Kids Prefer Cheese
Credibly promising to be irresponsible...since 2004!
Friday, December 06, 2013
Angels We Have Heard on High
Thursday, December 05, 2013
They came in like a wrecking ball?
Nice piece in the New Yorker about an incredibly active group of session musicians in the 1960s and 70s who called themselves "The Wrecking Crew":
If you’ve heard the Crystals (“He’s a Rebel”), Jan and Dean (“Surf City”), Paul Revere and the Raiders (“Kicks”), Simon and Garfunkel (“Bridge Over Troubled Water”), the Association (“Windy”), the Mamas and the Papas (“California Dreamin’ ”), Frank Sinatra (“Strangers in the Night”), the Monkees (“Last Train to Clarksville”), Herb Alpert (“A Taste of Honey”), Nancy Sinatra (“These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ ”), or Sonny and Cher (“Bang Bang”)—not to mention the “Batman” theme, the “Mission: Impossible” theme, the “Hawaii Five-O” theme, or the “Born Free” theme—then you’ve heard the Wrecking Crew. When producers called musicians, these were the musicians who got called first.
Among their members were such future luminaries as Glen Campbell, Leon Russell, and Jack Nitzsche.
One of the members' kids is running a kickstarter to fund release of a movie about the Crew. From that page I learned that:
For six years in a row, the Grammy Award for "Record of the Year" was recorded by Wrecking Crew members. Just look at this list!
Herb Alpert &the Tijuana Brass in 1966 for "A Taste of Honey"
Frank Sinatra in 1967 for "Strangers in the Night"
The 5th Dimension in 1968 for "Up, Up and Away"
Simon & Garfunkel in 1969 for "Mrs. Robinson"
The 5th Dimension in 1970 for "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In" and
Simon & Garfunkel in 1971 for "Bridge Over Troubled Water"
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
What are "we" for?
And perhaps rightly. We don't think much of that whole "we" thing.
But, I had a piece at the Freeman, about "What Are We For?"
Adapted from my keynote address at the Libertarian National Convention in 2008.
Hunger Games and Learn Liberty
People, meet the Silna brothers, Ozzie & Daniel. Last year they received $19 million from the NBA, and have in sum received a total of around $300 million from the Association.
They don't play on any team, or coach, or have a concession contract, or run a medical facility. No, they are the ex-owners of the Spirits of St. Louis, a long defunct ABA franchise.
When the ABA went under in 1976 and was partially absorbed by the NBA, the Spirits were left out in the cold. But the Silnas negotiated a settlement of a smallish lump sum payment plus 1/7th of the "visual media" revenues generated by the 4 ABA teams who made it into the NBA (Spurs, Nets, Nuggets, Pacers) IN PERPETUITY.
In 1982, the NBA had a chance to buy them out of the deal for $8 million paid out over 8 years but refused!
And, just this year, a judge ruled that the NBA has to pay them a share of the League's internet and NBA TV revenues as well.
Here is a great article about the situation. And here is a NYTimes article about it.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
It has a strange allure
Wow. Thomas Frank namechecks Mission of Burma AND totally goes off on American Higher Ed. I don't agree with it all, but I agree with a lot of it and it's an essential read.
Here's one slice to get you started:
Paying $250 for a textbook is more like it nowadays; according to one economist, textbook prices have increased 812 percent over the past thirty-five years, outstripping not only inflation (by a mile) but every other commodity—home prices, health care—that we usually consider to be spiraling out of control.
The explanation is simple. The textbook publishers use every trick known to the marketing mind to obsolete their products year after year, thus closing off the possibility of second-hand sales. What’s more, textbook publishing is a highly concentrated industry—an oligopoly—which means they can drive prices pretty much as high as they feel like driving them. Meanwhile, the professors who assign the textbooks and who might do something about the problem don’t have to pay for them.
The charmingly naive American student is in fact a cash cow, and everyone has got a scheme for slicing off a porterhouse or two.
BK: Thanks for Liking Us! Now Go Away
If you'll just un-like them, you'll get a free Big Mac. Yes, from McDonalds. Nod to @GabrielRossman
Monday, December 02, 2013
2. Satellite at LaGrange Point maps path of comet. And what a LaGrange Point is.
3. If we can't fix this, we can't anything. But then, maybe we can't fix anything.
4. The Munger diet: Red wine and also lots of nuts. Okay, it's actually the Susan L. diet, but I'm going to borrow it.
5. If you think everything is "about" race and gender, you will find this offensive. If you think people who think everything is "about" race and gender, you will this even MORE offensive.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
A Separate Cycling Lane?
Money, Status, and the Ovulatory Cycle
Kristina Durante et al.
