Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hairy Elefante

See what I did there?

Anyway, here's a new painting by one of my favorite young artists, Nigel Conway:

And here's a great video to go along with the art:

Friday, August 30, 2013

You have to laugh...

The Repubs sat on their hands the whole time that GW Bush grossly expanded the de facto powers of the Presidency.  It was clearly unconstitutional, but they said nothing, because it was THEIR jerk running things.

Now that Obama has seen everything that Bush did, and then decided to raise, the Repubs are making some tepid noises of protest.  Nothing really big, nothing that would be effective, just whining in the background.  Which is a shame.  The Prez would back down in a heartbeat.  He's bluffing.  But he wins hand after hand, because the Repubs are worthless.  They actually LIKE a powerful, autocratic Presidency.

If you read this post, you're a bad person

Amazing piece on Slate , titled, "If you send your child to private school, you're a bad person"

Here's the thesis:

it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good.

According to the article, this happens because it's the activist parents who take their kids out, so if they were in, their activism would be channeled into improving the public school.

As of 2007 (latest data I saw, thanks to Andrew Young), 88% of kids go to public schools. So if they stink at this level of participation, somehow getting the last 12% in would make a long-run difference? This I doubt.

I also think, as Alex T. pointed out many years ago, that exit makes voice effective. Or put another way, voice without exit is of limited use (think about complaining at the DMV).

People, you do not owe the government blind support and cooperation. You absolutely do not.

What is the "blues"?

Howlin' Wolf answers.

Note the potato chip bags in the "cupboard."

Nod to Dutch Boy, who clearly knows more about music than picking baseball teams.

UPDATE:  A partial plagiarism list for Led Zeppelin songs, from blues greats, from the comments for the video above:

Zepp's plagiarism is actually well documented: 
Lemon Song: Howlin' Wolf 
Whole lotta love: Muddy Waters 
Killing Floor: Robert Johnson 
Moby Dick: Bobby Parker 
Bring it on Home: Sonny Boy Williamson 
Hats Off: Bukka White 
Custard pie: Sleepy John Estes 
Nobody’s Fault But Mine: Blind Willie Johnson 

And Led Zepplin plagiarized much more than that. Howlin' Wolf was able to sue and get compensation but most did not.

Angus has in the past discussed the overt and unacknowledged plagiarism of other white "supergroups."  It is rather appalling.  That people got so rich covering songs about having nothing.  And the people who actually wrote the songs about having nothing, the songs that made people rich, those writers ended up with nothing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

NASCAR Post-Race Interview

I think more baseball players should do post-game interviews in the persona of other sports stars.  But clearly NASCAR is the best choice...

Nod to SL

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bangs, Bucks, & Higher Ed

Look. If you can go to Harvard, do. OK? Let's get that out of the way right up front.

If you can't, here's a list of 12 places that are good value for money.

I have a lot of connections to schools on this list. I almost went to the University of Cincinnati. I had students who taught at Ohio University. I taught at George Mason. I currently work at the University of Oklahoma. I received job offers from West Virginia University and the University of Texas. I guess I am just a big bang for the buck kind of guy.

Oh and by the way, the average wage premium for a college degree over no college at all was right at $21,000 PER YEAR in 2011.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I need you tonight

The new breed of business journalism still stinks!

I've mocked business journalists before for always having an authoritative ex-post "explanation" for why the market moved one way or another.

Now I meet a business journalist who simply berates the market for not doing what he wants it to.

People, meet Joe Weisenthal.

He's mad that the the stupid stupid market is uptight about the impending Fed taper and not sufficiently angry and worried about the Republican Party!

Here's his headline:

Wall Street Is So Obsessed With The Taper, It's Missing The Bigger Threat Coming Out Of Washington

Gee Joe, maybe the market is worried about how unwinding QE appears to be crashing markets across Asia? You know, those events you so insightfully report on by tweeting "BOOM!"?

Even F. Scott Sumner has kind of sort of figured out that there may be a problem.

And maybe the market isn't too concerned about the debt ceiling because we've been there and done that with little damage.

I for one welcome the debt fight because we can go back to the oh so productive "mint the coin" rants.  Krugman has gotten that bandwagon out of mothballs and back on the street already!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday's Child

1.  Economists to developing nations: Invent the next Facebook, and monetize.  Or, starve to death in the gutter.  Good luck!  (Exception: P-Kroog, who thinks that Robert Mugabe is a genius.  Now THAT is a deficit.)

