazardous pest.

Clipping, waxing and shaving the groin destroy the optimal habitat of pubic lice. The practice has helped spur sales of depilatory products for companies such as Procter & Gamble Co. (PG) and Reckitt Benckiser Group Plc. (RB/). 

...About a block from New York’s famous Fifth Avenue shopping strip, women in fur coats and Louis Vuitton handbags are filing in and out of a beauty salon on a recent Friday afternoon. They perch on metallic silver and red floral sofas in the reception located in a Midtown Manhattan office building, waiting for a woman dressed in white to escort them to a waxing room.

The shop run by Jonice Padilha and her sisters Jocely, Janea, Joyce, Juracy, Jussara and Judeseia may be ground zero in the war on pubic lice. Growing up in the Brazilian coastal city of Vitoria, the sisters, like other women there, routinely waxed their pubic hair off to accommodate the ever shrinking bikinis worn on the beach.

In 1994, they introduced the waxing technique at the J Sisters nail salon they opened in 1986. Things exploded from there, Padilha said.

About 200 clients a day, including celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker, come for treatments ranging from complete hair removal to custom designs. Regulars returning every four weeks pay $75 for a Brazilian. Men of all ages and sexual orientation are going for the “Sunga” wax, a $90 treatment in which all pubic hair, including on the testicles, is removed.  Hygiene and comfort are key reasons customers keep coming back, she said.

“It’s like a freedom,” said Padilha of the salon’s signature bikini wax treatment. “When we started the salon 26 years ago, we never thought it would be a success.”

Nor was it expected to aid in the fight against pubic lice, she said.  “Pubic grooming has led to a severe depletion of crab louse populations,” said Ian F. Burgess, a medical entomologist with Insect Research & Development Ltd. in Cambridge, England. “Add to that other aspects of body hair depilation, and you can see an environmental disaster in the making for this species.” 

1.  First of all:  Sunga wax?  Good God.
2.  Is the Obama admin going to outlaw waxing?  Suppose, for the sake of argument, that pubic lice really do become so scarce as to endangered, and that waxing really is the reason.   As MK put it, in an email:  "When the last pubic louse is gone from Mother Gaia, we will all be the poorer for it."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Culture that is Germany: "Why he threw a puppy at the Hell's Angels isn't clear"

In our "Not the Onion" tradition, a little story of a young man who had a bad day.  I submit that the sentence underlined below is the single greatest sentence has appeared in a new story since...ever.

A German student "mooned" a group of Hell's Angels and hurled a puppy at them before escaping on a stolen bulldozer, police have said.

The man drove up to a Hell's Angels clubhouse near Munich, wearing only a pair of shorts and carrying a puppy.  He dropped his shorts and threw the dog at the Hell's Angels, escaping on a bulldozer from a nearby building site.

He was arrested later at home by police. The 26-year-old is said to have stopped taking depression medication.

After making his getaway on the bulldozer, he had driven so slowly that a 5km tailback built up behind him on the motorway.  After driving about 1km, he had abandoned the bulldozer in the middle of the motorway, near Allershausen. He continued his journey by hitchhiking.

"What motivated him to throw a puppy at the Hell's Angels is currently unclear,"  a police spokesman said.  The puppy is now being cared for in an animal shelter.

To be fair, this does give some credence to the German practice of gun control. If psychopaths are reduced to throwing puppies instead of spraying lead...maybe a good thing.  Still, when puppies are outlawed only outlaws will have puppies.

Standards Too High? We didn't almost die.

It is a truism that faculty parties are perhaps a bit boring and staid, not very fun.   But perhaps my standards are too high.

In Amsterdam, it looks they will use a more sensible standard from now on.  "Sure, it was boring.  But least hundreds of us didn't almost DIE from food poisoning..."  Story.

Vacations, too, I guess.  Here is the LMM's account of our Tuesday night here in Chle, from an email to our sons.

