Saturday, March 30, 2013

That's nacho cheese!

People can you imagine the pure adrenaline rush, the unmitigated joy, of cruising down the highway with 20 tons of stolen cheese in the back of your truck?

Meet Veniamin Konstantinovich Balika, who was apprehended in New Jersey with a load of hot Wisconsin Muenster.

Now, I personally believe that ALL Muenster cheese should be illegal, but that's a story for another day.

It certainly is no coincided that this malefactor of great cheese was arrested at the Vince Lombardi rest stop.

Maybe Mr. Balika should hook up with this guy.

Via, but the hat tip goes to loyal KPC reader Gerardo.


According to NPR: this is what the arrest of Mr. Konstantinovich Balika at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop looked like:

(clic the pic for an even less realistic-looking image)

The update hat tip goes to MK, another loyal KPC reader.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Diana Hsieh: Express Advocate?

This May, a [case] will be heard by the Colorado Supreme Court in Coalition for Secular Government v. Gessler. This case centers around a small nonprofit, run by Diana Hsieh, a doctor of philosophy, who wanted to discuss a secular understanding of the principles of life, liberty, and property. To do this, Dr. Hsieh formed a nonprofit corporation, which she named the Coalition for Secular Government (CSG). CSG commissioned a paper discussing its philosophy regarding human personhood, written by Dr. Hsieh and her friend Ari Armstrong. On behalf of CSG, Dr. Hsieh and Mr. Armstrong raised money from their friends to help pay for the costs of writing and publishing the paper. They also ran some Facebook ads and made flyers to let people know about the paper.

The paper is 32 pages long, with 176 endnotes. It makes philosophical arguments concerning the complex public policy debate surrounding the definition of personhood. The paper used a proposed Colorado ballot measure as a backdrop for its discussion on the issue. The paper concludes with a single sentence of express advocacy: “If you believe that ‘human life has value,’ the only moral choice is to vote against Amendment 62.”

This one sentence of express advocacy meant that CSG may be forced to register as a issue committee with the state of Colorado.  

Amendment 62, for non-Coloradans.

To summarize:  A philosopher argues, in an academic-style paper, for why calling a week old "fetus" a full legal person a bad idea.  Then she draws the conclusion that if you accept this argument then Amendment 62 should be voted down.  And for that she is forced to register, report all her donors and support, and pay significant regulatory costs.

Before "Citizens United," this case would have been a slam dunk for the nannies.  Now...interesting.  Thank goodness the Supreme Court decided Citizens United correctly!  Blog post.   

Phone call for Alex Rosenberg...

It's Hard....It's a Hard...It's a Hard Rain, That's Gonna Fall

Like our benighted Prez, France's Hollande honestly believed that all you had to do to "solve" the unemployment crisis was to have everyone work for the government.

But if everyone works for the government, or otherwise gets more money from the government than they pay to the government in taxes....well, SOMEBODY has to pay.  There is no way to add up a bunch of expenditures and call it "revenue."

I don't blame Obama, or Hollande, for believing that nonsense.  I blame voters for believing Obama and Hollande.  They ain't never lied:  They SAID they were going to do what in fact they are doing.

Ooooh!  Wait!  Hollande DOES have a plan, after all.  You just have to put a 75% tax on the few people who DO have jobs.  Of course, they will all leave the country.  And then you blame THEM for being greedy.  And Germany bails you out.  France is occupying its impregnable "ImaginIknow" line.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Right" out of their minds

People, this morning I have to write about right wingers who have totally lost their minds.

Let's start with the trivially mean and stupid. Yes, Rep. King, I'm talking about you. Complaining publicly that the Obama girls shouldn't be going on vacation while the country is struggling. Nice job nimrod.

Now to the New York Post, and the inimitable Thomas Sowell, who stumbles his way to the innuendo that quantitative easing in the US is the same as Cyprus' haircut on bank depositors. There's only one problem with his argument: THERE IS NO INFLATION TOM!!!!  When when when will these inflationistas learn how to read a chart:

Finally to the dumbest of the dumb for the day at least. Art Laffer and Stephen Moore in the WSJ on "The Red State Path to Prosperity". Hey guys, repeat after me: THE RED STATES ARE THE POOR STATES! Please please please, learn how to read a chart before you make fools of yourselves.

Here are the 10 richest states: Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Alaska, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Virginia, California, Delaware.