2.  Ten things losing candidates say:  Here are six of them, and then here are four more of them.
What *I* said was, "I'm glad that's over.  I deserved to lose, and I did."

3.  Darwin Award barely missed. Woman shoots self with own gun, walking the aisles at the Staples in Wake Forest, NC.  Oh, and her two year-old child was with her.

4.  Here's the thing:  many things we now take for granted were once seens as ridiculous.  This seems ridiculous.  That does NOT mean it will soon be taken for granted.

5.  Rainbow mountains in China.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Indie Math

OK people, here we go.

Pedro the Lion + Centro-Matic+(Bedhead/The New Year) = Overseas

Got that? Want to check my math? Think that I've just mis-described the Undertow Orchestra?

No, it's all correct.

David Bazan, Will Johnson, and the Kadane Brothers are touring and recording as Overseas.

This of course is beyond self-recommending.

If you don't know the components, for Pedro the Lion try "It's hard to find a friend" or "Control".

For Centro-matic, try "South San Gabriel Songs".

For the Kadanes as Bedhead, there's "Transaction de Novo"; as The New Year, there's "The New Year".

Bonus Kadane math: There's also a sweet split out there called "Macha Loved Bedhead" and Matt Kadane joined Mission of Burma mainstay Clint Conley in a band called Consonant. Their self titled first album is well worth checking out.

I Almost Forgot My Phone

(With apologies to CSN&Y, who sang "I almost cut my hair..."  And yes I know the comparison is infelicitous.  I often just leave my phone home.  But then I'm old... Hair was the symbol of revolution through connection through conformity in the late nineteen sixties.  Now phones are the symbol of conformity through connection through isolation in the early twenty tens.)


The EYM has arrived and moved in to his dorm/apartment at NYU (He is starting the Politics PhD program...)  The view from his window is pretty fine, considering:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

From 1978?

This is from 1978, on BBC.

It is one of the most remarkably racist-without-being-hateful-but-just-dumb things I have ever seen.  "Black" men wearing sombreros ogling and grabbing at scantily clad white women.  Just makes one cringe.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Epic Modern Paintings

This summer I re-visited MOMA, the Hirschhorn, and the East wing of the National Gallery. Mostly it reminded me why I've turned to folk art and outsider art and tribal art for my pleasure, but there were 4 epic modern paintings I'd like to share with you.

First is from MOMA and it's an El-Anatsui:

The guy is just tremendous!

The second was in the Hirshhorn. A Richter:

I love the whole range of Richter's work but his abstract paintings are my favorites.

The last two were from the National Gallery East Wing:

The first is Lavender Mist. One of the greatest modern paintings ever.

The second is by Howard Hodgkin, another of my favorite painters.

The NG also had a good Anslem Kiefer out, but it didn't photograph very well.

All in all, the National Gallery is somehow getting worse over time. Fewer Jasper Johns, Fewer Rothkos, more dumb special exhibits, including one on the costumes of the Russian Ballet!!

We're number.......93?

Get your econ blog rankings right here people.

KPC is right in the middle of the pack halfway between Krugman at the top and Cassandra Does Tokyo at the bottom!

Mungo and I thank all our loyal readers. We've been doing this thing together for, what, 6 years now?

We will keep representing our tagline and shoot for the top 50 in 2014!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Perceptions of Toxic Exposure: Considering “White Male” and “Black Female” Effects 

Nnenia Campbell, Christine Bevc & Steven Picou 
Sociological Spectrum, July/August 2013, Pages 313-328 

Abstract: Research on risk perception suggests that social position produces identifiable patterns in the way that people evaluate potential risks, particularly in locally polluted environments. The present study builds upon this literature by examining perceived risk of exposure to environmental toxins among residents located on the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. Demographic information from a sample of residents was used to explore the concepts of the “white male effect” and the “black female effect,” discussed in recent research. In support of existing literature, we find that white males tend to be exceptionally risk accepting when asked about potential toxic exposure, whereas black females tend to be exceptionally risk averse compared to other groups. Our analysis suggests that awareness of differential vulnerability and long-standing conflicts over environmental contamination across the Gulf Coast region have left some residents with heightened sensitivity to the possibility of a locally polluted environment. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

I always wonder about the confounding effects of average and marginal perceptions.  To the extent that white men are wealthier than black women, on average, they are likely to live in different neighborhoods and have different environments.  White men are much less likely to suffer daily exposure to toxic chemicals.  Thus, AT THE MARGIN, they are more tolerant.  But they would have to suffer a lot of exposure just to get to the point where black women start.