We think Dad got food poisoning.  Not sure if from breakfast yesterday or dinner last night.  He didn't eat lunch, was saving for a big dinner.  He was fine all day, walked to restaurant, not far. He had some bread, butter, some of that tomato/onion thing. [Ed:  She means pebre.]  I had tomato salad, plate of tomatoes with no skin.  Dad had plate of avocados, said was feeling bad before he ate it  but ate it.  He ordered corvina (?) with the fried egg on top and french fries. [Ed:  Corvina a lo pobre, something one would only have if REALLY hungry.  But I was.  Until 30 seconds later, I wasn't.]  When it came, he said he wasn't feeling good, didn't eat a bite.  I had chicken and mushrooms, this not as good as night before, was in cream sauce.  He waited while I ate.  Said felt really bad, I told waiter in terrible Spanish to hurry with the check that dad was sick.  

He came over, dad paid, got up and fell straight back, passed out cold.  Two waiters came running, I screamed, only two other people in entire restaurant, they came running over, everyone speaking Spanish, I have no idea.  Dad came to, said he felt better, could walk back to restaurant.  Said he thought low blood sugar, felt this once before in 1986 while at Dartmouth.  They said we should go to hospital.  Dad said no.  They said they would get a driver.  (think it was one of the employees).  Three people walking us out, including the chef with his tall hat on.  Walked down stairs, Dad passed out again.  Hit head on stairs.  Had a constable there, she called ambulance.  Dad came to briefly on his back, and immediately spewed vomit like a whale..  Waited for ambulance, took us to ER.  Everyone speaking Spanish and I'm lost.  

To ER, took us right in.  Took vital signs, all good.  Thankfully doctor spoke English.  Young guy, had Calvin Klein T shirt on and Adidas sweatpants.  About my height, dark hair, eyebrows.  Think this was about 10:30 or 11:00.  Gave dad IV for fluid.  Took a while, real run down hospital but all nice and try to be helpful.  Dad not feel well, not a very comfortable bed he was in, back hurt (probably from the fall)   His stomach was upset but he didn't tell them he felt like vomiting again, thought they might keep him overnight.  Customer service lady from hotel came to hospital, named Trinidad, she spoke English.  Gave us her number to call if needed anything, arranged for cab back to hotel.  Went to fill out paper work and pay. Dad had left his driver's license at hotel, had only taken pesos and credit card.  They told me charge was something like 13000 pesos.  Went to give them credit card (we are low on pesos, another story). They said only took cash, I said I didn't have enough pesos.  They asked for dad's ID, told them we didn't have it.  They then said it was free, no charge.

Waited 30 min for cab.  Got back to hotel, dad went to bathroom in hotel lobby and threw up again, all over.  Told hotel people, they were very understanding, Trinidad had told him about dad's experience.  Dad felt lot  better after that.  Took hot bath.  To bed, was shivering, Got him extra blanket, fluids.  He fell asleep.  I stayed up to about 2:30 reading to make sure he was ok.  He slept fitful.  He got up to try to have breakfast, had two bites of toast.  Then back to bed all day.  I went out to get more water, gingerale, gatorade, soda crackers.  Made dad drink liquids.  He just got showered and we just left the room for a bit so they can change sheets.  Won't be going out to eat tonight!!

Okay, so that was bad.  But the LMM went down for dinner at the hotel restaurant, had an omelette.  Three hours later, she was dizzy, feeling faint, and driving the porcelain bus herself.  She is still up in the room, and is not well at all.  I feel better today, not completely better, but better.

Anyway, now we'll have a new standard for vacations also, like the faculty at Amsterdam.  "Did you have a good vacation?"  "Sure, it was GREAT!  Not once did we pass out in the street, surrounded by workers and police, and send them all running when we puked like a whale!"  By that standard, I hope that all our future vacays are improvements over the last 36 hours.