Journal of Marketing Research, forthcoming
Abstract: Each month, millions of women experience an ovulatory cycle that regulates fertility. Past consumer research has found that the cycle influences women's clothing and food preferences. But we propose that the ovulatory cycle has a much broader effect on women's economic behavior. Drawing on theory in evolutionary psychology, we hypothesize that the week-long period near ovulation should boost women's desire for relative status, which should alter women's economic decisions. Findings from three studies show that near ovulation women sought positional goods to improve their social standing. Additional findings revealed that ovulation led women to seek positional goods when doing so improved relative standing compared to other women, but not compared to other men. When playing the dictator game, for example, ovulating women gave smaller offers to a woman, but not to a man. Overall, women's monthly hormonal fluctuations appear to have a substantial effect on consumer behavior by systematically altering women's positional concerns, which has important implications for marketers, consumers, and researchers.
Menstrual Cycle Effects on Attitudes toward Romantic Kissing
Rafael Wlodarski & Robin Dunbar
Human Nature, December 2013, Pages 402-413
Abstract: Hormonal changes associated with the human menstrual cycle have been previously found to affect female mate preference, whereby women in the late follicular phase of their cycle (i.e., at higher risk of conception) prefer males displaying putative signals of underlying genetic fitness. Past research also suggests that romantic kissing is utilized in human mating contexts to assess potential mating partners. The current study examined whether women in their late follicular cycle phase place greater value on kissing at times when it might help serve mate assessment functions. Using an international online questionnaire, results showed that women in the follicular phase of their menstrual cycle felt that kissing was more important at initial stages of a relationship than women in the luteal phase of their cycle. Furthermore, it was found that estimated progesterone levels were a significant negative predictor for these ratings.
Nod to the estimable Kevin Lewis
Friday, November 29, 2013
Oklahoma is hiring in Time Series Econometrics!
It has been suggested to me that our ad in Job Openings for Economists is unclear, but we are hiring at the assistant level for Time Series!
Pay will be in the 6 figures (and is negotiable), teaching load is 2/2, start up funds, initial course load and summer support are negotiable, there is travel money available and we have a PhD. program and a funded seminar series.
If you are a time series person please consider applying! Operators are standing by.
If It Bleeds, It Leads
The Number of Fatalities Drives Disaster Aid: Increasing Sensitivity to People in Need
Ioannis Evangelidis & Bram Van den Bergh
Psychological Science, November 2013, Pages 2226-2234
Abstract: In the studies reported here, an analysis of financial donations in response to natural disasters showed that the amount of money allocated for humanitarian aid depends on the number of fatalities but not on the number of survivors who are affected by the disaster (i.e., the actual beneficiaries of the aid). On the basis of the experimental evidence, we discuss the underlying cause and provide guidelines to increase sensitivity to people in need.
Nod to Kevin Lewis, who is in fact rational.
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Collateral Damages are Actually "Extra Savings"
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Another one bites the dust
I got your headline right here (NSFC)*
Ideally, there is really no need to read the story at that point, because you pretty much have the picture. Of course, you DO read the story, because it's fantastic.
This may be the best example of the genre I have ever seen. It is NSFW, of course, but then it wouldn't be, would it?
With thanks to @muttface , from MuttBlog.
Labels: headline meme
Monday, November 25, 2013
Must a guaranteed income truly be unconditional? Might there be circumstances when we would want to pay some individuals more than others? Many critics for instance worry that a guaranteed income would excessively reduce the incentive to work.
So it might be proposed that the payment be somewhat higher if low income individuals go get a job. That also will make the system more financially sustainable. But wait — that’s the Earned Income Tax Credit, albeit with modifications.
Might we also wish to pay more to some individuals with disabilities, perhaps say to help them afford expensive wheelchairs? Maybe so. But wait — that’s called disability insurance (modified, again) and it is run through the Social Security Administration.
As long as we are moving toward more cash transfers, why don’t we substitute cash transfers for some or all of Medicare and Medicaid health insurance coverage benefits, especially for lower-value ailments? But then we are paying more cash to the sick individuals. That doesn’t have to be a mistake, but it does mean that an initially simple, “dogmatic” payment scheme now has multiplied into a rather complex form of social welfare assistance, contingent on just about every relevant factor one might care to cite.
You can see the issue. Whether on grounds of justice, practicality, or just public choice considerations (“you can keep your current welfare payments if you like them”), we should not expect everyone to be paid the same under a guaranteed annual income. And with enough tweaks, this version of the guaranteed income suddenly starts resembling…the welfare state, albeit the welfare state plus. Unemployment insurance benefits wouldn’t end. More people could get on disability, and without those pesky judges asking so many questions.