Now, that may not be true in this case, and the study may be fine.  But in general if you find  a difference in averages you should think about whether it comes from a difference in margins.

Hey Teacher! Leave those kids alone

Check this WAPO piece about the terrible distraction of laptops in the classroom.

So much fail here.

First off, the subjects were given a 45 minute lecture, "meant to simulate the sort of experience they would have in a college classroom".

So let's start with an environment that begs for distractions.

Then, the test group was given a list of 12 specific tasks to perform during the lecture!

With the following results:

It turns out that people sitting next to the "multitaskers" also did worse.

Most students with laptops are not trying to please an experimenter by completing a series of tasks on their machines.

Even the non-multitasker did fairly bad on the test.

In my undergrad classes students are required to bring a laptop or tablet or smartphone (if they don't have one, one will be provided) to class, and I give them something to do on it.

They receive questions on the course material. Some multiple choice, some graphical, some numerical, some essay, some opinion. They can send me individual messages about things they don't understand or needed clarifications.  They answer the questions, debate with their peers when answers differ, and often come to a much better understanding in the process.

Their web-enabled device becomes a core part of the class.

To put it bluntly people, the problem is not the laptop, the problem is the lecture.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


401K plans are screwing employees!

Interesting paper making this point by Curtis & Ayres.

A lot can go wrong in 401k plans. Investors can make bad choices and fail to diversify. But, the plan provider can also cause problems by giving investors a menu with lots of high fee options. Apparently this is common.

My University took us out of TIAA-CREF a couple years ago and sold us to Fidelity, who were only going to offer actively managed relatively high-fee funds. Faculty complained and some index funds and some TIAA-CREF grandfathering were allowed. But we constantly get bombarded with emails from Fidelity.

Anyway, Curtis and Ayres find in their sample that, "investors incur fees both at the plan and fund level. The combination of plan expenses, mutual fund fees, and menu limitations account for a loss of 10.2% of the optimal risk-premium." So the excess return is on average 10 percent lower because of high fees. They even show that the seeming overweighting of investors into their own company's stock in these plans is not necessarily irrational given the high expenses associated with a lot of the other options in many plans.

It's easy to say, we need regulation! But, this is already a fairly highly regulated industry, and more regulation is not always better.

As always, what would help is better financial education for average people, but this is not easy. Tyler and Alex's textbook has a chapter on investing, but I absolutely could not convince my students that they couldn't beat the market on average. Nor could I convince them that the high returns earned by some managers or funds were likely due to survivorship bias.

If A Clearly Causes B, and You don't like B, Don't pick A

If you say you want to solve the problem of B, you should, at a minimum, not do things that make B much worse.  And if it is known that A makes B worse, why choose A?  Here's the problem, as Freddy Bastiat put it:

"When under the pretext of fraternity, the legal code imposes mutual sacrifices on the citizens, human nature is not thereby abrogated. Everyone will then direct his efforts toward contributing little to, and taking much from, the common fund of sacrifices. Now, is it the most unfortunate who gains from this struggle? Certainly not, but rather the most influential and calculating." (I talk about it here, #13)

ACA is a huge festering pile of opportunities to rip off the poor, the old, and the confused.  It hurts the people it was supposed to help.  Why did we do it?

So smart, rich liberals could feel good about themselves.  It has nothing to do with the actual effects.  All that matters is the intent.  Then, when it doesn't work out (as it clearly won't), they will blame greed, capitalism, phases of the moon, everything except the real cause:  an overly complex, impossibly over-directed, attempt at social planning.

And She Won't Back Down

Clark, at the indispensable Popehat, with a piece from four months back.

Some context for Dianne Feinstein's craven fascist-ification.   She says, "It's called 'Protecting America.'"  And she won't. back. down.  

It's not protecting America, ma'am, it's just theater.  And you know it.  You should be ashamed.  Trying to impose the "Cone of Silence;" it never worked right.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Monday's Child

1.  Some beautiful shots of New York, in (sad) honor of losing the EYM to NYU.

2.  Ground game may have perverse effects.  People mistrust political organizations, and activists.   Still, by and large, being contacted seems to help the side paying the partisans to mobilize contact.

3.  Not surprisingly, the campaign signs are being stolen.  They should sell them.

4.  First they came for my cold medicine, and I said nothing.  Then....seriously?

5.  Girls drink this?  Ewwww!  Cooties!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

What's Right?

