Archive for April, 2008

Quote of the Week

Friday, April 18th, 2008

Clinton: I can win because people started hating me 16 years ago, not just this week.

Dave Weigel at Reason, covering the debate.

Happy Happy Joy Joy

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

This is amazing:

Arguably the most important finding from the emerging economics of happiness has been the Easterlin Paradox.

What is this paradox? It is the juxtaposition of three observations:

1) Within a society, rich people tend to be much happier than poor people.
2) But, rich societies tend not to be happier than poor societies (or not by much).
3) As countries get richer, they do not get happier.

Easterlin offered an appealing resolution to his paradox, arguing that only relative income matters to happiness. Other explanations suggest a “hedonic treadmill,” in which we must keep consuming more just to stay at the same level of happiness.

Either way, the policy implications of the Paradox are huge, as they suggest that economic growth may not raise well-being by much.

Given the stakes in this debate, Betsey Stevenson and I thought it worth reassessing the evidence.

We have re-analyzed all of the relevant post-war data, and also analyzed the particularly interesting new data from the Gallup World Poll.

Last Thursday we presented our research at the latest Brookings Panel on Economic Activity, and we have arrived at a rather surprising conclusion:

There is no Easterlin Paradox.

Read it. It’s a beautiful example of how absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence (you paying attention, atheists?)

Personally, I always suspected this was bullshit for a variety of reasons. Primarily lifespan. Even if we assume that the typical person has a fixed mean level of happiness — say 14 Abigails per year — then a longer life means more happiness over the integral from birth to death. A lifespan of 50 years means 700 Abigails of happiness while a lifespan of 80 years means 1120 Abigails.

Sociologists. I don’t think they think about these things very hard.

Atlanta Linkorama

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

I’m visiting the folks in Atlanta. That means internet access is intermittent. So … while I’m working on some longer posts in the queue … linkorama!

  • Stephen Bainbridge has a good take on the “Worst. President. Ever.” stuff. It’s way to early to judge Bush. And I would certainly rate Buchanan and Johnson lower.
  • Hildog. Champion of the Middle Class
  • This has got to be freaky — a man is trapped in an elevator for 42 hours.
  • One of the problems with the “climate change” crowd is that they assume that whatever the climate was in, say, 1975, it was ideal. I don’t think they’ve invested enough thought into this. If higher CO2 levels mean milder seasons and better harvests, that’s not a bad thing.

    Still, this bit of logic from Indur Goklany is a bit dumb. It is a fact that human prosperity has increased in line with CO2 levels. But it’s also a fact that my weight has tracked my personal income (well, until recently). That doesn’t make being overweight good for me. I just haven’t felt the consequences yet. The question isn’t whether high CO2 levels are hurting us today. It’s all about the long term.

  • I must admit, that the gastric appendectomy story freaked me out when I first heard it. But if it means you can get over appendicitis in a matter of hours, I’m all for it.
  • Do we really need to prosecute people for looking at children? Really? You know, we already have stalking laws on the books.
  • A truly alarming account of how far cops are going to get DUI convictions. A must read.
  • Monday Linkorama

    Monday, April 14th, 2008
  • One can only hope
  • Two amusing sites: When photoshop goes wrong and old timey ads.
  • The unions show their concern for the education of poor people by fighting scholarships. Nice.
  • Are we really in a recession? Alan Reynolds isn’t so sure. I think we are in a recession but there is no question that the media is making it seems worse than it is. After all, the Dems could take the White House this year. Must parrot the party line. More from George Will here
  • Megan McArdle’s random thoughts on the credit crunch are better than most people’s organized thoughts. A must read.
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    Daily Meandering

    Thursday, April 10th, 2008

    Christ, what was wrong with The Daily Show tonight?. They go from the Olympic Torch to George Bush to Fox bashfest in which they demonstrate, again, the inability to tell the difference between a news show and an opinion show. They’ve been good lately but occasionally they diverge into biting-the-heads-off-chickens mode.

    Just to clue CNN, FAIR, the Daily Show and everyone else in the Left Wingosphere: Sean Hannity has an opinion show; Bill O’Reilly has an opinion show; Newt Gingrich is a politician not a reporter. I agree that Fox leans right, but the rest of the media leans left. When is the Daily Show going to show the clip of Dan Rather telling Bill Clinton was a big lasagna he was?