Nod to Anonyman.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A Restraining Order From Wal-Mart

A fun little urban-legendy RO from Wal-Mart

Dear Mrs. Denner,

Over the past six months, your husband has been causing quite a commotion in our store. We cannot tolerate this behaviour and may be forced to ban both of you from the store. Our complaints against Mr. Denner are listed below and are documented by our video surveillance cameras.

June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people's carts when they weren't looking.

July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in House-wares to go off at 5-minute intervals


Monday, January 14, 2013

A short movie of the Concon beach

Took this out of the hotel room window.  Pretty great stuff.  Water right up to the rocks at the foot of the hotel.  Beaches within waking distance, but the hotel has huge windows, making the whole room feel like a balcony.  Cloudy until early afternoon, but then bright fierce sunshine.  Nice.


A picture from our walk yesterday, at the beach in Concon.  The LMM sits and looks out over the biggest patch of "nothing but water for 14k kilometers" in the world.  There is nothing west of here except New Zealand, unless it´s wet and salty.

You can see the hotel there on the right.  Lots of little beach kitsch stores and shops nearby, but the immediate area of the hotel is pretty rocky and natural.

Death Star Petition

At least some sign of humor.  Gratifying.

Nod to Anonyman.

Inequality, Inequity, and Solidarity

What do Americans know about inequality? It depends on how you ask them

Kimmo Eriksson & Brent Simpson
Judgment and Decision Making, November 2012, Pages 741–745

Abstract: A recent survey of inequality (Norton and Ariely, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6, 9–12) asked respondents to indicate what percent of the nation’s total wealth is — and should be — controlled by richer and poorer quintiles of the U.S. population. We show that such measures lead to powerful anchoring effects that account for the otherwise remarkable findings that respondents reported perceiving, and desiring, extremely low inequality in wealth. We show that the same anchoring effects occur in other domains, namely web page popularity and school teacher salaries. We introduce logically equivalent questions about average levels of inequality that lead to more accurate responses. Finally, when we made respondents aware of the logical connection between the two measures, the majority said that typical responses to the average measures, indicating higher levels of inequality, better reflected their actual perceptions and preferences than did typical responses to percent measures.


Income inequality and solidarity in Europe

Marii Paskov &Caroline Dewilde
Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, December 2012, Pages 415–432

Abstract:  This paper studies the relationship between income inequality, a macro-level characteristic, and solidarity of Europeans. To this aim, solidarity is defined as the ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’. We rely on a theoretical idea according to which feelings of solidarity are derived from both affective and calculating considerations – we derive competing hypotheses relating the extent of income inequality to these ‘underlying’ motivations for solidarity. Using data from the 1999 European Values Study (EVS), we apply multilevel analysis for 26 European countries. Controlling for household income and a range of macro-level characteristics, we find evidence that in more unequal countries people are less willing to take action to improve the living conditions of their fellow-countrymen. This is true for respondents living in both low- and high-income households. According to our theoretical framework, this finding suggests that, at least when measured in terms of ‘willingness to contribute to the welfare of other people’, feelings of solidarity seem to be influenced more strongly by affective, rather than by calculating considerations.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ayer, Santiago! Hoy, Concon!

Got in to Santiago yesterday, Saturday.  Spectacular day.  Had lunch at one of my favorite places, El Galindo; had humidas and Kross #5.  Then a delightful dinner at Tiramisu, and helados and coffee at Fragola.  Spent the night at the Tulip Inn, in the Cuarto Matrimonial (!).  Having not slept the previous night of plane travel, we were not as "matrimonial" as the honeymoon suite would normally require.

Today, to Concon, and the Radisson Concon, right on the water.  Will likely have dinner at one of two intriguingly named restaurants:  "Aqui Jaime" or "Donde Jacobo?"

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Why was the Internet Created?

So we can watch things like this.  Is it real?  Nope, clearly faked.  Did I laugh?  Yes, yes I did.