Exposure to Moral Relativism Compromises Moral Behavior 

Tage Rai & Keith Holyoak
Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,
November 2013, Pages 995–1001

Abstract: Across two studies we investigated the relationship between moral relativism versus absolutism and moral behavior. In Experiment 1, we found that participants who read a relativist argument for tolerating female genital mutilation were more likely to cheat to win an incentivized raffle than participants who read an absolutist argument against female genital mutilation, or those in a control condition. In Experiment 2, participants who read a definition of morality phrased in absolutist terms expressed less willingness to engage in petty theft than those who read a definition of morality phrased in relativist terms, or those in a control condition. Experiment 2 also provided evidence that effects were not due to absolutist arguments signaling that fewer behaviors are morally permissible, nor to relativist arguments defending more disagreeable moral positions. Rather, the content of the philosophical positions themselves — the fact that relativism describes morality as subjective and culturally-historically contingent, whereas absolutism describes morality as objective and universal — makes individuals more likely to engage in immoral behaviors when exposed to moral relativism compared to moral absolutism.

Moral Cleansing and Moral Licenses: Experimental Evidence

Pablo Brañas-Garza et al.

Economics and Philosophy, July 2013, Pages 199-212

Abstract: Research on moral cleansing and moral self-licensing has introduced dynamic considerations in the theory of moral behaviour. Past bad actions trigger negative feelings that make people more likely to engage in future moral behaviour to offset them. Symmetrically, past good deeds favour a positive self-perception that creates licensing effects, leading people to engage in behaviour that is less likely to be moral. In short, a deviation from a ‘normal state of being’ is balanced with a subsequent action that compensates the prior behaviour. We model the decision of an individual trying to reach the optimal level of moral self-worth over time and show that under certain conditions the optimal sequence of actions follows a regular pattern which combines good and bad actions. To explore this phenomenon we conduct an economic experiment where subjects play a sequence of giving decisions (dictator games). We find that donations in the previous period affect present decisions and the sign is negative: participants' behaviour in every round is negatively correlated to what they did in the past. Hence donations over time seem to be the result of a regular pattern of self-regulation: moral licensing (being selfish after altruistic) and cleansing (altruistic after selfish).

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Love Scalpers, or Hate Them?

This week's sign of the Apocalypse

Loyal KPC reader HC sends this actual photo from the actual Wisconsin State Fair:

Now maybe children are selling political influence and there is just a grammar issue in the first line (kids not kid's)?

Or maybe it's something worse?

Here's how HC describes the scene:

Me: what's that sign about?

Guy at booth: It's for a contest but it was this morning.

Me: for what, the kids were selling things?

Guy: no, pedaling, like a bicycle.

Me: that's not how you spell pedal.

Guy: I didn't make up the sign. You’ll have to talk to Pick ‘n Save about that.

First I have to say, WAY TO GO HC!

But then I have to say, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have a government at all?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Solar Fail

So, this article has my silky-soft boxers all knotted up and pinching.

Let's get something straight:  I'm a fan of solar power.  A big fan.  Solar power is the energy of the future.  It's going to work, and we are going to depend on it.  Unlike wind power, which is a mature technology, and based on mechanical generators that are heavy, expensive, noisy, and dangerous, solar power is great.  To start with, let's note that right now solar power has three problems:  generation, storage, and transmission.

More after the leap of faith...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Why Not Try?

A lot of people get all giggly and (even more) condescending when someone says, "Why not try a society that is more libertarian?"  But then those same people get all upset when they see stuff like this:

Seems like a disconnect.  Government regulation benefits two groups: (1) Government.  (2) Big corporations.  People watch stuff like this, and say, "That's terrible.  We need more regulation."


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Casino Virgins!

It's Billy and Adam, Casino Virgins!

And there's more...

Bertrand Russell on Hayek (Sort of)

(Okay, not exactly ON Hayek, but it is rather Hayekian.  The timing doesn't work out very well, since this was published in 1912.  But who knew that B. Russell was a proto-Austrian?)

From Proposed Roads to Freedom (1918): "We come next to the consideration of the economic power of the State and the influence which it can exert through its bureaucracy. State Socialists argue as if there would be no danger to liberty in a State not based upon capitalism. This seems to me an entire delusion. Given an official caste, however selected, there are bound to be a set of men whose whole instincts will drive them toward tyranny. 

