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April 14, 2015

"How to Rack Up $18 Trillion in Debt and How to Pay It Down"

The small blue bars on the graph are a reminder that circa 2000, the Fed was holding meetings and staff were writing papers about the looming problem of how the Fed was going to conduct open market operations after surpluses had retired all the federal debt.

Hilarious or tragic, you decide.

Here's a suggestion for something that would help (at least in partial equilibrium): "Time to End the Federal Subsidy for High-Tax States".

"The impending surge for the University of Everywhere"

George Leef reviews Kevin Carey's The End of College.

I don't know about all college courses, but having both taken and taught large lecture sections, I'm sure that online courses can easily replace them.

"A Sociology Prof Proves that Studying Econ is Morally Bad"

Yeah, right. Sociologists should stick to sociology.

April 13, 2015

"The Prescience of Daniel Patrick Moynihan"

It's been late coming, but Senator Moynihan is now widely recognized for being, in 1964, absolutely right.

See also "The Last Sane Liberal," "Moynihan’s Mistake and the Left’s Shame," and two earlier posts here, "Terribly sadly, 45 years ago Pat Moynihan was right," and "Fine paragraph".

Professor Amy Wax at Penn argues that the problem Moynihan identified is deep-rooted and there is a sharp limit to what government can do about it. See, for examples, "Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure" and "Diverging Family Structure and 'Rational' Behavior: The Decline in Marriage as a Disorder of Choice".

Michael Barone and Megan McArdle have some hope for improvement.

"How Chicago has used financial engineering to paper over its massive budget gap"

Read this and be amazed. Amazed, not at how awful Chicago's finances are and the damage that years of political malfeasance will likely cause, but amazed at why all American big cities have yet to copy it.


"We Are Ready to Believe You!"

John Podhoretz uses simple economics to explain an important part of what's happening in today's colleges: if you pay good money to people to solve problems, they have a vested interest in making the problems bigger

Ed Driscoll drolly sums this up by referring to their interest in protecting "their phony-baloney jobs". If you don't understand that reference, see this clip

"California Government Is The Big Water Management Problem"

Hank Campbell, Science 2.0:

Why not allow more water to be stored in the south or build more reservoirs in the north instead of dumping fresh water into the ocean? Californians know water is important, we have agreed to water bonds totaling $22 billion in recent years, but the money has ended up going to environmental projects rather than things that help the people paying interest on those bonds.

Most of California is actually desert, the green parts are all watered to be that way, and we know droughts will happen - this is the fourth one in 50 years - so it would make sense to store more water, a literal anti-rainy day plan. But environmentalists block all efforts to create more reservoirs even though we know this sort of thing has always happened and will continue to happen.

"Higher Minimum Wage Leaves Working Poor Without Childcare"

Mary Theroux:

. . . but those who have to keep their doors open deal more in Cold Hard Facts:

Revenues < Expenses = Bankruptcy

So when its main expense (labor) increases by more than 36% overnight (from $9 to $12.25 per hour), Cold Hard Facts say: Increase Revenues or Decrease Expenses.

April 07, 2015

"Regulatory Capture: What the Experts Have Found"

Anthony Downs said it all:

…even if social welfare could be defined, and methods of maximizing it could be agreed upon, what reason is there to believe that the men who run the government would be motivated to maximize it? To state that “they should do so does not mean that they will.

"Man who lived modestly leaves millions in surprise donations"

Stories like this pop up from time to time. I used to present a few to high school students. It's one thing to talk about thrift and the power of compound interest in theory, but it's another thing to cite actual examples.

The investments made by Ronald Read, a former gas station employee and janitor who died in June at age 92, "grew substantially" over the years, said his attorney Laurie Rowell. . . .

The bequest of $4.8 million to the Brattleboro Memorial Hospital and $1.2 million to the town's Brooks Memorial Library were the largest each institution has ever received. 

Here's another example: "Secret millionaire donates fortune to Lake Forest College".

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