Nod to Angry Alex...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lang may yer lum reek.

So many thing pass, and life is long.

Here is scan of a picture I have had in my office for more than 20* years.  It is Angus and the EYM.  I think the EYM was about 10 months old, and this was taken just after we had moved to NC from TX.  Seems like a long time ago.  The EYM is now 23, living in Chile, teaching at UDD, and applying to grad schools.

Angus and I were so much older then.  We are younger than that now.  Lang may yer lum reek.
*typo corrected.

iPad Kiddy Toilet

Would you buy it for your kid?  Would you want to use it yourself?  Is it a good idea?

Photo credit:  Nate Lanxon

Nod to Angry Alex.

ET, phone home

From Twitter trolling to dueling blog posts in the Economist, it's been a short, strange trip for the mythical, mystical, "trillion dollar platinum coin".

The young digital progressives are in lockstep on the issue. It's legal, what the Republicans are doing with the debt ceiling is much worse than the coin shenanigans, it will cause less problems than a default.

 Josh Barro, one of the coins most persistent and seemingly serious defenders, has a piece where he attempts a debunking of the concerns of the anti-coin crowd. I am most interested in one particular slice of his piece:

 "But that will be inflationary!" This is a more serious objection, and it gets at what the platinum coin strategy really is -- financing the federal government's operations by printing money instead of borrowing it. The trillion- dollar coin will never circulate, but it will be used to back cash payments coming from the Treasury that would have otherwise been financed by bond purchases. If the government financed itself this way in general, that would absolutely be inflationary. But the president can hold inflation expectations steady by making absolutely clear that the policy will not lead to a net change in the money supply over the long term. Obama should pledge that once Congress authorizes additional borrowing, he will direct the Treasury to issue bonds to cover the government's coin-backed spending and then to melt the coin.... If the president is clear about his lack of any long-term intention to interfere with the money supply, I don't expect the platinum coin to cause a spike in prices."

I think the coin is excellent political theatre. It's got the right up in arms, positively sputtering with indignation, which can only be a good thing.

However, I think the expectations issue is quite a bit more problematic than what Josh outlines. In economics modeling, expectations aren't anchored by jawboning or empty promises. Without a specific commitment mechanism, mere promises will be non-credible (this of course is the time-consistency issue made famous by another Barro).

Specifically, I worry that when a US president takes up the power to directly print money in a political dispute, his assurances that it's only temporary, will be reversed as soon as his opponents capitulate, and will never happen again, might not be extremely credible. One could make a case that this action would indeed increase expectations of inflation down the road and increase the volatility of inflation as well.

And beyond inflation concerns, it is worth considering what the coin would to do the expectations of future government behavior held by investors, credit raters, trading partners and other relevant actors.

So while I absolutely love the trolling value of the coin, and kind of love the overall idea of the coin, I think is is a much more risky economic proposition than its proponents will recognize.

Shady Dealings

A list of email terms, in emails internally that are likely to reveal something is rotten in that company.

The reason that may be a problem is that the FBI can read your emails.

Of course, they don't have to read them, they can just search for those character strings that identify badniks.

Nod to Jay L., in Kenya.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Ouch. Worse Than Nickelback.

Arrange the following three alternatives into a strict preference ordering:


U.S. Congress

Ebola virus

The correct answer:  Nickelback > Congress > Ebola.

At least according to this poll, that is.  At least Congress is preferred to Ebola. Still, the year is young.

Which reminds me.  Have you heard that there is a new super concert circuit for the summer?  Nickelback is opening for Fitty Cent.  They are calling it the "45 Cent Tour."

Questions entirely relevant for investing in 2013

James Buchanan: a personal remembrance

I got hired as an assistant professor at GMU in 1984, right after the Public Choice Center moved there from Blacksburg. GMU interviewed me at the AEA meetings that year. It was a two-stage interview. I met in the living room with Phil Wiest and someone else who I can't recall. After having "passed" that initial interview, I was escorted into the bedroom where Jim was sitting on the bed in a shirt and tie and stocking feet (and pants too!).  He proceeded to grill me for about 20 minutes. I left the interview thinking it had not gone well.

