Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Munger Games

Part I:

Part II:

I especially liked the "Cornell Way."  It's gorgeous. And of course Fook-wah!

False Specificity

The price of a drink – too exactly? Flawed evidence for minimum unit pricing 

John Duffy
 Significance, April 2013, Pages 23–27

The UK government has been considering whether to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol. Extraordinarily precise benefits have been claimed for the measure, down to exactly how many lives a year will be saved. But are the statistics real or illusory? John Duffy says they are flawed to the point of uselessness.

An earlier, longer version.  

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday, April 29, 2013

Gypsy Law

Gypsy law 

Peter Leeson 
Public Choice, forthcoming 

 Abstract: How do the members of societies that can’t use government or simple ostracism produce social order? To investigate this question I use economics to analyze Gypsy law. Gypsy law leverages superstition to enforce desirable conduct in Gypsy societies where government is unavailable and simple ostracism is ineffective. According to Gypsy law, unguarded contact with the lower half of the human body is ritually polluting, ritual defilement is physically contagious, and non-Gypsies are in an extreme state of such defilement. These superstitions repair holes in simple ostracism among Gypsies, enabling them to secure social cooperation without government. Gypsies’ belief system is an efficient institutional response to the constraints they face on their choice of mechanisms of social control. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  Newt Gingrich and the EMPeril.

2.  Instead of defending Obamacare and gun registration initiatives, Sen. Baucus decides to "spend more time with his family."  Suuuuurrrre.

3.  Q:  Could North Korea be any more bizarre?  A:  No.  Some medals, in a photo.  A story from NK that may be about medals, but it's hard to tell.

4.  People who believe in markets reject science.  Note that this requires the equation of "state control of means of production" and "science."  Sometimes, it is wrong to compare these guys with the USSR.  But sometimes "scientific socialism" is just what it appears to be.

5.  The ULTIMATE in cookie-dunking technology.

LOTS more after the jump...Click through!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Lawmakers Exempt Selves, Families, and Staffs from Obamacare

Seriously?  We were supposed to pass it first and then find out what is in it?

And once they found out what was in it, they decided to exempt themselves, their families, and their staff?  Congress, I mean.  I don't know much about health care, but I don't think that this is a good thing.

Furthermore, when the Army said, "We don't need more tanks," the Congress said..."You WILL take more tanks, and you will *&$^%$ing LIKE it!  We don't care about defense, we just want to spend more money!"

As Pope Leo X said, "God has given us the Papacy. Now let us enjoy it."

Nod to M.K., and Anonyman.


Friday (like most days), Brad DeLong said some amazing stuff.

In particular he claimed that, "There Are Two Unit Roots and Strong Mean Reversion in U.S. GDP per Capita".


Phone call for Clive Granger.

First off, unit roots and mean reversion are incompatible concepts. A unit root is essentially a stochastic trend. There is no fixed mean of the series to revert to.

Second, "two unit roots" means that real gdp per capita is I(2). Which means in English that shocks to the growth rate are permanent, that the variance of the growth rate continually increases over time, and that there is no mean reversion in the growth rate.

We actually have a lot of statistical tests for unit roots. Sure they are not so great, especially in the power department. So if we fail to reject the null, we are not thrilled about rolling with it.

But if we can reject the null, the size of the tests (probability of rejecting a true null) are not far from accurate, especially over longer time periods, and we have over 200 years of data to work with!

So here's the augmented Dickey-Fuller test for a unit root in the growth rate of real GDP per capita(the null is that there is such a unit root):


Null Hypothesis: D(LRYPC) has a unit root Exogenous: Constant Lag Length: 0 (Automatic based on Modified SIC, MAXLAG=14)

                                                                t-Statistic                     Prob.

Augmented Dickey-Fuller test statistic          -11.43155                  0.0000
Test critical values:  1% level                        -3.461630
                             5% level                        -2.875195
                           10% level                        -2.574125

*MacKinnon (1996) one-sided p-values.


We are rejecting (crushing) the null of a second unit root in the series at the 0.01 level. You can click through all the options in EVIEWS on lag length selection and get exactly the same rejection.

There are not two unit roots in real US GPD per capita.

Here's a graph of the growth rate of real GDP per capita in the US since 1800:

The data run from 1801 to 2010 (I'm pretty sure it's the same data Brad used).

The mean of the series is around 0.015, or a 1.5% growth rate. As you can see, while there is evidence of volatility clustering, the series is strongly mean reverting and shocks to the growth rate are decidedly not "highly persistent"  (i.e. it does not have a unit root).

There is even a big debate about whether real GDP per capita has even one unit root, because there are a lot of processes (long memory, Markov switching, structural breaks, breaking trends) that are not unit root processes but typical tests will fail to reject the null of a unit root anyway.

How Florida can you GET?

This...this is the essence of Florida, folks.  At least, MY part of Florida, the idiot redneck part.

This Is Quite Possibly the Most Florida News Story Ever Written 

Not even The Onion could make up a more Florida story than the real-life misadventures of one William Daniel Lloyd, AKA Florida Man. 

The 31-year-old Gainesville resident, who has been in and out of mug shots for charges ranging from grand theft to drug possession to disorderly conduct, recently had a hankering for some dinner squirrel, so he tried to hunt one down with a BB gun. To improve his chances of taking the squirrel out cleanly, Lloyd decided to tape a bullet to the end of his Pumpmaster 760. 

Surprisingly, his MacGyver-esque troubleshooting backfired. Literally: Lloyd fired the BB gun, causing the BB to strike the cartridge's primer. The cartridge discharged and fragmented, striking Lloyd in the upper arm and lower leg. He was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. 

Lloyd was subsequently charged with discharging a firearm in public and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon. He later told police he found the cartridge while looking for scrap metal to sell. As for the squirrel, one commenter suggested he probably died. Laughing, that is. 

