"An Introduction to Empirical Microeconomics"

Free--short--Principles text by Mathew Kahn, who has left UCLA for the University of Spoiled Children, that has an unusual approach:

. . . I still see an open niche here for a challenging e-book. Unlike other Principles books, this book will be “data driven”. I will present you with an empirical economics puzzle such as “why do men earn 22% more per hour than women”? I will then walk the reader through possible economic explanations for the fact but then we will go a step further. Often there will be several possible explanations for a given set of facts. I will challenge you to work with me to devise a new experiment for figuring out which explanation is right. In this sense, we will start with a set of facts.We will use economic logic to sketch out the set of possible explanations. We will then, because we are scientists, devise a new experiment for settling which of the explanations is right. The new experiment will generate new facts and the “correct theory” should both be able to explain the first fact and the new fact while the incorrect theories can explain the first fact but not the later facts.


"Is SAP Germany's revenge for losing WWII?"

Quora folks have some fun. Sample:

This question shows a complete misunderstanding of what really happened.

WWII was just a decoy.

A cover-up while preparations for SAP were underway.

How do we know?

German inventor Konrad Zuse developed the first programmable computer “Z1” in 1936–1938. See Wikipedia: Z1 (computer).

Only one year later, WWII started in 1939. Wikipedia: World War II

Could that exact timing be just a coincidence?

Final proof: SAP was founded in 1972. Source: SAP (SAP Company History)

1938 to 1972 gives 34 years, just about the time needed to roll out an SAP system.


"Life’s Work: An Interview with Jerry Seinfeld"

Jerry has no time for McKinsey.

You and Larry David wrote Seinfeld together, without a traditional writers’ room, and burnout was one reason you stopped. Was there a more sustainable way to do it? Could McKinsey or someone have helped you find a better model?

Who’s McKinsey?

It’s a consulting firm.

Are they funny?

No.

Then I don’t need them. If you’re efficient, you’re doing it the wrong way.


"Growth, Not Forced Equality, Saves the Poor"

Deirdre McCloskey makes an excellent case for an idea that should be widely known, but, sadly, isn't.

A practical objection to focusing on economic equality is that we cannot actually achieve it, not in a big society, not in a just and sensible way. Dividing up a pizza among friends can be done equitably, to be sure. But equality beyond the basics in consumption and in political rights isn’t possible in a specialized and dynamic economy. Cutting down the tall poppies uses violence for the cut. And you need to know exactly which poppies to cut. Trusting a government of self-interested people to know how to redistribute ethically is naïve.


"From Russia With Doubt"

If true, this is interesting:

The CIA is meant to spy upon foreign countries. The secrets we seek are located in foreign countries. Yet the bloated CIA bureaucracy exists almost entirely within the United States. CIA bureaucrats appear to find foreign service disagreeable. They enjoy their lifestyle and will fight with aggressive passivity to keep it that way. More than 90% of CIA employees spend their careers living and working entirely within the United States. . . .

The CIA has a military origin, and in the military, huge staffs are required for planning and logistics. There are relatively few actual fighting infantrymen – at the point of the spear – because to send that infantryman to combat requires support from tanks, artillery, aircraft and so on, which need massive expenditure and meticulous planning. The CIA has the massive expenditure and the huge staffs, but the CIA’s equivalent of the infantryman is the case officer, and the best case officers require only a passport and an airline ticket to get half a world away and produce.


"Poison Ivy: Not so much palaces of learning as bastions of privilege and hypocrisy"

Unexpectedly strong words from The Economist.

AMERICAN universities like to think of themselves as engines of social justice, thronging with “diversity”. But how much truth is there in this flattering self-image? AMERICAN universities like to think of themselves as engines of social justice, thronging with “diversity”. But how much truth is there in this flattering self-image? . . .

Mr Golden shows that elite universities do everything in their power to admit the children of privilege. If they cannot get them in through the front door by relaxing their standards, then they smuggle them in through the back. No less than 60% of the places in elite universities are given to candidates who have some sort of extra “hook”, from rich or alumni parents to “sporting prowess”. The number of whites who benefit from this affirmative action is far greater than the number of blacks.


"Politics has always been post-truth. Trump’s just honest about it."

Among the dozens of explanations of why Trump won, this one, if not the complete answer, certainly presents a key part:

Trump perceived, correctly in my view, that political rhetoric in the United States had become empty, a vast collection of platitudes and bogus phrases that no longer bore any real connection to the truth. Everyone else pretended to mean what they said when they didn’t; Trump simply dropped the pretense.