But I got a flyout and, after surviving some serious hazing from Gordon Tullock at my job talk, got and accepted an offer.

Shortly thereafter Jim won the Nobel Memorial Prize. As an assistant professor, I would circulate working papers to several senior colleagues (Tollison, Tullock, Crain, Buchanan). Jim would respond with a typed letter giving comments and criticism. I was made an associate of the Public Choice Center and started getting summer money.

Then I wrote a paper (never published) testing whether surprise deficits raised interest rates (they didn't). Never got any comments from Jim. In fact, I don't think he ever spoke to me again.

But I didn't get kicked out of the Center, and he supported me for tenure (if he hadn't of, I wouldn't have gotten it).

Buchanan was both an intimidating and an inspirational figure to me as a young professor. I would not ever say we were friends or even friendly, but I learned a lot from him and his support was important for launching my career (such as it is).

Holy Hockeysticks, Batman!

Somebody call algore.  Because we gots yer real hockey stick, right HERE!

Nod to Angry Alex.


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Did education reform cause France to lose WWII?

People, Thomas Sowell says yes! I am not making this up. For realz.

Check it out:

In France between the two World Wars, the teachers' union decided that schools should replace patriotism with internationalism and pacifism. Books that told the story of the heroic defense of French soldiers against the German invaders at Verdun in 1916, despite suffering massive casualties, were replaced by books that spoke impartially about the suffering of all soldiers -- both French and German -- at Verdun. 

Germany invaded France again in 1940, and this time the world was shocked when the French surrendered after just 6 weeks of fighting -- especially since military experts expected France to win. But two decades of undermining French patriotism and morale had done their work.

Tom, I'ma NOT gonna let you finish. You have a PhD in economics from the University of Chicago. You should be deeply ashamed of yourself.

Lack of Ceteris Paribus? Check.

Failure to define/consider a reasonable alternative hypothesis? Check

A complete breakdown of logic and intellectual integrity? Check mate.

Finally to those of you who may object to my title by claiming that France did not lose WWII, I say: HA!


The brilliant Matthew Houck (aka Phosphorescent) has a new album coming out in March called "Muchacho". Here's the first single:

If you don't know know Matthew, I just haven't been doing my job very well and I apologize.

Here's my favorite Phosphorescent song:

and my second favorite:


Taxes on Being Annoying

If you annoy me, that is an "externality," right?

And we should tax negative externalities?  Not right.

Nice piece in NYT, with cute cartoon.

(Nod to Anonyman...)

"Sex is as good for your health as broccoli"!

An interesting report on a number of recent research projects on the health benefits of...ahem... cuddling passionately.

A flurry of small studies suggest that sex is as good for your health as vitamin D and broccoli. 

Now, THAT seems hopeful.  The LMM really, really enjoys good hot....broccoli.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Not a Caricature, Not the Onion

I often get criticized (yes, me!) for "caricaturing" the Keynesian view of the multiplier and job creation.  To be fair, Keynes himself was circumspect.  But the Keynesians are quite clear.

Here is an acolyte, making the straightforward argument that unemployement creates jobs, as long as we PAY people to be unemployed.  It gets good after about 2:50...

Hilda Solis is the US Sec'y of Labor.  She apparently wants to be the Sec'y of Unemployment.  Employed workers aren't docile enough, and they might vote the wrong way.  But unemployed folks, getting other peoples' money in the mail?  THOSE are Democrats.

Nod to William H., and to Pretense of Knowledge.

You Stressed Bro?

Forbes magazine has declared that "University Professor" is the least stressful job in America, and university professors across America have been going nuts disputing it (check #RealForbesProfessors on Twitter or read this).

