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September 14, 2014

"Up to a Point: A Free Scotland Would Be a Hilarious Disaster"

P. J. O'Rourke, doing what he does.

Scotland’s economy will be the requisite Third World shambles. Scotland’s two dominant political parties are the leftist Scottish National Party and the leftist Scottish Labor Party. These can be counted on to vie in out-lefting each other. Cuba-with-chilblains, here we come!

"What I Learned About The NFL By Watching The Seahawks-Packers Game In 35 Minutes"

"1. On NFL broadcasts, nothing is happening most of the time."

Yep. Between NFL Redzone and the DVR I'm finding it difficult now to watch NFL games in real time.

"Famous pop singers who know economics"

The bros on the Economic Job Market Rumors board have some fun.

September 13, 2014

Nancy Pelosi: "Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if Republicans win the Senate."

My reply via R.E.M.: "It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)".

"This Girl Took On An Army Cadet In A Push-Up Challenge And Won"

Woman's got skillz.

"Obama losing the confidence of key parts of the coalition that elected him"

Glenn Reynolds quips about this: "Hi folks. You're kinda late to the party. Try not to be so easily fooled next time."


September 12, 2014

Marvin Gaye, "Trouble Man"

"There were soul singers and there were SOUL singers. But was any deeper or more enigmatic than Marvin Gaye?"

"A New Yorker Expertly Teaches The Unwritten Rules Of Living In NYC In These Illustrations"

Read before visiting NYC.

Link courtesy of Michael M.

"Thieves target Lego sets as value soars"

I had a huge, very cool collection of Legos as a kid. It probably would have been worth a small fortune now.

"American Status $ymbols Ranked"

Third from the bottom is "Barista spells name correctly."

September 11, 2014

"The Reality Behind the Latest Pro-Obamacare Spin"

I thought maybe the recent reports sounded suspiciously good.

Obamacare’s defenders are busy declaring victory again.  Ezra Klein is touting a new survey of Obamacare benchmark premiums in some regions of the country as evidence that the law is defying the predictions of critics and working to cut costs rather than increase them.

But, as Bob Laszewski notes, the truth about Obamacare implementation is far less rosy than the latest round of cheerleading would indicate.

"Stimulus bill enabled billions in waste, exploitation of employees"

One downside of that really, really wonderful stimulus

"I guess common sense isn’t on the curriculum this year."

You can say that again: "In D.C., a 13-year-old piano prodigy is treated as a truant instead of a star student". (Link via Instapundit.)

"Why you should really take a nap this afternoon, according to science"

I'm down. One reason among several:

NASA found that naps made you smarter — even in the absence of a good night's sleep.

September 10, 2014

"Will Orange Be the New Black for IRS Chief Lois Lerner?"

I'd ask you to state what the country's attention would be focused on if this were occuring under a Republican administration. But that's so easy even a two-year-old could do it.

Perhaps there is some strange computer virus that selectively trashes records inconvenient to incumbents, like the “glitch” that erased part of Nixon’s tapes. How else to explain the fact that this is the fourth announcement of an ever-expanding computer calamity connected to Lois Lerner to emerge from the IRS?

"The new face of country music is young, female, and feminist"

I think I need to sell bro country short

Country music is supposed to tell a story. The stories that many of the genre's current leading men tell are filled with short denim shorts, bikini tops, and objectification. In these stories, women are submissive, passive, and exist to be pursued. But the rising women of country aren't any of those things. Their songs are still lyric-heavy, full of twang, and powerful, but instead of stories about loves won and lost, they're singing about misogyny and gender stereotyping. They aren't the first women in country to do so, but they're certainly leading a new, more direct feminist country charge.

"Syllabus Tyrannus"

"The decline and fall of the American university is written in 25-page course syllabi."

I absolutely concur with the observation. But I don't think she's got the causality right. It's a function of the huge growth of administrators, many of whom have it's-not-our-problem-we-warned-you (aka "cover your ass") as a primary objective.

Five on Los Angeles

"26 Things You Will Only See In Los Angeles".

"Los Angeles’s Great Flood: The city’s infrastructure crumbles as public-employee compensation balloons."

"15 Things You Learn in Your First 5 Years in L.A."

"A Blast from the Past: Los Angeles from 1898 Till the 1960's".

"The Urban Oil Fields of Los Angeles".

September 09, 2014

"Rand Paul’s Fatal Pacifism"

Richard Epstein masterfully explains why libertarianism does not imply isolationism.

The just state should, in my opinion, protect private property, promote voluntary exchange, preserve domestic order, and protect our nation against foreign aggression. Unfortunately, too many modern libertarian thinkers fail to grasp the enormity of that last obligation. In the face of international turmoil, they become cautious and turn inward, confusing limited government with small government. Unwisely, they demand that the United States keep out of foreign entanglements unless and until they pose direct threats to its vital interests—at which point it could be too late.

"Don’t do what you love"

Unusual but persuasive advice. You can't argue, at least, with this bit:

We rarely hear the advice of the person who did what they loved and stayed poor or was horribly injured for it. Professional gamblers, stuntmen, washed up cartoonists like myself: we don’t give speeches at corporate events. We aren’t paid to go to the World Domination Summit and make people feel bad. We don’t land book deals or speak on Good Morning America.