Together with the natural love of power, they will have a rooted conviction (visible now in the higher ranks of the Civil Service) that they alone know how to be able to judge what is good for the community. Like all men who administer a system, they will come to feel the system itself is sacrosanct. The only changes they will desire will be changes in the direction of further regulations as to how the people are to enjoy the good things kindly granted to them by their benevolent despots. 

Whoever thinks this picture overdrawn must have failed to study the influence and methods of Civil Servants at present. On every matter that arises, they know far more than the general public about all the definite facts involved; the one thing they do not know is "where the shoe pinches." 

Very cool.  Sent by the optimally skeptical Zach Weinersmith...  (Good one from Zach yesterday, btw)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

V for Vendetta, Gun-Phobia Edition

You may recall the scene from V for Vendetta where the government decides that, to increase its power, the citizens should be terrified.

Apparently the Democrats have decided to use the same tactic.  And they are good at it.  Here's the gun version of the approach.  Be....AFRAID!

James Taranto breaks it down pretty well...

Thomas Sowell on Vision

Thomas Sowell has two books with similar themes, but both are worth reading, this one and that one.

Anyway, this came up with respect to Harold Myerson, who is so far beyond self-caricature that he has actually created his own reality.  That reality transcends logic and evidence and simply allows HM to make pronouncements based on metaphors that amuse him.  The applicability of these metaphors is completely beside the point.  I'm thinking of this screed, or perhaps this bizarre and fact-free squib, cited here.

What Sowell said was a general remark, but it is an apt description of HM.

What all the [ideological crusades of the twentieth-century] have in common is their moral exaltation of the anointed above others, who are to have their very different views nullified and superseded by the views of the anointed, imposed via the power of government....

[S]everal key elements have been common to most of them: 
1. Assertions of a great danger to the whole of society, a danger to which the masses of people are oblivious. 
2. An urgent need for action to avert impending catastrophe. 
3. A need for government to drastically curtail the dangerous behavior of the many, in response to the prescient conclusions of the few. 
4. A disdainful dismissal of arguments to the contrary as either uninformed, irresponsible, or motivated by unworthy purposes....(p.5) 

What is remarkable is how few arguments are really engaged in, and how many substitutes for arguments there are. This vision so permeates the media and academia, and has made such major inroads into the religious community, that many grow into adulthood unaware that there is any other way of looking at things, or that evidence might be relevant to checking out the sweeping assumptions of so-called "thinking people". Many of these "thinking people" could more accurately be characterized as articulate people, as people whose verbal nimbleness can elude both evidence and logic. This can be a fatal talent, when it supplies the crucial insulation from reality behind many historic catastrophes. (p. 6) 

And, to be fair, this is a fine description of plenty of neocon ideological crusades, also.  "National greatness" and "the ownership society" and...well, it's not just the left, by any means.  It's just that the fantasies of the right don't get echoed quite as much in the halls of academe, or the (now nearly empty) press rooms.

Nod to WH

Monday, August 12, 2013

Monday's Child

1.  Our good friend Richard Epstein becomes a deconstructionist:  What does our Prez really mean?

2.  Wow.  Scanners randomly switch numbers in scanned documents, sometimes?

3.  Disturbingly "convenient" that NSA spying was crucial to finding the "threat" to US facilities....somewhere....sometime.  Because now NSA cannot be questioned.  Unless you read stuff like this.And they hope the misdirection move toward "Cower in helpless fear!" will distract you from this.  I often feel like we are watching a sequel to "V for Vendetta," live.

4.  I had always assumed that the "pee on 3rd rail, die of electrocution" stories were urban legends.  But this one has actual names and dates.  Ick.  Ow.

5.  This is a perfect visual metaphor for a LOT of "alternative" technologies.  They don't actually work. 
SO much more after the jump....

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Zombies and Shot-Blocking

I always thought Manute Bol was a shot blocker who looked like a zombie. (No, that's not photo-shopped).  But perhaps he was a zombie who looked like a shot blocker? (In fairness, Bol was also a first-rate human being). But on to the research question:

Aggressive Acts Increase Commitment to New Groups: Zombie Attacks and Blocked Shots 

Negin Toosi, E.J. Masicampo & Nalini Ambady 
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming 