    Wednesday Morning Linkorama

    Wednesday, April 9th, 2008
  • $95,740?. For some reason, I have my doubts. This must include only tenured professor level positions, not grad students and postdocs. My salary, as of May 1, will be … let me see … carry the four … $0.
  • A hint for the enterprising criminal. If you rob a place, they are unlikely to hire you.
  • So how much are we spending on education in this country? The census bureau is fudging the numbers.
  • Only with the compliance of our stupid worthless media could the murder of a pro-free-trade union leader become a rallying cry against free trade. What the hell is the media’s job?
  • A great comment on the anti-free-trade pandering going on in the Keystone State.

    Yes, poor Pennsylvania, staggering under a 4.9% unemployment rate (February 2008). Poor Pennsylvania, with a per capita income of a mere $36,680 (2006 data), ranking only 18th in the U.S. A free-trade pact with mighty Colombia (2006 income per capita, a whopping $2,740) would surely blow a huge hole in the Keystone State’s economy.

    Hillary Clinton, Josh Marshall, and a lot of other “liberals” should hang their heads in shame at this disgraceful “Fuck the Latinos” campaign strategy.

  • Dumbass of the Day:

    American Airlines is having a bit of a problem as a good portion of their fleet is grounded while some wiring problems are corrected. And why are these wiring problems being corrected? For safety, of course. So the Fox News Channel cameras head to an airport to get the reaction of some of the passengers who were inconvenienced by the delays. In short order they stumble onto some bleached blond who says: “They’re not thinking about us at all … the passengers. I’m never going to fly American again.”

    Hey, you twit .. .these delays are for safety. Your safety. It is precisely you they are thinking about when they inspect these airplanes. Next time take the damned bus.

    Actually, I would guess a lot of Americans would rather the plane fall out of the sky than be late.

  • A must-read on the food crunch. There was as book some time ago that argued that no famine in the last thousand years has been the result of drought. All resulted from dumb or evil governments.
  • Numbers in the Dark

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

    Whenever I worry about the quality of my science, I always say to myself: at least I’m not a fucking sociologist. Study debunked here. I would point out that the “measurement” they make is about one Dave Kingman. If he’d been named Dave Queenman, their study would have been more quickly revealed for the nonsense that it is.

    I note that one of these pinheads is from the Yale School of Management. And you wonder why we’re in a recession.

    Babbies Everywhere

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

    As I was walking into work today, I saw a woman sitting in the shade having lunch with her baby. The little tyke — couldn’t have been more than two months old — was asleep in a buggy (or “travel system” as they’re called these days). I looked for a little while and smiled. It was a cute scene.

    I never used to be one for going, “awww” when it came to kids. I’d see people with kids and it’s didn’t affect me. I’d read about sick kids and I’d feel bad, but I wouldn’t be devastated. I’d watch movies where they had the Child in Danger (TM) and I’d get annoyed. The floodwaters or whatever would be closing in on some little tot and all I could think was “This again? What, was central casting out of cute puppies?” In fact, our decision to have kids wasn’t made because we luuuved kids but because, at our age, it was now or never.

    That’s all changed since I’ve become a dad. Maybe it’s because I can now project everything onto Abby. Seeing that woman in the shade made me think about when my daughter was nothing but a bologna loaf with big blue eyes. Or maybe Abby fixed whatever was broken in me. But I have changed. For the better, I hope. It’s hasn’t made me a big bleeding-heart liberal; quite the opposite, in fact. But I do feel a little closer to my fellow human beings.

    I Was Gipped

    Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

    Rabbits. You know that statistic that college adds $1 million to your lifetime earnings? Not so fast.

    Substituting some of his own assumptions for those used by the board — including six years of tuition costs (and hence two fewer years of work), private college tuition instead of in-state public tuition, etc. — Miller calculates his own college premium. “[P]roperly using the present value of the lifetime earnings, adjusted for the cost of going to college and the difference in the number of working years, and excluding those graduates with advanced degrees, calculated at the three percent discount rate used in the report,” he wrote, “produces a lifetime earnings differential of only $279,893 for a bachelor’s degree versus a high school degree!”