Let's make sure you understand what he did.  He has a pump air gun, that shoots BBs (every man needs a "Pumpmaster 760," I'd say!).  He "finds" a bullet (maybe, maybe not.  He's a convicted felon, like pretty much everyone in my extended Florida family, like Dutch Boy and Jackie Blue.  So he can't have a bullet, legally).   (More after the jump)

Seating and Persuasion

For those who have spent time around the "hollow square," there is some research on how it affects the discussion:

Exploring the Impact of Various Shaped Seating Arrangements on Persuasion 

Rui (Juliet) Zhu & Jennifer Argo 
Journal of Consumer Research, forthcoming 

Abstract: Despite the common belief that seating arrangements matter, little research has examined how the geometrical shape of a chair arrangement can impact persuasion. Across three studies, this research demonstrates that the shape of seating arrangements can prime two fundamental human needs which in turn influence persuasion. When seated in a circular shaped layout, individuals evaluate persuasive material more favorably when it contains family-oriented cues or majority endorsement information. In contrast, when seated in an angular shaped seating arrangement, individuals evaluate persuasive material more favorably when it contains self-oriented cues or minority endorsement. Further, results reveal that these responses to persuasive material arise because circular (angular) shaped seating arrangements prime a need to belong (need to be unique). Thus, this research shows that a subtle environmental cue – the shape of a seating arrangement – can activate fundamental human needs and consequently affect persuasion. 

(nod to Kevin Lewis)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Inside Baseball

Interesting.  Pittsburgh pitcher gives up leadoff homer, then second homer, then a single.  So, two runs in, man on first, to lead off the game.  No outs.

Pitcher then throws ball WAY up and in, could have hit Craig in the head if he ducked down.  An extremely dangerous pitch.

Generally, umps warn both benches in this situation.  But of course that allows the pitcher who threw the "purpose pitch" to get away with it, and prevents the other team from retaliating.  So, that's probably a bad idea.

Other two courses of action for the ump:
1.  Do nothing.  Let baseball work it out, with all the problems that implies.  The tradition is that somebody takes one hard for the other team, and it's even.  When this does not happen, people notice. 
2.  Toss the pitcher.  No warning, just toss him  And since this is unusual, you will almost certainly toss the manager also, who will be obliged to protest to protect his pitcher and avoid losing face in the eyes of his team. 

The point being that #2 is a pretty big deal.  I favor #1, for a first offense.  The ump, Timmons, chose #2.  Here is the video.  And here is a video of what happened later.  'Cause here's the thing:  Cards pitcher Lance Lynn hit Marte TWICE.  And then later a THIRD Pirates batter was hit, on an up and in pitch.  Three Pirates hit, no Cardinal ejected; one Cardinal hit, three Pirates ejected. (Here is the box score, if you want to follow the whole thing...)

My view?  Return to the Samurai code.  In hockey, they fight, they get it over with.  If you take a cheap shot, you had better watch your ass.  I understand that people get hurt if a baseball hits them.  If you think someone is intentionally throwing at a guy's head, you have to toss him.

The counterargument:  Batters increasingly are taking matters into their own hands.  Rather than accepting the Samurai code, they charge the mound.  And premium pitchers get hurt.

So, I have to say that umpire Timmons probably played this correctly, all the way down the line.  Except he should have ejected (Cardinal) Boggs when he hit (Pirate) Sanchez.  That ball was up and in.  Both times Lynn hit Marte, Marte swung into it.  The ball was inside, but it was on the hands and no way was it intentional.  When Boggs hit Sanchez, that was the third Card HBP, and it was up and in.  If you are going to regulate, you have to be fair, and allow the Pirates to save face.  Otherwise they to fight or throw at guys to defend themselves.

As it stands, the Pirates are pissed.  I think they are wrong about being mad about the Sanchez ejection, and the Hurdle ejection, and the Marte HBPs, and the Bell ejection.  But the Pirates are right, at the very least, about the failure to eject Boggs.  If you are going to use regulation to prevent fights, you have to punish the behavior, not the intent.  Up and in is an ejection, and Boggs threw it up and in.  Umps can't read minds.

Phishers use to take pride in their work....

Maybe I'm just getting old.  But Phishers used to take a little pride in their work, writing in actual English and having something plausible in the message.  No more.  I just got this:

Dear Duke webmail User, 
There are security check on our Duke webmail database system and have you online access disabled, pending the confirmation of you sign details. 

Click the link below to confirm and type in the confirmation number: 1265-6778-8250 along with various informations in the portal of entry. 

Click here http://****** 

Please ensure you username and password details are correctly, to avoid losing your email account access preturnally. However, your access would be restored after this confirmation.

 Duke Security Department. 

2013® services are provided by Duke.

Seriously? The email is "from" a young woman at Baylor Medical School (not her fault, obviously they are spoofing her email address).  But why would a young woman at Baylor Medical School be sending this out?  Wouldn't you at least take the time to spoof a Duke email address?

The sad part is that I'm sure that some of my...shall we say..."senior" colleagues clicked through on this.

Friday, April 26, 2013

How to build a passive house

This video is from our amazing architect, Vahid Mojarrab, and it shows the foundation and wall assembly of our passive house project in Santa Fe.


While this seems complicated, at the end of the day, we won't have a furnace or an air conditioner. All the heating and cooling needed can be provided by a single mini-split heat pump.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I'm so PROUD!

The YYM turned 21 a week ago.  A proud moment in a father's life, where there is an evolution of aging in baseball.  First, the kid is old enough to play t-ball, then baseball.  Then I got to coach various teams.  Then I got to watch him play on various teams, and excel in lots of ways.

And we got to watch games together.  First he was old enough not to spill the drinks when I brought them back to the seats.  Then he was old enough to win the "fast-pitch" competition (which he did at least a dozen times) down at the radar gun booth.  Then he was old enough to go get the drinks and hot dogs, while I relaxed in the seats.

Now, he's old enough to go buy the BEER while I relax in the seats.  A major step.  Really, all that's left is the day when he can PAY FOR the beers, because he has a JOB.  I do look forward to that final milestone.  That's spelled J*O*B, there, fella.

In the meantime, though, we sponsored a party for him, and 50 or so of his friends, at Metro 8 Steakhouse.  Rented the whole place, from 10 pm until much later (shared with two other friends with "close" birthdays, I should note).

And how did the YYM chose to dress to honor this rite of passage into alcohol-legal adulthood, at a swank steakhouse?  He did what any proper Munger child would do.  He dressed (apparently, according to this underground cell phone image) as a cow.

Good one, YYM. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Roundest Thing In the World

Grave!  A kilo.  And now the roundest thing in the world.

Some pretty interesting stuff.

You are not a REAL Libertarian

It is true enough that I rarely go to Libertarian Party meetings anymore.  There are lots of reasons.  And about half of them can be found in this video...

Neanderbill and I were talking about this just the other day, in fact.  We are just not welcome.  Here's why...A whole lot of people have this view, literally, of the Nolan Chart.

And, yes, by that standard, I'm a socialist. To see if YOU are a socialist, take the quiz!

