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January 2018

"There Is More Than One Opioid Crisis"

This piece has a table showing opioid-related deaths per capita, age-adjusted, by state (2016). New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and Connecticut are all in the top ten. Surprises me: what the heck is going on in New England?

(The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston attempts to explain. I'm virtually certain somebody has tried to explain the phenomenon using regression analysis, but I haven't seen it.)

"Undocumented Immigrants, U.S. Citizens, and Convicted Criminals in Arizona"

My graduate school classmate, John Lott, has devoted a chunk of his career to researching the effects of gun control laws. And he's taken an enormous load of crap because of the findings of that research. Not that he hasn't enjoyed all that crap, but now after having done yeoman service for public policy, God, and country, it would be unsurprising if he picked a less intensely emotional issue to research. Something not as likely to raise respiration rates and blood pressure as gun control.

Ha! His most recent paper is on the crime rate among illegal immigrants in Arizona.

I recommend it to anyone interested in the issue. Quite similar to John's research on gun control, he's addressing an important public policy issue that has been studied before but quite inadequately. He's gathered much better data and he's analyzed it meticulously. And he's reached a conclusion that will be, in some quarters . . . unpopular. Here's a mention in the Washington Post:

Lott’s review appears to be unique — no other comparable research on state correctional data has been conducted — and an outlier, since the majority of other studies have come to diametrically opposite conclusions, including those in peer-reviewed publications.

Left unstated by the reporter, of course, is that the reason it is an "outlier" that reaches a "diametrically opposite" conclusion is almost certainly because it uses much better data. (When do the reporters at the Post learn about the limitations of peer review? Sheesh.)

For a bit more of John's work, indicating the range of his research, see "How Dramatically Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?" (with Larry Kenny), "A Guide to the Pitfalls of Identifying Price Discrimination," (with Russell Roberts), and "A Sour Lemon Story".

"Democrats running for California governor need to stop talking about Trump and start talking about public pensions"

Column in the LA Times:

Why the silence? We all know. Any real solutions make too many enemies. And that’s deemed politically dumb, especially during an election year.

Public employee unions are cash cows for Democratic candidates. And the unions get very angry when politicians try to reduce future retirement packages for state and local government workers.

Related: "How the U.S. Ended Up Enthralled by Unions".

Even labor-friendly Paris uses fewer workers than New York City, and for a fraction of the cost. American public unions pervert the process.