    He writes: “With clearly questionable assumptions in the analysis traditionally used to prove that ‘education pays,’ with the reality of continually increasing costs of college above average inflation, with weak income growth in general, and with the reality of a very narrow economic benefit to the individual with a college education, it is reasonable to conclude that a college degree is not as valuable as has been claimed.”

    This sounds a lot more reasonable that the $1 million figure. Especially as I presently have seven letters after my name and will be working for free on May 1.

    Moreover, the “broad education” stuff doesn’t wash with me. I am well-read. But almost all of that came after college. My blogging buddy at RTLC, Lee, does not have a college degree. He also has a great job, makes lots of money and is extremely well-read.

    I still think college is worth it — $300 grand is a lot of money and college was one of the best times of my life and enabled me to pursue the career I wanted. But there’s no need to shovel bullshit onto the public. There’s more than one way to succeed in this country.

    Congestion Indigestion

    Monday, April 7th, 2008

    How dumb are Democrats? Pretty dumb. They refused to even consider congestion pricing for NYC, therefore losing $354 million in grants.

    Only Libs Need Apply

    Monday, April 7th, 2008

    Here’s a good point:

    The Washington Post refers to Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen as “a public-interest group” in an article on costly federal regulations that the group is defending. So I wondered: Does the Post think federal regulation is always in the public interest? Or that groups that defend regulation are really acting “in the public interest”? What about groups that work to reduce the burden of government on consumers or taxpayers? Are they “public interest groups”? Certainly, as a member of the public, I don’t really see bigger, costlier government and more expensive products as being in my interest.

    But how about the National Taxpayers Union, which works to eliminate wasteful spending and reduce the burden of government? Was it a public interest group? Not in the Post. How about the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which works for competition and more choice for consumers? Not a public interest group.

    The Post seems to have a very consistent but arguably wrong-headed view about just what is in the public’s interest.

    He clearly fails to grasp that it’s in the public interest to be liberal. Anything else is not a public interest, it’s a special interest.

    Teacher’s unions crippling our public schools? Public interest.

    People trying to introduce competition into the school system? Special interest.

    Got it?

    Does anyone know how to play basketball?

    Saturday, April 5th, 2008

    It’s appalling how bad the quality of play in the Final Four can be. Kansas almost blew a 28-point lead tonight. The reason? They started rushing their shots, not using up the clock and taking wild low-percentage three-point shots. NC closed the gap but then blew their chance. Why? Because after a long period of sterling play, they got sloppy, started taking three pointers they didn’t need, started rushing their plays. Down 28 points, they kept their cool. Down five, they panicked.

    A Steroid Thought

    Friday, April 4th, 2008

    Inspired by this post over at Freakonomics page, I had an idea for how baseball should deal with steroids.

    If someone tests positive for steroids, their team forfeits five games in the standings.

    Look, anyone who bothered to read the Mitchell Report and read between the lines realized something very important. The teams knew this was going on. The people running individual baseball teams knew who was doping. You don’t make multi-million dollar decisions and not find out if your $50 million shortstop is on the juice. I have no doubt that the general managers of all the teams knew who was doing what and when.

    So, punish the organizations. Turn guys who dope into pariahs who have cost their team in the standings. I am sick and tired of all the guilt in the steroid business being foisted onto the players. The media, the teams and the commish knew what was going on. Time for them to shoulder some of the responsibility for keeping the sport clean.

    At they very least, this would guarantee that the fans will never cheer for another juicer.

    I’m sure I’ll get blasted as a fascist for this. Oh, well. It’s just an idea.

    Friday Linkorama

    Friday, April 4th, 2008
  • Don’t you just love zero tolerance? A kid finds his new camera gives him a shock when he pushes the picture button, gives it to a friend to get shocked and is promptly suspended. Geez.
  • Listen, Pizza Hut. Just rehire the guy and apologize. Your pizza isn’t good enough for you to pull this crap off.
  • Our wonderful efficient public schools. Buying ipods for administrators.
  • Don’t you just love announcers?