UPDATE:  Let's be careful.  1.  I'm a libertarian (small l). 2.  I consider myself a Libertarian (big L).  I'm registered LP, and I contribute to the party and to candidates.  3.  The point is that I often get TOLD by LP folks that I don't belong. 

We spend more time checking for "yo papiss, pliss!" at ideological checkpoints then we do actually trying to grow the party.  So I just stay home and write stuff.

The Case Against Patents

The Case against Patents 
Michele Boldrin and David Levine 
Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 2013, Pages 3-22 

Abstract: The case against patents can be summarized briefly: there is no empirical evidence that they serve to increase innovation and productivity, unless productivity is identified with the number of patents awarded — which, as evidence shows, has no correlation with measured productivity. Both theory and evidence suggest that while patents can have a partial equilibrium effect of improving incentives to invent, the general equilibrium effect on innovation can be negative. A properly designed patent system might serve to increase innovation at a certain time and place. Unfortunately, the political economy of government-operated patent systems indicates that such systems are susceptible to pressures that cause the ill effects of patents to grow over time. Our preferred policy solution is to abolish patents entirely and to find other legislative instruments, less open to lobbying and rent seeking, to foster innovation when there is clear evidence that laissez-faire undersupplies it. However, if that policy change seems too large to swallow, we discuss in the conclusion a set of partial reforms that could be implemented. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Capex implosion

New durable goods orders were down 5.7% in March. Yikes!

But the sequester.....

Excluding defense, they were down 4.7%

Is it going to be another spring swoon and summer of discontent? Will Joe Biden have to go back out on the road?

Or has the new housing bubble stoked the economy sufficiently to continue its vaguely upward drift?

Tell me in the comments.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Rebecca Martinsen's Sorority Letter

Some background, to make things clearer.

And then... a remarkable dramatic reading, by Michael Shannon, who you may remember from the movie Premium Rush.

A warning:  Before you watch the dramatic reading, do know that this is so NSFW that it makes NSFW look SFW.

There is a phrase in this letter that will change your life.  I have no idea what it means, or how it would work, but it sounds terrifying, to be punted that way.

With a nod to Kuhn's Progress.

Betsy Does A Nice Wrap-Up

Betsy Newmark does a nice links-based wrap-up on the Obama Administration, from a number of different perspectives.

Depressing.  He is really a terrible president.  Sure, Dirty Davey is going to say "George W. Bush!  George W. Bush!"  Okay, so you think Stalin is better than Hitler.  That's no reason to be happy.


I had not been keeping up with this.

Have to admit, I am ashamed of Duke at this point.  I have often defended Duke's record during the lacrosse scandal, blaming it mostly on the fact the prosecutor actually lied about facts, and made things up.

Sure, some (not a lot, but some) faculty said things that I regret, even if they don't.  But a number of Duke administrators (particularly Provost Peter Lange) actually behaved admirably, and they don't always get proper credit.

But this...gosh.  Full disclosure:  I consider KC Johnson at somewhere between acquaintance and friend, and I have known him for quite a while.  So perhaps I'm biased.  I'll let you decide.

As for me, I'd say Duke acted badly here.

The Bloody Video Game Company

I like Curt Schilling.  I like Rhode Island.  But what Curt Schilling did to Rhode Island...or rather what Rhode Island apparently begged Curt Schilling to do to Rhode Island...well, it's just what a whole bunch of other "limited government" people have done as soon as they get a chance to have unlimited government help.  Excerpt from the NYTimes story:

Even in a state that long served as New England’s Mafia headquarters — and a state whose best-known modern political figure, Buddy Cianci, the former Providence mayor, was sent to prison in a federal corruption case known as Operation Plunder Dome — the 38 Studios debacle has registered as a painful embarrassment. (When I called influential Rhode Islanders and told them I was writing about 38 Studios, virtually all of them, even if they had opposed the deal, answered with some version of, “Do you have to?”) 

 Rhode Islanders are used to being played by their politicians. What makes them cringe is the suspicion that virtually all their elected leaders might have been played by someone else. 

More people on the right need to recognize the truth of this statement:

“There is some justification at least in the taunt that many of the pretending defenders of “free enterprise” are in fact defenders of privileges and advocates of government activity in their favor rather than opponents of all privileges. In principle the industrial protectionism and government-supported cartels and agricultural policies of the conservative groups are not different from the proposals for a more far-reaching direction of economic life sponsored by the socialists.” - F.A. Hayek, page 107 , Individualism and Economic Order

In some ways, I prefer the folks on the left.  They say they are going to use the state to run the economy, and they do that.  The phonies on the right say they favor free enterprise, but that quickly turns into a different kind of "favor."

Nod to Webster and Main

Monday, April 22, 2013

The Paco has landed

Sorry for so few posts lately. Life is a little chaotic with the end of the semester combined with the arrival of an 8 pound wrecking ball named Paco!

(Clic the pic for a more squirmy image)

He is doing quite well for having no mom and just being separated from his siblings (and of course infinitely better than he'd be doing if he was still stuck in that kill shelter in Texas).

Moral Licensing

People compensate.  If they save water, they use more electricity, because their "budget" of moral behavior is increased.  It should be possible to decompose this into "price" and "moral income" effects.  In this case, the weekly feedback raises the "price" of using water, but substituting away from water results in using more electricity.  Since they are not substitutes (or are they?), it sounds like an income effect, right?

For better or for worse? Empirical evidence of moral licensing in a behavioral energy conservation campaign 

 Verena Tiefenbeck et al. Energy Policy, June 2013, Pages 160–171 

Abstract: Isolated environmental campaigns focusing on defined target behaviors are rolled out to millions of households every year. Yet it is still unclear whether these programs trigger cross-domain adoption of additional environment-friendly behaviors (positive spillover) or reduced engagement elsewhere. A thorough evaluation of the real net performance of these programs is lacking. This paper investigates whether positive or perverse side effects dominate by exemplifying the impact of a water conservation campaign on electricity consumption. The study draws on daily water (10,780 data points) and weekly electricity (1386 data points) consumption data of 154 apartments in a controlled field experiment at a multifamily residence. The results show that residents who received weekly feedback on their water consumption lowered their water use (6.0% on average), but at the same time increased their electricity consumption by 5.6% compared with control subjects. Income effects can be excluded. While follow-up research is needed on the precise mechanism of the psychological process at work, the findings are consistent with the concept of moral licensing, which can more than offset the benefits of focused energy efficiency campaigns, at least in the short-term. We advocate the adoption of a more comprehensive view in environmental program design/evaluation in order to quantify and mitigate these unintended effects. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  Why Angus will never be able to visit Saudi Arabia:  No handsome men allowed.  Pelsmin discovered that having a "Ben-Gurion airport" entry visa apparently makes you extremely handsome.  He was not allowed into the country.  El Guapo!

