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April 2017

"An Hour of Running May Add 7 Hours to Your Life"

In this story in the New York Times the last sentence of the second paragraph is "The analysis found that as little as five minutes of daily running was associated with prolonged life spans". And I thought, it's obvious the causality for that fact runs from health to running. Way down in the story, second paragraph from the end, there's this:

Of course, the findings in this new review are associational, meaning that they prove that people who run tend also to be people who live longer, but not that running directly causes the increases in longevity. Runners typically also lead healthy lives, Dr. Lee says, and their lifestyles may be playing an outsize role in mortality.

This should have appeared much earlier in the piece, but if it had the reporter and the editor probably would have decided that they didn't actually have a story.  So I give the Times an A for (finally) stating that but an F for putting it in the next-to-last paragraph. The average is a C, which is probably pretty good for the Times these days.

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

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.

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

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