People, the simple fact is that there is no one set of experiences, working conditions, or stress levels that describe the job of "university professor".

If you are a "full-time adjunct", man that is a stressful life. Low pay, low status, no job security, little to no benefits. If I were to give someone in that situation advice, it would be to find another line of work.

At the other extreme, if you are a tenured professor at all but the most elite of institutions, that can be a very stress-free life. Or to put it another way, most stress that may come there is self imposed. For example, I find it stressful to have PhD. students on the job market. I am to a certain degree responsible for their placements and that weighs on me. However, I could always just not be a thesis advisor or greatly restrict the number of students I advise and avoid this "stress".

Prepping a new class, or mastering new research tools can be difficult and stressful. However, most tenured professors can avoid doing these things unless they at some level want to do them. Again, the stress involved is self imposed.

It's true that many tenured professors check out every spring and are not heard or seen again until the new academic year starts in the fall. They don't do research. They don't update their class notes. They work the system. Not only is there no stress, there's no sweat.

However, many other tenured professors work pretty hard year-round, continue to publish and continually work on their teaching. A lot of sweat, perhaps some stress, but most of it is self imposed. Getting significant pay raises, getting promoted, getting a chair, are post-tenure goals that often require continued productivity, but the basic fact is that you can hunker down and hibernate for the rest of your natural life with few overtly negative repercussions.

Assistant professors on tenure track have another different set of experiences. Sometimes they have no clear idea of what it will take to earn tenure. That can be stressful. Sometimes their colleagues or university bureaucrats will take advantage of them, pressuring them into spending time on things that won't pay off at tenure. That can be stressful too.

The job experiences of professors are way to diverse to be captured in a single description. The stress-level is extremely context dependent.

Super Cows

Genetically modified cattle, in Europe.

Except that the genetic modifications are selective breeding, not chemicals.  What is the difference?  I have no idea.  These are still genetic modifications.  The EU seems confused, because people insist they don't want genetically modified food.  I guess they think they are eating aurochs?

UPDATE:  MAG sends this link.  Spectacular.

Twin Gone Bad

I think this woman must be from Betty's family, in New Hampshire. Betty is clearly the black sheep. Still, you can likely see the resemblance. Both ladies are equally attractive....

According to Betty's older sister:

"In the opinion of this Democrat, Free Staters [explanation] are the single biggest threat the state is facing today. There is, legally, nothing we can do to prevent them from moving here to take over the state, which is their openly stated goal. In this country you can move anywhere you choose and they have that same right. What we can do is to make the environment here so unwelcoming that some will choose not to come, and some may actually leave. One way is to pass measures that will restrict the 'freedoms' that they think they will find here. Another is to shine the bright light of publicity on who they are and why they are coming."

Nod to Aubrey A.

Corn to Ethanol Fiasco

As the WaPo noted, the US has a wide variety of idiotic "go green!" energy policies. It makes a little more sense once you realize that sacrifice and wasted resources are actually the goal, as in any religious exercise.

But the very worst is likely the requirement that companies find a way to use more bio-fuels.  And in THIS special place of stupidity, the focus on corn-based ethanal is the worst, of the worst, of the worst.

Given the amount of petroleum based fertilizer we use to raise corn, the environmental return on converting from oil to ethanol fuel is about 0.8.  That is, all things considered, the net impact of ethanol bio-fuel is actually harmful to the environment, given the distortion in land use and the expanded conversion of forested land into cornfields.  That's bad.

The world price of corn has gone up, and people all over the world are finding ways to grow more corn.  That is partly bad, and partly good.

But, we are NOT using the corn for food!  And that is really hurting poor people who depended on corn as a high calorie source, and protein source.  That, dear ones, is the worst, of the worst, of the worst, of the dumbest darned thing I can think of.  We waste petroleum to pay politically connected corporations to build useless ethanol stills so poor people can starve.  Really?