2.  Headline meme:  Chlamydia is Killing Koalas...

3.  Marc Bellamare is a great American.  Well, he's Canadian, but he's great.

4.  Great scientists are creative, but graduate schools select for people who are good at math.  The two can be related, but they are not identical.

5.  "Rule of Law" may be necessary, but it's not sufficient, for growth. In fact, it may not be necessary.

6.  "Three Strikes" laws are barbaric...and wasteful.

7.  The Ivory Fortress...what is the relation between scholarship and journal publications and science?

8. The top 10 "Private Equity Loopholes" for you.  Okay, I'm kidding.  They are NOT for you.  You lose.

9.  My state's new faculty attack squad.  Why don't they think this is a problem, using state funds for partisan purposes?

10.  The Onion discovers the Denzau-Munger model...

11.  How rocking a baby is like grabbing a baby mammal by the neck...

12.  Pragmatic advising on PhD/grad school:  to be, or ABD?

13.  Cupcakes fall, investors get frosted.

14.  I hope this is a parody.  I realize he writes for Reuters, and if he were smarter he'd have a better job.  But...still, I hope it is an intentionally ironic bit.   Couldn't even play "Grand Game."  More like "Pathetic Troll."

15.  Flying money, in Raleigh.  Woman leaves purse on top of car, apparently $300 in purse goes flying.  I know some women who might do this.  Not naming names, but you know who you are. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Hook Up

A Cross-Cultural Content-Analytic Comparison of the Hookup Culture in U.S. and Dutch Teen Girl Magazines 

Suchi Pradyumn Joshi, Jochen Peter & Patti Valkenburg
Journal of Sex Research, forthcoming

Abstract: This quantitative content analysis investigated the hookup culture in U.S. and Dutch teen girl magazines. Using Hofstede's cultural dimension of masculinity/femininity, the hookup culture (i.e., the relational context of sex, emotional context of sex, specific sexual activities, and contraceptives) was examined in 2,496 stories from all 2006 through 2008 issues of the three most popular U.S. (i.e., Seventeen, CosmoGirl! U.S. edition, and Teen) and Dutch teen girl magazines (i.e., Fancy, CosmoGirl! Netherlands edition, and Girlz!). Regarding the relational context of sex, stories about casual sex occurred more often in U.S. magazines, and Dutch magazines focused more on committed sex. Dutch magazines also emphasized sex within the emotional context of love more often than did U.S. magazines. In terms of sexual activities, coital sex was mentioned more often in U.S. coverage, while petting was mentioned more frequently in Dutch coverage. Condoms were covered more positively in U.S. magazines than in Dutch magazines. Overall, the hookup culture seems to be more visible in U.S. magazines for the occurrence of casual sex and lack of love stories, whereas it does not emerge in Dutch magazines due to the presence of committed sex and love-related articles.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Friday, April 19, 2013

Tunapanda: Final Push!

My friend Jay Larson and his brother are entering the final push in a crowdfunding campaign to move forward with their non-profit educational organization, Tunapanda, whose goal is to "bridge digital divides" beginning in East Africa while simultaneously creating an easily replicable free system that can be copied anywhere.

 Tunapanda's latest "perk" on Indiegogo is a DVD-friendly version of Marginal Revolution University's inaugural free course on Developmental Economics (no math required). With permission from the course creators, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, they've pulled the video content of the course offline and are adding the quiz questions in a way that can be watched on video in order to mimic the online experience as best as possible.

As they discuss in their Indiegogo video, DVD player penetration is much higher than computer penetration in many parts of the world and bandwidth is expensive - just downloading the video content for the average "free" online course costs more than many families make in a week. The perks are two-fold: Firstly, for each perk claimed they will create a copy of the full Developmental Economics course and give it away in East Africa (10-14 DVDs) to individuals, groups, and institutions that can put it to use. This will include instructions for going online to MRUniversity.com to take the exams and earn a certificate.   (MORE AFTER JUMP!)

Case Against "the" Stimulus, by M-EEg

Sensible and fair-minded piece from Matt Y.  I think he's still wrong (the case for stimulus is what is weak), but he's actually trying to be serious here.   And helicopter money is a silly gimmick.

Speech in NZ Parliament on Gay Marriage

Pretty funny.  And a fine libertarian viewpoint.

Nod to Jackie Blue

Thursday, April 18, 2013

mas Paco

Here is Paco in action. We are still on track to get him on Saturday. 

People along the Austin-Dallas corridor and in Central Oklahoma:

Paco's brown and white sibling could be yours on Saturday as well. Let me know if you are interested.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fastest Way Through Border Checkpoint....

Alternative Maximum Tax

Does the US need an Alternative Maximum Tax?  Prof. Cochrane of Booth at UChicago makes an argument.

They keep coming back, like the villains of a good zombie movie, chanting "more taxes, more taxes." Long ago, Congress passed the alternative minimum tax, or AMT—a simple flat rate to ensure that in an insanely complex tax code, no one escapes paying something. 

Now we need an alternative maximum tax as a simple, rough-and-ready way to limit the tax zombies' economic damage. Call it the AMaxT. With Monday's deadline for filing tax returns looming, let's start a national conversation: How much is the most anyone should have to pay? When do taxes indisputably start to harm the economy and produce less revenue—when government takes 50% of people's income? 60%? 70%?

In Other News, Water is Still Wet

The chief bureaucrat of the UNC System announces that there is no need to reduce the size of the bureaucracy he is overseeing.

UNC system President Tom Ross said on Monday that the administration would look at ways to effect more efficiencies, but added he didn’t think closing any of the campuses was a good idea. 

Regarding an idea floated by Senate Republican budget leaders earlier this year that closure of one or more of the UNC campuses had been considered, Ross said that he questioned how much money could be saved by doing so. “We’re happy to look at the idea of closing campuses if you want us to,” Ross said. “The economics of it are not smart for North Carolina." 

So, he hasn't looked at it.  But he will look at it, if we want.  But he knows without looking it is "not smart."  My own view is that if he honestly looked, he might find this.  

Phone call for Bill Niskanen.