Abstract: How do individuals who switch between opposing sides develop a sense of commitment to their new groups? Study 1 examined these dynamics in a live-action tag game known as Humans versus Zombies, in which players transitioned from being Human to being Zombie, thus turning against their former fellow Humans. Study 2 examined data from professional basketball players in the National Basketball Association who moved to a new team and had to play against their former team. Aggressive acts against former group members in these competitive settings determined commitment to the new group above and beyond other factors. Aggressive acts against former teammates, such as simulated killing (Study 1) and blocked shots (Study 2), promoted more positive self-reported attitudes toward the new group (Study 1) and more collaboration with new group members in the form of assists (Study 2). 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The incredible shrinking deficit

Cardiff Garcia sends us this cool deficit reduction chart:

If you like your numbers raw, then there's this,

"In dollar terms, the Congressional Budget Office estimates for the July fiscal balance (which will be released next week) suggest that the deficit totaled $722bn in the 12 months ending in July, down from a peak of $1.471trn in December 2009; we now expect the deficit to total $650bn in FY 13 and $550bn in FY14".

Plenty of people are lamenting this show of "austerity" with unemployment still high.

If  we had been better Keynesians in the past, we would have used the "boom and not the bust" for "austerity", and could have run an expansionary policy longer. But in the absence of a proven connection between fiscal stimulus and sustainable job growth (sorry Brad and Larry), and the presence of our high and still rising debt levels and the continual damaging political theatre around debt ceiling breaches, I am fine with this rate of deficit reduction.

What is not so great about the deficit reduction we are getting is that it doesn't address longer run budget issues, and the deficit is projected to start rising again in 2015 and get ugly shortly thereafter.

I'm happy we've reduced war spending and cut the military (at least as a % of GDP). We can do that some more. But I don't see any achievable solution to our long run deficit drivers. People we can't even get chained CPI as the benchmark for social security increases. That was treated like running over grandma with a reindeer.

The good side to me is that our government actually "worked". Politicians saw the huge deficits as a problem and enacted policies to reduce them (at least for a while). The bad side is that the policy process burned tons of trust and political capital without addressing our real, long-run budget problems.

Why Can't We Use Our Electronics on Planes?

Because...planes are MAGIC!

NSFW.  And check out that cute Adam Lustick, working! (And a nod to WH)

Friday, August 09, 2013

Amazing Op-Ed in WAPO

Even by the standards of the craven, screed-vending WaPo this is amazing. Excerpt:

By now, even the economics profession concedes that our openness to the developing world — call it the Global South — has played a role in depressing the incomes of U.S. workers...But how much of this problem originates in the Global South and how much in the American South?...In the northern system, workers have more rights and higher incomes. In Dixie, they have fewer rights and lower incomes...When it wants to slum, business still goes to the South...[I]f the federal government wants to build a fence that keeps the United States safe from the dangers of lower wages and poverty and their attendant ills — and the all-round fruitcakery of the right-wing white South — it should build that fence from Norfolk to Dallas. There’s nothing wrong with a fence, so long as you put it in the right place.

Nod to Kevin Lewis for the find. Some observations:

1.  Look, y'all:  we tried to leave.  You wouldn't let us.  We tried and TRIED to leave.  'Til Stoneman's cavalry* came, and tore up the tracks again... Now I don't mind choppin' wood, and I don't care if the money's no good. Take what you need and leave the rest, But they should never have taken the very best.   You had your chance, ya Yankee S.O.B.  Now you are stuck with us.

2.  If you build the wall where this guy says he wants it, he'll keep OKLAHOMA and (most of) ARKANSAS.  In the part he loves, and respects as being liberal and progressive.  I don't think Mr. Myerson gets out much, frankly.  Maybe we should draw big paint lines on the state boundaries, so he can actually learn some geography from his window seat at 30,000 feet, flying back and forth to Portland or San Francisco.  Problem is that Mr. Myerson's wall will have to start at Baltimore, I think.  And just like in the war, DC will be surrounded by hostiles.

3.  "Even the economics profession"?  Seriously?  Mr. Myerson actually advertises his ideology as a qualification, a reason you should admire him.  In his world, at least.

*Corrected.  I had Joan Baez's version in my head.  She said "so much cavalry..."  The above lyric is the original.  If you want to know...
If you want to me chills.

I bet I kin break 10,000 aigs....

Remember that scene from "Cool Hand Luke," where he bets he can eat 100 eggs?  This is a remix, I guess you'd call it, but it's pretty great:  "When it come to the law, NOTHING is understood."

French farmers went one better:  They bet they could break 10,000 eggs.  Outside a tax office.  To protest low prices.  (Note:  not to protest high taxes, to protest low prices.  Even though higher prices would in effect be a higher tax, on everyone else.  Gotta love Gallic logic.)