"It’s won’t be long before US debt is out of control"

By Rebecca Strauss, Associate director of publications, Council on Foreign Relations. Note that Liberals think we should alwayts imitate Europe (home of fine Lefty solutions to all public policy problems).

Except when we shouldn't:

All advanced countries have faced similar challenges in controlling government debt and most have made austerity cuts that have slowed economic growth and employment in the short term. But, surprisingly, Europe—despite facing more difficult decisions than those confronting Washington—has done far more to bring their long-term debt burden under control.

Related: "Budget Crash Likely, Not Predicted Deficit Cuts".

"Job requirements are mostly fiction and you should ignore them"

I kinda suspected this, but it's nice to see some confirmation.

Hiring managers get overexcited and list too many things, even though only a few parts of the description are truly core. But the term “requirement” gets read very literally, and scares people off from jobs they could well get. Purcell actually doesn’t like to send specific job descriptions to clients for exactly that reason. The hiring process still is a very human one. Things like relationships, confidence, less definite skills, and proper presentation of experience make a difference and often can help candidates overcome a perceived shortage in qualifications.

"Supply issues could hamper the U.S. economy"

Don't look now but Larry Summers seems to be halfway to becoming a supply-sider.

To achieve growth of even 2 percent a year over the next decade, active support for demand will be necessary but not sufficient. In the United States, as in Europe and Japan, structural reform — to both increase the productivity of workers and capital and to increase the number of people able and willing to work productively — is essential.

September 08, 2014

"The Public Choice Revolution in the Textbooks"

James Gwartney laments that more economics textbooks don't treat Public Choice sufficiently

I am nonetheless disappointed that public choice has exerted so little impact on mainstream economics. Rather than analyzing how both markets and collective decisionmaking handle economic problems, mainstream economics continues to model government as if it were an omniscient, benevolent social planner available to impose ideal solutions. The highly successful text of Greg Mankiw illustrates this point. Mankiw introduces his discussion of the role of government and the correction of market deficiencies in the following manner: To evaluate market outcomes, we introduce into our analysis a new, hypothetical character called the benevolent social planner. The benevolent social planner is an all-knowing, all-powerful, wellintentioned dictator. The planner wants to maximize the economic well-being of everyone in society.

(Professor Gwartney is co-author of an excellent text--now in its 15th edition--that very much does: Economics: Private and Public ChoiceThe principles text co-authored by John Taylor of Stanford also does a good job.)

I think if there was one thing I could change about current economics teaching, it would be to incorporate much more Public Choice at all levels, from principles on up. I'd have the students read, for example, pieces like "When the Basic Income Guarantee Meets the Political Process". And I'd invite them to understand exactly why there's been "Four Decades of Declining Trust in D.C."

"Humans Need Not Apply"

The robots are here . . . and lots more are coming. This video makes a reasonable case for trouble. It's more than a simple-minded Luddite screed, and while I think history strongly suggests optimism, I think the video's arguments are worth considering. (Link via Kottke.)

More warnings: "Here Are Some Jobs That Are Basically Guaranteed To Be Taken Over By Robots" and "The best-case scenario for automation? Still worrisome for workers".

Arguments both optimistic and pessimistic: "Here's How Robots Could Change The World By 2025".

Two optimistic pieces: "One Paragraph Cuts Through The Hype Of Robots Taking Your Job" and "Will artificial intelligence destroy humanity? Here are 5 reasons not to worry."

Finally, a video by noted MIT professor Erik Brynjolfsson that frames the debate, I think, correctly: "The key to growth? Race with the machines".

"Cowell’s Alternative, Part 1: High Fees, Secrecy Surround Pension Investments"

Discouraging news about the North Carolina state pension fund. (Part 2.)

"Right now we have about 26 people," he says. "And that is by far the smallest staff of any pension fund that’s comparable in size in the country. By far."

I kinda don't see why they need 26 to manage the fund. Some equity index funds, some ETFs, a bond fund or two, maybe a REIT or two, and you're done. A couple of my former colleagues and some graduate students at NC State could probably do it. 

Link via one of the those former colleagues, Richard Warr. (If you get tired of being a prof and administrative honcho, run for state treasurer, Richard.)

"Top High Schools 2014"

Congratulations to Raleigh Charter High School, #29 in the nation.

They're still spending lotsa money in Detroit

"Is Detroit's New Light Rail Line America's Greatest Boondoggle? A $137 million three-mile train is coming to a nearly deserted avenue in a bankrupt city."

"Sucking the Life Out of Detroit—With a New Sports Stadium".

See also Kevin Williamson's savage piece, "The Corrupt Bargain: Detroit’s bankruptcy, a rogues’ gallery".

About those evil conservatives corrupting democracy with money . . .

The problem, if there is one, is--ahem--bipartisan:

"Report: AFL-CIO, AFSCME, NEA top 2014 campaign donors; Koch No. 36".

"These 8 Rich Liberals Are Using Super PACs to Buy the 2014 Election".

"Liberal billionaires ‘hijacking’ EPA: report". (Link via Instapundit.)

"Give to Democrats, profit from earmarks: The Tom Steyer story".

"Teachers Target Tillis With 7-Figure Ad Buy".

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