Do What We Say, Not What We Do

The requirements of disclosure are inconvenient, intrusive and onerous.  But we impose disclosure on lots of people.

Members of Congress?  Not any more.  They find it inconvenient, intrusive, and onerous.  So they passed a bill, and the President signed it.   I'm going to guess you haven't really heard much about it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Viva Paco

In the cute corner, all the way from a kill shelter in Brownwood Tejas, weighing 7.5 lbs, ladies and gentleman, I give you Paco the wonder pup:

Thanks to friends of friends in Austin, this little furball will be heading up to Normatopia this weekend to take residence in Chez Angus.

Sadly, he still has siblings in the kill shelter, so if you are in Austin or Norman and are interested in one of them, let me know and I'll put you in touch with the rescuer.

Jeffrey Sachs on EconTalk

Russ Roberts interview Jeffrey Sachs.  They cover a lot of ground.  Worth listening to.

Judge Holds SELF in Contempt

A Michigan judge whose smartphone disrupted a hearing in his own courtroom has held himself in contempt and paid $25 for the infraction. 

The Sentinel-Standard of Ionia and MLive.com report Judge Raymond Voet has a posted policy at Ionia County 64A District Court. It states that electronic devices causing a disturbance during court sessions will result in the owner being cited with contempt. 

On Friday afternoon, during a prosecutor's closing argument during a jury trial, Voet's new smartphone began to emit sounds requesting phone voice commands. 

Voet says he thinks he bumped the phone, and the embarrassment likely left his face red. During a break in the trial, Voet fined himself. He says if he can't live by the rules he enforces he has no business enforcing the rules. 


Nod to Angry Alex

Monday, April 15, 2013

Why Do People Exchange?

The newest, and last, of the Learn Liberty videos I did in March 2012.  I like the way this one turned out, because it captures something everybody cares about.  Free t-shirts!

UPDATE:  One of the comments, on Youtube, was this:  "This guy looks like Patrick!"  (Which is true.  I lost 40 pounds not long after filming this video.  Pretty strange to look back at...)

What's Up?

Time for Russ Roberts to admit that he is out of useful things to talk about.

That MUST be true, because he asked me to be on EconTalk again.  So, the barrel, and its bottom, must be being scratched.  It's a weekly show, and it's truly amazing he does it so well.  It is still a good show, consistently.  Except when I'm on, I mean.

On the other hand, this is a chance to answer, or at least talk about, the deepest economic and social mysteries out there.  My question to you, the readers of KPC, the smartest and most physically attractive people in the THE WORLD....what should be the next Russ Roberts-Mike Munger show?

It's not majority rule; I'll decide which suggestion is best.  But I am seriously asking for answers in comments.  Since Russ and I have already done 20 shows, we have hit quite a few of the most obvious topics.

And, remember, it cannot be about something currently being considered by Congress, or directly related to partisan public policy considerations. 

Have at you!

There's a new blog in town

Me and Mrs. Angus have decided to get bloggy about development, growth & macro over at a new site, Cherokee Gothic. You can read about why it's called that here. While it will mostly be us, we hope to enlist other OU faculty to contribute to the site as well.

I'll still be blogging here with Mungo at KPC, bringing the crazy like nobody's business, but please check us out, follow us, put us in your blogroll, and just generally show us some mad blogosphere love.

Monday's Child is Full of LInks

1.  Goodman's Law of Regulatory Impact...

2.  Seen in the car...Oh, goodness.

3.  They cut my britches off.  After I rode my moped.

4.  Fast times in Asheville.

5.  The military prep school scam...

6.  Punks jump up to be smacked down...Maggie T edition.

7.  CO2 concentration in the earth's atmosphere...

8.  "Conservatives" fight spending cuts.  God, how I hate them.

9.  Rhode Island follies:  the law says no, but your Court says "YES!  YES!"

10.  A Coke and a smile, from Purdue engineering.

11.  Hugo's passing causes a run on Chavez tattoos.  I hear that Emilio P has a big tattoo of Hugo on his hinder parts.  But to get to see that you have to buy him some drinks, and maybe some nice jewelry.

12.  I do like those fully explanatory headlines:  Man tries to take photo of beaver:  It kills him.
At this point you may want to Google "dentata" on the subject of man-biting beavers.  Resist the temptation, and do NOT click this link.

13.  Have to like Jon Elster.  He hates everything.  And he has pretty solid reasons.

14.  Nick Gillespie on Colbert...I'm glad to see that he has gone back to the "The Jacket."

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Money and the Fear of Death

Money and the fear of death: The symbolic power of money as an existential anxiety buffer 

Tomasz Zaleskiewicz et al., Journal of Economic Psychology, June 2013, Pages 55–67

Abstract: According to terror management theory, people deal with the potential for anxiety that results from their knowledge of the inevitability of death by holding on to sources of value that exist within their cultural worldview. We propose that money is one such source capable of soothing existential anxiety. We hypothesize that death anxiety would amplify the value attributed to money, and that the presence of money would alleviate death anxiety. Study 1 indicated that individuals reminded of their mortality overestimated the size of coins and monetary notes. In Study 2, participants induced to think about their mortality used higher monetary standards to define a person or family as rich than those in the control condition. Study 3 revealed that people reminded of death desired higher compensation for waiving the immediate payment of money. Finally, Study 4 showed that priming participants with the concept of money reduced self-reported fear of death. We conclude that, beyond its pragmatic utility, money possesses a strong psychological meaning that helps to buffer existential anxiety.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Friday, April 12, 2013

Does Retirement Age Impact Mortality?

Does Retirement Age Impact Mortality?

Erik Hernaes et al.  Journal of Health Economics, May 2013, Pages 586–598
Abstract:  The relationship between retirement and mortality is studied with a unique administrative data set covering the full population of Norway. A series of retirement policy changes in Norway reduced the retirement age for a group of workers but not for others. Difference-in-differences estimation based on monthly birth cohorts and treatment group status show that the early retirement programme significantly reduced the retirement age; this holds true also when we account for programme substitution, for example into the disability pension. Instrumental variables estimation results show no effect on mortality of retirement age; neither do estimation results from a hazard rate model.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

The Apotheosis of the Headline-Says-It-All Meme

I like headlines that just say it all.  This one is the best ever:

"Serial Masturbator to Represent Self In Court"

Too easy to make jokes about.  As M.K., who sent the link, notes, something about "blind justice" is the way to go.

