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Things one middle-aged economist finds interesting



Updated: 2017-04-25T05:52:00-04:00

 



"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies"

2017-04-25T05:52:00-04:00

Yet another very nice piece by Megan McArdle. Oh, come on, isn’t this just that old right-wing cliché that markets always produce the best outcome? People acting in their own personal self-interest can often make everyone worse off, including themselves....     Related Stories"The reason government spending is a disaster""California high court sets stage for major pension ruling""The Economics of Aliquippa, PA, and the Evolution of S.L. Price"  Yet another very nice piece by Megan McArdle. Oh, come on, isn’t this just that old right-wing cliché that markets always produce the best outcome? People acting in their own personal self-interest can often make everyone worse off, including themselves. Collective action problems certainly exist, and that’s one reason we have government. But a collective action problem is not just “something that makes a minority unhappy”; no system makes every single person better off. A true collective action problem is one in which collectively restraining destructive individual instincts can make everyone -- or at least, a substantial majority of people -- better off. In the airline market, I see no evidence that there is even a large minority of customers who are willing to bear substantially higher costs for the sake of substantially better service.      Related Stories"The reason government spending is a disaster""California high court sets stage for major pension ruling""The Economics of Aliquippa, PA, and the Evolution of S.L. Price"  [...]



"The Economics of Aliquippa, PA, and the Evolution of S.L. Price"

2017-04-25T05:34:00-04:00

John Tamny reviews a recent book on the rise and fall of Aliquippa, PA and the Jones & Laughlin steel mill that was a vital part of the town. In this time of laments from some quarters about the "loss...     Related Stories"The reason government spending is a disaster""New Video Shows the Simple Recipe for Poor Nations to Become Rich Nations – in Spite of Bad Advice from International Bureaucracies""California high court sets stage for major pension ruling"  John Tamny reviews a recent book on the rise and fall of Aliquippa, PA and the Jones & Laughlin steel mill that was a vital part of the town. In this time of laments from some quarters about the "loss of manufacturing jobs" I was glad to see this bit as it is something I've long thought: As Price writes toward book’s end about the Jones & Laughlin Steel Company’s (J&L Steel) Aliquippa-based mills that used to employ thousands, “Nobody grew up with the dream to work such jobs.  They were filthy, boring, exhausting grinds, a drain on health, a daily assault on the senses.” Getting right to the point, parents worked in the mills so that their children wouldn’t have to.       Related Stories"The reason government spending is a disaster""New Video Shows the Simple Recipe for Poor Nations to Become Rich Nations – in Spite of Bad Advice from International Bureaucracies""California high court sets stage for major pension ruling"  [...]






"Top 10 Cheap Classic Cars to Invest in for Big Gains With Your Delayed Tax Refund Check"

2017-04-25T05:05:00-04:00

A Mercedes and a Lexus make the list.     Related Stories"11 super-smart technologies in the 2017 Mercedes E-Class""This Is The Easiest Way To Escape A Sinking Vehicle. Knowing HOW Might Save Your Life Some Day""Top 10 cars stuck on dealer lots that are ripe for deals"  A Mercedes and a Lexus make the list.      Related Stories"11 super-smart technologies in the 2017 Mercedes E-Class""This Is The Easiest Way To Escape A Sinking Vehicle. Knowing HOW Might Save Your Life Some Day""Top 10 cars stuck on dealer lots that are ripe for deals"  [...]



"The reason government spending is a disaster"

2017-04-24T05:50:00-04:00

Short piece by John Crudele illustrates why it is so difficult to control government spending. If you try to micromanage--don't spend money on X--the bureaucrats will tend, as here, to redefine X. If, on the other hand, you just take...     Related Stories"California high court sets stage for major pension ruling""New Video Shows the Simple Recipe for Poor Nations to Become Rich Nations – in Spite of Bad Advice from International Bureaucracies""How the feds are letting germs run wild in hospitals"  Short piece by John Crudele illustrates why it is so difficult to control government spending. If you try to micromanage--don't spend money on X--the bureaucrats will tend, as here, to redefine X.  If, on the other hand, you just take a meat ax to the overall budget of an agency, the agency will respond by cutting the one or two most popular activities it undertakes, sometimes known as the "Washington Monument" strategy. (If you cut money going to the national parks, the Park Service threatens to close the Monument.) Lesson #1: don't spend the money in the first place. Lesson #2: if you did, you have to have a lot of guts, guile, and patience to cut.      Related Stories"California high court sets stage for major pension ruling""New Video Shows the Simple Recipe for Poor Nations to Become Rich Nations – in Spite of Bad Advice from International Bureaucracies""How the feds are letting germs run wild in hospitals"  [...]



