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April 2014

Laugh or cry, you decide

Some of the things people think about in the United States of America, 2014:

"Students Demand Acknowledgement of Robert E. Lee's 'Racist and Dishonorable Conduct'".

"You Can Call a Man Fat But You Can’t Fat-Shame Him".

"It’s Official: At Dartmouth, The Word ‘Fiesta’ Is Racist And White People Can’t Use It".

"Loaded language: The gun metaphors that pervade our everyday slang".

"Why Are There No Butch Lesbians on Television?"

"Activists: De Blasio picks ‘not diverse enough’".

"The Troubling Power of Romantic Comedies".

"Stall Tactics: Getting It On in Restaurant Restrooms Is More Common Than You Think".

Finally, A. A. Gill tries, very hard, to explain why the rich spend lots of money: "Perfection Anxiety".

"Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, Dori Monson debate $15 minimum wage"

Here. Related: "KTTH Minimum Wage Debate: Ben Shapiro vs Kshama Sawant". Ms. Sawant earned a Ph.D. in economics from my former employer, NC State. Her policy stance should embarrass NCSU economists. Both links courtesy of Patrick Sullivan.

One of the more entertaining arguments advanced by Liberals is that a higher minimum wage would greatly benefit businesses but that business executives are too stupid to realize that. Three pieces that bear on that idea:

Adam Ozimek (Forbes), "Are Retailers Missing A Huge Profit Opportunity By Keeping Wages Too Low?"

Robert VerBruggen (Real Clear Politics), "What if Walmart Hiked Prices and Wages?"

Michael Saltsman (Employment Policies Institute), "Why Subway Doesn't Serve a $14 Reuben Sandwich".

This piece by distinguished economist Richard B. McKenzie is generally helpful in refuting the demand to raise the minimum wage: "Why Are There So Few Job Losses from Minimum-Wage Hikes?"

Finally, a better policy for the poor than raising minimum wages would be to tear down barriers to employment. See, for example, "11 Crazy Laws That Keep You From Getting A Job".

Some articles on Piketty's book

CNN asserts Piketty's book is "A 700-page economics tome about income inequality [that] isn't an obvious hit" and the Washington Post describes it as an "unlikely bestseller". (I'll give you three guesses why it is a bestseller.)

Here are some of the most interesting articles about it I've seen:

Tyler Cowen's review. Tyler also comments, "These are old issues people, and there are no simple answers.  A lot of the current discussion is in fact moving the debate backwards from where it had been decades ago." Ya gotta love macro.

Clive Crook, "The Most Important Book Ever Is All Wrong".

Megan McArdle, "Piketty's Tax Hikes Won't Help the Middle Class".

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, "The Systematic Errors In Thomas Piketty's New Book".

Stephen Moore, "The Left's Advice Would Bring A Second Great Depression".

Finally, a list of further links: Dan Hirschman, "Piketty’s 'Capital', Link Round-Up".

UPDATE: I have to include today's Kyle Smith piece, "This ‘ridiculously far-left’ economist is candy for liberals" which includes wonderful bits like this:

The No. 1 bestselling book on Amazon last week wasn’t about plucky teen girls battling for humanity in a futuristic dystopia. It wasn’t about a boy wizard or a college student who likes to be tied up and spanked. . . .

So, yeah, there’s still only one road to the top of the Amazon bestseller list, and it’s sheer escapist fantasy, preferably aligned with adolescent magical thinking.

And Smith links to economist Justin Wolfers who provides two possible reasons why Piketty's book is popular in some places