Too big to fail

(clic the pic for an even more fiduciary image)

Insurance Companies Can't Charge More to Smokers

So we have all sorts of programs to discourage smoking, based on price.  We tax cigarettes, and we do it at the federal level, but we also do it at state and local levels.  Here is a map of the level of taxes on a pack of coffin nails.

So, as Art Carden says in his haikus (which he spells hiakus....), "Tax something, and you will get less of it."  I'm not sure this is an appropriate use of the tax system, to promote or discourage particular behaviors, but okay.

Still, there is surely one place where having differences in prices for smokers makes sense, right?  In insurance.  Overall, the costs of smokers may even be less than other people, because they die younger.  But in the coming year, if you are 50, the likelihood that you will need medical treatment for all sorts of things is higher if you smoke than if you don't.

But....but....but....the DC Health Commisariate, which taxes smokers extra, just for recreation, refuses to allow insurance companies to charge more for the actual higher costs that smokers impose on the health system per year.  They say the cost is "prohibitive."  But....but....but...if it is THAT expensive, why does it follow that the people who cause the cost shouldn't have to pay it?

A nod to MH

UPDATE:  spelling corrected to "hiakus"

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Economic Progress From Der Horwitz

Economic progress is not the creation of jobs.  It's actually the destruction of jobs that we can do without...because we have progressed.

Hostage Crisis is Fake

This was worrisome, until I realized it has to be a hoax.

I mean, a cut that amounts to less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the budget can't possibly ground 33% of combat aircraft, right?  If the people in charge are competent.

But the real hint is the name of the general in the story.  He's trying to hold the country hostage to the idea that military spending must not be cut at all.  So of course his name is "Gen. Mike Hostage."

Sure it is.  Good one.

Nod to Anonyman

What goes up....

(clic the pic for an even more bubbly image)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

V is for Victory!

Last Friday, writing about our no good, terrible jobs report I said:

The interesting question is whether this is just a soon to be revised blip on the road to full employment or if this is a harbinger of another spring-summer slowdown after a promising fall and winter. Last year showed a definite V shape in job growth as did 2011 to a lesser extent.

In the comments on a subsequent post about bad thesis advisors, I was excoriated for the above statement as follows:

its bogus (because with one reference - one's own eyes - it clearly is bogus). I'm not sure macro is much better than literary theory

OK. So I took the jobs numbers for 2011 and 2012, averaged them by month and plotted the monthly averages. Here's what I got:

Sweet fancy Moses. As I live and breathe, it's a V-SHAPED CYCLE.

Take THAT literary theorists.

Let me see you average Derrida and Foucault by month and get such a nice looking V out of it.

Macro rules.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Shout it from the rooftops! The Myth of the Falling Bridge

All hail to Evan Soltas for this piece, and may the Lord protect him from the wrath of his erstwhile pals.

By all means read the piece, but let me break down the highlights for you:

For the last 40 years, our infrastructure spending has tracked the rich country average, and it has not been falling recently. The quality of the roads we drive on has gone up and the  percentage of "deficient" bridges has gone down (to 21.9% in 2009 from 37.8 in 1989).

In other words, we don't have an infrastructure crisis, we don't need a politically run national infrastructure bank, and, whatever the intrinsic merits of more stimulus may be, we don't have trillions of "no-brainer" investments in infrastructure that are desperately needed.

Maybe, just maybe, we can now stop piously repeating the calls of a special interest group (the American Society of Civil Engineers) for more money to be funneled their way.

Wow! P-Kroog Kicks It OLD School!

You have to give P-Kroog credit.  He is a traditionalist, resurrecting the ridiculous 1950s "debt is just money we owe to ourselves" line, arguing that the size of the debt can't possibly matter.

This piece--by my main man Burt Abrams--does a good job of responding on the merits of the immediate question.

But there is a deeper problem.  James Buchanan actually thoroughly debunked the "what me worry?" line a long time ago.  It's a settled question, and the debt is only a symptom of trouble.  LeBron explained why, quite clearly.  The problem may not be the deficit, per se, though that could eventually be trouble.  The problem is that there is a permanent disconnect between spending and revenue.  The fisc become a fishery, and we overfish common pool resources.

German Thieves Swipe Five Tons of Nutella

Police said Monday an unknown number of culprits made off with 5 metric tons (5.5 tons) of Nutella chocolate-hazelnut spread from a parked trailer in the central German town of Bad Hersfeld over the weekend.

The gooey loot is worth an estimated 16,000 euros ($20,710). Germans news agency dpa reported that thieves have previously stolen a load of energy drinks from the same location.


Of course, Nutella theft has been going on on this side of the pond, also.  At Columbia University, for example.  

All right, KPC readers, 'fess up!  What food have you lifted, taken, or outright stolen?  Nutella?

Risk is not volatility

Interesting post by Gene Callahan.  He is careful to note that defining "risk" as variance is not nonsense; it's just not what people mean when they say "risk."


Monday, April 08, 2013

Painfully Earnest, Painfully Deaf, or Just Painful

Oh, goodness.

LL Cool J?  Seriously?  To be fair, Brad Paisley is a master of satire.  But if this is satire, it's pretty edgy.

UPDATE:  1.  I meant deaf as in "tone deaf," not "def," because I'm not sure what the latter means.  2.  Apparently it is NOT satire...he actually thinks the song will start a discussion.  That may be right, actually.  3.  If you listen closely, you will hear LL Cool J rap the following line:  "If you don't judge the gold chains/I'll forget the iron chains."  Holy kanarski.

Opinions on Immigration

The Dynamics of Immigration Opinion in the United States, 1992-2012

Christopher Muste Public Opinion Quarterly, forthcoming

 Abstract: Integrating trend data from ANES, GSS, Gallup, Pew, and media surveys from 1992 to 2012, this article updates and extends previous Poll Trends analyses of public opinion about immigration levels, the impacts of recent immigrants, and immigration policies. The combined data demonstrate continued negativity and ambivalence, consistent with earlier reviews, and reveal a pattern of rapid, steep increases in anti-immigrant sentiment in response to events such as the 1994 election and 9/11, followed by declines over several years that stabilize at lower levels. Since 2001, opinions about most aspects of immigration have become less volatile, and consistent differentiation in opinion has emerged. Concerns about job competition and border enforcement are high, whereas fears about other immigration impacts have declined or stabilized and support for deporting illegal immigrants already in the United States is low. To improve understanding of trends in immigration opinion, survey questions about immigration must be asked more often and more consistently.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  An experiment in bureaucratic compliance:  Atheist Shoes.