"Harvard’s nondiscrimination hypocrisy"

2017-04-24T05:48:00-04:00

A former dean of Harvard College and current computer science professor at Harvard blasts the University: Using “nondiscrimination” as a cudgel against students’ private associations is odiously patronizing. No similar policy applies to Harvard faculty or staff. Even worse, Harvard...     Related StoriesWhose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?"Under the Ivy""Why Boss Tweed would envy NYC’s public schools chief"  A former dean of Harvard College and current computer science professor at Harvard blasts the University: Using “nondiscrimination” as a cudgel against students’ private associations is odiously patronizing. No similar policy applies to Harvard faculty or staff. Even worse, Harvard will compel students seeking scholarships and leadership positions to affirm their compliance with the policy — to respond to a McCarthyesque “Are you or have you ever been a member” question, under the threat of punishment for perjury. Harvard prohibits such questions in job interviews. . . .      Related StoriesWhose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?"Under the Ivy""Why Boss Tweed would envy NYC’s public schools chief"  [...]



"How the feds are letting germs run wild in hospitals"

2017-04-24T05:46:00-04:00

If you lack things to worry about, try this. Alarming new research shows one of the deadliest bugs, nicknamed CRE, is actually striking three times more patients than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us. One lesson from...     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  If you lack things to worry about, try this. Alarming new research shows one of the deadliest bugs, nicknamed CRE, is actually striking three times more patients than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tells us. One lesson from the war against AIDS: level with the public about the enormity of a problem if you want to start defeating it. Yet government authorities are doing the opposite, helping hospitals conceal superbug outbreaks from the public and deliberately leaving infections off death certificates. Or this: "Could North Korea Destroy the US?" (Not directly, but they could quite possibly destroy our electrical grid.)      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"New Video Shows the Simple Recipe for Poor Nations to Become Rich Nations – in Spite of Bad Advice from International Bureaucracies"

2017-04-24T05:44:00-04:00

"The recipe for growth and prosperity isn’t very complicated."     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The Economics of Aliquippa, PA, and the Evolution of S.L. Price""The reason government spending is a disaster"  "The recipe for growth and prosperity isn’t very complicated."      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The Economics of Aliquippa, PA, and the Evolution of S.L. Price""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"Who Holds The Power In Today’s Oil Market?"

2017-04-24T05:34:00-04:00

Take a guess.     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  Take a guess.      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"The Best Exercise for Aging Muscles"

2017-04-24T05:31:00-04:00

At least according to one recent study it's interval training.     Related Stories"Don't Fear Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables""Self-funded team led by an ER doctor wins ‘Star Trek’-inspired competition""Why Are So Many People Popping Vitamin D?"  At least according to one recent study it's interval training.      Related Stories"Don't Fear Pesticides on Fruits and Vegetables""Self-funded team led by an ER doctor wins ‘Star Trek’-inspired competition""Why Are So Many People Popping Vitamin D?"  [...]



"California high court sets stage for major pension ruling"

2017-04-24T05:04:00-04:00

Nice piece to catch you up to date on the potential changes to government pensions in California. Battle lines are drawn. The unions claim that state and local agencies may not reduce any pension benefits. Pension reformers – and the...     Related Stories"Myth Busted: Taxpayers Are Not Subsidizing Wal-Mart's Low Wages""The myth of the disillusioned Trump voter""Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21"  Nice piece to catch you up to date on the potential changes to government pensions in California. Battle lines are drawn. The unions claim that state and local agencies may not reduce any pension benefits. Pension reformers – and the courts, in recent decisions – say that while a reasonable pension remains a right, that doesn’t stop localities from reducing some things. These cases deal with pension-spiking enhancements and the purchase of airtime – controversial and somewhat limited practices. But the future of pension reform is on the line.      Related Stories"Myth Busted: Taxpayers Are Not Subsidizing Wal-Mart's Low Wages""The myth of the disillusioned Trump voter""Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21"  [...]



"Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan"

2017-04-23T05:45:00-04:00

Albert E. Gator does a good thing.     Related Stories"NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?"The Barkley Awards: The best player to never win a title in every sport (bye Sergio, hello Ovi)"  Albert E. Gator does a good thing.      Related Stories"NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?"The Barkley Awards: The best player to never win a title in every sport (bye Sergio, hello Ovi)"  [...]



"NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"

2017-04-23T05:12:00-04:00

"The best offense is a good defense." Related: for all information needs prior to this week's draft, see the rather amazing Draft Breakdown.     Related Stories"Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan"Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?"The Barkley Awards: The best player to never win a title in every sport (bye Sergio, hello Ovi)"  "The best offense is a good defense." Related: for all information needs prior to this week's draft, see the rather amazing Draft Breakdown.      Related Stories"Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan"Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?"The Barkley Awards: The best player to never win a title in every sport (bye Sergio, hello Ovi)"  [...]



Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?

2017-04-22T05:48:00-04:00

Here's one vote for Chapel Hill: "UNC scandal '10 times worse' than U of L strippers".     Related Stories"Harvard’s nondiscrimination hypocrisy""Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan""NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"  Here's one vote for Chapel Hill: "UNC scandal '10 times worse' than U of L strippers".      Related Stories"Harvard’s nondiscrimination hypocrisy""Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan""NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"  [...]



"The Barkley Awards: The best player to never win a title in every sport (bye Sergio, hello Ovi)"

2017-04-22T05:10:00-04:00

Ted Williams and Dan Marino would get my votes for saddest.     Related Stories"Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan""NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?  Ted Williams and Dan Marino would get my votes for saddest.      Related Stories"Florida Gators mascot made a spectacular play to save an unsuspecting young fan""NFL’s best teams draft defensive players early"Whose violation of NCAA rules was worse, UNC's or Louisville's?  [...]



"The Y2K Bug is Going to Bite! WRONG"

2017-04-21T05:52:00-04:00

A golden oldie worth reviewing for perspective on today's various predictions of technological doom. (7 minute video.)     Related Stories"The Limits of Hasbara: A sober look at just who is lining up against Israel and why.""Shaking up the Conventional Wisdom on Salt: What Science Really Says about Sodium and Hypertension""He Got A Bad Grade. So, He Got The Constitution Amended. Now He's Getting The Credit He Deserves."  A golden oldie worth reviewing for perspective on today's various predictions of technological doom. (7 minute video.)      Related Stories"The Limits of Hasbara: A sober look at just who is lining up against Israel and why.""Shaking up the Conventional Wisdom on Salt: What Science Really Says about Sodium and Hypertension""He Got A Bad Grade. So, He Got The Constitution Amended. Now He's Getting The Credit He Deserves."  [...]



"Horrifying moment British mother, 32, who was three times over the limit after swigging vodka at the wheel . . ."

2017-04-21T05:30:00-04:00

Short video worth showing to all the country's driver's ed classes.     Related Stories"The 8 most beautiful new libraries in the world""This is one of the most devastating reports we've seen for the future of Wall Street stock pickers""Why Do Cartoons Only Have Four Fingers?"  Short video worth showing to all the country's driver's ed classes.      Related Stories"The 8 most beautiful new libraries in the world""This is one of the most devastating reports we've seen for the future of Wall Street stock pickers""Why Do Cartoons Only Have Four Fingers?"  [...]



"The 8 most beautiful new libraries in the world"

2017-04-21T05:01:00-04:00

Apparently glass is in.     Related Stories"This is one of the most devastating reports we've seen for the future of Wall Street stock pickers""Why Do Cartoons Only Have Four Fingers?""What are the best examples of the law of unintended consequences in action?"  Apparently glass is in.      Related Stories"This is one of the most devastating reports we've seen for the future of Wall Street stock pickers""Why Do Cartoons Only Have Four Fingers?""What are the best examples of the law of unintended consequences in action?"  [...]