He's right, as far as this goes. The Basic Income idea is a bit like the Fair Tax idea: both try to smuggle in reforms that would actually solve lots of problems, but only if we can assume that the "clean" proposal is implemented. Fair Tax-ers assume that the Congress really, really will accept getting rid of the Income Tax. (Implausible). Basic Incomers assume that the Congress really, really will accept losing all discretion over who gets extra cash and benefits. (Very Implausible).
But there are other advantages of consolidation and transparency. If the system were equal, and unconditional, it would get rid of a lot of incentive problems. Sure, Congress might not pass that, probably wouldn't. That's a problem, but it's also a problem with the current system. Any large-scale reform would at least break up the existing coalitional structure. That's not bad.
2. This is interesting, I suppose. But neither Heinlein nor Calhoun were libertarians. Not even close. (Though The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is plausibly a libertarian novel). As for Calhoun...um...no.
3. Dr. Warren has a new idea: Give away more money. Wait, that's actually not a new idea. Never mind.
4. Mean girls. It's biological.
5. Never punt, and never kick off.
Sunday, November 24, 2013
Economics is Hard, When You Draw Inferences From Residuals
Problem: Far from falling, total cost of employment has been rising, sharply. Corporations have NOT been saving money by squeezing labor. The "productivity wedge" that everybody whines about (see below) is real enough. But it is due to our inability to come up with a sensible health care policy, and regulatory accounting rules that give substantial disincentives for hiring full time.
What is squeezing labor is enormous costs for medical care, pensions for older workers, and regulations that make hiring workers prohibitively expensive. You say workers are not getting pay increases? That's true. But those evil corporations are getting labor cost improvements, either.
For some reason, people ignore the second graph. It is expensive, and getting more expensive, to hire workers. The first graph simply assumes that all the "extra" profit from productivity gains is going to corporations. But it's not true. You can look it up.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Mourning Becomes Electra
This is interesting.
This is interesting, and also insightful.
The problem was not the filibuster, which actually was a problem. The Repubs were abusing it, their obstruction was bad and dangerous. That's all true. However, if the Senate rule is that the rules are whatever a simple majority says the rules are....that's worse.
The U.S. is NOT a democracy, if by democracy you mean simple majority rule. The dodge that "no, it's a republic" is true enough, but the real point is that many of our institutions are explicitly designed to prevent majorities from imposing their will.
An extremely insightful video, with a remarkably handsome commentator.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Department of Shaky Logic
Presumably, having labor have a bigger share of income makes workers better off, right? The simple solution would be to destroy all capital. Just blow it up, burn it, return to the stone age. Then labor would have 100% of national income, because land would be basically worthless, also.
Of course, this is a problem. Because (1) capital is a good thing, and raises the marginal product, and therefore the wages of labor, while at the same time (it's just accounting) reducing the TOTAL share of income labor receives, and (2) lower prices from higher productivity more than make up for the "decline" in labor's share of income. The REAL wage skyrockets, and workers are clearly better off.
So Fantastic: Best Grand Game EVER
Remember, when you are grocery shopping, check out where your produce, fish and seafood come from, among other items. I never understood the logic of buying apples from Chile, blueberries from Mexico, shrimp from Thailand and -- heaven forbid -- fish from China when all of those can be found here in the US.
If you shop at Costco or any of the big warehouse stores, be sure to check your labels there too. They are notorious for selling imported goods. Pass it on!
S**** E******* (561) 254-****
And here is the informative expose video that you can't afford to miss! (With thanks to Joel)
"In the past five years, Homeland Security officials have jailed record numbers of immigrants, driven by a little-known congressional directive known on Capitol Hill as the 'bed mandate.' The policy requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep an average of 34,000 detainees per day in its custody, a quota that has steadily risen since it was established in 2006 by conservative lawmakers who insisted that the agency wasn’t doing enough to deport unlawful immigrants. But as illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970s, ICE has been meeting Congress’s immigration detention goals by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal U.S. residents convicted of any crimes that could render them eligible for deportation. The agency also has greatly expanded the number of undocumented immigrants it takes into custody after traffic stops by local police...With federal spending on immigration detention and deportation reaching $2.8 billion a year, more than doubling since 2006, the mandate has met growing skepticism from budget hawks in both parties, particularly after DHS officials told Congress during the 'sequestration' debate in April that the agency could save money by lowering the bed mandate to 31,800 and relying on cheaper alternatives to jails. But House Republicans successfully pushed back, set the mandate at 34,000 detainees and ordered ICE officials to spend nearly $400 million more than they requested." WaPo.
Apparently, the whole thing is really due to the fact that Robert Byrd hated brown people. (You know how they are...all..brown.) Actually, there is another explanation. The prison-industrial complex makes a fortune out of running these "hotels" for their desperate guests.