Here are the rankings for the no income tax Southern states Laffer & Moore are so proud of: Texas (25th), Florida (38th), Tennessee (44). They also brag on Louisiana (41), North Carolina (39), Oklahoma (45th) and Kansas (28th).

Illiterate and angry is no way to go through life, guys.

Jerry Littlemars Deals With It; Can YOU?

A very nice video.  Mr. Littlemars says you'd best RECOGNIZE.

Here is the video Mr. Littlemars is referring to...

"HE JUST EXPLAINED IT!"  Yes, indeed. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Krugman Finally Jumps the Shark

I have for some time offered a defense of P-kroog. 

A tepid defense, to be sure.  But the defense has been that he had not sacrificed his intellect to his ideology in the area of international trade.  Sure, he sold out and lied about domestic macro policy, but okay:  he was still sensible on his open economy macro claims.  In fact, really impressive.  (For an example, read this.   That's great stuff.  P-kroog vintage 1993).  P-kroog, on trade, still had some sense of being required to use actual logic and evidence.  P-kroog has decided that the reason that investors are trying to get their money out of Greece, Cyprus, and etc. is that (wait for it) the INVESTORS are bad people, and need to be controlled.  Here it is.

There is a reason why capital mobility is one of the Mundell-Fleming "unholy trinity," along with a currency peg and an independent monetary policy.  That reason is simple:  if a country wants to impose capital controls, it can only be because they want to do something appallingly stupid to their exchange rate or their monetary policy.  Some commentary from FEE.

(I should note that the "Krugman thinks he is Pharaoh" comparison makes sense.  He won't let the capital go, he thinks he is a living god, and he lives in a city near denial, or the Nile, or something like that)

Online course on the Mexican economy

LeBron von Strauss has already announced this, but Mrs. Angus has done a course of around 50 short videos on Mexico for Marginal Revolution University.

Of course you know this is self-recommending, right?

Here's the first one:

The rest are available here.


Is "Tolerance" Condescending?

Tolerance is by definition accepting something you don't like or disagree with.  If you don't care, it's not tolerance, it's indifference or apathy.

Penn Gillette points out that tolerance is condescending.  Dutch Boy has been telling me this for years:  the "tolerance" of the Netherlanders toward Islam (for example) is really just accepting of primitive superstition, not a genuine mutual respect.

(UPDATE: Fixed link)

Nod to Angry Alex, who never tolerates anybody.  At least not quietly.

lRS Video: Outrageous

Folks tried to become indignant about this training video made for the IRS.  They spent $60,000 on this. 

How?  How did they spend so LITTLE?  And since the video was made in 2010, what kind of an idiot would try to link this to the sequester?  Finally, you have to realize that IRS is a huge organization.  They spend a LOT on training, and they should.  $60,000 for a cheesy little  morale boost is pretty cheap beside what is spent every day on less effective training work.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Set the controls for the heart of the sun!

High School Football and Property Values

Winning Pays: High School Football Championships and Property Values 

Andrew Friedson & Alexander Bogin Journal of Housing Economics, forthcoming 

 Abstract: A large literature explores the effect of schooling characteristics on property values, but touches little on non-academic attributes of schools. This study demonstrates the capitalization of high school football championships into school district property values using a model that controls for a series of fixed effects. Winning a state football championship increases property values by 1.65% in the year following the championship, exerting its strongest effect immediately after the championship is won. The effect is biggest in the AA division, the largest and most competitive division. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

What happens when you try to give away money?

I did a short video on the costs of trying to give away money.  Some people were critical of the flippancy of the example.  But remember, I had only four minutes, and I was trying to address college students, so I was looking for something they had experience with.

But, okay, if you want examples, for class or conversation, of the grave damage that can be done if we try to give away money, here you go.  I am willing to admit, for the sake of argument, that these programs might be well intentioned, rather than just cheesy vote-buying schemes.  That makes them WORSE, if anything.  The government simply cannot give away money.

1.  Food stamps kill.  Rhode Island town shows futility of trying to "help" people by giving away money. Here is the WaPo story

2.  Amazingly honest NPR story about supplemental disability Social Security.  From now on, if anyone asks about the costs of rent-seeking, THIS is your go-to example.

But, even if one concedes that the intentions are good, the bad effects should be enough to make people realize, as Bill Clinton did, that the program is a bad one.  The problem is that Nancy Pelosi and Co. sincerely believe that the effects are POSITIVE.

