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Economics

July 31, 2014

"At this bar I go to, the prices of the beers change every 15 minutes based on supply and demand inside the bar."

Fifteen minutes seems a little short, but the idea is certainly worth experimenting with. (Unless it's just a marketing gimmick.)

"How American Beer Became Great Again"

It wasn't that long ago that we heard Anheuser-Busch and huge seller concentration would be the absolute death of American beer.

Surprise!

"Two Top Experts Debate the Outlook for Growth"

Summary of Joel Mokyr's reply to Robert Gordon's stagnation thesis.

July 30, 2014

*This* is a bigger problem than inequality

"Employers say they can't fill jobs—and here's why".

A declining unemployment rate—now at 6.1 percent—would seem to mean that employers are packing their payrolls with workers. But many businesses say they are having a harder time filling open positions this year than last year, according to a new survey.

July 29, 2014

"Piketty’s Can Opener"

Jim Manzi:

In summary, Piketty has weak evidence to support his theory for why CEO pay has increased in America. What evidence he has covers only CEOs of public companies, and hence about 3 percent of the top 0.1 percent. His whole model, even if correct and extended beyond what is supported by the evidence could only apply to about one-fourth of the top 0.1 percent. And this very group that he claims is responsible for driving income inequality in America is collapsing as a share of the top 0.1 percent.

Piketty’s explanation for rising inequality in America plays to many people’s predispositions, but he has no real evidence that it’s true. Therefore accepting the predictions he makes for the effect of his policies would be incredibly dangerous.

Ouch.

"The Latest Public-Sector Pension Scandal"

Ira Stoll, Reason:

The current system takes rich money managers, who ordinarily might be a voice for lower taxes and restrained government spending, and makes them beholden, for business, on public pension boards that sometimes include union officials. Instead of arguing for less generous pensions, or for personal accounts that employees would manage individually, the money managers now have incentives to argue for more generous pensions and to avoid upsetting the system that is enriching them. . . . 

What should be done? Shut these pension funds down and turn the money over to the individual employees and retirees. Let the government workers open retirement accounts at Charles Schwab, Vanguard, Fidelity, and so on, just like much of the rest of America does. Let the money managers compete for individual business by advertising on the basis of price, service, or performance, rather than by paying off government officials with shoeboxes or paper bags full of cash.

Link via Glenn Reynolds.

"The real Medicaid problem"

"The paradox is that a progressive program also has unprogressive consequences."

That's no "paradox". It happens all the time. See, for another example, "Banning Big-box Stores Can Hurt Local Retailers".

July 28, 2014

"Solving California's Drought Problem: Market Pricing"

Still more on the fabulous lie that "government is the name we give to things we do together":

The New York Times reports that "cities across California are encouraging residents to tattle on their neighbors for wasting water" — just the kind of behavior that we want our government to cultivate.

Those reluctant to squeal are instead shaming residents they see washing their cars and watering their lawns, and embarrassing anyone suspected of taking long showers.

To help out, water officials in Los Angeles will soon offer hangers that residents can "slip anonymously around the doorknobs of neighbors whose sprinklers are watering the sidewalk."

What a swell way for government to pit neighbors against each other and create conditions that could explode into violence. But then, what should we expect when some officials defend the shaming practice because it's akin to an "education" program?

Even more: "Snitch nation".

There is value in collective self-policing, a feature of health societies that will never and should never disappear entirely. And public shaming has a rich, if lamentable, Western tradition dating back to the stockades. But the rise of an informant culture in America is distinct from self-policing, and many appear to participate in the encouraged practice of informing on others more in service to a base desire to indulge in a little schadenfreude than anything else.

"The First Single-Payer Domino"

Conservatives need to watch this: "If the health-care experiment fails in Vermont, it would send shock waves nationwide."

"The Economics of Marriage, and Family Breakdown"

By Isabel Sawhill, Senior Fellow at Brookings. Includes this:

A child's education begins in the home. No improvement in public policy can compete with what only families can provide.

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