Nod to Kevin Lewis
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Labels: public choice videos
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
I can't call you sugar, cause sugar never was so sweet
The US government is a welfare agency for farmers with an army! Take the case of sugar (please). This year, the government spent over $100 million buying up sugar to "support" its price. However, producers made so much that the price was somehow not high enough to repay the annual loans they get from the USDA. So the growers just default, to the tune of $171 million!
And and and and and and.... they get to BORROW AGAIN from the same program for next year, como si nada! So far the USDA has issued another $86 million in loans, sometimes to companies that had just defaulted.
Like Amalgamated Sugar. Defaulted on $17 million this year, borrows $18.8 million for next year. This isn't like the World Bank giving new loans to countries so they can pay off their old loans. That's fresh cash with no strings.
And and and and and and... experts expect the producers WILL DEFAULT AGAIN NEXT YEAR!
It's not a bug, it's actually a feature of our insane farm policies.
Goin' All Columbo...
I don't know if this is a hard thing or not. But I sure don't know the answer. So, "Just one more thing" for NC's Moral Monday warriors.
The Moral Monday folks have been going nuts that the NCGA has required people to get an ID to be able to vote. Now, other states (including NY, where the NY Times lives, and the Times has been criticizing NC, which I ALSO don't understand) already have requirements like that. Because they are worried about vote fraud. In fact, the ID requirements in NY are MORE stringent than the NC ID requirements. But NC is somehow acting badly, and NY is a liberal bastion. I don't understand that. No fewer than 34 states have ID laws, but NC is acting badly.
But that's not the strangest thing. The strangest thing is Ventra. Look at the requirements to ride a BUS....we're not talking about a game, not talkin' about a game, we're talking about a BUS, just to ride a BUS, you have to go through all this crap and give all this information. If poor people can't get an ID because it is too much of a burden, how dare Chicago impose this kind of burden just to ride the bus.
Now, I would have thought that poor people are more likely to ride the bus than wealthy people, who have cars or take cabs. Where are the Moral Monday folks in Chicago? Could it be because the city is owned by the Democrats? Could it be because the "outrage" by the Moral Monday folks is pure political posturing? Could it be that they don't actually care at all about the poor, or the outrageous burden that is being placed on people just to ride the bus, in Chicago?
So, just that one more thing.
(This post dedicated to my friend Bruce C., and his NYTimes subscription, which he values more than life itself).
Monday, November 18, 2013
ObamaCare Stinks for Young People
2. Come the revolution, you WILL like Obamacare. Interesting that this woman means, by "moving forward," that other people give her more money. And if she has to pay more money, that's moving backward. I can see that in a career--you move forward, you get a raise--but not so much as a definition of progress in public policy.
3. Elections have consequences, and I won. But if YOU win, we'll change the rules. That sort of election should NOT have consequences.
4. I'm a fan of bike lanes. But the point should be to foster bike travel at low cost, not to make auto travel prohibitively expensive. This will make it very difficult for businesses to operate.
5. This can't be right....can it?
More after the jump....
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Best thing that happened in Norman Oklahoma yesterday!
Saturday, November 16, 2013
This week's sign of the Apocalypse
Were people asking him to? Did Rand Paul insinuate that he could? Is a time machine the only way to fix mistakes? Does not having a time machine absolve one from any responsibility for their actions?
People, if that crawl-line is true, why do we even have a government at all?
Grand Game: Remarkably Dumb Economics Edition
Friday, November 15, 2013
Never predict anything, least of all the future
"This fall, as the exchanges come on line, tens of millions of people are going to find they can get health coverage they never could before. They are likely to be quite happy about that, especially if they’ve been hearing for months in advance that it will be a mess."
~Josh Barro, April 29th 2013
Grand Game: Really Dumb Stats Edition
Thursday, November 14, 2013
MSNBC jumps the shark
MSNBC co-host Touré thinks the main reason Senator Mary Landrieu (D., La.) and other red-state Democrats are moving forward with bills to delay Obamacare is that they’ve been “gerrymandered” into safe seats.
He explained on The Cycle that vulnerable Democrats such as Landrieu, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas have to deal with appealing to right-leaning constituents because of their . . . situation. “We see red-state Democrats who are dealing with the challenge of living and governing in a gerrymandered world,” Touré said.
Um...he does understand that those are all SENATORS, right? Elected from states? The big things on the map, the ones with the state lines set by federal statutes of territorial admission?
I mean, it's one thing to claim that problems in the House are caused by gerrymandering. (They aren't). But...the Senate? Really? I understand that MSNBC doesn't hire commentators with an IQ over 80, but this is embarrassing.
A Homeless Man in Hoboken?
I don't doubt that a homeless man got beaten up, and I'm sorry about that (in Hoboken? In HOBOken, a homeless man? Seriously?).
But the breathless "You should all be afraid of the very scary black people!" news reporters is a bit much.