Nod to WH.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday's Child is Full of Links

1.  Some people jabber about food deserts.  Turns out they live in brain desert.  Grocery store access does not cause people to eat more healthily.  (Healthily?)

2.  You won a Dem primary and you don't drive a hybrid?

3.  Angus (rightly) made fun of people who say, "If raising the minimum wage is good, why not raise it more?"  A problem is that there are some people who advocate the minimum who actually do make EXACTLY this argument.  Elizabeth Warren, for example, who presumably knows better.

4.  And just when we were worried that there might not be enough self-absorbed idiots on the Republican side of the US House....Mark Sanford comes to the rescue!

5.  Icarus flew too close to the sun, and got burned.   The nations of the world are trying to fly too close to the solar panels, and taxpayers are getting burned.  Let me guess:  the answer is more regulation, and possibly even government production.

6.  Solar power is a net loss of resources.  It takes more energy to make the panels, in the form of various subsidies, than the panels can return from the sun.  That's okay, it's not the panels' fault.  The problem is the government subsidies.  We are investing in solar not because it helps the environment, but because we can get paid subsidies.  When the subsidies stop, solar turns out to be a big waste of money. 

7.  My kind of environmentalist, from Top Gear.  The whole packaging thing does bother me.  I'd rather buy less packaging.  And drive old cars much too fast.

8.  The sell-off in muni bonds, from the always interesting Sober Look.

9.  Peak oil was peak idiocy.  And always will be.

10.  So many of our young entrepreneurs are in jail.  There are many things with our society, but that's a big one.

11.  Secret, and actually illegal, internet census.  Very cool.  

12.  Not the Onion.  Who could possibly have thought this was a good idea?

Sunday, March 24, 2013


No End to the Consensus in Macroeconomic Theory? A Methodological Inquiry 
 (Published version)
 John McCombie & Maureen Pike 
American Journal of Economics and Sociology, April 2013, Pages 497–528 

Abstract: After the acrimonious debates between the New Classical and New Keynesian economists in the 1980s and 1990s, a consensus developed, namely, the New Neoclassical Synthesis. However, the 2007 credit crunch exposed the severe limitations of this approach. This article presents a methodological analysis of the New Neoclassical Synthesis and how the paradigmatic heuristic of the representative agent, namely, market clearing subject to sticky prices, excluded the Keynesian notion of involuntary unemployment arising from lack of effective demand. It shows these models may be modified to produce Keynesian results, but are ruled out of consideration by proponents of the New Neoclassical approach by weak incommensurability. It concludes that because of this the New Neoclassical Synthesis, in spite of its failure to explain the sub-prime crisis, is likely to resist successfully the resurgence in Keynesian economics. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis

If Someone Asks If S/He Should Go Into Academic Econ....

Nine Facts about Top Journals in Economics 

David Card & Stefano DellaVigna
NBER Working Paper, January 2013

Abstract: How has publishing in top economics journals changed since 1970? Using a data set that combines information on all articles published in the top-5 journals from 1970 to 2012 with their Google Scholar citations, we identify nine key trends. First, annual submissions to the top-5 journals nearly doubled from 1990 to 2012. Second, the total number of articles published in these journals actually declined from 400 per year in the late 1970s to 300 per year most recently. As a result, the acceptance rate has fallen from 15% to 6%, with potential implications for the career progression of young scholars. Third, one journal, the American Economic Review, now accounts for 40% of top-5 publications, up from 25% in the 1970s. Fourth, recently published papers are on average 3 times longer than they were in the 1970s, contributing to the relative shortage of journal space. Fifth, the number of authors per paper has increased from 1.3 in 1970 to 2.3 in 2012, partly offsetting the fall in the number of articles per year. Sixth, citations for top-5 publications are high: among papers published in the late 1990s, the median number of Google Scholar citations is 200. Seventh, the ranking of journals by citations has remained relatively stable, with the notable exception of the Quarterly Journal of Economics, which climbed from fourth place to first place over the past three decades. Eighth, citation counts are significantly higher for longer papers and those written by more co-authors. Ninth, although the fraction of articles from different fields published in the top-5 has remained relatively stable, there are important cohort trends in the citations received by papers from different fields, with rising citations to more recent papers in Development and International, and declining citations to recent papers in Econometrics and Theory. 

Nod to Kevin Lewis