The French version.  An English translation (sort of). M.K. offers this interpretation (edited a bit, don't blame him):

It announces breathlessly that some goods will be on sale from June 26 to July 30.  Note that also that certain "economic zones" are excluded from this, and their sales dates are different, being carefully rotated in accordance with the....MASTER...PLAN! If you live in Guyana, you'll have to wait until October 3 for your cheap socks. 

The paragraph below the list notes that, thanks to the Economic Modernization Act (lol) the number of days for permitted discounts has been restricted. Now you know why the French drink, and smoke those ridiculous cigarettes.

And then, M.K. offers this lagniappe: Apparently in highly competitive or struggling businesses, the final weeks leading up to the sale period is a time of rising bankruptcies due to shrinking cash flows amplified by consumer hold-back and retailers' inability to lower prices to save their bacon...  

Thursday, August 08, 2013

The Mannings (Not Bradley) Do A (Sort of) Rap Video

Peyton, in that wig, is disturbing.

Discriminating Linebackers?

Compensation Discrimination for Defensive Players: Applying Quantile Regression to the National Football League Market for Linebackers and Offensive Linemen 

Nancy Burnett & Lee James Van Scyoc 
Journal of Sports Economics, forthcoming 

Abstract: Keefer’s recent article in the Journal of Sports Economics, “Compensation discrimination for defensive players: applying quantile regression to the National Football League market for linebackers,” finds wage discrimination in the National Football League market for linebackers. Following Keefer, we examine both ordinary least squares and quantile analysis, as well as Oaxaca and quantile treatment effects decompositions though we explore the market not only for linebackers but also for offensive linemen and limit our study to rookie players. We would expect to find stronger evidence of discrimination, as rookies are captured sellers. However, we find no pattern of discrimination against Blacks. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

"Oaxaca decomposition treatment"?  I always thought that involved smoking weed.  But no...

Peter Leeson, Peewee Pirate!

Holy Smokes!

Here's Peter Leeson, scholar of the first rank.  I use his book, The Invisible Hook, in my intro Econ class every fall, and students love it.  Really great stuff.  So, taking nothing from my admiration.  Luv ya, Pete.  Mean it!

But here....well, here is Peewee Herman.  Golly.  I wonder if Pete L likes "Tequila!"

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

CK Rowley

Angus and I both had some bumps in our relations with Prof. Rowley, who died August 2 after a long illness.  It appears he was working on a biography of James Buchanan, which, for those of us who know the history...well, let's leave it at that.  That's what he was working on.

I am writing a memorial of CKR for TIR, and it will be out in the fall.

Charles sometimes was difficult.  But then so am I.  I owe Charles a lot, because through the years he supported my work and published it in many different places.  Of course, sometimes in between he would launch tac-nuke strikes for some slight, real or imagined.  But his work for Public Choice, and for the cause of liberty, should be acknowledged and honored by all of us.

I always wondered if Charles was happy.  He worked very hard, on a lot of things.  But it seemed like there was always something else, something he wanted and never got.  Rest in peace now, sir.

This week's sign of the apocalypse


Once again I ask, if crap like this can happen, why do we even have a government at all?

Hat tip to The Poke.

Hiring and Jewish Economists

By my Duke Econ colleague Roy Weintraub...

MIT’s Openness to Jewish Economists 

Roy Weintraub 
Duke University Working Paper, June 2013 

Abstract: MIT emerged from “nowhere” in the 1930s to its place as one of the three or four most important sites for economic research by the mid-1950s. A conference held at Duke University in April 2013 examined how this occurred. In this paper the author argues that the immediate postwar period saw a collapse – in some places slower, in some places faster – of the barriers to the hiring of Jewish faculty in American colleges and universities. And more than any other elite private or public university, particularly Ivy League universities, MIT welcomed Jewish economists.

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Interesting Policy

So apparently the way to answer questions about substantive problems is to talk about food.

Reporters then have SOMETHING to report.  Whereas if you just say, "No Comment!" it sounds rude.  Check it out.


Your one-stop "recovery" visual (thanks to @cobrown ):

I think Joan Baez might have reacted this way:

Now you're telling me
You are recovering
You need another word for it
You who are so good with words
And at keeping things vague
Because you need some of that vagueness now....

Maybe an Obamery?  An apparently permanent five percentage increase in dependency on government handouts?

3D printer for home fabrication a win?