2.  This...THIS is how you write a headline, friends.

3.  MOOCS.  In the not too distant future.

4.  If there are two you, you can play real PD games.  "Extreme Kidnapping is a company operated by Adam Thick, an entrepreneur and convicted counterfeiter from Oakland County, Michigan. Thick founded Extreme Kidnapping in 2002 after being inspired by the old David Fincher movie The Game...For $500, Adam and his crew will abduct you at gunpoint and hold you hostage for four hours. A thousand bucks gets you ten hours, along with a bit of customized sadism." [The GQ article]

5. He's BACK in the saddle again. He's BACK! 6. The Great Flydini! Steve Martin on Johnny Carson.

6.  As always, I like headlines that pretty much tell the whole story.  As in this case: Butt-baring woman attacks boyfriend and teen with papayas over ‘birthday sex’  Which reminds me: this video on "How to Eat Papayas" is remarkably boring: cut it in half, and scoop out the seeds, like any melon. But the guy has the same crockery that we have Chez Mungowitz.

7. Perhaps she is just confused. Or misspoke. But...no.

8.  Economist Hulk tweets...

9.  Actuaries point out that we will not get something for nothing.  What we will get is a lot more cost.

10.  Dr. Neera Badhwar on "Just Market Exchanges."

11.  NY Times reveals, for the 10,007th time, that it has zero understanding of economics or markets.  Several howlers here.  Please do pick your favorite.

12.  Is this the dumbest movie premise in history?  No, but it's close.

13.  Can Austin, TX be Dubai?  Should it be?

14.  Portugal considers paying workers with debt, instead of cash.  Or is there a difference?

15.  My good friend Dr. S. Blackwood on choosing a college.  Interesting and provocative.

16.  Colleges as a "matching" problem...

17.  Joan Baez said "yes" to boys who said "no."  In this poster, at least.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

I Like to Watch

Predicting Young Drivers' Car Crashes: The Role of Music Video Viewing and the Playing of Driving Games. Results from a Prospective Cohort Study

Kathleen Beullens & Jan Van den Bulck
Media Psychology, Winter 2013, Pages 88-114

The aim of the study is to examine whether the playing of driving games and the viewing of music videos during adolescence predict crash involvement in emerging adulthood. A prospective cohort study (N = 471) with a five-year interval was used to measure adolescents' gender, media use, personality characteristics (baseline measurement), and crash involvement (follow-up). At baseline measurement (2006), respondents were 17 or 18 years old and did not yet have their driver's license. Data were analyzed by means of logistic regression analyses and the calculation of attributable risks. Respondents who watched music videos at least several times a week (OR = 4.319) or respondents who played drive'em up games at least a few times a month (OR = 3.125) had a heightened chance of being involved in a car crash five years later, even after controlling for their total media exposure, gender, and personality characteristics. Implications for prevention are discussed

Saturday, April 06, 2013

I think this post was mistitled

Yikes: Check out this professor's guide called "How not to write a PhD Thesis".

I would have to say it should be called "How not to be a thesis advisor"

Check out this gem:

I make my postgraduates pay for such statements. If they offer a generalisation such as “scholars of the online environment argue that democracy follows participation”, I demand that they find at least 30 separate references to verify their claim. 

I guess this professor subscribes to the "two wrongs make a right" theory of mentoring.

The other thought I had from reading the list was that I'm glad I work in economics and not literary theory!

Friday, April 05, 2013

Job Report Friday

Not a good initial number, people.  88,000 net new non-farm jobs in March (though the numbers for January and February were revised upward). Sure, this is an imprecise number, subject to revision, with a wide confidence interval, but....OUCH.

Full report is here.

The interesting question is whether this is just a soon to be revised blip on the road to full employment or if this is a harbinger of another spring-summer slowdown after a promising fall & winter. Last year showed a definite V shape in job growth as did 2011 to a lesser extent.

Another interesting question is how long after the end of a recession can you still refer to higher than the historical average unemployment as "cyclical'?

This is especially relevant because the reduction in unemployment we've seen during the "recovery" is largely due to declines in the labor force participation rate!

Sure, some of the decline may be due to demographics, but things are worse than what the headline numbers show.

Ayn Rand Live?

It's as if Ayn Rand is writing history, more than 20 years after her death.  An email from Pelsmin:

Every now and then I hear someone say this entire presidency is aimed at destroying America. Personally, I think that’s extreme, and it’s really aimed at “moving us to our proper place in the world,” which is less dramatic but also directionally misguided.

But then I read this story in today’s WaPo, explaining how the Obama administration wants to encourage aggressive mortgage lending to low-credit/low income buyers. They are working to assure banks that they won’t be held responsible for failed mortgages as long as they conform to FHA guidelines, and that the government (taxpayers) will repay on defaults.

Under FHA guidelines “a borrower can get a home loan with a credit score as low as 500 or a down payment as small as 3.5 percent.” The DOJ is getting involved. The only difference I can find with 2008 is that back then the government was pushing home loans with nothing down to high-risk individuals, with an implicit backing of Fannie Mae, and now the government is pushing home loans with nothing down to high-risk individuals, with an explicit backing from FHA. I didn’t think Washington could stun me. But here we are, the ashes of the economy still warm, and they’re breaking out the matches and gasoline again. And is this possible: “since the financial crisis in 2008, the government has shaped most of the housing market, insuring between 80 percent and 90 percent of all new loans”? Do we again have banks operating under the moral hazard of making loans with government assurance of repayment? Also, what’s the logic of the statement “as young people move out of their parents’ homes and start their own households, they will be forced to rent rather than buy, meaning less construction and housing activity.” I guess this is somehow possible, but don’t they need to live somewhere besides the basement? So they will move into homes they own, or homes they rent. Construction will be needed for buildings occupied by owner or buildings occupied by renter. What am I missing? This is the most disturbing news story I have read in years. Really.

Phone call for Joe Tham.  You doubted me.  What do you say now?

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Non-Single Peaked Preferences?

Three sizes for "growlers," or reusable take-out beer jugs:  32 oz (quart), 64 oz, and 128 oz (gallon).  Guess which one is illegal in Florida?  The MIDDLE one!

A story full of rich detail, raising many questions.

1. Are preferences really non-single-peaked, with the middle alternative worst?  Or is this just silly bureaucracy at work?

2. Did this really happen?  "At his urging, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, tried to add a nearly 12-page amendment to Sen. Jack Latvala's two-line bill." Nice.  Very nice.