"Middle age begins at 60, say researchers"

2017-04-20T05:51:00-04:00

A while back someone objected to the "Things one middle-aged economist finds interesting" tagline to this blog. He wrote, "You're not middle-aged anymore; you're old!" I replied that when I started the blog I was middle-aged and out of respect...     Related Stories"Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21""Three Myths About the Brain (That Deserve to Die)""The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews"  A while back someone objected to the "Things one middle-aged economist finds interesting" tagline to this blog. He wrote, "You're not middle-aged anymore; you're old!" I replied that when I started the blog I was middle-aged and out of respect for tradition didn't intend to change the line. But now, with this, I have science on my side.      Related Stories"Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21""Three Myths About the Brain (That Deserve to Die)""The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews"  [...]



"The myth of the disillusioned Trump voter"

2017-04-20T05:48:00-04:00

The Washington Post slams the New York Times: "Beware the political anecdote." Do tell.     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  The Washington Post slams the New York Times: "Beware the political anecdote." Do tell.      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"TV Fool"

2017-04-20T05:33:00-04:00

If you're thinking about leaving cable TV, this site will show what over-the-air channels you can get in your area.     Related Stories"In the golden age of sports studio hosts, here's an attempt to draft 30 of the best""Dolly Parton And Lily Tomlin At The SAG Awards Are the Model For Awards-Show Speeches""State by state, map shows most binge-watched TV shows"  If you're thinking about leaving cable TV, this site will show what over-the-air channels you can get in your area.      Related Stories"In the golden age of sports studio hosts, here's an attempt to draft 30 of the best""Dolly Parton And Lily Tomlin At The SAG Awards Are the Model For Awards-Show Speeches""State by state, map shows most binge-watched TV shows"  [...]



"Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21"

2017-04-20T05:24:00-04:00

Courtesy of NASA, see the exact path over the U.S. the solar eclipse will take. (And map is zoomable.)     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  Courtesy of NASA, see the exact path over the U.S. the solar eclipse will take. (And map is zoomable.)      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"Chasing higher returns, public pension funds spent $10 billion on investment fees in 2014"

2017-04-19T05:50:00-04:00

Unless they can demonstrate higher returns or lower risk or both--and they probably can't--they should reduce that spending by a lot.     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  Unless they can demonstrate higher returns or lower risk or both--and they probably can't--they should reduce that spending by a lot.      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"Three Myths About the Brain (That Deserve to Die)"

2017-04-19T05:35:00-04:00

"The first myth is that the hormone cortisol causes stress."     Related Stories"Middle age begins at 60, say researchers""Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21""The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews"  "The first myth is that the hormone cortisol causes stress."      Related Stories"Middle age begins at 60, say researchers""Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 Aug 21""The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews"  [...]



"The McConnell Method Emerges as a Strategy For a Republican Era"

2017-04-19T05:28:00-04:00

Sounds right. Senator McConnell’s success in getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court is a reminder that there’s no limit to what can be accomplished in Washington if conservatives don’t waste their time worrying about what the liberal press...     Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  Sounds right. Senator McConnell’s success in getting Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court is a reminder that there’s no limit to what can be accomplished in Washington if conservatives don’t waste their time worrying about what the liberal press says about them.      Related Stories"'Blame United,' 'Blame Deregulation,' and Other Fallacies""The US Geological Survey may have found the largest untapped natural-gas deposit in the country""The reason government spending is a disaster"  [...]



"This is one of the most devastating reports we've seen for the future of Wall Street stock pickers"

2017-04-19T05:08:00-04:00

As always, caveat emptor. Over the 15-year period ending Dec. 2016, 92.15% of large-cap, 95.4% of mid-cap, and 93.21% of small-cap managers trailed their respective benchmarks.     Related Stories"Why Do Cartoons Only Have Four Fingers?""What are the best examples of the law of unintended consequences in action?""I'm ditching Amazon for Walmart's e-commerce competitor — here's why"  As always, caveat emptor. Over the 15-year period ending Dec. 2016, 92.15% of large-cap, 95.4% of mid-cap, and 93.21% of small-cap managers trailed their respective benchmarks.      Related Stories"Why Do Cartoons Only Have Four Fingers?""What are the best examples of the law of unintended consequences in action?""I'm ditching Amazon for Walmart's e-commerce competitor — here's why"  [...]