Jackie Blue writes:

Dis true, Mr. Economist?

My response:the first commenter says what I would have said, only he says it better.

John: "25 hours per item, I will assume they already factored in the need for ventillation and power for the device and move to the real issue. Quality control, repairs and finishing are going to eat up many hours the first time each person creates an item with many mistakes along the ways likely requiring reprints and modifications before it will work. Between the labour cost and the material losses from each reprint, I very much doubt their estimates of cost per item. This is the same logic that people use to say I can renovate my own house for half the cost. It may be true if everything goes well but since they lack experience will end up doing everything twice and wasting alot of material through the process eating up most if not all of the DIY savings. 

Besides, most of the 3D printed items can be found in a dollar store, so unless you are comparing some high end spatula to a 3D printed one, there is no savings."

So, that's what I think.  But it might be true that it is a small business opportunity. A place that's remote from transport could have a person set up a higher speed printer, and then run it to fabricate a bunch of things that would be expensive to bring in. There are parts of Australia, and of course much of New Orleans, that are like that.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Phil Schrodt on Retiring from PSU

Wow.  This is really something.  62?


Unexpectedly, writing Seven Deadly Sins rendered me useless as a methodological  instructor. I am convinced that garbage can models are worthless, but in order to get tenure at any place worth getting tenure, you’ve got to publish garbage can models, and lots of garbage can models, and that is not going to change any time soon. In my former subdiscipline, the response to Achen’s 2002 critique of garbage can models was a journal-length methodological suicide note, Conflict Management and Peace Science Vol. 22, No.4. I’m not going to win that battle.

There is absolutely nothing worse than the stereotypical old fart in the cluttered office telling people “It’s all crap!!!”—while pulling down, year after year, a handsome if static salary—and I’m perilously close to that. In classical Chinese philosophy there is an oft-repeated motif of the sage who writes a book and then departs beyond the frontiers, never to be seen again. Perhaps 7DS is that [non-]book.

The Fear-Industrial Complex

The people who make money from your fear, your irrational fears, would prefer you not see this.

I would prefer that you do see this.  And that's still possible....I just don't want to be called a "fear-Munger."

Monday, August 05, 2013

Monday's Child

1.  Zenn car.  Again, lefties discover that regulation sucks.  Why they don't generalize this conclusion escapes me.

2.  Your help?  It hurts.

3.  If someone robs you, you don't have to show receipts to prove the property was yours.  But if a bank makes a mistake and takes your house, YOU have to prove that you owned the stuff they stole, sold, or threw away.  Now....why, exactly?

4.  Not sure this is really true.  A little too pat.  On the other hand....there are people who think this way.

5.  The EYM is moving to NY, to attend NYU, in just over two weeks.  This doesn't look very fun.  (He has a dorm for the first year, but then...)

after the jump...more

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Why Do Prescription Drug Makers Advertise?

Advertisements impact the physiological efficacy of a branded drug 

Emir Kamenica, Robert Naclerio & Anup Malani
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, forthcoming

Abstract: We conducted randomized clinical trials to examine the impact of direct-to-consumer advertisements on the efficacy of a branded drug. We compared the objectively measured, physiological effect of Claritin (Merck & Co.), a leading antihistamine medication, across subjects randomized to watch a movie spliced with advertisements for Claritin or advertisements for Zyrtec (McNeil), a competitor antihistamine. Among subjects who test negative for common allergies, exposure to Claritin advertisements rather than Zyrtec advertisements increases the efficacy of Claritin. We conclude that branded drugs can interact with exposure to television advertisements. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

Delta Dawn?

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Modelled Behavior

Our architect Vahid Mojarrab made an awesome scale model of our Santa Fe house:

Here's the top view. The slanty panels are solar for hot water and to provide all the electricity needed for the house (clic the pics for more detailed images).

We like how plantings can rise right up through the architecture.

Here's the front:

and the back:

The big window is 9 ft x 14 ft.

Bruce Yandle BRINGS It on the B&B Meme

Just tremendous.  Bruce is a national treasure.  And cute, too.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Carlin on Arrogance

Dutch Boy sends this clip of George Carlin on human arrogance.  I had forgotten how Hayekian this clip (which I have seen before, but not for a long time) is.

Thursday, August 01, 2013

A Great Political Economy Video on Ganja

The economics and politics of marijuana laws, through the oddly animated eyes of our friends in Taiwan.

Baptists and bootleggers, every time.

Nod to MK.