3.  One of the reasons beer is relatively expensive in the U.S. is the gigantic political power, and gross inefficiency, of distributors.  I hope we lift up this rock and look at all the scary things that crawl out.

4.  An irony:  Angus can't even drink beer, for health reasons.  But he's definitely a "growler."

A nod to Jeremy B.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

The Golden Age of Macro Surrealism

Lebron von Strauss helpfully directed me to this blog, where we find the claim that (their version of) potential real GDP is below current real GDP.

Just like that, problem solved. Hey Paul, Mark & Brad: look at the chart. We are above potential!


(clic the pic to better see that the economy has actually been above potential for 2 years now!)

Before you scoff, you should know there's a method to this madness:

When capacity utilization is above effective labor share, ED potential real GDP will be below real GDP. When capacity utilization is below effective labor share, ED potential real GDP will be above real GDP.

Say what?????

People, I didn't say it was a reasonable method, did I?

Further following his muse, the inspired blogger busts out this gem:

The path forward may not be a matter of raising real GDP, but of raising potential real GDP.

I guess this could be epic trolling, but I prefer to think of it as the epitome of Dali-onomics.

Given that the guy calls his measure "ED potential real GDP", I think we all know how to raise it, no?

The Perfect KPC Post

 David Allen Coe agreed when Steve Goodman and John Prine claimed to have written the "Perfect Country Song."  It is worth listening to.  Here is Steve Goodman's version.

I now claim to have the Perfect KPC post.  It raises substantive social, political, economic, and scientific issues.  And if you read it you will understand the difference between a ruddy duck penis and the penis of a ruddy duck.  Most importantly, you will once again see an example of how people on the right are getting it wrong.

Nod to Angry Alex.

There IS No Great Stagnation

How could there be a great stagnation?  We still have bacon.

As an added bonus - and salty safety precaution - each condom includes "J&D's baconlube™ ultra premium water based meat flavored personal lubricant."  For $9.99, a pack of three fulfills your need to taste and smell like real meat when you bang.
No nation with bacon-flavored (and colored, to look more bacon-like, and scented, to smell bacon-like) condoms could possibly stagnate.  We may go to hell in a pork basket, but we won't stagnate.

With thanks to Charlottean KL.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Dub-MOE's Existentialist Turn

The Dub-MOE brings it, for April Fool's day.  It's even in black and ....(wait for it)...WHITE.

This MIGHT Happen, So We Should Regulate It?

So a guy with a grudge concocts an experiment to show that, in a close election, GOOGLE might swing the outcome. 

(ProTip:  In a close election, anything might swing the outcome.  And we are not talking about a situation where there is an obvious right answer.  The institutions we pick, with a particular form of primaries, restrictions on ads, and voting procedures, all swing the outcome far more.  Elections by their nature are arbitrary, and very nearly random, in terms of discovering some transcendent truth.  So the idea--dear to the naive left--that there is some utopian Archimedean Point to compare elections against is nonsense, from the outset.  Elections in the face of disagreement are at best poorly designed lotteries, and there is no way around that.  The absence of disagreement is called "unanimity," and not even the GOOGLE could mess with that.)

But, this Maxwell wants to swing his Silver Hammer down on the head of GOOGLE, because it might affect elections, and that would distort government.  Why don't people on the left get upset about the myriad real ways that governments really do distort outcomes by restricting ballot access, arresting "terrorists" who in many cases are simply dissidents, and so on?  Even by the standards of the silly left-wing academy, this is pretty silly.

UPDATE:  WEH emails...   When the phone book was a new phenomena business people wanted a name that would appear at the beginning of the phone book directory. Sound familiar to the above? 

Enter 1948 Warner Brothers. Warner Brothers? Yep, who did Wile E. Coyote purchase his merchandise from? Acme Corporation. Why “Acme”? Why “Acme”? Simple! The term “Acme” means best or top and hence many, many, many companies in the early part of the 20th century adopted Acme as part of their name so as to appear early in the phone directory listing e.g. Acme Pest Control, Acme Roofing, etc. The term "Acme" was everywhere associated with business names. Hence "Acme" was more than likely "business" to Chuck Jones, originator of Wile E. Coyote. 

Which begs a question: do you know of any giant conglomerate, super corporation or multi-national known as Acme? Nope! Hence being first in the phone book was nice but it didn’t cause a business to become successful to the extent business people might have thought. Lesson to be learned? Cartoons can and do aid economics.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  Adam Thierer on network economies and net neutrality.

2,  Ken at Popehat.  I really, really like Ken.  But this is special. Nutter censors, or tries to.

3.  All complicated market interventions unravel.  Some just unravel faster than others.  ACA, for example.

4.  Max Baucus and Bill Shatner decry "government waste."  And they know how to waste money.  Max wants to maximize Medicare costs.  And Shatner...well.  Here's 10 gigantic wastes of money on tape.  Not ONE of those is as cheap as $60,000.

5.  It's all cheap talk, until somebody loses an arm.(And notice this is NOT published in AER)

6.  Video:  Golf "Fail" competition.  But they are ALL winners.

7.  Entertech toy gun commercial:  Hard to imagine seeing this today.  Plus, the Super Soakers are way better.  But they are NOT "realistic" guns, like this one is.

8.  If you have enough dumb regulations and bad tax laws, you can create a black market anywhere.

9.  Interesting question:  What would happen if there were no state medical licensing boards?  Answer:  a lot.  If Rotten Tomatoes can make a living "licensing" movies, then so could a site called Rotten Doctors, or "QUACKS!"

10.  A higher minimum wage is good, unless you are an intern in Congress.  Then, it turns out the experience is valuable, and the minimum wage is not so important, after all.  If experience is good, why do we need a minimum wage at all?

11.  Politician tells truth; Europe reels in shock and dismay.

12.  FGCU's "Hayekian Strategy"  But then that may not be surprising...

13.  The Crony Chronicles!

14.  Dear Leader is upset that his garage band didn't get invited to SXSW, perhaps?

15.  France overturns law that made it illegal to "look like" a prostitute.  There are so many ways to go with that, I leave it as an exercise to the reader to come up with the best joke.

16.  Nanny state, nanny state, whatcha gonna do?  New York is by FAR the most officious, intrusive nanny state.

17.  Kindred W reams Brad DeLong a new one.  Nicely done.

18.  A psychotically in-depth discussion of Basel III.  Me gusta.

19.  The enviro-politics of "eating local."(UPDATED:  Missing link fixed!  Thanks to commenter...